Trace forms US venture with investor backing

Youth-focused channels group Trace has partnered with a group of investors including Wyclef Jean to launch a joint venture in the US.

Olivier_LaouchezTrace USA will be majority owned by African-American enterpreneurs, with media veteran John Pasmore leading the venture.

The shareholders include rapper Jean, clothing line Fubu co-founder J Alexander Martin, JKD Entertainment’s Karlie Lewis and Dora Din Whittley, and TV and movie producers Rob Marriot (Xango Republic) and Tonya Lee Lewis (Tonik Productions).

Paris-based Trace’s international SVOD service, Trace Play, launches in the US this month. This will offer urban music and content from US and oversees, including 2,000 hours of on-demand programming, nine live channel feeds, and the soon-to-launch Trace Prime TV network.

“Trace is the only media company that has successfully connected urban youth and communities of color around the world while respecting their identities,” said Pasmore.

“Entering the US 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. Our users and subscribers will find a voice that is unique and authentic with Trace.”

To this point, Trace has focused its efforts on Africa, France, the Carribean and the Indian Ocean, but is now focusing on full international distribution.

“Trace has a unique editorial approach, socially connected and rooted at the intersection of American hip-hop culture, Afrobeat movement, and Caribbean sounds,” said Trace co-founder, group chairman and CEO Olivier Laouchez (pictured).

“This resonates particularly well with the millions of US-based diasporas of African descent and multicultural fans of urban culture.”

Laouchez acquired the Trace brand and magazine in 2003 with a group of investors led by Goldman Sachs New York.

Trace USA chief Pasmore is behind various start-ups, including Yestime and, but is best known as a longtime collaborator of music impresario Russell Simmons through media venture Oneworld.

“Thanks to our linear and digital platforms, they can engage based on their personal preference, or can lean-back and let Trace curate an experience for them,” said Pasmore.

“Either way, Trace is leading a diverse cultural movement that has been growing in the US, in Africa, in Europe, and around the world.

“We will now make sure that the Trace experience is available everywhere in the US including major cable operators that are looking for new, appealing, and viable minority-owned independent networks.”

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