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Monthly Archives: January 2022
By: Jay Cridlin – Tampa Bay Times
A business that’s spent more than 15 years growing in and around Tampa’s music scene has raked in $37 million in its latest round of fundraising.
Symphonic Distribution, a music distribution and streaming-focused tech firm based in downtown Tampa, closed its Series B round in late 2021, with Philadelphia’s NewSpring Capital leading the way. Tampa’s Ballast Point Ventures, which led the company’s $4 million Series A fundraising in 2017, also participated.
“We just felt like there’s so much capital out there that now would be a good time to explore some opportunities,” Symphonic CEO Jorge Brea said. “Thankfully that worked out.”
In a statement, NewSpring partner Brian Kim said Symphonic’s technology “offers independent artists the tools needed to supercharge their careers and expand their reach.
“We’ve been impressed for a long time with what Jorge and the team are building at Symphonic,” Kim said, “everything from their patented technology to their incessant focus on putting the independent artist first.”
Brea founded Symphonic in Wesley Chapel in 2006, working with independent artists both local and national to get their music onto streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, as well as distributing it through more traditional, physical means. The company sponsored local concerts in Tampa Bay and showcases at South By Southwest, among other ventures, and expanded to an office of nearly 30 in downtown Tampa. Today, the company has dozens of employees in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, South America, Europe and Africa.
Even as parts of the music industry shut down during the pandemic, there was still “a lot of excitement and interest in this space,” Brea said, with publishing companies shelling out huge sums for music rights, and firms making hefty investments in Symphonic competitors like DistroKid and United Masters.
“There’s a good runway for the music industry to keep going,” he said.
With the $37 million investment, Brea plans to hire, doubling his technology staff to 20 or even 30, and adding A&R representatives to work the music side of the business. Symphonic might explore acquisitions of complementary companies in Europe to expand its footprint in the music-tech space.
The company is also keeping an eye on the nascent NFT world and what blockchain technologies could mean for the world of music distribution.
“For us, we’re not looking to build a marketplace, but rather work with key artists, maybe ones that have a certain level of traction, to partner up with various exchanges and just help coordinate drops and market them,” Brea said. “We’re wanting to keep an open mind and be able to work with many artists, but be selective in the process, as well as work with many exchanges, just because there’s so many of them now.”
Before the pandemic, Symphonic had looked at expanding its downtown Tampa footprint. Those plans have scaled back as the company has adopted more of a hybrid work model. But with this latest infusion of out-of-state capital, they have all sorts of options.
“I’ve loved Tampa ever since I moved here in ‘92,” Brea said, “and just to be a part of this city and be able to help put more business eyes on it as well is a very, very awesome thing.”
By: Lauren Coffey
Tampa Bay Business Journal
Tampa-based investment firm Ballast Point Ventures has closed its latest fund with $190 million in commitments.
The firm’s initial goal for its fourth fund was $165 million, which it closed in January 2021. But interest from investors, both old and new alike, continued to climb.
Institutional investors, family offices and about 50 entrepreneurs participated in the fourth fund, with roughly 100 total investors.
An oversubscribed fund is not particularly unique for Ballast Point, which oversubscribed nearly $25 million in its third fund in 2015. Partner Drew Graham said anything below $200 million is “key” to sticking to the company’s strategy. That strategy means investing in three to four companies per year, with investments that run between $5 million to $15 million.
It’s a strategy that helps Ballast Point stand out, according to partner Paul Johan.
“The companies that aren’t ready for a $15 million to $20 million round can be in a position for a $5 million check, and we don’t have to pressure them to take more capital,” Johan said. “A lot in the region we don’t see competing in that size, the $5 million to $8 million [rounds]. It’s where we’ve been the last five years, and it’s positioned us well.”
Ballast Point was founded in 2001 and has partnered with over 50 companies across its four funds. It invests in companies across the Southeast. The firm primarily focuses on technology and health care, which have seen upticks during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have companies that were largely impacted [by Covid-19], mainly on the health care side,” said Matt Rice, a partner at Ballast Point who leads the health care practice. “The good thing about having a diversified portfolio, a big chunk is software and technology — which benefitted during the pandemic. … Like a lot of entrepreneurs, we also had to adapt in order to get to a successful outcome.”
Rice added remote patient care is a trend Ballast Point is following. Partner Robert Faber, who focuses on technology, said he has some trends to focus on with the new fund.
