Memphis is widely considered to be the birthplace of the music we love today. It’s also the hometown of George Monger, the founder and CEO of Connect Music — a Black-owned music startup launched in 2020. More specifically, the Memphis-based company is a music monetization platform that provides distribution and publishing administration services.
As Black creators are disproportionately affected by the downfalls of the industry, Monger has been dedicated to proving that music is an asset class by helping the group own their music and become profitable during today’s streaming era. The founder has gone on to have over 200 label clients and developed editorial partnerships with streaming giants Pandora, Spotify, and Apple. Addiontally, Monger has also gotten Boosie Badazz on board as part-owner of Connect Music.
Putting Artists At The Forefront
Valuing artists is at the core of the company as he has worked to assemble a team of people with experience across various industries. With such a collaboration of skilled minds, Connect Music works to expose independent artists to opportunities that will leverage their likeness and brand to increase revenue.
In the act of building a community for entertainment-focused entrepreneurs, Connect Music bought a property for its headquarters for $2.5 million, per Memphis Inno. The bold move aligns with the team’s big goal to raise $15 million to $20 million after garnering over $1 million in revenue in its first full year, completed a $600,000 seed funding round in the fall. Now, with its latest announcement, the company is continuing the energy of “Go big or go home.”
New Fund For Indie Artists
According to a press release shared with AfroTech, Connect Music has partnered with Preserver Partners — an investment management firm in Memphis — to establish a $10 million credit facility for indie artists to aid in them having the ability to fully self-invest into their talent toward long-term success.
“Our relationship really began from a goal to want to improve how creators were paid,” Monger told AfroTech. “The significance of Memphis as a music town, so much creative talent comes out of Memphis — typically having to move from the community in order to make things happen. By Floyd being a local based business with $300 million in assets and with Connect Music being a local based startup, we just thought that the synergy was ideal as we see a burgeoning music economy.”
Plans For The Partnership
The credit facility aims “to foster economic empowerment through ownership of intellectual property rights in visual, musical, and sound recording copyrights.” Artists connected to the new initiative will receive a team, infrastructure, and resources comparable to major labels while maintaining ownership of their music,” per the release.
“Too often we hear of bad deals and unscrupulous individuals and/or record labels taking advantage of some artists’ lack of business experience or knowledge,” President & Chief Investment Officer of Preserver Partners Floyd Tyler shared with AfroTech. “We hope to be a trusted source of capital that will allow them to invest in their music and grow their streaming revenues without taking on debt or giving up ownership rights. So much of the business world tries to take their agency away in exchange for promised success. We are doing the opposite. That is powerful.”
According to Tyler, the partnership is set to leave a great impact on the Memphis music scene.
“The [credit facility] will be a game-changer for some artists,” he said. “Prior to now, there has not been a significant capital provider committed to investing in the Memphis music scene through a model that invests in promoting their music and developing their brand without taking ownership rights.”
Empowering Black Creators In The Music Industry
While economic empowerment and ownership of intellectual property rights are key in music, not every artist may have access to knowledge on what that exactly entails. It’s for this reason that Connect Music ensures that it begins everything by explaining the ins and outs of parts of the music business such as agreements, pay from streaming, etc. Overall, empowerment is the company’s ultimate mission.
“We seek to empower the overall creator community. This is a 60 percent Black city with a 60 percent poverty rate. We’re intentionally focused on building not just those who are out front on stage, but those who are behind the scenes too. So that’s our goal for the overall creator community around the area. In the Southeast, generally, we don’t typically see infrastructure investments. We see folks go and scoop up an artist out of Memphis, Atlanta, or New Orleans, but we typically don’t see infrastructure in the Southeastern communities and we’re doing what we can as a small company to make them have to reconsider that strategy.”