The race to monetize music superfans is heating up, and one of the lead startups in the field says it’s in the process of raising millions more for its AI-powered superfan platform.
Social media platform and fan-centric home for celebrity obsessives Fave says it has raised USD $2 million in an ongoing funding round that it expects will reach $6 million.
The round has seen the return of early investors including Warner Music, Sony Music and the Female Founders Fund, as well as the arrival of some new investors, including Lyor Cohen, the Global Head of Music at Google and YouTube, and Shiva Rajaraman, the Chief Business Officer at OpenSea and a former VP at Meta and Spotify.
Other new investors include Alexandra Moore, Chief Business Officer at Empire and former General Manager at Amazon; Gen-Z expert and gaming investor Faye Maidment, as part of the Atomico Angel Program; and Switzerland-based investors Alberto Cozzi and Mario Andrea Cozzi.
Several investment funds also joined the round, including Xoogler.co, which focuses on investments in former Google employee startups, as well as “the world’s first closed-loop investment firm” Goodwater and venture capital firm Gaingels.
The company previously raised $2.2 million in a seed round in 2021.
Founded by and run by Jacquelle Amankonah Horton, the Fave platform launched in beta in 2021 as a place for fandoms to congregate, share stories of their favorite artists and dissect song lyrics. It also hosts a fan-made merch marketplace.
The platform quickly attracted a number of fandoms, including Taylor Swift’s Swifties, Bruno Mars’ Hooligans, and the BTS ARMY, fans of K-pop outfit BTS, whose label HYBE is an early backer of Fave.
“I can’t think of a better person to take on this mission,” Rajaraman said of Horton in a statement. “She’s crafted a clear plan with high impact that puts fans first while making it easy for creators to engage. It’s my honor to join this round and support the team.”
Fave credits its “groundbreaking” deals with music companies to its “AI-powered fan intelligence” and its “laser focus on empowering superfans.” The company says it plans to launch a “suite of products for artist teams to find and reach superfans using this unique intelligence.”
The capital raised in the latest round will be used “to deepen the power of these tools, to expand them into other entertainment markets, and to create more meaningful ways for fans to come together on- and offline, like never before,” Fave said in a statement.
The funding round comes at a time when the music industry is increasingly turning its attention towards the monetization of superfans as a potentially very large source of revenue.
While streaming platforms like Spotify work on new products and services to engage superfans, startups are also jumping into the space, promising to bring super fans together with artists in monetizable ways. And increasingly, like Fave, these businesses are beginning to bring AI into the mix, both as creative tools for fans or artists, and as analytical tools for creators and marketers.
“We’ve spent years advocating for superfans. The entertainment business has started to understand just how crucial they are to artists’ longevity, and they are turning to us as the experts.”
Jacquelle Amankonah Horton, Fave
As one example, fan engagement platform Afterparty.ai recently announced it had closed a $5-million funding round, capital the company plans to use to develop its new AI-powered platform, which will enable fans to have one-to-one interactions with their favorite artists by way of AI-generated content.
In the latest edition of the Music In The Air report, analysts at Goldman Sachs estimated that a full monetization of superfans could increase the music industry’s revenue by around $4 billion. That number is based on estimates that 20% of current music streaming paying subscribers are superfans, and that they would be willing to spend twice as much on music as non-super fans.
“We’ve spent years advocating for superfans,” Horton said in a statement. “The entertainment business has started to understand just how crucial they are to artists’ longevity, and they are turning to us as the experts.
“We’ve thankfully built strong trust with fans, and our products are seen as win-win, finally allowing the industry to efficiently see who an artist’s biggest supporters are, what activities they are engaging in across the fan experience, and at what intensity level – even the things fans do that no one else captures like having a tattoo about the artist or memorizing all of their lyrics – which are far better signs of fandom than the black box of streaming data alone.
“The strength of our relationships across the music industry has allowed us to turn our supporters into our customers, and we’re excited to move into creator communities beyond music that can just as powerfully benefit from recognizing and better understanding their most passionate fans.”
In a 2021 interview with MBW, Horton said her platform is experimenting with different kinds of fandoms, and she’s interested particularly to see how sports fandoms would evolve on Fave.
“Sports is really good at fandom and leveraging their fans already, but do they have any value with this?” she asked.
In a lot of cases, what works for one fandom doesn’t work for another.
“Even between the Swifties and ARMY, they’re very different fandoms. What works for one does not work for the other, but we want to learn about the nuances that do work to equip fan partners with a playbook they can use to start building their own fandoms… As soon as we gather this data we’ll be opening the floodgates to many more fandoms.”Music Business Worldwide