This 'Willy Wonka Factory' of Music Tech Entrepreneurs Is Looking to Expand Its Silver Lake Program
Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
The Rattle, a collective that brings together musicians and tech entrepreneurs, is reopening its doors for "counterculture pioneers" to apply to join its Silver Lake-based cohort.
The group aims to encourage unique artistic and startup collaborations among its members, provide resources to see them through and eventually invest in a subset of the resulting companies.
"We're looking for a specific mindset and type of member," said Helen Sartory, director of The Rattle LA. "We look for people who will disrupt the status quo in some way," such as with new financing models for creative projects or provocative artistic projects. An inclination toward experimentation and collaboration is welcomed.
The Rattle is a collective that brings together musicians and tech entrepreneurs.
Members accepted to the program pay a $99 monthly fee. In exchange, they receive access to resources like subsidized recording-studio time; sites for filming music videos; support from an in-house team that includes social media marketers, producers and computer programmers — and a mentorship network.
The Rattle originated in the UK in 2018 and expanded to Los Angeles shortly before the coronavirus pandemic. It currently has about 70 members in London and 45 in L.A. Sartory said about 60% of them are artists who want to use tech more smartly, 30% are tech-startup founders looking to work with artists and 10% the rare hybrids who are able to pursue both a startup and a musical career.
The group doesn't have a specific membership size they're hoping to grow to, but Sartory said its Silver Lake location will likely grow to around 100 members.
Merging art with startup culture has been fundamental to The Rattle's identity since its inception. The idea came about from an exchange between co-founders Chris Howard, a serial entrepreneur, and Bobby Bloomfield, a professional musician. Howard was surprised to learn that even among those who are able to play sold-out shows in big arenas and garner millions of streams, many musicians are hardly succeeding financially.
"They saw a disconnect between how artists and startups get investment," said Sartory, who noticed a similar gap herself as an emerging-tech investment banker pursuing a musical side-gig. "The types of deals on the startup side were so different than on the artist side; it seemed like the system was broken."
To help fix it, The Rattle has raised $2 million and developed a fluid business model that sees itself as a combination of a label, laboratory, incubator and collective. Like a record label, The Rattle seeks to help musicians make better music, find collaborators and market their work – but the collective does not take any copyright ownership. Like a laboratory, The Rattle encourages its members to experiment over prolonged periods. As a startup incubator, The Rattle is keen to facilitate a variety of business models. And as an art collective, "we have a bunch of crazy artists that come together" to make cool things, Sartory said.
The Rattle's "against the grain" ethos has already resulted in several interesting projects. Dozier, an L.A.-based musician, is working to create a virtual "artverse," where artists avatars can interact and collaborate in a digital world that expands beyond individual apps and programs. Incorrigible Entertainment, an artistic duo, is producing a virtual reality opera. Another member, Emre Tanrigan, has designed a VR drumming app that is a good example of the Rattle's approach, as several members offered their tracks to be part of the app's library so the founder could circumvent the rigamarole of traditional licensing channels.
L.A.-based musician Dozier is working to create a virtual "artverse."
Down the road, the group leadership plans to invest in a subset of its members' projects with a proper venture fund.
"We've spent the last two years learning how artists can work together and putting together this new investment model, which we're piloting in the U.K. and hopefully rolling out in L.A. very soon," Sartory said. The goal is to pick around 30 projects, she added, of which she is hoping about half will be U.S.-based.
Sartory believes sharing a physical space is important for allowing collaborations and experimentation to flourish, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced The Rattle to adapt.
"We planned for this to be a Willy Wonka factory where people come in and make mad stuff," she said.
That isn't quite as feasible as when The Rattle began constructing its Silver Lake location last December.
There is a silver lining:
"We're getting better now at building a virtual community," Sartory said. "We have artists in Paris, artists on the East Coast – it's getting easier to do that."
The cohorts in London and L.A. are also working together more than they might've otherwise.
"Had we not had the pandemic, we wouldn't have been able to gel the international community in the same way. But," she conceded, "it'd still be nice to have a big party."
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Their Russian investor was dead.
On a late Tuesday night in early May, the billionaire Russian coal tycoon, Dmitry "Dima" Bosov stopped answering phone calls and messages. When his wife, Katerina, arrived at their mansion in the suburbs of Moscow, she found her 52-year old husband locked in the family's home gym, dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.
Editor's Note<p><em></em><em>The story is pieced together from interviews with more than 40 former employees and business associates, active and retired county officials, as well as federal and county law enforcement; state court records, arbitration, arrest and corporate records in the U.S. and Canada; other public records in six California counties; Genius Fund corporate records and emails. Some former employees and business associates spoke to dot.LA on condition that their names not be mentioned out of fear of reprisals.</em></p><p>This is first story in our "Green Rush" series. Read more:</p><p><a href="https://dot.la/genius-fund-cannabis-startup-2646866270" target="_self">Part 2: Growing Pains in Plumas County</a> | <a href="https://dot.la/cannabis-products-genius-fund-2646866366.html" target="_self">Part 3: A Line of Failed Products</a> | <a href="https://dot.la/green-rush-genius-fund-2646866354.html" target="_blank">Part 4: What Went Down in Adelanto</a> | <a href="https://dot.la/dmitry-bosov-genius-fund-2646866356.html" target="_self">Part 5: The Sudden Death of Dmitry Bosov And His Dream of a California Cannabis Empire</a></p>
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"The time for inaction is over."
Such was the through-line in dot.LA's Thursday panel discussion on "Measurably Increasing Diversity in the Workplace."
Joining dot.LA host Kelly O'Grady was Oona King, VP of diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) at Snap and a member of the UK House of Lords, and Kobie Fuller, partner at Upfront Ventures. The conversation centered on what organizations must do to ensure that this moment of acute awareness of the societal issues around DEI does not go to waste.
"I am grateful that white people have woken up," said King, who has also worked in diversity and inclusion at the UK's Channel 4 and YouTube. "But my gratitude will turn back to rage if they go back to sleep."
Kobie Fuller, Partner, Upfront Ventures<p><strong><br></strong></p><p>Kobie joined Upfront in June 2016, bringing deep expertise in enterprise SaaS and emerging technologies including VR and AR. Over his career he has invested early in notable companies including Exact Target (sold to Salesforce for $2.5B) and Oculus (sold to Facebook for $2B). Prior to Upfront, Kobie was an investor at Accel and, earlier, was the chief marketing officer at L.A.-based REVOLVE, one of the largest global fashion e-commerce players. Earlier in his career, Kobie helped found OpenView Venture Partners and was an investor at Insight Venture Partners. Kobie graduated from Harvard College.</p>
Oona King, VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Snap Inc.<p>Oona King is the VP of diversity, equity & inclusion at Snap Inc. Previously, Oona was Google's director of diversity strategy, YouTube's director of diverse marketing, and before that chief diversity officer for British broadcaster Channel 4. Oona is a member of the House of Lords (a life-time appointment as Baroness King in January 2011), and former senior policy advisor & speechwriter to the prime minister at 10 Downing Street. </p><p>Oona became a member of the House of Commons at 29, the second woman of color, and 200th woman of any color elected to the British Parliament. She became parliamentary private secretary to the minister for e-commerce, and secretary of state for trade and industry. Oona was voted by other MPs as "the MP most likely to change society." In the Lords, Oona's front bench roles included shadow education minister, shadow minister for the digital economy, and shadow minister for equalities.</p>
Chief Host & Correspondent and Head of Video Strategy at dot.LA
Chief Host & Correspondent and Head of Video Strategy at dot.LA<p>Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, New England's premier sports network, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.</p>
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