Project Music: Jammber leverages Chicago's 1871 + Nashville gravity
Milt Capps Updated 23 April 2015
Updated: Jan. 4, 2016 - Since the April 20, 2015 publication of the original story below, Jammber added Nashville-based Yvonne Gilbrech Sullivan as an advisor. Other advisors appear below. - Ed.
ENTREPRENEURS who are forging new businesses within Nashville's 'Project Music' may also help locals see Music City with fresh eyes.
Take the case of Jammber, the performance-, production- and business-oriented social network and digital marketplace for the Music industry, which will present during the Project Music Showcase in Nashville, Thursday, April 23.
Jammber's team came together in Chicago's 1871 accelerator, then snared one of eight seats in the inaugural cohort of Project Music, the all-genre Music accelerator sponsored here by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the Country Music Association (CMA) and supported by Angel investors and others.
In February, shortly after arriving Nashville from his home in Chicago to participate in the 14-week accelerator at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Jammber Co-Founder Marcus Cobb tweeted, "A few people have asked me if #nashville is any place for a #musictech accelerator."
Cobb answered his own question with "#BestPlace" -- then suggested skeptics read Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath, a 2013 treatise on unlikely victors -- "underdogs and misfits" -- overcoming giants.
Cobb had earlier explained the Project Music gambit to tech-oriented ChicagoInno, saying in part, "We're not leaving Chicago, but we are expanding to Nashville with this opportunity... Nashville is called Music City for a reason. It has the highest concentration of aspiring music artists in the world and music has a $10 billion dollar impact on their city annually. To have Nashville behind us and excited about what we're doing is the ultimate endorsement in the Music industry. We are both very humbled and very fired up."
Thus far during Project Music, Cobb's occasional tweets have been mostly pragmatic -- as when he writes of Project Music sessions with pro's who have played pivotal roles behind Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift and other artists.
But, some of his posts go deeper: "Most interesting about #nashille to me is its tremendous power to make ur inner #artist feel like it's breathing fresh air for the 1st time," he wrote in January.
Cobb, a 38-year-old native of El Paso, Texas, and Co-founder Adam Clabaugh, 33, co-founded Jammber in June 2013. Together, they previously co-founded a Chicago-area information technology company.
Cobb is currently the company's majority equity holder. The co-founders essentially bootstrapped their startup until securing $30K in Seed capital through Project Music, in exchange for the standard 10% equity to be distributed to its eventual investors and designated Project Music advisors.
By the time the Showcase convenes later this week, Jammber expects to have completed its first microrevenue transactions, and it aims to have the latest version of its platform live-in-beta.
Cobb told VNC he projects fulfilling a $470K Seed round within 90 days of the Showcase, thereby paving 14-16 months of runway. The current scenario calls for beginning a Series A raise of as-yet unspecified magnitude, in Spring 2016.
Cobb said that, going into Thursday's Showcase, Jammber -- a neologism of "jam" plus "member" -- has seven "warm" prospective investors, four of whom are aligned with Project Music and three who are out of Chicagoland.
Jammber -- variously characterized as the Paypal or LinkedIn "of the Music Industry" -- aims to be a source of trusted transparent introductions and contracting between and among artists, background vocalists, writers, engineers and "30 to 40" others types of professionals who are engaged in important ways in performance, recording and other projects.
Jammber is paid 5% for each gig transaction by the sellers of their personal services, Cobb confirmed. It is initially targeting the topmost 25% of the professionals involved in recording, and will subsequently expand its footprint.
In addition to helping to curate talent and connect service buyers and sellers, Jammber agglomerates data, including performers' and specialists' previous gig history, two-way gig ratings, session and song credits and more, Cobb explained.
Competition? Although some major recording labels have internal projects underway to address similar objectives, competition generally takes the form of Craigslist postings, plus such entrants as Airgigs and Soundbetter -- all of which Cobb said leaves plenty of addressable market.
Jammber's CTO is Mangesh Bhamkar, a Chicago-area .Net consultant with deep ticketing and fintech experience. The company's product manager and user-experience designer, part-time, is Chicago-based Erik Miller, who's employed with Accenture Interactive.
Its current pool of Nashville-based advisors, in addition to Project Music's Heather McBee, includes Garry Wall, president of Nashville-based Sparknet Communications (consulting for Radio); Amanda Cates, Maverick digital-marketing consultant; Samantha Saturn, digital-marketing expert; and, Tony Grotticelli, a marketing exec with Universal Music Group.
Its Chicago-based advisors include attorneys Tricia Meyer and Melody Ashby, of Meyer Law Ltd.; Daryl Jones, attorney and Co-CEO of Artists & Brands; and, attorney Ted Wern of Perkins Coie. Its three banks are PNC, Chase and Avenue Bank (Nashville). It has no auditor or investment banker, currently.
Cobb credited Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, which runs ten accelerator programs, with encouraging him and Clabaugh to pursue the Project Music opportunity after news of the program's launch, less than eight months ago.
The year 1871, its website reminds us, was the year of the Great Chicago Fire, which is regarded as having set into motion not only that city's recovery from devastation, but also an early period of Chicago innovation. 1871 is a project of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.
Project Music is hosted and managed by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, based in the city's historic Trolley Barns innovation district.
Thursday's Project Music Showcase is set for the CMA Theater in the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, downtown. VNC