Audio Up, one of the most innovative brands in the audio entertainment and media space, has announced the initial closing of its Series C fundraiser. The fast-growing media company raised the round at a $150 million pre money valuation. 

The company’s combined A and B raise in the fall of 2021 made headlines for its list of high-profile investors; including entertainment luminaries like The Weeknd, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, Larry Rudolph and top media entities; SiriusXM, MGM-Amazon, Primary Wave, and Reservoir Media. 

Additional names from series A and B funds included Entertainment One’s CEO Darren Throop, producer Will Ward, and Draft FCB founder Howard Draft. 

“We have achieved an incredible amount in a very short time frame,” says Audio Up founder and CEO Jared Gutstadt. “Having our business organized around a small group of elite media companies and entertainment luminaries allows us to grow in a way few can match.”

Among the fund raise’s top contributors includes longtime Audio Up investor Ben Lurie who will be joining the company’s board.

“Jared is an incredible visionary in the media space and I’m betting on his leadership,” Lurie said in a recent statement.

Populated with a singularly dynamic joint venture between Audio Up and Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) that launched in the spring of 2022, Audio Up will use the proceeds to continue amplifying the music side of their business.

Among their top objectives in 2023 will be to strengthen their vertical integration strategy by building new studios and post-production facilities in Nashville; complementing the two outposts they already have in Los Angeles, including their highly buzzed-about Brentwood, CA recording space, Audio Chateau.

The Nashville location (Audio Chateau South) will be an outpost for podcast and music creators, housing guests and collaborators of the Audio Up world. The list of music city collaborations alone includes Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley, Breland, Willie Jones, Scarlett Burke and Elle King, with many more to be announced in 2023. 

Another portion of the proceeds will be used for IP acquisitions to grow Audio Up’s already prolific output which has generated 40+ million podcast downloads and nearly 100 million music streams across 30+ podcasts released in the past two years alone. This comes hot on the heels of the company announcing the largest book IP acquisition in the history of podcasting with its coming adaptation of 52 books from the legendary Harlequin romance catalog.

Since the company’s launch in 2020, Audio Up has become renowned for unlocking original music in their podcast properties, paving the way for the next frontier for how consumers discover new music.

Gutstadt explains, “Our podcast strategy goes beyond the CPM model synonymous with Podcast 1.0 success. Audio Up has become a true gateway for content development and the testing of new IP.  Along the way, our podcasts are becoming a new discovery platform for music, and is hitting a blind spot being missed in this inherently audio centric media.

By discovering new recording artists and writers which we plug into our content and into the world of DSPs, we are becoming a go to IP source for major labels and studios alike. In success, we hope to be at the epicenter of hit records, television shows, films, tours, and brand experiences of the future. Discovery has become one of the biggest challenges for all aspects of the entertainment space. 

This is our challenge and we believe we have a unique angle into discovery.  Come for the podcast, stay for the music. The next phase will allow us to push the boundaries further and finally have our Encanto or Old Town Road Moment utilizing the podcast as the fire starter.”

In order to continue building Audio Up’s growing music vertical, the remaining proceeds from the Series C raise will fund the creation of new copyrights, which will become the backbone of their audio original slate. 

Having already collaborated with a who’s who of the best and brightest in the music space (NAS, Machine Gun Kelley, 24kgoldn, iann dior, Maejor, Nile Rogers, Nessa Barrett, Travis Barker, Scarlett Burke, Trippie Redd and Poo Bear), the venture will continue to be led by Gutstadt, who also has 25 ASCAP award wins, two Emmy Award nominees, and multiple Clio and Cannes Lion Awards to his name. 

“Our boots on the ground approach allows us to roll up our sleeves with all of our collaborators. This is not a business where you can have distance and agency. You have to get in the trenches with all of your creators, from Stephen King to Machine Gun Kelly and beyond,” concluded Gutstadt. 

“We create things every single day, and the amount of buying lanes has expanded for us significantly in the past few years. We want to meet this moment with the funding to allow us to create as much as possible. That’s the mission for 2023.”

Among 2022’s top properties include the Spanish language podcast Dia De Los Muertos, which topped the podcast charts in Mexico and USA simultaneously; the smash, scripted-country musical podcast The Ballad of Uncle Drank (also the company’s first chart topping music podcast), and Make It Up As We Go, one of Audio Up’s marquee podcasts now in its second season. 

The company has also made a name for itself creating a slate of adapted premium audio entertainment, which includes Stephen King’s Strawberry Spring.  Released through iHeart in 2021, the podcast went #1 across Apple Podcasts fiction charts. 

Coming in 2023, the company will release an adapted seven-episode series for Audible titled, The Playboy Interviews: Icons and Iconoclasts, and the upcoming 13-episode adaptation of famed crime novelist (LA Confidential) James Ellroy’s American Tabloid, which promises to alter the podcast landscape with its star-studded cast, immersive audio, and original score.  That property will also release through Audible next year. 

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