New Business Idea: Platform for Online Singing Battles

Business idea & prototype video created by Ryan Pijai

Background:

On the popular live TV show “The Voice,” there is a round where singers do battle with each other. Two singers are both on stage at the same time. They alternate singing different sections of the same song and judges decide who is better and who will be sent home. Winners on the show end up being “discovered,” and use the exposure to launch their singing careers.

What if we did the same thing for amateur singers on YouTube?

On YouTube, there are lots of amateur singers. They have trouble getting exposure because there are too many videos on YouTube. The primary way they promote themselves is through social media, but not every amateur singer is good at self-promotion. There is an opportunity here for a new platform that makes it easier for amateur singers to be discovered based on their YouTube videos.

Prototype Video:

The video at the top of this post is something I hacked together to give a sample of what the platform could look like. I searched on YouTube for 4 amateur singers/musicians performing on YouTube based on the same original song “Fight Song.” I synchronized them a bit so that they are singing approximately the same song at the same time. I simulated the ability to switch from one performer to another by manually decreasing the volume on one singer and increasing it on another.

On the real platform, it would be clearer which video is currently active, and you would be able to X out ones you don’t like mid-song. The ones you vote off would immediately be replaced with new YouTube video singers who pick up right where the previous ones left off.

More User Interactivity:

There is not that much you can do on YouTube to interact with videos. On this new platform, users will be able to vote for their favorite song sections, rank and compare various singers, and switch between them in real-time.

Fantasy Sports, but for Music:

You will have the ability to “bet on”/“invest in” your favorite amateur singers. As the singers you invest in improve in popularity, so does your Fantasy Music standings.

To keep battles fair, we will separate videos into different brackets based on view counts so that million-plus viewed videos are not competing against 10k viewed videos. But as videos win battles, even if they have low view counts, they will get promoted to higher ranks.

How will this business make money?

The platform will be free for consumers. Money will come primarily from ads. Since we are displaying multiple videos at the same time, silent advertisements could take over different video slots periodically. Consumers will also have the ability to opt out of seeing ads by paying a subscription fee.

Technology Timing:

Internet speeds are continuing to improve, and 4k resolution screens are starting to become affordable at the consumer level. With these advances, it will become easier and easier to stream in and display multiple high-quality videos at the same time. The bigger question is not a technological one, but rather a design one: how can an emerging business make use of multiple video streams? Hopefully, this platform will be the first to make multi-video viewing natural in the online consumer music space.

There is currently a lot of research being done on using AI techniques to automatically analyze and make better sense of video data. We could use that technology to help us automatically find the right YouTube videos for any given song a user requests and automatically synchronize them so that transitioning between different singers on our platform would be as seamless as possible.

Biggest Hurdles:

User Consent: We need to get consent from video creators to play their videos. But since our platform is designed to help YouTube singers get discovered, singers should be willing to give us consent to play their videos. We help promote them on our platform and make it very easy for users to subscribe directly to their YouTube channel/personal sites.

Legal Rights: The bigger hurdle we need to overcome is a legal one with regards to the original singers of the songs that the YouTube singers are singing. But since the songs we are using already exist on YouTube, theoretically it should be ok for us to display them on our platform as well. (In practice, however, I’m sure there are plenty of cases where YouTube singers don’t have the rights to put up the videos they put up on YouTube).

Viewer Engagement: This platform needs to be engaging enough that viewers return often to listen to new singers and vote on song battles. This will be accomplished with gamification and elements of Fantasy Music Leagues as described previously.

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