— — Apps

Social listening app Earbuds raises $3 million in Series A funding – TechCrunch

Most startup origin stories don’t begin on an NFL field, but that’s where founder, CEO, and offensive tackle Jason Fox conceptualized the idea behind Earbuds. As he watched first-overall draft pick Cam Newton warm up before a game in 2011, dancing to music, Fox couldn’t help but wonder what the future NFL MVP was listening to — and he bet that the crowd of 85,000 fans was curious, too. Ten years later, Earbuds has raised a $3 million Series A round for its social listening app, led by Ecliptic Capital, with additional investment from the Andre Agassi Foundation and LFG Ventures.

Since its launch in 2019, Earbuds has allowed users — famous artists, NFL stars, or ordinary people — to share their favorite playlists, Livestream music like a DJ, and comment on other people’s music picks. Some notable figures on the app include the artist Nelly and professional quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, the highest-paid player in the NFL. Mayfield and Mahomes are also investors in the app.

Social listening app

With this recent rise, Fox and his team of six plan to expand the app to add creator monetization tools, incentivizing people to use the app. Earbuds also announced that it hired two former Product and engineering leaders from Apple, David Ransom and Sean Moubry, who joined Earbuds as head of Products and Head of Engineering, respectively. Tech veteran Drew Larner also came aboard as a senior advisor and investor — in 2015, he sold the streaming app Rdio to Pandora. Pandora was then sold to Sirius XM for $3.5 billion in 2018.

Soon, Fox says. Earbuds should have integrations with paid versions of Amazon Music and Pandora. These integrations are how the app, available on iOS and Android, can source music for streaming. To use Earbuds, users must have a paid Spotify or Apple Music account. But regardless of which platform a listener uses, they can still take advantage of the social features on Earbuds, listening to live playlists and commenting with other listeners.

When you connect your account, you can easily import your existing playlists. Then, on the app, you can add voice clips to comment on your song choices. Users can save the playlist to their streaming service or share it as an Instagram story when listening to a stream. Fox declined to share monthly active user numbers but expressed confidence that soliciting users from other streaming platforms’ existing subscriber base won’t be a big hurdle for user acquisition; when it comes to paid streaming music subscribers, Spotify has 165 million users, Apple Music has at least 60 million, and Amazon music has at least 55 million.

“We want to continue to add additional streaming partners to accommodate everyone. We want to connect with all users regardless of their platform,” Fox said. Fox wants more musical artists to use the app. Still, given his background as an NFL player, much of the company’s existing marketing has been targeted toward athletes and sports fans — an exciting potential market for Earbudsise NCAA athletes, who are newly able to monetize their image and likeness. “You’ve got the quarterback before the big rivalry game, and they want to be able to monetize the fans while they’re listening to music and getting amped up with them before the game,” Fox explained.

Since these monetization tools haven’t rolled out yet, no in-app purchases ares available on Earbuds. This would give Earbuds, which isn’t yet profitable, another income stream. So far, the app has made money through in-app sponsored posts from partners like the NBA, the NFL playoffs, innovative speaker companies, and beverage companies. “We can continue to do that, but we feel like the majority of growth and revenue moving forward will be through partnerships, integrations, and supporting the creator economy,” Fox said. Currently, Earbuds has a partnership with Apple Music, so if someone subscribes to the platform via Earbuds, Earbuds gets a cut of their subscription payment. As streaming services like Spotify grow, social listening apps like Earbuds are emerging, too. Spotify has recently rolled out more social listening features, including a Music + Talk platform similar to Earbuds’ offerings.

Gemma Broadhurst
I am a writer by profession, and I love to write in my spare time. I am one of the most experienced writer for newspriest. I always make sure that whatever is written on my blog is 100% genuine and true. I am a University of Florida graduate pursuing a Master's degree.

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