Startup Chosen launches an app that turns singing contests into a mobile game

Silicon Valley startup Chosen takes the talent competition format of TV shows like “American Idol” and “The Voice” a new twist, with a mobile app that transforms karaoke and lip-syncing videos in a competitive game – a game which will offer the prizes of performers and judges for reaching the top of the leaderboards.

Chosen was founded by David Hyman, former CEO of Beats Music (now part of Apple) who sold their MOG streaming music service to Beats in 2012; and former head of metadata provider Gracenote (now part of Tribune Media).

“About 1 billion people watch artists on television around the world,” Hyman said. “Our vision was to reinvent this genre as a mobile game.”

There are two ways to play the game: users can be artists, uploading existing videos or creating new ones through the app (in karaoke mode or lip sync mode); and as judges, who compete based on how they choose the winning singers by watching 15-second clips of the videos and their performance review. Performers and judges earn points on the reviews of other users. As the Chosen game judges discover new performance videos through the gameplay, they can choose to follow the artists and share direct links to their favorite songs.

Chosen has license agreements with music publishers for the rights to over 8,000 songs, with approximately 75 songs available in the app at any one time. For the moment, Selected is launching into an invite-only beta before opening to the public this spring. The application, available free of charge on ITunes store, requires an iPhone 5 or 6 and a Facebook account.

For the company’s inaugural award, Chosen partnered with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which takes place June 11-14 in Manchester, Tenn. A grand prize winner singer will have the chance to perform live on stage during the festival. In addition, the best chosen judge will receive an all expenses paid trip to Bonnaroo. The winners will be announced in mid-May. Bonnaroo’s lineup this year includes Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine, My Morning Jacket and Alabama Shakes.

Eventually, Chosen plans to make money from selling in-game currency – which, for example, could allow artists to purchase advanced editing tools or special effects – as well as video advertising, Hyman said. However, at launch, the app does not include any monetization functionality.

Another potential revenue opportunity: Chosen may produce a recap show on YouTube that would feature user performance highlights and judges’ videos. “Anything that is created on Chosen will eventually populate our own YouTube channel,” Hyman said.

There are other apps that allow users to create their own music videos and share them. These include StarMaker, a San Francisco-based startup whose app has 30 million users. Earlier this month, StarMaker raised $ 6.5 million in Series B funding led by Raine Ventures, with participation from Crosscut Ventures, Three Bridges Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, iGlobe Partners, Gree International, as well as Allen DeBevoise and Joe Perez from Tastemade. StarMaker said it will use the new funding round to expand its global platform to discover and promote talent as well as launch new programming initiatives.

But for Hyman, Chosen – with its mix of gameplay and user-generated videos – is a different kind of experience. With Chosen, “fans and performers can step into the game in a way that just isn’t possible while passively watching TV shows like ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice’, or surfing endlessly. on online videos, ”he said.

Chosen has raised $ 6.5 million in funding to date from investors such as DCM, Rhodium Capital, Fosun and CrunchFund. Chosen’s board includes Rio Carraeff, former chairman and CEO of Vevo. The company has 23 employees, half of them in Berkeley, California, and the rest in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Watch a promotional video from Chosen showcasing the app:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV6ML75e7R4


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