Breakr, a Nas-backed startup with $9m raised to date, wants to ‘democratize’ music marketing with its AI-driven tech platform

Influencer marketing is big business. According to the recently published State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report for 2024, the influencer marketing sector is estimated to be worth $24 billion by the end of 2024.

The Influencer Marketing Hub report also shows that 59.4% of marketers surveyed for its study plan to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next 12 months.

Tony Brown, CEO of music marketing platform Breakr, argues that the shift from traditional paid media to influencer marketing will only accelerate “as organic content continues to outperform paid ads”.

Led by Tony Brown and his brother Ameer Brown (President & CTO), Atlanta-based Breakr provides software and infrastructure for labels and artists to connect directly with influencers.

The company’s co-founders claim that they want to “democratize” access to music marketing and cut out the middlemen operating via what they call the “traditional dispatch agency model” that connects influencers with marketers in the music business.

Breakr claims that “hidden 40% fees” charged by “middlemen agencies” have “frustrated many execs for years”.

“Labels and artists have been paying middlemen agencies — often with no exclusive rosters — exorbitant fees for a limited pool of talent,” the company’s co-founders tell us.

“Even as tools emerged to ease dispatch agency operations, the savings, unfortunately, were not passed on to labels and artists. Agencies kept their 40% fees hidden and high,” says Breakr’s Ameer Brown.

Breakr’s co-founders explain that they started building out their company to challenge this model.

They claim that their platform benefits labels, who can use it to “build [their] own creator network”; talent agencies to “enjoy fair compensation”; and indie artists to “reach the right audience and build authentic fan connections”.

Breakr’s platform features a global database of 55 million creators and 70,000 users, including influencers, labels, artists, and brands.

Tony Brown tells us the platform onboards “hundreds” of creators each week, and that its daily active usage “has increased significantly”. In May alone, Breakr reports to have experienced a 26% increase in daily active users and a 50% increase in revenue.

Additionally, since opening its beta to the public in April, Breakr reports to have seen a 200% increase in active labels. Breakr says that there are about 50 labels and brands currently using the platform, including Interscope Records, Capitol Records, Live Nation Urban, Epic Records, Red Bull Records, and music distributor The Orchard.

Veteran music executive Bryan Calhoun, who provides digital strategy to Lil Wayne, The Roots, Jill Scott, and other artists, tells us that he’s “been disappointed with a lot of influencer marketing, but that Breakr’s platform and support make it efficient and cost-effective”.

He adds: “Performance metrics rival or beat traditional ad campaigns, but come across as a lot more authentic to fans. This will be a part of all kinds of marketing campaigns I work on going forward.”

The concept and tech platform developed by Breakr have also caught the eye of several high-profile investors from the tech, music, and private equity worlds, and the company has raised USD $9 million to date.

Amongst the startup’s investors are rap legend Nas, Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff, Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners (Scout Fund), and Slow Ventures.

The platform’s tech, which Tony Brown calls “the cornerstone of Breakr’s success”, includes an extendable API, a Patented Wallet System, geographical targeting for campaigns, and “AI-Driven Insights”.

Breakr also claims that its software allows labels and digital marketers to match Spotify data with audience data in its global search and discovery tool.

This, according to the startup, allows its users to target consumers as “efficiently as Google and Meta ads via creators by geography, language, gender, interests, affinity to the artist, and age”.

Breakr says that its database also lets labels analyze past campaigns and identify “effective creator-artist pairings”.  The company’s co-founders tell us that its “AI-powered insight is invaluable for optimizing future campaigns”.

A recent artist case study highlighted by Breakr is CharlieOnnaFriday, whose team the startup says it has worked closely with since late 2020 alongside the artist’s co-manager, Geoff Ogunlesi.

Breakr says that it ran early influencer campaigns and “leveraged Charlie’s viral content strategies”.

Using Breakr’s creator indexing engine, they targeted regional audiences, focusing on the middle of America. Breakr reports that one of the campaigns generated over 110 million views.

Breakr says that it started working with Charlie at around 5,000 monthly listeners and that he has since seen his audience grow to 3 million monthly listeners.

The startup also reports that CharlieOnnaFriday’s streams have increased from 50,000 to over 1 billion globally, and that his social media following has grown by more than 3 million since he and his team started working with Breakr.

Before launching Breakr, CEO Tony Brown spent 10 years in the financial services industry, split between Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Manat, a management consulting firm that focuses on entertainment and digital health.

Breakr co-founder and CTO Ameer Brown, meanwhile, was a software engineer at Adobe for six years, where he contributed to the growth of graphic design platform Adobe Spark, now Adobe Express, which hit 10 million users in just three years.

Looking to the future, Tony Brown predicts that music industry marketing will increasingly focus on “direct-to-fan engagement and organic content creation.”

But the company’s co-founders also explain that Breakr’s vision extends beyond music. They claim that their upcoming ‘Breakr for Brands’ initiative will open up the platform’s 55 million-plus creator database to brands and agencies across various industries to find the right influencers for their campaigns.

“Breakr is more than a platform; it’s a movement towards a more transparent, efficient, and creator-centric marketing landscape,” says Breakr CEO Tony Brown. “By eliminating unnecessary fees and empowering direct connections, Breakr is shaping the future of the music industry and beyond.”

Here, Breakr’s co-founders tell us more about the company’s ambitions, their predictions for marketing in the music industry and the state of the wider creator economy.

How is Breakr positioned in the music industry today and how do you want Breakr to be positioned in the coming years?

Today, Breakr is positioned as a leader in enabling direct-to-creator relationships in the music industry. We provide a comprehensive suite of tools for analytics, payments, search and discovery, and CRM, which help labels and brands invest more effectively in creators.

