Mass Appeal, the graffiti/hip-hop culture publication that has grown to include television and production wings as well as a record label and creative services division, announced today it had raised $6 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Universal Music Group, and with today's announcement UMG evp Michele Anthony will serve on Mass Appeal's board of directors.
Founded as a print magazine in 1996, Mass Appeal has reinvented itself in recent years, particularly after CEO Peter Bittenbender partnered with Nas to relaunch the physical magazine and open Mass Appeal Records, which will serve as Nas' label home after his long-term deal with Def Jam reaches its conclusion. Since the launch of the label in 2014, Mass Appeal Records has released records from Run the Jewels (Run the Jewels 2, Meow the Jewels), Fashawn (The Ecology) and Dave East (Hate Me Now, Kairi Chanel), among others, as well as posthumous records from Pimp C (Long Live the Pimp) and J Dilla (The Diary).
The company has also made significant moves in the television space via a partnership with TBS and TNT, including upcoming digital series Storyville alongside Okayplayer and Think B.I.G., a fictional animated series inspired by the lyrics of The Notorious B.I.G. and produced in partnership with the late rapper's mother, Ms. Voletta Wallace, and former manager Wayne Barrow's Bystorm Films.
"Universal's reach and influence is unparalleled in music and beyond," Bittenbender said in a statement announcing the news. "Together, UMG and Mass Appeal will create iconic, globally impactful content and we couldn't be more excited to get to work."
In addition to UMG, several other investors joined the funding round, including Usher, Steve Stoute, Evolution Media, Jon Jashni of Raintree Ventures, Charles King of Macro, Michael Kassan of MediaLink and Karen Lauder, as well as Nas and White Owl Capital, who were already investors in the company.
"At Universal Music Group, we are creating new opportunities for our artists and labels to forge deeper relationships with fans around the world through music, film, television, video, social media and brand sponsorships," Anthony said in a statement. "Working with Mass Appeal, we will be able to accelerate that strategy. I'm honored to join Mass Appeal's board and I'm looking forward to working closely together on many future projects."