An Indianapolis-based startup has landed $5 million in seed funding for its livestreaming music platform. Mandolin, which developed the platform over the course of just a few months earlier this year out of the High Alpha venture studio, says it connects musicians and venues with fans through live music. The funding round includes participation from High Alpha Capital, Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff and other Software-as-a-Service angel investors.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Mandolin co-founder and CEO Mary Kay Huse says the idea for the platform was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Artists were struggling to connect with their fans and while there were some platforms out there, they all fell short in different ways and the idea came about to build this platform to have a more premium livestreaming experience,” said Huse. “Partnering with High Alpha, we were able to spend the first couple of months…primarily putting together a prototype that really evolved into a viable product.”

In addition to simply broadcasting live feeds of concerts, Mandolin’s platform features artist meet and greets, public and private chats, merchandise tables, watch parties and ticket sharing, and charity donation collection capabilities.

Since its founding in June, Mandolin has already signed on as the livestreaming partner for major events, including the inaugural “Live at the Ryman” virtual concert series from the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, as well as a two-year deal with the City Winery network of venues.

“With the Ryman Auditorium, we successfully did a six-show series to really prove out the business model for them. Could they open their doors again digitally or virtually and get back to making music?” said Huse. “And then similarly, City Winery, a very different venue – smaller, more intimate – has multiple locations across the nation and so we’re working with them both on the equipment and production side in addition to the platform.”

Mandolin has also been tapped as the exclusive livestream provider for the #iVoted Election Day 2020 festival, which is expected to be the largest single-day digital concert on record.

Huse says in its short life span, Mandolin has grown to more than 30 employees. The company plans to use the majority of the seed funding to continue growing the team.

“That is both from a platform innovation perspective, you know, additional product and technology individuals to continue to expand our innovation and capabilities to be able to help our artists and venues do even more in this all-digital world. But we’ll also be leveraging it on the go-to-market side to continue to lean into partnerships, to help the broader music industry continue to create this new market.”

Huse says even though Mandolin was created in response to the pandemic, the platform has a future beyond the end of the pandemic.

“I never had any intention, nor want to, replace that in-person live concert experience,” said Huse. “Ultimately, we believe more artists should be making music and more artists should have the tools they need to make a living off of that creativity.”

Huse says the idea for the platform was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Huse says even though Mandolin was created in response to the pandemic, the platform has a future beyond the end of the pandemic.