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FREEMIUM FAN ROB WELLS JOINS U.K.-BASED STARTUP

If you can judge the viability of a startup by the talent it recruits, then U.K.-based music social network Crowdmix has gotten off to a pretty good start. Former UMG digital exec and known freemium advocate Rob Wells has joined as Global Commercial Officer and CEO – The Americas.

Set for launch in Q1 2016, Crowdmix is an app that aims to help users discover new music through friends and vice versa. Charts, chat, music exclusives, surprises, videos, direct contact with artists and fan-to-fan conversation are some of the features in the works. Artists can monetize their social-media activity, “turning a marketing cost into a revenue stream.”

It’s Wells’ first big move since his surprise exit from UMG in February this year, aside from joining the advisory boards of U.K. live-music video-streaming firm LoveLive and Israel-based sales and marketing analytics provider Revelator.

Based in L.A., Wells will head up North American operations for Crowdmix, developing its West Coast hub and driving the U.S. business. His duties will also include developing and implementing a commercial strategy for the company within the global-entertainment sector.

The firm has raised over $20m in pre-launch funding to date, and is currently in the process of raising an extra $20-30m before the end of 2015.

Wells was impressed by “the scale of Crowdmix’s ambition, ridiculously talented tech team, music industry support, strong funding and vision to give fans the social experience they crave.” He added: “Helping build something truly unique is a very exciting proposition, and I am looking forward to revealing more about our platform and plans as we move closer to launch early next year.”

Apps that enable artists to communicate directly with fans have become somewhat of a thing in recent years, made such by names like Disciple Media (helmed by ex-Warner exec Leanne Sharman and electronic musician Benji Vaughan) and Freeform (co-founded by ex-Google Play and Rhapsody exec Tim Quirk), as well as rapper Ryan Leslie—who sends notifications to his fan base via a mobile phone. Then there was the failed attempt at Twitter Music—an app that also wanted to create a social-media destination for music.

Can Crowdmix make a success of launching a combination of all the above? Wells helped what was once a little Swedish startup called Spotify reach the 75m user number it boasts today via the support of UMG. Let’s see how he fares on the other side of the fence.

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