Popdust Aims to Be the Digital Rolling Stone, XM Founder and Clear Channel On Board

By Whitney Phaneuf , written on July 27, 2012

From The News Desk

Popdust has set its sights on being the Rolling Stone of the digital age, recently hiring an XM Satellite Radio founder to lead the way as CEO. Popdust today announced a digital partnership with Clear Channel to provide editorial content for its 850 radio station websites nationwide.

In a year and a half since its launch, the NY-based lifestyle media startup has demonstrated its ability to connect with pop music's ravenous fans, boasting nearly 1 million unique monthly visitors, driven in part by participating artists such as Lady Gaga who leverage huge followings. Popdust's content will hit Clear Channel websites August 6, including Z100 in New York where Ryan Seacrest still goes on-air to play Top 40 hits.

Popdust should know its audience, considering its management team includes former Blender, Spin and Billboard editor Craig Marks, former imeem executive David Wade, and former XM founder Hugh Panero, the new CEO. Panero joined from New Enterprise Associates, which led the $4.5 million Series-A round that closed in June. To accommodate its growth, Popdust will move to a new space in the Flatiron district on Sept. 1.

"Pop music has the largest fan base, and it's where all the social energy is taking place," says Wade.

Popdust's model combines original content, advertising, and e-commerce with social engagement. The site recently introduced Popdust Style, a retail arm for fans to get the popstar look, and branched into paid content with a fashion spread curated by pop duo Karmin. A new Spotify app, Lifetracker, features pop playlists curated based on activities like pool parties and makeout sessions. Regular artist polls create massive fan engagement, the most recent an Olympic-themed poll with 5 million votes in less than a week.

Wade says Popdust is working on software to maintain a database of lyrics, and to expect a mobile web version of the site within the year.