“We’re big believers in data to make decisions; we spend a lot of time in cybersecurity,” Faber said. “Any business-to-business tool which simplifies and takes the frustration out of the process.”
Ballast Point has already begun deploying capital from its fourth fund, investing in four Florida companies over the last year:
- March: Led an $8 million Series A in Bradenton-based Pacemate
- May: Participated in a recapitalization for Lutz-based Suncoast Skin Solutions
- September: Led a $5 million Series B in Santa Rosa Beach-based Key Data
- December: Invested in a $37 million Series B for Tampa-based Symphonic Distribution
“All four being in Florida is huge for us,” Partner Sean Barkman said. “And hopefully, we’ll end up with a majority of companies in Florida in this next fund.”
Leading Music Technology Platform and Distributor Symphonic Raises $37M, Led by NewSpring and Ballast Point Ventures
January 4, 2022 – Starting the new year off on a high note, leading independent music distributor and technology platform Symphonic Distribution announces that it has received a $37M Series B investment. Led by NewSpring and Ballast Point Ventures, the new investment comes on the heels of funding announcements by other industry participants, further solidifying investor interest in music technology and distribution.
The financial milestone follows a string of exciting announcements for Symphonic, including partnerships with TIDAL and Joyner Lucas’s music start-up, Tully, as well as expansions into Africa and Mexico. Headquartered in Florida and with international presence in Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and more, Symphonic remains a 100% independent distribution and music technology company that continues to work with some of today’s most unique and innovative artists.
Given its Tampa location, Ballast Point Ventures has worked closely with the team at Symphonic since its Series A investment in 2017.
“Watching Jorge and Taylor scale a homegrown Tampa technology company in the fast-growing music industry has been very impressive. We are excited to continue as their partner for this next leg of growth, and we are further excited to welcome NewSpring to the investor group as Symphonic prepares for its future growth.” – Robert Faber, Partner, Ballast Point Ventures
NewSpring Growth, NewSpring’s dedicated growth and expansion strategy, partners with industry-transforming, fast-growing companies with talented, innovative management teams to support their growth, and Symphonic represents exactly the type of company the strategy targets for investment.
“As the global trend toward streaming continues to guide the future of the music industry, Symphonic’s distribution platform offers independent artists the tools needed to supercharge their careers and expand their reach. We’ve been impressed for a long time with what Jorge and the team are building at Symphonic, everything from their patented technology to their incessant focus on putting the independent artist first. We look forward to working closely with Jorge and Ballast Point Ventures to broaden its offering and help Symphonic reach even higher levels of growth.” – Brian Kim, Partner, NewSpring
Founded in 2006 by music producer Jorge Brea, Symphonic provides global digital music and video distribution through a comprehensive and best-in-class technology platform, marketing planning and strategy, including playlist support, and a comprehensive suite of services for artists, record labels, managers, and distributors. Symphonic has worked with clients such as Surf Mesa, Stick Figure, CloZee, Laura Marano, Rachel Bradshaw, El Alfa, Juan Luis Guerra, Pi’erre Bourne, DJ Nu-Mark, Doechii, Nick Murphy aka Chet Faker, and La Ross Maria among many others across a wide variety of genres worldwide.
“On behalf of all of the team members of Symphonic, I can’t put into words how excited we are about the next chapter. The partnership with NewSpring, along with our existing investor, Ballast Point Ventures, will help position Symphonic as a strong market leader in independent music technology, services and distribution. This investment will enable us to invest more in our clients, our technology platform, strategic initiatives, intellectual property and other acquisitions.” – Jorge Brea, CEO, Symphonic
NewSpring partners with the innovators, makers, and operators of high-performing companies in dynamic industries to catalyze new growth and seize compelling opportunities. The Firm manages approximately $2.5 billion across five distinct strategies covering the spectrum from growth equity and control buyouts to mezzanine debt. Having invested in over 175 companies, NewSpring brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and resources to take growing companies to the next level and beyond. Partnering with management teams to help develop their businesses into market leaders, NewSpring identifies opportunities and builds relationships using its network of industry leaders and influencers across a wide array of operational areas and industries. To learn more, visit www.newspringcapital.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures (“BPV”), headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including software, technology-enabled business services, and healthcare. Ballast Point Ventures has over $500 million under management across four Funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $5 million to $15 million. For additional information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.