What Happened with Gimme Radio? Major Investors Contributed Millions, Now It’s Kaput

what happened to Gimme Radio
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what happened to Gimme Radio
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Photo Credit: Gimme Media

Gimme Radio launched more than five years ago with the goal of building global fan communities around genres of music. Now the service is shuttering on April 29. What happened?

Gimme Media  was founded in San Francisco in June 2017 by Tyler Lenane (CEO), David Rosenberg (COO), Jon Maples (CPO), and Andrew Gilliland (CCO). The talent on display includes experience from multiple music streaming services. Lenane was a former business development executive at Apple Music, while Rosenberg headed up distribution partnerships at Google Play. Maples previously served as Vice President of Product at Rhapsody and 8tracks.

Gimme Media launched Gimme Radio with the goal of providing an exclusive streaming service to the heavy metal community focused on surfacing underground artists. Around 50% of the music played on Gimme Radio are from established acts, while the rest is underground music. The service is curated by musicians, music journalists, producers, and label affiliates in a free-form, non-playlist approach.

Gimme Radio had no sponsors and depended entirely on exclusive vinyl, collectible items, and allowing listeners to purchase records from songs they’re hearing at the moment. Mobile apps for Gimme Radio debuted in November 2017 for iOS and Android to help connect to genre fans.

So if Gimme Radio had no sponsors, how did it intend to make money?

In November 2018, Gimme announced a subscription service called The Vault. This service would allow subscribers to listen to previous programs, listen offline, and have access to new radio shows before general listeners. It cost $30 a month and included a monthly exclusive vinyl variant to attract superfans. Some of the exclusive radio shows included ‘The Dave Mustaine Show,’ and ‘The Power Remains’ with Randy Blythe. “The lifetime duration of a vinyl club subscriber is 22 months with a lifetime spend of $660,” Lenane writes in his shutdown letter.

In 2019, Gimme announced the launch of Gimme Country—an online hub for country music listeners that would follow the same format as Gimme Radio. DJs for the brand included Brandy Clark, Russ Tolman, Joshua Hedley, and Dillon Carmichael.

In November 2020, Gimme Radio launched its first two 24/7 video channels, Gimme Country TV and Gimme Metal TV. This combined Gimme’s offerings into music streaming and an MTV-like broadcast experience. Gimme TV featured music videos, short form artist-created content, and long-form music documentaries and movies.

“Right now there is this mad rush to become the live streaming destination,” CEO Tyler Lenane said at the time. “But I think these other companies are missing the point that fans don’t just want to watch a live performance in an empty club on their laptop. They want deeper access to artists and they want to experience it with other fans. Gimme learned how to build communities with online radio and we are going to make those communities even stronger with real video.”

Fast forward to 2022—how is Gimme Radio doing? The company announced $3 million in funding in partnership with iHeartMedia, with additional backing from Concord, Metal Blade Records, The Orchard, Riser House Entertainment, and Quartz Hill Records.

After the announcement that Gimme Radio is kaput come May 2023—Lenane revealed the $3 million number reported ‘at the time’ wasn’t quite accurate.  Digital Music News reported on the $3 million round as closing in May 2022 from a press release generated by Gimme Radio. However, Lanane reached out to us after the shut down announcement to clarify.

“I can confirm that the majority of our raise was completed in December of 2021.  I assume you are referring to the announcement of Telefonica joining the round in May of last year, but that was only the announcement of Telefonica‘s participation.  All but an extremely small piece was completed 17 months ago,” Lanane told us.

Gimme Radio raised over $500,000 in crowdfunding on SeedInvest to support its vision through 2019, before the pandemic. After the pandemic streaming boom, it attracted major investment from large firms like iHeartMedia. But the reported $3 million from iHeartMedia and subsequent investors wasn’t enough to keep the company afloat.

Less than 11 months after formally closing that round, Gimme Radio is shutting down.

Lenane says the company failed to secure an additional $5 million funding needed to help Gimme Radio continue. With a reported $9.2 million investment down the drain and an inability to scale even during the pandemic streaming boom, it’s little wonder why investors haven’t been chomping at the bit to throw more money into this seemingly bottomless wishing well of streaming promises.