According to YouTube, over one billion unique users visit each month to watch over 6 billion hours of video. It's an incredibly busy global highway of music, information and TV consumption. Whilst many musicians flourish in this environment, it's harder for local artists to get a foothold in an increasingly competitive market. Local Melburnian Dom Sacco, has made the journey of finding and sharing music videos, just that little bit more seamless. As the founder of iTunes app MiBeats Pro, now both musicians and punters alike – can search, rate and watch music videos, all from the easy access of their mobile phone. It's 24/7, and much like our technology filled world, only ever an arm's reach away. Fuelled by a desire to help musicians interact directly with fans, MiBeats Pro is looking to be a new, uncomplicated route to drive down.
Sacco sites the original plan was "to create a game, I released something a few years ago called MiBeats." After his now sixteen-year old daughter and niece got a hold of it, they started uploading videos and, "it took off with a whole lot of kids." From there the idea was born. "I thought this would be great for music videos, real musos trying to get exposure, basically." He understands that with the large volume of YouTube videos, "it is so hard to find anyone on there. I searched, and you see all these musicians out there with 10 videos or 20 videos and it is heartbreaking, because there is so many talented people out there, just not getting the exposure they deserve."
This was one of the main reasons he decided to create MiBeats Pro as an app, not a website. "I didn't want to have a website attached to it. I created the app as its own platform, that is why everything is done via videos – you record it on your phone." He sees this feature as making MiBeats Pro a little more seamless, "it will make it a lot easier to scroll through and search. I get lost on Soundcloud!" With so many choices on other platforms he explains, "I didn't want to break it up that way (into solo artists and bands)." For example, Sacco knows that Hip Hop fans may only go searching for Hip Hop artists. "I wanted to make the user search everything. The reason I use video rather than MP3, [is] I believe video is a better selling feature, with video you can fall in love with the song because the video gives it a meaning, [it] can express the meaning a lot more." This informed a lot of the rational behind the chart and making the MiBeats Pro convenient and an enjoyable experience – a crucial part of the design. "[With] A lot of these websites you have to upload via the website and things like that. I thought, 'what if you are with your mates and you are on the beach singing?' You can do it then and there, you don't have to rush home and upload it from the website. I just wanted to be different."
With popular music sites Soundcloud and Reverbnation starting out as websites, Sacco made a decision to "just go the opposite way. "The point of difference lies in the ' music chart' or billboard users can view everyday. Fans and other musicians can rate the videos with like, jealous and dislike. This mechanism allows for two-way feedback. "The whole idea of a chart and incorporating the like, jealous and dislikes was something again ... I thought I needed something different. The 'jealous' is worth two points on the board." He explains the whole idea is to make the experience fun and "have a pretty serious note to it as well." The 'jealous' he explains, is like the "old charts, and you had a bullet up the charts, [if] somebody gets jealous, it can jump the chart quite quickly." To gamify the chart he added a surprise twist, "if everyone presses dislike, it takes away a point, as I wanted to keep the chart moving. [It's] always constantly up and down." Sacco noticed that other platforms had this feature, "but there is no relevance to it all. The chart gives you some relevance." Artists are able to move up the chart, due to their fans interaction with the music
Artists featured on MiBeats Pro include a musician from the States, "and I believe there is a few more artists coming through from the States. [We've] got a couple of local bands . Again not many people have heard of these bands, but they are good." Sacco sites this as being his major challenge, "for musicians to have faith in the app and upload [their content]." The app works in the form of a subscription for musicians, it can be either a one, three or six month timeframe "and there is a subscription for videos they upload as well." This also works on the model of one, three and unlimited. "We did the one month because people want to try it, and see what it is all about." Once the subscription finishes, the artists are notified and it is at their discretion to renew. If musicians decided to keep utilising the platform the content stays on, if not "seven days after their expiration, the video will be removed. If subscription is not renewed." Sacco advises this "keeps the chart fresh, it keeps it changing."
Feedback from users has been positive so far, with people saying they like the concept. The biggest challenge Sacco shares is "to get the videos exposed and out there." One way he is taking the app to another level is by incorporating MiBeats TV. It's an opportunity for artists to be interviewed and featured exclusively. "I haven't put any episodes up there, as we are still in the process of filming." He explains the artists on the charts will be showcased, with MiBeats Pro "talking about each artist moving along the charts." Musicians can request this via a button "that will send me an email and we can arrange interviews with them. If they are local we can arrange live interviews, if they are international we can arrange Skype."
It's a clever angle and one that provides a greater insight into the artist personally. "People see the video, and the insight helps sell and promote the artist. If they like the person, they'll like the music." He sees this as essential way for music fans to become a part of the experience. "That is why I have tried to keep it in the app. They can just go from the chart to the MiBeats TV page, to whoever I may be featuring this week." Two artists are coming on board, "but one is in the States at the moment. Hopefully we will be talking to him in the first episode and go from there. MiBeats Pro is out there to support the musicians, [it's] another promotional tool at their hands basically." He sees it as invaluable to help artists "really push themselves. Once the fan base grows and the user base grows, it will increase their fan base – as people will start to look at different music when they are on there. I look at YouTube and some have 10 views, some have 100 views and there are opportunities to have thousands of views."