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Why Quality Control Music, EMPIRE, and Top Dawg Entertainment Invested in Riff

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screenshot from joinriff.com

by Dan Runcie

Every Monday, Trapital's free weekly memo will give you insights on the latest moves in the business of hip-hop. Join 10K+ readers who stay ahead of all the trends:

Two weeks ago, music tech company Riff raised a $4 million investment round that included Quality Control Music, Top Dawg Entertainment, and EMPIRE. The social app is part-Clubhouse, part-Instagram Live, part-streaming, and part-community building.

Culture on the cap table. First, it’s dope to see independent hip-hop labels on cap tables like this. Hip-hop and Black culture content drives so much growth on social networks. This is an opportunity to capture the upside, just like major records labels do with the startups they invest in. According to Music Business Worldwide, Riff’s team is 75% women and people of color, which is also great to see.

A crowded opportunity. Quality Control COO Coach K said that Riff is creating a new category called “culture media.” The combination of its features is unique, but it’s still a competitive landscape. There have been so many new livestream apps in recent years that it’s hard to keep track. And many social networks are introducing live audio, Clubhouse competitor.

Riff’s differentiation is its combination of features, especially livestreaming and live audio. But most popular social networks focused on one feature, grew an audience, then expanded to new products once they achieved product-market fit with that first feature.

This may be a challenge for Riff, but its investors can help with growth. Each of these hip-hop labels can urge their artists to use Riff to engage with fans. For instance, what if Quality Control asked Lil’ Baby to do an exclusive event on Riff leading up to his next album? He could say, “I’m deciding which song to make my lead single. Which of these 3 should I pick?”

These labels have plenty of popular artists who can help boost acquire more users in a competitive landscape.

Check out Riff’s website to learn more.

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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