Tame Impala performing his 2010 debut Innerspeaker from the oceanside studio where the album was made. St. Vincent bringing fans back to the ’70s in a psychedelic concert with a full band. Isaiah Rashad performing his album The House is Burning in, well, a burning house.
Those are just a handful of the virtual concerts that Moment House has powered over the past several months, and the self-described “social live media platform” just secured $12 million in Series A funding to do even more.
The funding announced today (Aug. 26) was led by Forerunner Ventures, with participation from a range of venture capital firms, executives and musicians who have worked with the company. That includes UTA Ventures, Cameo co-founder Devon Townsend’s Dumb Money Capital, Halsey, Kaytranada and his manager William Robillard-Cole, media entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt and executives from Spotify, YouTube, Adobe, Clubhouse and Discord.
“We’re not just building a livestream platform for a pandemic era,” Moment House co-founder and CEO Arjun Mehta tells Billboard. “It’s solving a real need through a very elegant user experience, and rethinking what the social experience can be.”
Mehta and his two co-founders, Nigel Egrari and Shray Bansal, launched Moment House in 2019 hoping to translate the lucrative world of live sports media to music. “Sports has been leveraging this format for decades now,” Mehta says. “Why is it that only Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather can leverage this digital live format to engage their fans all around the world, but if I’m Shawn Mendes, there’s no simple or elegant way to do so?”
Then, the pandemic happened, thrusting the music industry into the world of virtual shows. “COVID obviously accelerated the normalization of the format, but it also put forward this incorrect narrative that this is a replacement,” Mehta says. “It’s not at all a replacement.”
The company has attempted to prove that out with a slate of imaginative concerts (called “Moments”) tailored for at-home audiences with artists like Kygo, Kaytranada, Brockhampton, Marina, Bryson Tiller, Grouplove and Omar Apollo. Moment House also hosted Clive Davis’ virtual pre-Grammy gala earlier this year and handled ticketing for Justin Bieber’s New Year’s Eve livestream (which was delayed by its host, livestreaming platform VenewLive, due to unexpected last-minute demand — a technical obstacle few companies in this space are immune from). Early investors included Troy Carter, Scooter Braun, Steve Stoute and his company UnitedMasters, Kygo and his manager Myles Shear, Post Malone’s co-manager Austin Rosen, Logic’s manager Chris Zarou and Jared Leto.
Artists either work closely with the Moment House team to produce concerts, or use a self-serve option, which lets them create a Moment, set their price, add a merchandise bundle, go live and get paid on their own. Artists can also offer meet-and-greets and after-parties for a premium. Moment House gives artists 100% of ticket and merch sales, and makes its money through a 10% service fee tacked on to ticket sales. Mehta says that on the high end, artists are making multi-millions from their Moment House ticket sales, and to date, the company has processed 1 million tickets across 168 countries and an additional 44 territories.
As the physical touring industry mounts a comeback, Mehta says Moment House is working with acts like Tinashe on virtual tour stops to cap off their in-person tours. “Even if you do a 200-city world tour, that is still a fraction of your audience,” he says. “There are still so many people you’re not reaching.” Other artists are using Moment House to commemorate releases. This weekend, Halsey is partnering with Moment House to celebrate the release of her album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power with a one-night-only global performance.
Mehta says the new funding will be used primarily for two things. The first is scaling the team to ensure that Moment House can become “the go-to infrastructure” in the crowded marketplace for virtual concert platforms. Moment House has already poached executives from Spotify (Sam Berger, head of music at Moment House), WME (Michele Bernstein, marketing strategist) and AEG Presents (Casey McCabe, head of live music and strategy).
The second is improving the social element of the platform. Fans can currently converse through a chat box during shows, but “it’s hard to have those connections in a big group chat with 20,00 people,” Mehta points out. He’s looking into “sub-grouping” fans and other ways to help fans meet. “The goal is to deepen the sense of belonging and fan-to-fan connection that goes on during these experiences,” he says. “We’ve noticed that people connect every time. How do we make sure that they have better ways to connect and how do we persist those connections to be not just during the experience, but even before and long after?”
Going even further, he aims for Moment House to be a key part of the metaverse — that notion of a shared, virtual space where humans interact as avatars that tech heavyweights and music executives alike lately can’t stop talking about.
“You can’t just have this virtual world with nothing to do,” he says. “So as you move into the metaverse, it’s going to require a wealth of compelling digital experiences — and we are building an engine for that.”
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