Note: Chosen is available for free right now but the ability to sing and judge is invite-only for now. As a special treat for Cult of Mac readers, however, the first 500 folks that enter the code 313 into the app after downloading it will be able to get in and participate.
David Hyman is no stranger to the music business, having sold MOG to Beats when the headphone company wanted a music subscription service. He was the CEO at Gracenote before that, and the director of ad sales at music blog Addicted to Noise before that. Hyman even served as interim CEO at Neil Young’s PonoPlayer.
At the Game Developers Conference this March, Hyman sat down with Cult of Mac to show off his latest music project: Chosen, a new game that marries the idea of fan-made YouTube music videos with the American Idol-style competition television, all on your iPhone.
We sat down with Hyman at the chic Hotel Zetta at the beginning of March in San Francisco, where he demoed Chosen, Hyman’s latest foray into making music accessible to all of us.
The idea behind Chosen, Hyman told us, is both to connect tomorrow’s star performers with judges as well as figuring out how to gamify the process of judging those performances. When you hop into the app as a performer, you record a video performance (freestyle, karaoke, or lip synch) of a song and a whole bunch of advanced tech goes into making you look and sound good. If you’re a judge (you can be both, if you wish), you take a look at the submitted videos and record your own judge review video, channeling your inner Simon Cowell if you like, and then submit it to Chosen, as well.
In our quick look at the app, everything just seems to work. Hyman said that he’s working with programmers in Tel Aviv and game designer Cormac Russell (Magic: The Gathering) to make sure the barrier to entry is extremely low. You don’t have to be a tech savant or camera operator to use Chosen.
In addition to the basic judge/performer system, the game lets judges play mini games. Judge the Judge lets you hop on and critique other judge’s reviews, Star Spotting gives you points for choosing the most popular performer from three alternatives, and Talent Scout has you predicting which performers will be on top in a given amount of time.
All of the activity gives you points, which will then filter up to various tournaments in the app itself. The development has been funded (to the tune of $7 million) from various investment groups like DCM who are looking for the next big app success story, no doubt.
Whether Chosen becomes an American Idol-sized hit will be up to the audience and whether Hyman can get the word out fast enough, but it’s looking like a pretty compelling experience even now.