Shawn Mendes is putting his money where his fans are. The multiplatinum recording artist is investing in 237 Global, the fan engagement company that created and launched his ShawnAccess app, which has been downloaded more than 700,000 times.
Mendes and his management company, the Andrew Gertler-led AG Artists, are leading a funding round and have joined the advisory board for the tech, services and ticketing company founded by entrepreneur and former Warner Bros. Records exec Mark Weiss to superserve superfans of music artists, athletes and other influencers. Via its apps, 237 Global offers direct access to tickets, merch, exclusive livestreams and custom content; the company also provides paid in-person and virtual VIP experiences ranging from meet-and-greets to backstage tours to private Q&As.
Notably, 237 Global also provides clients with a magic bullet they don’t get when they connect with fans via most social media platforms: Access and control of their own data.
“Artists don’t own their own data on these social platforms,” Weiss says. “We don’t say to an artist, Stop using Instagram or Twitter and start using only an app. But we say make it part of your whole ecosystem. I have a passion for early-stage artists that are starting to buzz; it’s a great time to start collecting your own data.”
The conversation, he says, has grown more vigorous as the live music lockdown motivated both legacy and emerging artists to embrace their direct relationships with fans. At the same time, the company continues to prove its mettle and add features such as internal message boards, commerce opportunities and user-generated content.
Within the past year, 237 Global launched apps for Weezer, Barenaked Ladies, 24KGoldn, Tate McCrae and 311, among others. A New Kids on the Block app is in beta, and Avril Lavigne, Trippie Redd and Iann Dior apps are slated to drop shortly. The company has also provided interactive tour experiences for Justin Bieber and Panic! At The Disco, and is currently activating on the Hella Mega outing featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer, and on tour dates for Alanis Morissette and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
It’s also rapidly expanding to other verticals. Weiss just signed SmartLess, the podcast from Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes, as a client and recently offered virtual meet and greets with Philadelphia Eagles’ newcomer Landon Dickerson and culture creator Maggie Lindemann. 237 Global is also working with athletes including Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones to develop an app prototype for the sports arena—an area Weiss believes will soar.
“Athletes are interested in selling merch, building fandom and talking to fans outside of their franchise,” he says. “And they tend to have exposure for a long time, so they can really build their base.”
A Paradigm Shift
Weiss has been evolving what became the core DNA of 237 Global for decades as he iterated his fan engagement vision, most notably through Artist Arena, a company he launched and sold to Warner Bros. in 2011. The core thread has been consistent: Facilitating the ability of talent to connect directly with fans through widely adopted technology, and building out businesses around those connections.
“I saw the paradigm shift happening more than 20 years ago where artists could, in their own way, become their own media play. And then the question was, How do you monetize that,” Weiss says.
When he began working five years ago with former Artist Arena exec Gertler and Mendes, fresh off of Vines, everything coalesced. “Forward-thinking are the best words I can use to describe Shawn and Andrew and everybody in that camp. They’ve pushed the envelope for the live fan experience in terms of VIP for so long, and have been such a great partner for us,” he says. “For them now to show this vote of confidence to be investing in us is just incredible.”
“Mark’s dedication to providing incredible service to fans and artists is unmatched in the industry,” says Gertler. “I learned a great deal from working at Artist Arena and am excited to continue this longstanding relationship with Mark and 237 Global.”
Other seed investors include Bret Disend of Ozone Entertainment, Jonathan Gordon and David Ruttenberg of RGI, Matt Galle of CAA and Photo Finish Records, Steve Greenberg of S-Curve Records, Jeremy Levin and David Silberstein of Megahouse Music, business manager Phil Sarna and entertainment attorney Lisa Socransky. Weiss says 237 Global will be going into a series A funding round in the coming months.
Also coming are additional monetization plays. Aside from generating income from custom app creation and management—which Weiss says runs “in the six figures” per app—the company takes a cut of any income generated directly on the app, be it a VIP experience or merch sale. Artists are able to sell a portion of tickets through the app, Weiss says, via a longstanding arrangement with Ticketmaster based on the fan club model which enables them to directly sell a small allocation, usually 8 percent-10 percent depending on the venue.
Most often, though, fans are directed to promoter and ticketing company platforms for ticket sales, says Weiss. “One of the things we built into our apps is a very robust tour section, and we like to think we’re helping everyone in the ecosystem because we are here to help sell more tickets. And we want to drive more livestreams, we want to drive more audio streams, we want to drive more podcast listeners, more merch sales.”
To that end, he’s exploring an elevated marketing relationship with promoters around the apps’ ability to generate those sales. “We are having discussions around our own internal data and algorithms to see if there’s some kind of marketing arrangement that might happen should we start to prove we really are moving a lot of tickets,” he says.
A subscription model is also in the works. “We think subscription income will ultimately become a big game-changer,” Weiss says. “Download the app and get some level of first access to tickets or content or merch. We’ve experimented with that a bit and we’ve seen that this kind of first access drives memberships.”