Trace Launches U.S. Urban Entertainment Internet Subscription Service, With Wyclef Jean and Other Backers

Trace, the France-based international urban media company, has officially launched its over-the-top video and music service in the U.S. It also announced the formation of a joint venture, Trace USA LLC, with key American media shareholders including Wyclef Jean.

The streaming service, TracePlay, provides urban music and video content from the U.S. and around the globe, including 2,000 hours of on-demand programming, eight live music-video channels and a sports celebrity channel, and 30 digital radio stations. The company describes its content mix as an intersection of American hip-hop culture, Afrobeat movement, and Caribbean music.

TracePlay is available online at traceplay.tv and for iOS and Android devices; it launched in beta in March. In the U.S., the service costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 annually.

The newly formed Trace USA is majority owned by several entrepreneurs, entertainment execs and content creators. Investors include musician Wyclef Jean, FUBU co-founder J. Alexander Martin, JKD Entertainment’s Karlie Lewis and Dora Din Whittley, and TV and movie producers Tonya Lewis Lee (Tonik Productions) and Rob Marriott.

Leading Trace’s U.S. launch is media veteran John Pasmore, who previously worked for eight years with Russell Simmons on Oneworld, a magazine and media venture focused on youth culture.

“Trace is the only media company that has successfully connected urban youth and communities of color around the world while respecting their identities,” Pasmore said. “Entering the U.S. market, we want to reach influential young, Afro-urban consumers with innovative content that’s important to them, and culturally relevant in their daily lives.”

According to the company, TracePlay’s VOD library includes reality TV shows (“Growing Up Hip Hop,” “Kingin’ with Tyga,” “Love & Hip Hop,” “Cutting It: In the ATL”); movies (“Malcolm X,” “Mum and Dad Meet Sam,” “Hot Boyz”); African blockbusters (“30 Days in Atlanta,” “Ayanda”); multicultural series (“V-Republic,” “Kingmakers”); music and sports documentaries featuring Prince, Jidenna, Rihanna, Salomon Kalou and more; and concerts (with artists including Meshell Ndegeocello and Anderson Paak).

According to Pasmore, Trace USA is producing additional original content and licensing in relevant programming for U.S. audiences. In addition, the company is looking to cut deals with cable operators to distribute its programming.

Trace is based in Clichy, France. The company is 75% owned by Sweden’s Modern Times Group, a digital entertainment conglomerate. The other 25% is owned by Olivier Laouchez, Trace’s co-founder, group chairman and CEO, and other senior executives.

Laouchez originally acquired the Trace brand and magazine in 2003 with a group of investors led by Goldman Sachs. Today, Trace operates 30 digital and mobile services, 21 pay TV channels, and seven FM radio stations. The company also develops, produces and syndicates premium content reaching 59 million pay-TV subscribers and over 200 million users across 160 countries worldwide.

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