Our vision for the future is to become the infrastructure that channels more capital from record labels and brands directly into the hands of creators. We aim to eliminate the need for costly middlemen and usher in an era of transparency and efficiency in creator marketing.

Could you explain how the Breakr platform works for creators, artists, and labels – can anyone sign up, or is there an application/vetting process?

Breakr allows every creator in the world to be visible on our platform. However, creators must be invited and vetted by a buyer based on their data, past content, growth rates, and engagement metrics. Labels and independent artists can sign up, but the system ensures that only high-quality creators and buyers participate.

This vetting process maintains the integrity and effectiveness of our platform, ensuring that both sides benefit from meaningful and genuine collaborations.

Could you tell us about the specific Monetization Opportunities for artists on the platform?

While artists don’t directly monetize on Breakr, the platform serves as a catalyst for their broader monetization efforts. By helping artists gain more views and organic traction on social media, Breakr enhances their chances of success with playlist pitching, increasing streams on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Additionally, we facilitate licensing deals between brands and artists, providing significant revenue opportunities. Our growing catalog of songs is available for brand partnerships, ensuring that artists can benefit financially from these collaborations.

Breakr indirectly boosts artists’ monetization by amplifying their online presence and engagement. This increased visibility helps artists secure better opportunities for playlist placements and streaming success. Furthermore, our platform supports brand partnerships, where artists can license their music for commercial use, generating additional revenue streams. By fostering these opportunities, Breakr plays a crucial role in the financial growth and sustainability of artists in the digital age.

Breakr says that it reduces marketing costs by 40% by eliminating unnecessary and hidden fees. Could you give us a bit more insight into this cost reduction stat?

The 40% cost reduction comes from eliminating the traditional dispatch agencies that mark up fees significantly. Breakr leverages technology to streamline processes and reduce manual labor, enabling us to charge only 5% for our services. By indexing the entire creator economy and providing comprehensive data, we remove the need for middlemen who traditionally added significant costs. This efficiency ensures that more of the marketing budget goes directly to creators, improving campaign performance and delivering better value for labels and brands.

By using Breakr, labels and brands can bypass the high fees charged by traditional dispatch agencies. Our platform’s technology automates many of the manual processes, reducing the need for extensive human intervention.

This allows us to offer our services at a fraction of the cost, only charging a small transaction fee. The comprehensive data and indexing capabilities we provide also mean that labels and brands can make more informed decisions, leading to more effective and efficient marketing campaigns.

Breakr has surpassed 70,000 creators. What has driven this growth and how fast is your creator network growing on a monthly basis?

Our creator network has experienced a 125% month-over-month increase in new sign-ups. This growth is driven primarily by the labels uploading funds into the Breakr wallet, attracting creators through compelling offers. We don’t spend money on marketing to creators; instead, our indexing engine and high response rates (around 70%) drive organic growth. As labels continue to spend more through Breakr, the creator network expands rapidly. For example, we grew 50% month-over-month in May and 100% in the previous month, reflecting the increasing demand for our platform.

The rapid growth of our creator network is a testament to the value that Breakr provides. By leveraging our platform’s technology, labels can quickly and efficiently connect with creators, leading to a high volume of transactions and engagements. The organic growth is further supported by the quality of the interactions and the success stories that emerge from our platform, attracting more creators to join. This cycle of growth and engagement ensures that Breakr continues to expand its network at an impressive rate.

Breakr has raised $9 million in venture funding so far from prominent investors, including Andreessen Horowitz. Tell us about the significance of Breakr and its long-term goals of having such high-profile investors onboard.

Having high-profile investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Marc Benioff is significant for Breakr’s growth and credibility. These investors bring not only capital but also invaluable expertise and networks. They have helped shape our product and business strategy, ensuring we build a robust and scalable platform. Their support underscores the potential of Breakr to revolutionize the creator economy. Our long-term goal is to expand beyond music into other verticals such as travel, beauty, lifestyle, and CPG, leveraging our strong foundation in music to attract more brands and creators.

The involvement of these prominent investors provides us with strategic guidance and opens doors to new opportunities. Their belief in Breakr’s vision validates our approach and helps us attract additional talent and partnerships. By leveraging their expertise and networks, we aim to scale Breakr into new markets and verticals, continually innovating and expanding our reach. This support positions Breakr to become a pivotal player in the broader creator economy, driving growth and success for creators across various industries.

What are your predictions for the way marketing will evolve in the music industry in years to come?

In the coming years, music industry marketing will emphasize direct-to-fan engagement and organic content creation. Labels will develop their own creator networks, minimizing dependence on external agencies.

The shift from traditional paid media to influencer marketing will speed up as organic content outperforms paid ads. Breakr is well-positioned to support this transition by offering the infrastructure needed for labels to scale their influencer marketing efforts effectively.

What are your predictions for the wider creator economy?

The wider creator economy will see a significant shift towards direct relationships between brands and creators. As technology enables better targeting and engagement, more marketing budgets will move from traditional paid media to creator partnerships.

The consolidation of the creator economy into a centralized infrastructure, like Breakr, will enhance efficiency and transparency, driving growth and innovation. Breakr aims to be the backbone of this economy, providing the tools and support needed for creators and brands to thrive.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be and why?

I would eliminate the use of dispatch agencies that charge exorbitant fees for connecting labels with creators. These middlemen often add unnecessary costs and inefficiencies, taking a significant portion of the marketing budget without adding proportional value. By moving to a more transparent and direct system, we can ensure that more of the budget goes directly to creators, fostering a fairer and more efficient industry. Additionally, I would advocate for greater scrutiny of third-party fees to ensure fairness and transparency across the board.Music Business Worldwide

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