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DIVE Studios, the Los Angeles-based media company known for its podcasts hosted by English-speaking Kpop stars, is officially launching its audio storytelling platform Mindset after raising $8.7 million in seed funding.
Mindset, which beta launched in February and is currently available as a free-to-download mobile app (a web version is being developed), features audio series from celebrities narrating stories and reflections from their personal lives. Mindset co-founder and CEO Brian Nam tells The Hollywood Reporter that about 23 artists, with a combined social media following of 320 million, have been confirmed. Five of them hail from Kpop (DIVE is co-founded by the Korean-American Nam brothers: Brian, Eddie and Eric, the latter of whom is himself a Kpop artist), while the rest are from the Western entertainment scene.
Mindset is keeping the artists under wraps for now, but TQ Ventures, which was founded by Scooter Braun, Andrew Marks and Schuster Tanger, is an investor in the funding round led by Union Square Ventures. A.Capital and SV Angel also participated, alongside angel investors Kevin Lin (co-founder of Twitch), Eric Wu (co-founder of Opendoor), Rob Fishman and Darren Lachtman (co-founders of Brat.TV) and Ruzwana Bashire (co-founder of Peek.com and scout for Sequoia Capital).
“Working closely with artists, I understand the important relationship that is created and fostered with each of their fans,” Braun said in a statement. “With every Mindset Collection, listeners are able to really hear who each artist is through unique and personally produced content, resulting in an authentic connection that isn’t always achievable through social or traditional media.”
Brian Nam says that Mindset appeals to artists who aren’t interested in becoming full-time podcasters (each collection is about eight to 10 episodes of 10 to 25 minutes each) but are seeking a new candid yet curated premium content platform to reach their millennial and Gen Z fans – and a new revenue stream as well. He adds that while podcasts can take 12 to 18 months to recoup production costs, the payback period for Mindset (each artist’s full Collection is available for $24.99) is two to three days.
“We’re a partner to these celebrities,” says Nam, who explains that the production process begins with a two to three-hour conversation with Mindset’s directors to get a sense of the artist’s story, and then about 16 hours of recording spread over two days. “This is a place for them to share thoughts and opinions that they really haven’t had the right platform to do before.”
Outside of the business proposition, Mindset is looking to convey a message of empowerment and wellness in its content. The four collections already launched in beta include Day6 guitarist and singer Jae Park speaking candidly about living with anxiety, depression and panic attacks, as well as rapper and singer-songwriter Tablo opening up for the first time about surviving the bizarre online conspiracy that targeted him a decade ago.
In addition to the premium Collections, which also in some cases will include interviews with close family and friends of the artist, Mindset also offers free short-form Booster clips narrated by artists and tailored for specific scenarios (e.g., “Morning Supercharge,” “Heartbreak,” “When You’re Feeling Hopeless”) and daily motivational quotes curated from the Collections.
“We’re thrilled to back Mindset in its goal of providing people from all walks of life a genuine outlet to better understand the way they are feeling and connect with others who feel the same way,” Union Square Ventures’ Andy Weissman said in a statement. “We believe that the platform’s future growth will be integral in offering artists, celebrities, creators and more the unique chance to open up through Mindset Collections.”
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