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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

UnitedMasters, a music distribution platform that serves as a kind of Substack for musical artists, on Wednesday announced that it raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Apple.

Why it matters: Apple rarely participates in venture capital rounds, let alone leads them. In fact, the last one we can find was a 2017 investment in Didi Chuxing.

  • Return backers were Alphabet and Andreessen Horowitz.
  • The company is run by Steve Stoute, a former record label exec and artist manager who produced albums for artists such as Mariah Carey and Nas.

The bottom line: UnitedMasters lets musicians bypass record companies and release their music straight to streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. It claims to have over 1 million artists on its platform, paid directly without having to give up ownership rights.

Go deeper

Scoop: Substack is raising $65 million amid newsletter boom

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Substack is raising $65 million in new venture capital funding that would value the company at around $650 million, Axios has learned. Existing investor Andreessen Horowitz is leading the round.

Why it matters: Substack, which provides a platform on which writers can publish paid email newsletters and keep most of the revenue, has seen its popularity soar.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Mar 30, 2021 - Economy & Business

Unpacking what Substack's VC funding round means for media

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

"That's the first time I've ever seen someone write their own obituary." That's the text message I woke up to this morning, and it was more than a bit unsettling. First thing I did was look in the mirror to make sure I was in it, then back at the bed to make sure I wasn't there too. Then it hit me: "Oh, this is about Substack."

Driving the news: Last night we reported that the email newsletter platform is raising $65 million at a $650 million post-money valuation led by existing investor Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z).

Updated 3 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.