A vast market with little to no transparency
Much has been said about where the music industry has come from and where it’s headed. From the age of vinyl to 8-track, cassette to CD, MP3 to streaming; the way people consume, purchase, and access music in physical or digital format has changed drastically over the last five years, much less the last 25 years.
One thing that has remained the same for 25 years – listeners who are more than just music consumers also love the entertainment aspect of not only watching other friends and patrons perform their favorite classics but also doing their own take on classics from Shania Twain, Prince, Journey, Queen, Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, and more — based on the current (and first of its kind sound chart from karaoQ.com).
The karaoke industry is a $15B sleeping giant.
So with this technological shift into the digital age of information, it’s only natural that the music industry must not only change its perspective on the data it evaluates but also from where that data originates. While services like Kobalt provide clear information in many venues back to the license holders in way of determining true royalties, the value to be brought from karaoQ – a mobile app and platform from hiVolume Media Company – cannot be understated.
Across the United States, there are an estimated 24,000 venues having one or more nights of karaoke every single week (a USA Today cited more than 40,000 nationwide), and a network of over 100,000 professional DJs and KJs that help service those venues. The venues are filled with demographics ranging anywhere from 18 to 60, with many of those patrons being consumers of music both physical and digital. What makes this industry so unique? More importantly, how does karaoQ provide unique insight to EVERYONE in the music industry?
Karaoke – The Sleeping Giant
The karaoke industry is a $15B sleeping giant that has yet to be brought into the millennial digital and mobile age – and has troves of data to collect and mine to better the experience, create transparency for licensing, publishers, PROs, record labels, artists, promoters, and more. So, what if?
What if an app could not only determine what songs are being played across of all of these venues, but offer very unique insight into the demographics of those performing these songs to their friends, strangers, and regulars alike. Couple that with the ability to understand their psychographics based on their in-app behavior, music choices, drink selections, and other app touch-points, and now there is the ability to provide significant value to the entire music industry. And just as companies like Apple are snatching up music data analytics companies like Semetric, and the popular online radio streaming service Pandora purchased Next Big Sound to beef up their massive trove of data, it’s going to soon be commonplace for labels, artist management companies, artists, publishers, and songwriters to want the same level of transparency and insight to best engage their consumers.
While having the data is one of the first keys to making better decisions, it’s not just having data – but what that data consists of and what story it can tell based on facts and context that allows everyone from labels, promoters, sponsors, and advertisers to best engage their consumers in a way that is not only natural but relevant and meaningful. In a recent TechCrunch article on the SaaSing Of The Music Industry, the articled cited that “Lorde can go from being discovered on a playlist to an international superstar, but veteran artists like U2 have to get creative with promotions, for better or worse… to re-engage a once-loyal audience.” While other acts like New Kids On The Block and TLC are touring globally and reignite the nostalgia of the 1990s and 2000s — something that is no more prevalent anywhere than in karaoke venues where the most popular artists and songs are all back-catalog from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.
Solving many problems with one platform
karaoQ has come in as a sort of Trojan horse, not only truly acting as a solution to a 30 year old problem of relying on an old, outdated songbook and paper slips to get into the queue at a karaoke venue, but clearly has seen the bigger picture in the meaningfulness of the data and how to best use it to the advantage of the consumer, DJ, venue, and the entire music industry. Not only does karaoQ have a nicely architected solution in way of the free mobile app on the iTunes App Store and Google Play for the patron or performer, but the web platform for venues and DJs to engage their audience is riddled with data-driven plays like repeat-patron statistics, +BUMPs and Tips by hour, and active patrons engaged in the venue at any given time.
The recently published TechCrunch article states “understanding who is listening, for how long and in what context will be a game changer”, it’s the big impact that karaoQ has already begun to track with their own founders, Michael Amburgey and Randy Hall, building careers in data analytics, reporting, and business intelligence. That impact is a nearly five hour dwell time of the patron or performer from the time they check-in to the venue, are actively connected in-app, and later check-out from the venue. That is not only a lot of time to engage the consumer — more than any tv show, movie, or concert — but also an opportunity to learn more about the consumer, build upon their digital persona, and make those engagements more valuable to them and to labels and artists alike.
