Spinning Success: Dallas Startup Tuned In Grading Acquired by Music Mogul Steve Aoki Just Two Years Post-Launch

With bootstrap funding of less than $500,000 and a passion for vinyl, Rogers Healy and his co-founders at Tuned In Grading revolutionized music collectible authentication. Now, the beat goes on as the company prepares to merge with Florida-based Audio Media Grading.

Dallas-based startup Tuned In Grading, which has carved a niche in authenticating, grading, and tamper-proofing vinyl records, has been acquired by Audio Media Grading (AMG), a company founded by music mogul Steve Aoki.

The acquisition marks a milestone in the music collectibles industry, coming just two years after both companies spun up in 2022.

Bootstrapped with less than $500,000, Tuned In Grading has emerged as “one of the fastest-growing businesses in the collectibles space,” as noted by Florida-based AMG. The addition of Tuned In Grading to AMG’s platform represents a dramatic expansion in its offerings, it said.

Vinyl visionaries setting a new standard

Entrepreneur and investor Rogers Healy is known for his achievements in real estate and his passion for music memorabilia and vinyl records, which led to co-founding Tuned In Grading.

Tuned In Grading was co-founded by four Dallas-based music and vinyl aficionados: real estate entrepreneur and investor Rogers Healy, local radio personality Jeff ‘Skin’ Wade, and Luke Sardello and Waric Cameron, the leaders of independent record retailer Josey Records/Eastwoods Music Group. The startup quickly gained traction with its patent-pending systems and mission to help collectors safeguard their most treasured pieces.

The company’s rapid growth can be attributed to the expertise and dedication of its co-founders. Central to their success is the development of its “Grading Bible,” which provides ways to accurately grade across four verticals: the record itself, the jacket, the inner sleeve, and labels on the record, Healy told Dallas Innovates last year.

Striking a chord with collectors

[Photo: Tuned In Grading]

Collectibles are increasingly becoming an asset class in their own right, as Healy noted early on. “One of our goals with ‘Preserving the Music’ at Tuned in Grading is to turn music collections into priceless possessions and art,” he said.

The company’s third-party grading service for music collectors places a holographic label and an identifying QR code before it’s shipped back to the customer.

One recent example, the startup notes, was a “sealed, first-state ‘Butcher’ cover of The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday and Today’ album graded an overall 9.0. It was sold by Heritage Auctions in February for a “record price” of $112,500.

The beat goes on

Healy’s music memorabilia is showcased in a space he calls “Hotel California.” [Photo: Tuned In Grading]

Healy, who has a personal collection of over 5,000 pieces of music memorabilia housed in a 2,000-square-foot “backhouse” in University Park, shared his excitement about the “mashup” with AMG.

“As a venture capitalist and music enthusiast myself, it is so special to have been able to play a part in helping collectors preserve the music,” he said. “We look forward to seeing the growth of the company and working with them along the way to keep the music alive.”

Although financial details were not disclosed, Healy told D Magazine that the offer was “enough to sell it.” The acquisition came about after Healy reached out to Aoki via Instagram, leading to a friendship and eventually a business deal that was beneficial for all parties involved. As part of the deal, Healy negotiated for Aoki to appear on his music podcast ‘Rogers Music Tour.’
“What Rogers and the team at Tuned In Grading have built over the last year is incredible,” Jeremy Downs, CEO of AMG said in a statement. “Their focus on the collector as the customer and their world-class operations has us excited to welcome them to the AMG family.”

Downs added: We “share the same DNA—we are both companies for music fans, founded by music fans—and we are thrilled to continue this journey together over the years ahead.

Amplifying the future of music collectibles

[Photo: Tuned In Grading]

With the vinyl record market expected to reach $2.6 billion in global sales by 2027, the acquisition of Tuned In Grading by AMG positions the combined company to capitalize on the growing interest in music collectibles.

As the vinyl revival continues to spin its magic, Healy said he will keep a hand in the future of future of music collectibles authentication and preservation.

Following the acquisition, he’ll continue to provide advisory services through his Dallas-based venture capital firm, Morrison Seger Venture Capital Partners, ensuring his ongoing involvement in the company’s growth and development.

The market potential for music product grading is, as Healy described to Dallas Innovates, “immeasurable, in the best way possible.”

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