Word Collections secures $5m in funding from investors led by Metallica’s Black Squirrel Partners
Word Collections, the digital rights management company founded by music entrepreneur Jeff Price, has secured $5 million in funding from investors led by Metallica’s Black Squirrel Partners.
The funds will be used to accelerate Word Collections’ global direct licensing business and to further develop its proprietary music-identification and tracking technology, the company said in a statement issued on Thursday (August 24).
Price launched Word Collections in 2020, initially with the goal of collecting payment for broadcasts and other uses of comedians’ and other spoken-word performers’ works.
In its first year, Word Collections says that it identified and began collecting more than $1 billion in earned and unpaid royalties for streams and broadcasts of spoken-word comedy performances.
The company today represents the catalogs of such comic heavyweights as Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Margaret Cho, David Cross and Billy Crystal, among others.
Word Collections has since expanded to include the publishing catalogs of musical artists including Metallica and its lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, Greta Van Fleet, Thomas Dolby and the Songwriters Guild of America.
The company has developed what it calls “a unique, direct licensing business model… utilizing proprietary sound recording identification technology and ground-breaking income tracking systems.”
“As exemplified in the Music Modernization Act, the traditional industry has adopted a business strategy and practices to allow the inefficiencies to exist and to take and allocate to themselves others’ royalties based on their market share,” the company said in a 2021 statement.
“Rather than capitalize on a broken system to the detriment of comedians, songwriters and music publishers, Word Collections fixes it and gets the money into the rights holders’ pockets while removing liability for digital services.”
Metallica – comprised of founding members James Hetfield (guitar) and Lars Ulrich (drums), along with bassist Robert Trujillo and Hammett – got into the investing game in 2020, when they co-founded what was initially called the Worldwired IP Fund with former Morgan Stanley investment banker Paul Donohue.
The fund’s partners also included former Fender president/COO Matt Janopaul and former Sony/ATV co-president Rick Krim. WG&S founder Eric Wasserman and the principals of artist management firm Q Prime are also partners in the fund.
“[T]he traditional industry has adopted a business strategy and practices to allow the inefficiencies to exist and to take and allocate to themselves others’ royalties based on their market share.”
Word Collections (2021)
Since then, Black Squirrel Partners, as it’s now known, has invested in a variety of ventures including AI music startup AudioShake, as well as taking majority control of vinyl record maker Furnace Record Pressing.
At the time of the acquisition (March of this year), Furnace said the acquisition would allow Metallica to meet “the massive demand for Metallica vinyl” and “better serve the needs of any and all vinyl lovers in the Metallica family.”
Word Collections is Price’s latest venture in the world of music. He launched New York-headquartered indie record label SpinART in 1990, and in 2006, he became an early entrepreneur in the field of music streaming, with the launch of music distribution platform TuneCore.
In 2013, Price launched Audiam, a company that specialized in locating metadata for every sound recording of a particular composition, recovering mechanical rights revenue for songwriters, composers and music publishers.
Canadian collection society SOCAN acquired Audiam in 2016, and US performance rights organization SESAC took a controlling stake in the company in 2021.
Price left Audiam in 2020, and established Word Collections that year. In 2021, Word Collections closed a $3.5-million funding round, also led by Black Squirrel Partners.Music Business Worldwide