“If you get confused, listen to the music play.” – The Grateful Dead
I was on a run the other day and came up with this idea, one that I believe would be a million dollar app if done correctly, so please steal this as soon as possible, go make it, and become a millionaire. Then invite me to your party.
Imagine “Draw Something” for music, but way more fun and engagement.
A bit of background regarding my music experience – I was a DJ in high school and loved every minute of it. I would DJ lots of the school dances and got hired to do private parties. For the past three years, I've had a music blog that sends out songs every Friday morning to loyal followers and I LOVE doing it. All the freshest new tracks from blogs around the web served right to your inbox. The creativity fuels me, the beats drive me.
In 2006, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to go to the Bonnaroo Music Festival and build a sculpture with John Bisbee, a genius of which I can only describe as a real life magician. I slept in a tent for a few weeks and drank bourbon as freely as bottled water, surrounded by creativity, blazing sun, and music. Oh man, so much music.
When the festival started and I was able to step away from my projects, my buddy and I ended up in Center-Roo, or the main area where the concerts and activities happened. It was about 9pm and we strolled by a tent that glowed with life and pulsed with a strange, yet hypnotic energy. As we walked closer we saw something completely out of this world – 500 people wearing Bose noise cancelling headphones rocking out…
…to no music.
And I mean full on dance party. People going absolutely nuts – sweating, eyes closed, the whole deal. Everyone was woven together by some intangible silk, a pulsing, yet hidden force. Then I saw it – the DJ.
He towered above everyone else, wearing the same headphones, and commanded this army of freedom seekers. His entire system was not plugged into an obtuse sound system, but a low output FM transmitter. He was a live radio station with a listener base of 500.
And I couldn't hear a thing.
Literally hundreds of people glued to their headphones, waiting on every track that was going to come on next. The dancers were in their own world, engaging for hours with whatever the DJ served up.
Naturally, I made my way through the line of people waiting to get involved and was handed a pair of the forbidden headphones. I put them on and felt an electricity run through me. I once was blind and now I see.
Everything seemed to now make sense. Everyone who saw me gave me a look of “Yes – you understand now. You're part of our community. You belong here.” It was awesome. SO awesome. Every once in a while I would remove the headphones and see the audacity of what we were doing. It felt like nothing I'd ever been a part of.
I've since re-lived that disco memory with my buddy and talked to a few others who have experienced similar musical journeys. There is something so special about combining music, dancing, and a feeling of camaraderie. Conversations have come up that talk about how great it would be to re-create that experience, but it always falls short because of logistics, cost, or equipment.
More importantly, being able to feel like we were all a part of something that was special – an exclusivity that was anything but exclusive. It all seemed impossible to re-create.
That is, until now.
Transmitting Love – The Power Of The Collective Community
Before I get into this, a few AWESOME resources to check out that have provided plenty of inspiration behind this.
Turntable.fm – probably the closest working model to what I'm talking about. They have a great iPhone app already and a growing community. Basically you select a “room” and DJs (users) select music to play. If they play great music, people give them props and they get popular. Kind of an organic DJ showcase.
Songza – Songza is the brainchild of some musical geniuses, one of which I went to Bowdoin College with. It's like Pandora but built on playlists generated by real people who have awesome taste in music. It will put your Pandora listening to shame, and is one of my most used iPhone apps.
So, back to the subject at hand.
Imagine an iPhone app that doesn't necessarily cater to the users as much as it caters to the DJs or the people making the music. Instead of trying to get lots of downloads and make your money on the oceans of people loading your app and displaying ads, you create the most epic way for a DJ to send an invite to their 250 followers with the subject line “Want to be a part of my silent disco?”
As a marketer, the most important and gorgeous asset in business is leverage. The ability to turn 1 into 100 without all the leg work is a dream come true. This is why having 500 semi-popular DJs, in my opinion, makes this app more valuable than the 50,000 regular users they will bring you. Those DJs have armies of followers and they will market this app like you never could.
This app would be created for a DJ in order to give them a tool that they could use to throw a party at a fraction of the cost of a sound system. The possibilities are endless:
- An on-site silent disco – Djs work with an event space to be live and in person while everyone jams on their iPhone headphones. Cool, creative, and a PR dream.
- A virtual dance party – the DJ spins from his condo at 11pm PST and everyone who wants to be a part can plug in from anywhere they want, worldwide. You could probably even charge for entry using in-app purchases.
- A marketing tool – push notifications, emails, and text messages about new tracks/events/remixes.
- Buying band merchandise on your phone – Similar to how MerchBar is totally killing this, integrating something that uses their app or service.
You're selling DJs a marketing AND a distribution channel via the #1 engagement platform out there. That is unprecedented. Never been done.
And is worth more money than I can imagine. Here's why:
Prove Engagement and You Have A Blank Check
There might be some ways to make money here and there in an app like this – selling features, “leasing” air time, charging admissions, etc, but it's not going to be a million bucks, at least not any time soon.The overhead alone is going to be pretty steep with hosting and database bandwidth, most likely coming off of an Amazon S3 rack somewhere.
The value is in the engagement.
I'm working with a few companies that are big event promoters – thousands of events every year. The budgets for these campaigns can exceed $300M. You know what the biggest question is?
How do they KNOW that they're reaching consumers at the events?
When people are milling around at these events, how does a brand know that they're seeing their liquor bottle or banner at the wall? What sort of music is being played? Answer is: they don't know…and they spend millions of dollars on it.
There is this big hole in the market which spans every industry…including the music industry. These guys are like everyone else, looking for the next way to engage users and get their brands into the heads (and ears) of the right people.
Now imagine you have this Silent Disco app that's being used by hundreds, if not thousands of DJs (and others) around the world who have the ability to market and broadcast to their customer base. You actually have a few hundred thousand users by now because all those DJs told everyone they knew to download it so that they could join in on this awesome platform.
You see where this is going?
Licensing, white-labeling, or outright selling this app to a DJ equipment company or record label would probably take less than 20 minutes. The app could feature a brand's products, record labels could send out “Recommended by you favorite DJ” push notifications that give free downloads of new bands they're trying to promote, sponsored parties that require “checking in” with your app to turn the music on.
My point is that the money is in the engagement, not necessarily in the app. You don't have to have a million SALES to make a million, you just need to prove a million dollars' worth of value to someone who can buy it.
I'll Come To Your Silent Disco If You Steal My Idea
Not even kidding. I'll plug in and tune out if anyone out there wants to get serious about this. Any takers? Maybe Trey Smith? Ha.
Catch you later,