A business that’s spent more than 15 years growing in and around Tampa’s music scene has raked in $37 million in its latest round of fundraising.
Symphonic Distribution, a music distribution and streaming-focused tech firm based in downtown Tampa, closed its Series B round in late 2021, with Philadelphia’s NewSpring Capital leading the way. Tampa’s Ballast Point Ventures, which led the company’s $4 million Series A fundraising in 2017, also participated.
“We just felt like there’s so much capital out there that now would be a good time to explore some opportunities,” Symphonic CEO Jorge Brea said. “Thankfully that worked out.”
In a statement, NewSpring partner Brian Kim said Symphonic’s technology “offers independent artists the tools needed to supercharge their careers and expand their reach.
“We’ve been impressed for a long time with what Jorge and the team are building at Symphonic,” Kim said, “everything from their patented technology to their incessant focus on putting the independent artist first.”
Brea founded Symphonic in Wesley Chapel in 2006, working with independent artists both local and national to get their music onto streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, as well as distributing it through more traditional, physical means. The company sponsored local concerts in Tampa Bay and showcases at South By Southwest, among other ventures, and expanded to an office of nearly 30 in downtown Tampa. Today, the company has dozens of employees in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, South America, Europe and Africa.
Even as parts of the music industry shut down during the pandemic, there was still “a lot of excitement and interest in this space,” Brea said, with publishing companies shelling out huge sums for music rights, and firms making hefty investments in Symphonic competitors like DistroKid and United Masters.
“There’s a good runway for the music industry to keep going,” he said.
With the $37 million investment, Brea plans to hire, doubling its technology staff to 20 or even 30, and adding A&R representatives to work the music side of the business. Symphonic might explore acquisitions of complementary companies in Europe to expand its footprint in the music-tech space.
The company is also keeping an eye on the nascent NFT world and what blockchain technologies could mean for the world of music distribution.
“For us, we’re not looking to build a marketplace, but rather work with key artists, maybe ones that have a certain level of traction, to partner up with various exchanges and just help coordinate drops and market them,” Brea said. “We’re wanting to keep an open mind and be able to work with many artists, but be selective in the process, as well as work with many exchanges, just because there’s so many of them now.”
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Before the pandemic, Symphonic had looked at expanding its downtown Tampa footprint. Those plans have scaled back as the company has adopted more of a hybrid work model. But with this latest infusion of out-of-state capital, they have all sorts of options.
“I’ve loved Tampa ever since I moved here in ‘92,” Brea said, “and just to be a part of this city and be able to help put more business eyes on it as well is a very, very awesome thing.”