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Music Start-Up JKBX, Which Will Allow Retail Investors to Buy Shares in Hit Songs, Builds Out Exec Team

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JKBX, a start-up offering retail investors fractional shares in thousands of hit songs, said Friday (Dec. 16) it has hired executives from Spotify, NTWRK, Comcast and others as it builds out its executive team and aims for a mid-2023 launch.

Pronounced “jukebox,” the new investment platform founded and led by former Warner Music Group chief innovation officer Scott Cohen hired Whitney-Gayle Benta to be its chief music officer from Spotify, where she was global head of artist & talent relations, and Jason Brown as chief marketing officer from the livestream commerce platform NTWRK. Brown previously held top marketing roles at Foot Locker and PepsiCo.

JKBX is part Robinhood, the popular online brokerage, and part Spotify. Cohen says it will offer bite-sized investment stakes in hundreds of thousands of No. 1 songs by current artists and back catalogs belonging to rock legends for a price starting at around $10.

While several start-ups offering fractional share investing in music copyrights have launched in recent years, JKBX aims to differentiate itself with its scale, as well as by packaging the investments in SEC-registered entities and creating a platform welcoming of investors confused by blockchain and NFT jargon, says Cohen.

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“This is about the interest in owning a real asset that is something you love, a piece of music,” he says. “This is a wide-open market now because retail investors have never had an opportunity to get involved. We’re creating a new asset class, building something at scale and … I think it’s going to explode.”

Cohen declined to name any of the artists or songs to which JKBX has acquired rights. But Benta, who was featured on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players list this year, brings numerous artist relationships with her. In her previous role, Benta curated events including Spotify’s presence at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, which featured Kendrick Lamar, Dua Lipa and Post Malone.

Building out the technology supporting the platform will be Matt Brown, JKBX’s new chief technology officer, who previously co-founded the web3 startup Arthur, and worked at the hedge fund Citadel and the Blockchain company Ripple; and Madhav Gopal, who worked in cybersecurity operations at Comcast Cable and now serves as JKBX’s chief information security officer. Jacqueline Ortiz Ramsay joins JKBX as its chief communications and public affairs officer, having previously helmed public policy communications at Robinhood.

JKBX is structuring its offerings by putting the rights it buys into special purpose vehicles — such as an LLC — and registering them with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a step that adds an extra layer of protection for rights holders, investors and the company.

Investors can then buy and trade stakes in those entities, with the share price being determined by the song’s valuation. The entities will gain value as they are streamed, synched and played, with that revenue being paid out intermittently to investors and other JKBX partners.

JKBX is still hammering out the technology and mechanisms that will be used for its public offerings, but the company is following all existing securities laws, Cohen says.

“We believe that everything should have this regulatory wrapper because this isn’t the first time for me,” says Cohen, who founded The Orchard with Richard Gottehrer in 1997, just a few years before the dotcom bubble burst in early 2000. “There were a lot of companies that IPO’d with these silly business models and they all disappeared. But what remained was people doing business by the fundamentals leveraging the technology of the day.”

“We will use blockchain technology, but as far as the consumer knows you want to buy royalty streams, click buy, enter how much and it goes into your account,” Cohen adds.

The company has not yet picked a date for its 2023 launch, but it is “fully capitalized,” says Cohen, who is bullish about the promise of the fractional shares market.

“This is the only area where I see explosive growth. I don’t see explosive growth from VR, AR, blockchain and NFTs, gaming,” Cohen says. “We’re not substituting anything the way albums replaced singles, or cassettes replaced albums. We’re not replacing anything. We are building an entire asset on top of it. We [fractional shares investing platforms] can add billions and billions of dollars to the ecosystem.”

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