A future for independent artists, musicians, writers, and creators
By Megan Holston-Alexander and Derek Dolin
A new suite of modern, accessible tools have made it easier than ever for creators to ideate, produce, and share their work with the world: from using AI-powered platforms to jumpstart an idea to software that manages payroll and insurance for production. New technologies enable creatives to not only produce work and run their businesses, but also break down roadblocks that have historically stifled the ability to remain independent. Artists and creators now have more opportunities to work on their own terms without corporate capital, obligations or oversight. This allows them to retain creative and financial ownership of their brand and IP, an increasingly important part of fostering authentic relationships with communities, fans, and collaborators.
Finding ways to support creatives in every stage of their process is critical to pushing this industry forward. This resonates deeply with the a16z Cultural Leadership Fund (CLF) team as we live at the intersection of culture and technology, connecting the world’s greatest cultural leaders with promising new technology companies. CLF has compiled The New Creator Stack: a view of companies building at the forefront of creativity and independence. These companies are developing new tools for production, publishing, distribution, community engagement, commerce, and even back office systems: areas we see as the most critical to artist independence.
Discover the infrastructure for a new creative class. This representative, not exhaustive, list highlights companies democratizing access to the creative process for those daring to conjure fresh ideas, create without limits, distribute without barriers, and galvanize future cultural movements.
For a full list of a16z investments, please visit: https://a16z.com/portfolio/
Artists and creators may have numerous options to support their creative process: from ideating and producing work, to distribution channels, to how they engage with fans and communities, and ultimately how they do business. But, as artists increasingly prioritize autonomy and ownership, not all tools and platforms are designed with their unique needs in mind.
Audio, video, visual arts, and more, unlock new ways to ideate and produce work that resonatesExplore Creation
Fresh ways to foster authentic relationships and promote your workExplore Community & Marketing
Audio, video, visual arts and more, unlock new ways to ideate and produce work that resonates
Adim is a community of storytellers, fans and friends working together to create and own a new generation of characters and stories.
The first and only blockchain music creation platform, providing tools for the next generation of creators to compose, collaborate and sell their music on-chain.
Collaborate, network, and align with elite music creators from around the world.
Camera and editing app that automatically transcribes, captions and clips your talking videos for you.
Record, transcribe, edit, mix, collaborate, and master your audio and video.
Realistic and versatile AI speech software, Eleven brings the most compelling, rich and lifelike voices to creators and publishers seeking the ultimate tools for storytelling.
Manifold enables web3 creators to have true creative ownership, preserve on-chain provenance, and interoperate with all major NFT marketplaces.Example:
Artist Derrick Adams used Manifold to convert an existing physical work of art to an NFT, giving more people an opportunity to own and collect his art. He also created the NFT, “Heir to the Throne”, commissioned by Jay-Z, using Manifold. It was later sold at Sotheby’s auction
Mem is the world's first AI-powered workspace that's personalized to you. Amplify your creativity, automate the mundane, and stay organized automatically.
Midjourney is an independent research lab exploring new mediums of thought and expanding the imaginative powers of the human species.
GPT-4 is more creative and collaborative than ever before. It can generate, edit, and iterate with users on creative and technical writing tasks, such as composing songs, writing screenplays, or learning a user’s writing style.
Get access to millions of sounds made by top artists, labels, and sound designers.
Reach audiences on your own terms
DistroKid is a service for musicians that puts your music into online stores & streaming services. Then when people listen to your music, we send you money.
Simplifying the film distribution process, allowing filmmakers to stream to new audiences worldwide, make money, and maintain rights.
Connect with people virtually to share your expertise and give 1‑on‑1 advice.
Where top experts teach cohort-based courses directly to their audience. We help you make a living teaching what you love.
The home for web3 publishing—whether it’s the next big white paper or a weekly community update.