While the initial offering of the app and web platform focus on core features such as venue check-in, browsing a digital songbook, seeing where any patron is at in the queue, and the ability to monetize the queue by paying to sing sooner, future iterations of the app will include functionality like featured artist and songs that users can perform and instantly be +BUMPed to the top of the queue, targeted promotions, in-app drink purchasing, and the ability to buy a song that you hear being performed or other creative ways to engage with that artist like purchase a concert ticket for an upcoming show, or add them to their Spotify playlist.
Strategy, position, timing, and parternships
The team at hiVolume Media Company dba karaoQ not only sees the value in their app/SaaS karaoQ but also the longer play that caters to any DJ-based event, and eventually jumping into live concerts, festivals, and more — all creating a truly unique social music experience for all involved. When the company formed their advisory board as a part of Project Music – a Nashville-based music-centered tech accelerator at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the team immediately knew the play they had in mind – quickly courting and recruiting Universal Music Group Vice President, Digital Marketing Dawn Gates (recently listed in Nashville’s 30 Under 30), UMG Director of Digital Content & Analysis Tony Grotticelli, and Laurie Hughes, former VP of Business Affairs at TouchTunes Corporation (a noted competitor of karaoQ for the out-of-home entertainment format) that also managed licensing and worked for ASCAP and SESAC – two of the big performing rights organizations that report what gets played in bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as live music venues and concert performances. The team continues to seek advice of local and national players in this space by way of former Sony VP and current Project Music Program Director Heather McBee, as well as those in publishing groups such as Sea Gayle Music’s EVP & GM Marc Driskill, Spalding/Maverick Director of Digital Marketing Amanda Cates, and Jon Romero, holding that same title at Vector Management.
The team is continuing discussions with Big Machine Label Group — a label seen as forward-thinking in how it approached karaoke tracks with mega-star Taylor Swift’s entire catalog –Universal Music Group, and Warner Music — among others, as well as PROs and publishers to get LOIs signed as they prepare for their full launch July 1st across more than 50 venues in the United States covering the west coast, midwest, northeast, southwest and southeast. As those venues get on-boarded with karaoQ’s platform, Michael and team will continue to do a full-court press with EVP of Sales Brady Washburn (and first angel investor in karaoQ) to deploy with their regional sales managers across the US to build more traction and raise consumer awareness of the new app and platform.
Also on the advisory board are Stryker Warren Jr. – a noted CEO, entrepreneur, and angel investor himself to help advise the team in fool-proofing their business model and deployment, Chris Blanz – a Nashville-based mentor at the Nashville EC, creative director and CXO at BKON (also a strategic partner with karaoQ focusing on beacon technologies to engage karaoQ and consumers in a seamless way). Lastly, Shawn Yeager – a partner at BackPorchGroup joined to bring a razor-sharp focus to strategy, brand, and strategic partnerships. More recently, karaoQ has engaged with BPG to work together to expand the product nationally and scale out the product with speed, traction, and experience in mind.
Out of the box karaoke solution for any venue
karaoQ is also in the process of entering into a joint venture with DigiTrax Entertainment – a Knoxville-based content curator and distribution platform for legally licensed karaoke tracks to over 7,000 PRO DJs across the United States with a service called Karaoke Cloud, and another NYC based company that focus on in-venue video and content distribution and playback. They will begin catering to chain restaurants and venues, as well as resort hotels to bring an out-of-the-box karaoke experience that is both seamless and tailored to the venue in way of a possible white-label or specific branding of the karaoQ product.
karaoQ is indeed keeping the party moving in the venue for DJs, performers, and patrons — but it has clearly hit the right note among its power and scalability of design — all with music data in mind — and all without that good old liquid courage that most rely on before crooning I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly to a bar full of onlookers.