LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells,the hip hop-focused content, commerce and experiences business, announced that Paramount Global, along with Raine Ventures and Irving Azoff of Iconic Artists Group, led a $15 million funding round for the hip-hop platform, which has also signed a first-look deal with Paramount.
Amex Ventures, Wildcat Capital Management and Capstar Ventures also participated in the Series B raise, with additional investment from ASK Capital, North Island (Glenn Hutchins), AME Cloud Ventures and XO Capital.
The fresh funds will help scale the three pillars of the business – content, commerce and experiences –including creating more long-form projects, launching retail partnerships and experiential events, and expanding in Europe. It will also grow its annual Rock the Bells Festival.
“This Series B round is a reflection of the confidence that our investors have in Rock the Bells as a global platform,” said CEO LL Cool J, who founded the company in 2018. “Hip-hop is an art form that many people doubted from day one, but our culture continues to rise to higher heights. … This is just the beginning.”
The company features Rock the Bells Radio on SiriusXM, a content platform at RockTheBells.com, licensing and merchandising partnerships with mass retailers, and curated experiences and activations with partners globally. Brand partners include Target, Walmart, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble.
As part of the partnership, Rock the Bells and Paramount Global have entered into a multiyear first-look deal covering feature films and scripted and unscripted content, as well as the opportunity to livestream the upcoming 2023 Rock the Bells Festival that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. They’ll collaborate on identifying and developing co-branded merchandise opportunities from Paramount IP.
Paramount will also provide marketing support for Rock the Bells content, experiences and activations.
“Paramount is thrilled to expand our deep relationship with LL Cool J with our investment in Rock the Bells,” said Bruce Gillmer, President of Music, Music Talent, Programming & Events. “We look forward to working with him to shine a spotlight on Hip-Hop culture and icons through music, events and diverse content.”