US music producer and hip hop singer has taken minority stake in 12on12 amid resurgent sales of analogue records.

US music producer Timbaland has become the latest well-known rapper to turn investor in the UK after backing a music and fashion start-up specialising in limited edition vinyl records and related products.

The singer has become a minority shareholder in 12on12, a London-based company that produces high-end records alongside art work, clothing and accessories. The company did not disclose the size of the stake or how much he had paid for it.

12on12 — which stands for 12 tracks on a 12” vinyl — was founded by UK entrepreneur Claudia Moross, who said she wants to secure additional funding after Timbaland.

The company has also attracted investment from another hip-hop producer, Swizz Beatz, who is married to American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys. The company releases vinyl records with the sleeves designed by collaborating artists, alongside related lifestyle products such as clothes and merchandise. The limited-edition products come with exclusive artwork and can cost $500 each. Sales are generated online and through pop-up locations.

A recent report by Luminate, an entertainment industry data provider, said that collectable-loving “super fans” were a significant part of the years-long vinyl sales growth trend, with stronger growth in direct-to-consumer sales of music from artists’ stores. About one in nine US vinyl album sales are sold direct to the consumer by the artist, it said. 

Timbaland said 12on12 would tap into this growth of so-called superfans. “I feel like vinyl is almost like a Michael Jordan baseball card. This is something that has more meaning today than it had yesterday. It’s a rare thing. And fandom is such a big thing right now and I feel like people want exclusive, exquisite things.”

12on12 has completed collaborations with performers including the burlesque dancer Dita von Teese, and rapper Travis Scott paired with fashion brand Saint Laurent. Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have worked together before on Verzuz, a US web series that featured DJs “battling” each other, which was sold to Triller, a video-sharing social networking service, in 2021.

Moross also said vinyl often appreciates in value, pointing to a Travis Scott record that was first priced at €595 but was later being sold on Ebay for $1,500. “We try to tap into that hype culture, when you buy it and then it instantly goes up for three times the price,” she said.

Timbaland said he was attracted partly by the resurgence in popularity of vinyl. “When I used to get vinyl as a kid, I couldn’t wait to go home and put on a record and play. My parents always told me: life repeats itself. Vinyl was a big part of the music world; people love sitting looking at record covers. Everything that we used to love as a kid, our kids love.”

Moross added: “We started a purely vinyl-based business, but it’s really expanded into the intersection of music, fashion, and art. The biggest buyers of vinyl are 16- to 30-year-olds. They were born into a digital download era.”


Original Article - Financial Times written by Daniel Thomas

August 22, 2023