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Global Music Star Steve Aoki Acquires Dallas Record Grading Startup Tuned In Grading  

After an Instagram direct message sparked the deal, Aoki’s Audio Media Grading bought the startup co-founded by Rogers Healy, Jeff ‘Skin’ Wade, and others.
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American DJ Steve Aoki during the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit. Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

EDM DJ Steve Aoki is acquiring Dallas-based startup Tuned In Grading, a service that grades vinyl records and encapsulates them in tamper-proof packaging. Launched in 2022 by four co-founders—real estate mogul and venture capitalist Rogers Healy, local radio personality Jeff ‘Skin’ Wade, and Luke Sardello and Waric Cameron, the leaders of independent record retailer Josey Records—the local startup will now operate within Aoki’s Florida-based record grading company, Audio Media Grading.  

“Our two companies literally launched very randomly within an hour of each other last year,” Healy said of AMG and Tuned In Grading. “Over time, I guess the bold part of me—or the ignorant part of me—just reached the point where I said, ‘Hey, they’re doing well, and we’re doing well. It’s worth the conversation.’ So, I sent them an Instagram message about six months ago. One thing led to another, we became friends, and the venture capitalist in me realized there was a deal to be done where it could be a win for everybody.” 

Although neither company disclosed the sale price, Healy—the founder of Morrison Seger Venture Capital Partners—says the offer was “enough to sell it.”   

Going forward, Healy will offer advisory for the company and initiate a fundraise through Morrison Seger VC. The other three co-founding members will be given the chance to join AMG in some capacity.   

Of the many records that Tuned In Grading has assigned grades to, the most valuable was a copy of The Beatles’ Yesterday and Today album that sold at Heritage Auctions in February for a record-breaking $112,500. The company graded its condition at a 9/10. Audio Media Grading provides the same service for vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, and 8-tracks.   

“There’s a whole new world of investing that we’ve seen not just with Tuned In Grading but with Morrison Seger,” Healy said. “As time progresses, people will become more attracted to investing in more experiential things. I think as people get older, they like investing in stuff that they can touch and feel and be a part of. To be on the precipice of that as a founder, investor, advisor, and leader is cool.   

“This is the new art, it’s the new stock, it’s the new private equity.” 

With the massive resurgence that began during COVID in items such as baseball trading cards (including a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card that sold for a record $12.6 million in 2022, the most ever for any sports memorabilia), Healy saw an opportunity to try and do the same for music collectibles, something that he holds near and dear to his heart. 

“I’ve been a music memorabilia collector my whole life,” Healy said. “I love vinyl records. I love the experience of listening to a record on vinyl and have been a loyal Josey Records customer since the early days. About three or four years ago, I approached Luke and Waric about potentially opening additional locations of their record shop, and I wanted to have ownership of that. [Instead], they said, ‘We’ve been watching you in the memorabilia space, and we have an idea that will be pretty groundbreaking.’” 

So, why pivot to sell a project with so much sentimental value to Healy? The answer was simple—there is only so much time in a day, especially for Healy, who runs one of Dallas’ most prominent residential real estate firms and a budding venture capital firm. “I think we all learned that you can only do so much when you have multiple vehicles of revenue,” Healy said. “It’s been awesome, but it hasn’t changed my life. I don’t think it changed the other founders’ lives. I’m going to keep working after the wire comes in. But it is fun to say that I’m business partners with Steve Aoki. 

“I have never started a product company from scratch that requires an infusion of capital to increase the margins,” Healy said. “And that was a hell of a lot of fun. But it reached a point where I thought it was maybe not the best use of my time. Knowing that someone else is footing the bill for payroll and scale, I have a flower in the float by being an investor and having actual equity in the company.” 

As part of the deal, Healy insisted that Aoki appear on his music podcast ‘Rogers Music Tour’—a meager aspect that Healy was able to work into the term sheet. “Believe it or not, these things take a couple of days to negotiate,” Healy said tongue in cheek. “I said, ‘I’m not backing down from this. We have to make this happen. That’s the fan in me.’”   

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Layten Praytor

Layten Praytor

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