A platform where you can buy ownership in songs directly from your favorite artists and earn royalties with them.Example:
Independent artist Vérité teamed up with the platform for a drop that included a 39% share of streaming royalties for her track, ‘‘He’s Not You”
Straightforward global distribution—leveraging technology with a human touch.
Makes it simple for a writer to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions.Example:
Today, there are 20 million monthly active subscribers and 2 million paid subscriptions to writers on Substack, ranging from established writers to a new generation of writers and organizations building their careers and businesses directly on the platform.
Get your music on Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, YouTube, Tidal, Tencent and more. Keep 100% ownership of your music and stay in control of your career.
UnitedMasters distributes your music, gives you tools to power your career, and unites you with the world’s biggest brands.Example:
Rapper NLE Choppa signed a distribution partnership with UnitedMasters before going on to sign a joint venture with Warner Records and Second Estate Records signaling a new path for artists to retain ownership of their masters while growing in their careers. Brent Faiyaz, whose sophomore project, “Wonderland,” hit no. 2 on the Billboard charts, recently partnered with UnitedMasters on a recording deal and partnership to launch a creative agency.
Fresh ways to foster authentic relationships and promote your work
The easiest way to build a website that your fans will love.
A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.
End-to-end creator marketing software so you can break faster, together.
A new type of social network based on voice—where people around the world come together to talk, listen and learn from each other in real-time.
Community is the SMS marketing platform that connects businesses, brands, public figures, creators, musicians, celebrities, and more, to their audiences at scale through a unique 10-digit phone number.
Discord is the easiest way to talk over voice, video, and text. Talk, chat, hang out, and stay close with your friends and communities.
Notify your fans the second you drop merch, tickets, content, livestreams and more. Track the conversions instantly.
Event invitation platform that allows hosts to create mobile-friendly event pages and guests to receive reminders via text.
A place for creators to build memberships by providing exclusive access to their work and a deeper connection with their communities.Example:
Today, the platform has grown to more than 250,000 creators, 8 million active patrons, paying out $3.5 billion to creators since 2013.
Make ridiculously realistic face swap videos and gifs with just a single selfie.
Deliver experiences unique to your creative POV
Bandcamp is an online record store and music community where passionate fans discover, connect with, and directly support the artists they love.
An all-in-one app, premium network, and curation services built to sell 3rd party products online.
A creative playground for artists, curators and collectors to experience the new creative economy.
Create, operate, and own your community's marketplace.
Gives artists and creators the tools to launch next-level activations, merch, and rewards and identify their biggest supporters.
Peer-to-peer marketplace for NFTs, rare digital items and crypto collectibles.
Makes it easy to source suppliers, set up order fulfillment, and start selling. Launch the brand you've always dreamt of.
A suite of web3-native music and economic tools powering the next generation of artists and their communities, starting with listening parties for new releases.
A community marketplace where you can safely buy, sell, go live and geek out with collectors and other like-minded people.Example:
Post Malone teamed up with Whatnot to challenge one user in a live Magic: The Gathering match for a chance to win $100.000. Spoiler alert: the challenger won! And recently, Questlove live auctioned records from his personal collection on Whatnot with proceeds benefiting the Future of Food Entrepreneurship Program.
Services designed to power new revenue streams, distributed teams, and creator-built businesses
An automated fundraising tool for founders.
Everything you need to compliantly hire, pay and manage contractors and employees in 150 countries
A powerful and easy to use platform for production management.
Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described on this page are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. Exits include current and former a16z portfolio companies which have been acquired as well as companies which have undergone an initial public offering or direct public offering of shares. Certain publicly traded companies on this list may still be held in Andreessen Horowitz funds. A list of investments made by funds managed by a16z is available here: https://a16z.com/investment-list/. Excluded from this list are investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets. Further, the list of investments is updated monthly and as such may not reflect most recent a16z investments. Past results of Andreessen Horowitz’s investments, pooled investment vehicles, or investment strategies are not necessarily indicative of future results.