NFT music rights startup Royal banks $55M investment led by a16z Crypto

Less than three months after announcing a $16 million seed round led by Founders Fund and Paradigm, NFT music rights startup Royal has raised another major round of funding, banking a $55 million Series A from Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto investment arm.

The startup partners with musicians and allows users to buy NFTs which represent collective ownership in works from those artists. The effort is helmed by Justin Blau, an EDM artist who performs under the name 3LAU, and JD Ross, a co-founder of home-buying startup Opendoor. Royal represents a very early, but promising foray into NFT functionality outside the spheres of visual art and gaming.

Last month, Blau gave away hundreds of NFTs through the platform, which held 50% of the streaming rights to his latest song. The startup says there have already been nearly $600,000 worth of secondary sales for those tokens, giving the new single an implied $6 million valuation. Crypto-friendly musicians like Blau have already banked millions from crypto holders looking to diversify their holding through NFTs while also backing projects that expand the market opportunity of the blockchain.

Boundary-pushing projects like Royal still have a delicate line to walk when it comes to advertising opportunities to grow alongside artists while staying compliant with securities laws.

This investment is notably being helmed by a16z Crypto co-lead Katie Haun who sits on the boards of Coinbase and NFT marketplace OpenSea. The firm already has a deep relationship with Royal’s executive team, having previously backed Ross’s last company Opendoor. Naithan Jones, a former Andreessen Horowitz partner who led the team’s Talent X Opportunity Fund, also joined Royal in September as the firm’s head of Growth.

Joining the round alongside a16z Crypto are a number of musical artists, including The Chainsmokers, Nas, Logic and Kygo. CAA and NEA’s Connect Ventures, Crush Music, Coinbase Ventures, Founders Fund and Paradigm also participated in the round.