Case Study
April 1, 2019

Hidden Talent

A simple introduction among people with a passion for music and philanthropy led to the creation of an ambitious new joint venture and a groundbreaking endowment program from music-streaming service Tidal.

When Goodwin partner Kristopher Brown was talking to life sciences-focused venture capitalist and philanthropist Mark Lampert (co-founder of Biotechnology Value Fund, or BVF) about their shared love of music, Lampert offered that he wanted to find a way to support a program that would help budding musicians get their start, by deploying some of the same skills he has brought to bear in building early-stage biotechnology companies.

As it turned out, Brown, who advises life sciences and technology companies, knew some people in the music business. He saw the introductions as a natural extension of the relationships Goodwin regularly builds across the life sciences, technology and venture capital investment sectors.

“We connect people all the time,” Brown said. “This isn’t too far off from what we do in life sciences and tech when it comes to creativity and how to fund and incubate a company. This involved some of the same skills we use in that world.”

A mutual connection enabled Brown to introduce Lampert to a senior staffer at Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment company. Would Tidal, the music streaming service where Jay-Z is a majority owner, be interested in establishing an endowment program to support emerging artists? The answer was a resounding yes, and Brown worked to put together the foundation documents. Joining Lampert in funding the inaugural program was Robert Nelsen, fellow music lover, philanthropist and co-founder of life sciences-focused venture capital fund ARCH Ventures, who like Lampert felt that he could use some of what he has learned over the years as a financier of early-stage biotech entrepreneurs to help emerging musical artists.

In February 2019, Tidal announced the establishment of Tidal Unplugged and a $1 million initial grant from Lampert and Nelson. The program, which opened to applicants in the Detroit area on March 1st, is dedicated to building emerging artists' careers. Interested artists must submit an acoustic performance to be eligible for the program. Winners will receive a creative budget, a monthly stipend, access to recording and creative resources, industry mentoring, promotional support and an opportunity to perform in a Tidal Unplugged showcase.