Livestreaming platform Maestro announced on Tuesday that it has closed a $15 Million Series B investment round, courting Sony Music Entertainment — the second largest of the “big three” music labels — along with Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and several venture capital firms as investors.
Chinese technology company NetEase, Acronym Venture Capital and Moonwell Capital, founded by former Activision Blizzard executives also joined in the round. Maestro has raised $22 million to date.
As concerts remain on hold, livestreaming has grown increasingly competitive, for artists and livestreaming platforms alike. Sony is the latest major music company to put cash into the livestreaming market, joining Live Nation, which recently bought a majority stake in Joel and Benji Madden’s livestreaming platform Veeps — along with competing record company Universal Music, which invested in Big Hit Entertainment’s platform VenewLive earlier this year.
Maestro didn’t specify how much individual investors paid, nor its new valuation. But the white-label platform’s revenue tripled in 2020, the company says, and it has hosted several prominent livestreams in the past year for artists including Billie Eilish, Post Malone and Tim McGraw, and for corporate entities like Epic Games, Wave and ViacomCBS. It’s also paid out millions to creators who’ve aired paid shows on the platform, Maestro said.
Maestro has many features, from integrating merchandise sales, to ticket subscriptions and chat features. CEO Ari Evans says Maestro wants to become a one-stop shop for creators in the livestreaming space, and with its new funding, Maestro looks to expand its growth in the music space, introduce a more affordable tier for smaller artists and creators, and eventually open up a developer platform that allows third party developers to make features of their own that could operate in Maestro.
“We’re fueling more artists. We’re fueling promoters who want to have a livestreaming business. Furloughed Agents are now coming together booking talent, and they’re using our platform to have the tech solved for them,” Evans tells Rolling Stone. “We’re working with the labels, all three of the majors. We’re also working with artists individually in some cases. We’re thinking a lot about what is every step of your path from when you create the content to when you distribute it and monetize it. Anything that you are doing around video, we want to eventually be the one-stop shop that does it all. We’re the closest to being the full solution in the market today and the funding can cement our ability to get there first.”
Maestro, founded in 2015, believes its more refined technology and experience along with the new funding will keep the company ahead of the pack going forward. “Our attitude is bring it,” Evans says. “We didn’t just spin up yesterday to do this. We’ve been doing this a long time. We have the most robust product, there’s over 250 features in Maestro. You can’t can’t really do that overnight.”
Sony Music Entertainment’s president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker said in a statement: “We are pleased to be supporting the continued development of Maestro as part of our ongoing investment in new technologies that provide artists with cutting-edge tools and solutions for growing their careers. Maestro gives artists greater flexibility and control to build the most engaging and customized events for their fans, allowing creators at any stage of their career to put together a world class live stream event.”
As the live music business readies for an eventual return, livestreaming seems poised to remain a facet of the industry — although to what extent isn’t clear. Some insiders have told Rolling Stone the platform’s biggest value lies with intimate digital meet and greets with fans. In an investor call for Live Nation’s earnings report last week, CEO Michael Rapino said he didn’t know if livestreaming itself was a business or more of a feature in the company’s longer term business.
Evans is bullish, citing the high revenue potential of digital shows which don’t need to have a cap on audience size. “Every study that has been conducted by very prominent researchers has come back saying that people are still going to want to do live digital events even after things go back to normal,” he says. “A lot of shows we’ve done, they’re performed at venues that would be 5,000 people, maximum. And then they’re doing shows livestreamed from those venues for 30,000 to 50,000 people. Even if the ticket price is a fraction of the in-person ticket, revenue might be equal, you might double the revenue for that event. That’s massive. How do you ignore that?”