In a bid to get a slice of the lucrative karaoke market, musiXmatch, the song lyrics database and maker of accompanying mobile apps that let you view lyrics of songs you’re listening to, is getting into the hardware game.
Partnering with IK Multimedia, the UK/Italian company is releasing a “custom-designed” microphone accessory and updated app targeting karaoke enthusiasts, a use-case that musiXmatch’s apps for iOS, Android, WP8, desktop Mac, W8, Spotify, and most recently Apple TV via AirPlay, were already seeing.
The musiXmatch Mic, which costs $79.95 (or £79.95 in the UK, and €79.95 elsewhere in Europe), plugs in to a user’s smartphone or tablet — initially iOS devices, but with Android to follow — while the updated musiXmatch app enables users to sing along to tracks in their existing music library, powered by the startup’s 7 million-strong song lyrics database. Key to the update and integration with the company’s first hardware offering is that the app’s “Live Pass” feature removes the song’s vocal in real-time so that you can sing over the top. That should provide a far greater karaoke experience than apps and systems powered by cheesy MIDI files.
It’s also how musiXmatch plans to make money, by charging a daily, weekly or monthly subscription to the feature ($1.99, $3.99 and $14.99 respectively), thus providing a new revenue stream for the company in addition to charging for use of its API, and for premium app features, such as removing ads. Those who purchase the musiXmatch Mic get two month’s free access to Live Pass, as well as a one-year ad-free Premium subscription to the main app.
Max Ciociola, CEO and co-founder of musiXmatch, says the company’s new hardware/software offering is designed to compete with “expensive and poor quality hardware that only offers access to limited song catalogues”.
Specifically, he tells me that, although the primary use for musiXmatch’s app is to sing along rather than karaoke per se — “that’s singing not karaoke, quite different,” he says — the startup discovered that the experience offered by existing karaoke app makers and systems was “pretty crappy”.
“So we think the combination of our service plus Mic is a winning one,” says Ciociola.
Ciociola also cites games console offerings like SingStar, which he notes sold millions of units but then “disappeared” with the rise of smartphones and tablets. “MusiXmatch has surpassed 20 million downloads. That’s a great way for us to distribute this hardware too. We don’t want to be simply an app,” he says.
Those 20 million downloads translate to 4 million active users on mobile, with over 150 million users per-month accessing musiXmatch’s catalogue through its API.
(Of course, there are a ton of karaoke apps in the various app stores. Just yesterday, well-known UK karaoke brand Lucky Voice, co-owned by internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, threw it’s own iOS offering into the ring.)
Meanwhile, in January this year, musiXmatch announced a further $3.7 million in funding, bringing the total raised by the UK/Italian company to $8.1 million since it was founded in 2010. In what was effectively a follow-on round, the new capital came from existing investors Micheli Associati, and Paolo Barberis.