UK-based 3tone Music Group raises $50m from Carlton James Group

Dean Roberts, 3tone Music Group

3tone Music Group announced today that it has raised new investment of USD $50 million from Carlton James Group – an existing backer of the UK-based music business.

UPDATE: According to a BBC report published in January 2024, 3tone is alleged to owe artists and ex-staff thousands of pounds. The report, which follows up on a story from trade publication CMU, cites former employees and artists who claim that the USD $50 million investment from Carlton James Group “was never received”. 

Describing itself as a “talent-focused music and media company,” 3tone is best known as an indie distributor and artist/label services company.

The Bristol, UK-headquartered firm offers unlimited digital distribution for independent artists to multiple streaming platforms for a single annual fee – making it a rival to the likes of TuneCore and DistroKid.

In addition (for higher-priced annual fees), 3tone offers artists premium services such as marketing, promotion, sync and playlist pitching.

3tone said today (September 6) that the new $50 million investment will fund further expansion for its distribution platform, while strengthening the company’s position across “Web3 and Media markets”.

Dean Roberts, CEO of 3tone Music Group, said ‘The time has come to put artists first; our next phase will cement this for our clients both old and new.

“Success doesn’t happen overnight, it comes with investment and time spent nurturing. There are no shortcuts to create headliners of tomorrow.

“This is where I truly believe 3tone is emerging. Carlton James Group have been an integral part, showing unwavering commitment.”

Chris Borud Managing Director of 3tone, said: ‘We are excited to help give artists, creators and their independent teams the tools and resources to succeed in such a competitive industry.

“With the continued commitment from Carlton James Group, the wheels are firmly in motion, and picking up considerable speed.”

The Carlton James Group is a private investment group with offices in the UK and US, whose other investment partners include i2 Media Group and The Coretec Group.

It first backed 3tone in 2019 with a USD $1.8 million line of credit.

“There are no shortcuts to create headliners of tomorrow. This is where I truly believe 3tone is emerging. Carlton James Group have been an integral part, showing unwavering commitment.”

Dean Roberts, 3tone

Simon Calton, CEO of Carlton James Group said: “Investment in the music industry is an integral part of our strategy.

“This industry has seen a dramatic change since the development of streaming. It has reshaped into a new dynamic vertical that needs dynamic leaders that are willing to adapt to an ever-changing environment whilst retaining their integrity with the artists.

“Our investment in the 3tone Music Group represents not only our belief in the Arts but more importantly our belief in the artist first approach of 3tone Music.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with 3tone Music whilst they help to push the music industry into the future.”

Dean Roberts possesses over 25 years of experience within the music business. He has worked with artists including the team of Amy Winehouse’s team, whose wealth of industry knowledge assisted in orchestrating over 20 million sales of Back to Black.

Chris Borud, has more than 15 years of experience in the music industry, having originally started in live music. Borud has worked with various platinum-selling artists, including John Newman, Cee Lo Green, Josh Groban and Jason Derulo, to name a few.

News of 3tone’s raise comes as others in the indie distribution space achieve sizable valuations: DistroKid last year secured a $1.3 billion valuation following investment from Insight Partners.

AWAL, a gated distribution and services platform for indie artists, was sold by Kobalt Music Group to Sony Music Group for $430 million last year. The deal was cleared by the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) in March 2022.Music Business Worldwide