Jan 31, 2023
Atlanta R&B Factory Love Renaissance Sets Its Sights on Africa
(Bloomberg) -- Atlanta-based music company Love Renaissance has raised more than $25 million from investor Matt Pincus, money it will use to expand its business at home and into the booming markets of Nigeria, South Africa and the UK.
The investment values LVRN, as the label is known, at more than $100 million, said Tunde Balogun, the company’s president. Balogun co-founded LVRN in 2012 alongside four friends, part of a crop of Atlanta-based music industry players churning out hit records and influencing global culture.
LVRN is best known for its work with artists 6lack and Summer Walker, two R&B singers from Georgia, and the company’s first raise of outside capital will allow it to identify more promising artists. Yet as global streaming services eliminate boundaries between regional music markets, Balgoun and his partners also see an opportunity to develop similar talent overseas.
The Middle East and North Africa region was the fastest-growing in the music industry during 2021. Last year, consumption of world music, which includes music from Africa, spiked more than 20% in the US.
“You can see on all the charts, especially Spotify, a global majority of the hits are coming from territories that you may not have expected five years ago,” said Balogun, who spent December meeting industry figures in Ghana. “Once a place like Nigeria gets full access to cheap internet or data, you’re literally gonna see numbers that probably dwarf anything here in the states.”
Pincus has become one of the biggest investors in the music industry since selling his business Songs Music Publishing, which worked with The Weeknd and Lorde. He raised $200 million to invest in music businesses and has also invested in the music technology company Splice. He partnered with Francisco Partners to buy Kobalt Music Group Ltd. (including his old Songs library).
LVRN is one of his biggest investments thus far. He was introduced to Balogun by a mutual friend during the depths of the coronavirus pandemic and saw an opportunity to build another SONGS. The growing amount of new music released every day has made it harder and harder for individual songs to break out. Even the biggest hits command less attention than they did five or ten years ago.
Pincus believes executives closer to artists – like those at managers and smaller labels – will have an advantage because they can spend more time developing the artists. “I’m buying into the dream,” Pincus said.
All five of LVRN’s founders are children of immigrants, three of them from Africa. The founders first coalesced a decade ago around a shared frustration with the lack of romantic music, especially for women. Hip-hop and electronic music were the two biggest genres with young listeners. Their label name, Love Renaissance, is literal. They wanted to stage a musical renaissance with love.
The group’s first stars were DRAM and 6lack. DRAM’s song Broccoli reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while 6lack’s debut album went platinum in the US (meaning it sold the equivalent of more than 1 million copies). They’ve since found even bigger success with Walker, whose most recent record topped the Billboard charts.
The company has also expanded from its roots as a management firm, forming a record label through a joint venture with Interscope, as well as a music publishing partnership with Warner Chappell.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.