News came late last week that SoundCloud had been saved, for now, by an emergency $169.5 million cash infusion. Co-founder Alex Ljung would step aside to make room for new CEO Kerry Trainor. But how can the new exec turn the deeply unprofitable music streamer around? Fortunately, he has a secret weapon, Fred Davis.
Over the last few weeks, even as SoundCloud teetered on the brink of total collapse, long time music industry advisor and investor Fred Davis, saw an opportunity. SoundCloud was certainly unprofitable; but it had a grown a large and loyal userbase of musicians and indie music fans. That, thought Davis, was worth saving.
Fred Davis is no stranger to music tech or the broader music industry. An experienced entertainment and media attorney, he served as an Executive Vice President at EMI Records. In 2010, Davis co-founded consultancy CODE, where he served an early advisor to Spotify, Shazam and others, helping the former launch in the U.S. and attract capital.
Then in 2014, Davis joined joined investment group and business advisory Raine as a Partner. That company's music related investments include concert promoters C3, Blackbird Presents and Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. As advisors, Raine and Davis have also worked with major Spotify investor Northstar, mega-agency WME/IMG, Vice Media, STX, Secret Sounds, Jingle Punks, and the National Music Publishers Association's sale of Harry Fox to SESAC.
In short., Fred Davis understands the modern music industry from just about every angle.
So, when he told his partners at Raine Group that they needed to lead a $169.5 million round alongside Singapore's Temasek to save SoundCloud, they listened, placing him on the streamer's board of directors. He also helped chose Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor to lead the company's turnaround.
An Artist Friendly Future?
Exactly what the pair have planned to save SoundCloud is in the planning stages, though it's likely to focus on that large community of creators that impressed Trainor in the first place.
“SoundCloud is a unique and essential music platform for new and developing artists,” said Davis just after the deal was consummated “For ten years, SoundCloud has been the birthplace of genre-breaking musical movements in Electronica and Hip Hop. We are excited to partner with Temasek on this investment and are confident our involvement can ensure it remains the most artist-friendly music creation and streaming platform in the world.”
“There is only one SoundCloud and its importance to creators and music culture is undeniable," echoed Trainor. "I’m very excited to join this talented team and build the next chapter of growth around SoundCloud’s mission to empower audio creators."
But as much as he loves SoundCloud, Fred Davis is an investor at his core. So users can expect that a sale is a part of SoundCloud's future, as well.