Last summer, the guys from Tracks.by launched Hipset as a discovery site for music aficionados. The idea was to provide a place for music fans to keep track of all the latest jams from their favorite artists. And, in turn, to provide a new marketing channel for celebrities to promote their music and to get fans to sign up and like their Facebook pages and posts and whatnot.
The team is still working on Hipset, but over the last several months they’ve morphed it into something totally new. That is, they’ve made it into a YouTube network for musicians and celebrities, providing them a way to reach new audiences, as well as promote and monetize their videos.
The new YouTube network follows the lead of those that have come before it, aggregating various channels of video creators and finding new ways to manage those channels at scale. In that way, it’s not all that different from what the folks at Machinima or Maker Studios are doing. Except, of course, that Hipset is designed for, and is made up of, a whole bunch of celebrities with whom the team has been working over the last several years.
Today, Hipset has about a dozen different celebrities signed up for the network, including folks like Tyga, Souljaboy, Lil Twist, Daughtry, 3 Doors Down, Rob Zombie, Kraddy, Kris Allen, DJ Skee, Tory Lanez, and Ryan Leslie. Together, they have more than a billion video views, more than a million subscribers, and more than 35 million fans across other social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.
But let’s face it — they’re celebrities and could be doing oh so much better. And that’s where Hipset comes in.
Hipset seeks to leverage celebrities’ existing fan bases across multiple channels — like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — grow their number of YouTube subscribers, video views, and ultimately, the amount of money they can make from YouTube as a distribution channel. They’re working on building tools to improve creator metadata, optimize posting times, and help retain and attract new subscribers to the celebrities’ YouTube channels.
They’re also helping artists to define a strategy for YouTube, including setting up collaborations with big-time YouTube creators who have millions of subscribers of their own. People who are famous everywhere get to hang out with people who are famous on YouTube, thereby growing the audiences of both. Or at least, that’s the pitch.
Oh yeah, and they have this little feature called “Boost,” which gives celebs the ability to require fans to subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Twitter or Instagram or like them on Facebook before accessing one of their videos.
The team behind Hipset has been working to help celebrities connect with their audiences for a while. It includes former Ustream employees Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni, who worked with celebs providing VIP product support at the live video-streaming site. (Along with former Mashable man-about-town Ben Parr, they’re also behind that silly celeb-centric venture fund with the hashtag in the name.) They teamed up with Node.js contributor Chase Sechrist, FbFund’s Erik Smith, and their former boss at Ustream Bryan Kim. But for Hipset, they’ve added a few new employees, rounding out the team at seven altogether.
The founders had gone through Y Combinator with their original idea, and had raised seed funding from a group of investors that includes Menlo Ventures, Y Combinator, Venture51, Matt Mullenweg, Alexis Ohanian, Justin Kan, Brad Hunstable, Josh Elman, Alex Le, Garry Tan, Nils Johnson, David Wu, Harj Taggar, Michael Weiksner, Erik Moore and Apu Gupta.