Key Stats: Launch on Wefunder
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The Launch team has been selected as an “Underweighted Deal” by KingsCrowd. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology, please reach out to email@example.com.
Music is a genuinely universal language, and humans have sought comfort through music for thousands of years. Music is proven to reduce stress, one of many reasons why 52% of Americans attend some sort of live music event each year.
Of course, music only exists thanks to the artists that create it. There are hundreds of thousands of performing musicians in this country striving to make it big and share their music with the world. Unfortunately, independent (indie) musicians often struggle to make money. The process of making music and performing it at small venues nationwide can be arduous without the support of a professional recording label or team of managers.
Despite the difficulty of succeeding as an independent artist, the popularity of music indie and musicians is increasing rapidly. One report found that independent artists generated over $643 million in revenue in 2018, a 35% increase from 2017. Sharing music with fans is easier than ever thanks to social media. Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic has normalized virtual connections to artists. It seems that independent artists may be poised to claim more power than ever over the music industry.
Launch is a concert production company focused on connecting independent artists with fans through both live and virtual music experiences. Launch was founded out of a pilot series of 50 events. It was incorporated in April 2020 to reimagine the way that independent musicians generate revenue from concerts.
Launch’s core thesis is that independent artists are stronger together. Conceiving and producing live music events is not particularly profitable. However, if artists band together to develop events and share the profits, everyone might stand to succeed.
Launch’s 50 initial concert events in early 2020 generated $65,000 in revenue. The team booked artists for a two-month-long festival (later cancelled due to coronavirus), partnered with Jack Daniels for the “Give a Jack” concert series, and developed a 24-hour livestreamed virtual concert with artists around the world during the pandemic.
Launch is still in the very early stages of business and does not report having generated meaningful revenue since April 2020.
Launch CEO Brian Stollery has several years of experience as a video editor and videographer. He transitioned into the music industry during the end of his career in video. He later worked in business development and music booking for two music companies before founding Launch.
COO Hester Li spent a brief period working in music event planning before transitioning into a career in industrial consulting. Wesley Powell, Co-Founder of Launch, does not appear to be working full-time on the business. He has over 20 years of experience in the finance industry and currently serves as the CEO of a financial lending and consulting firm.
Launch was on the verge of rolling out a live music subscription service that would allow users to pay a flat monthly fee to attend all Launch events. Then… the pandemic happened. The company has now pivoted to focus on virtual concerts and still apparently plans to roll out the live music subscription when times are more stable.
With this fundraise, Launch plans to build the technology platform that will allow them to both host more virtual live concerts and kickoff the live music subscription service. The remainder of funds will be used to hire marketing and production managers and to pay legal and startup costs.
After careful consideration of the company’s areas of opportunity and seeming weaknesses, Launch has been ranked as an Underweight deal. Investors should consider two critical uncertainties when evaluating this deal:
- Lack of traction and product-market fit: Unfortunately, Launch simply has not had the time to demonstrate that its business model is differentiated enough to thrive in the crowded music industry. While the company produced many live events in its pilot program, the core premise of the company relies on a more sophisticated model of artist co-op and live music subscriptions. These plans were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. It is therefore difficult to know whether those key points of the business model will yield revenue and returns for investors.
- Concerns about scalability: The major downside of Launch’s lack of traction is that investors must conservatively assume that the business sustains itself with a primary focus on live events. These live music events are simply not scalable: the hours of labor and costs required to produce each event will not diminish over time (unless Launch can develop a sophisticated technological system to streamline the process). It is therefore unlikely that investors will yield a return from a company that grows in a linear fashion by hosting more events.
- Stiff competition in the live music space: Launch is not the first company to tackle independent music concerts or a live music subscription. Sofar offers intimate live music events around the world, and has raised $38.1 million over nine years. Jukely offers a $25/month concert subscription and has raised $11.4 million over eight years. Many other companies are offering independent artists new ways to share their music with fans. Given Launch’s unfortunate luck of being founded and kicked off during the coronavirus pandemic, it is unlikely that the company can compete with better-funded competitors.
Launch is addressing a growing market of independent musicians and fans and did see some early success with live concerts. However, there is little evidence that the company is prepared to weather the coronavirus pandemic and create and scale a differentiated music concept that can compete with leaders in the space. Therefore, Launch is an Underweight deal.
About: Katy dolan
Katy is a marketing and research consultant to startups (including VC-backed companies, small businesses, and advocacy movements). With experience in tech, venture capital, politics, and non-profits, Katy partners with clients to strategize and execute compelling campaigns focused on user experience and empathetic narrative. Katy graduated cum laude from Harvard College with an AB in Sociology.