Analysis

Music Ally startup files: Skrachy brings the livestreaming party to DJs


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In the last year, a slew of new livestreaming platforms have been launched and established ones thrust to prominence. The livestreaming ecosystem is now settling down, and the various platforms are figuring out their niches and unique selling points.

For newcomer Skrachy, that niche is livestreaming specifically for DJs, with a built in discovery system and booking shop-front, plus licensing arrangements to ensure they don’t have to worry about copyright takedowns.

What problem is Skrachy solving and how does it work?

Founder and CEO Kevan Cooper told Music Ally that Skrachy was built, “to empower the DJ and revolutionise their business model,” by giving DJs a place to be discovered, have their live DJ sets listened to, and then get booked – all through one platform. “We allow them to grow their business through the platform’s streaming and booking elements: the user can book a DJ and the app deals with the booking and the payment.”

DJs can be booked for real-world gigs – when they’re possible again – as well as for virtual events streamed through the app. There are echoes also of Sessions’ perfomer-empowering direct-to-fan marketing and connectivity tools: Scratchy has a series of options for DJs to create a community, get followers, and promote themselves. DJs can upload their contacts, create campaigns and message fans via email, SMS and push notifications.

This is Skrachy’s “primary value proposition,” says Cooper: “It allows DJs to have a storefront to the end user… a channel to market to and sell to.”

There’s also a DJ rating and follower system: DJs with high follower numbers and ratings have priority in the directory. This simultaneously fan-facing and artist-facing aspect is what Cooper sees as Skrachy’s strength.

“From a full-feature perspective I don’t see competition. Platforms like Soundcloud are geared to pre-recorded DJ sessions, and their business model is completely different. The full service we provide is the difference.”

The opportunity to charge for livestreamed DJ sets is where Skrachy hopes to create a new income stream for people underserved in the livestream space.

“It’s creating income for DJs who are left out of this monetisation chain. The going average rate in the US is $400-500 for a live DJ appearance – Skrachy creates opportunities to make more money in between those live performances.”

This is particularly tempting during an ongoing lockdown. “DJs are struggling – they can’t perform live. And they’ve been relegated to online social media services that aren’t built for livestreaming high-quality audio.”

And when they have been livestreaming, Cooper says, DJs can’t monetise easily, pointing to a famous example. “The first mass-market stream was by DJ D-Nice back in March [on Instagram Live] – and everyone from Michelle Obama to Mark Zuckerberg were part of that event. The unfortunate part was that he had 100,000 viewers but didn’t make a dime. So they [DJs] have had to hack around the system – like asking for donations via PayPal. We have all that built into the platform.”

skrachy screens

How does Skrachy make money for DJs – and for the platform?

Skrachy, like early-years Soundcloud, aims to make most of its income from the services it offers to creators – and the immediate inspiration for Skrachy’s business model came from outside of the music industry.

Cooper explains: “Booksy is a booking platform for barbers and beauticians that’s popular on the east coast [in the US]. I can go to the app, check out a calendar, book a barber, and just show up. Barbers pay 30 bucks a month for that service.”

Cooper thinks that DJs get an even better deal on Skrachy: “for nine dollars a month more, you get booking, streaming, ecommerce, and an advertising engine.”

DJs, he says, have “really embraced the platform and concept – it allows them to build their business”. This, he says, is because of three of Skrachy’s functions. First, the platform allows people to book DJs for a live event.

“I can find DJs in my area, listen to a sample of their work, and book them – pay, book, and keep a recording of the booking,” he says.

Secondly, DJs can be booked to perform virtually: “I could book a DJ in Berlin for my function in North Carolina.” He says this liberation from geographical limitations is important: “Once a DJ builds their base on Skrachy – they can have listeners all around the world.”

Finally, Cooper sees the platform’s rating system as a way to build your brand and grow in popularity: “you get buzz and become like an artist – you get bumped up the chain and more people discover you.”

Skrachy offers two levels of service for DJs: a $19.99 a month Basic Plan, which offers DJ booking, Facebook connectivity, and payment processing, and a $39.99 per month Premium Plan, which adds extra social media plug-ins, their bespoke livestreaming service, and the ability to create in-platform campaigns to promote live bookings, livestreams, and pre-recorded mixes.

Skrachy offers 60 days of the Premium service for free when DJs sign up. For listeners, Skrachy aims to, erm, scratch the itch of hearing music woven together by a DJ: “Live performances from around the world, 24/7.”

The platform offers a directory of DJs to investigate, follow, listen to, and book for events. Listeners have two tiers of usage: Basic and Premium. Basic users can book and attend full livestreamed DJ events through the app.

They can also join any public livestreamed DJ events (for example, a weekly livestream session organised by a DJ) for the first 30 minutes – after which, they are invited to upgrade to the Premium Plan, a $3.99 per month subscription, to listen to more.

Cooper says that Skrachy also resolves one of the anxieties felt by DJs who are using platforms like Instagram and Facebook to livestream: “the fear of being taken down,” due to their use of licensed music triggering audio detection software.

“I watched one DJ say during their livestream event, ‘I don’t know how long this will stay up!’ With Skrachy, we have taken care of publishing.”

Skrachy considers DJ livestreaming to be a performance, and thus involves a “performance royalty, vs a mechanical royalty.” This means all audio on Skrachy is performed live: “no pre-records!”

Cooper has defined the DJs’ work very clearly as “performance” – and has arranged licensing agreements with publishers along those lines, which he claims “takes away the fear for DJs of being taken down.”

Does he foresee any challenges to this approach? “I’ve vetted it with my legal team – based on the way the industry describes live music, this passes the legal test. I would expect that as Skrachy grows, someone may challenge that – and my response is going to be: ‘hey, I’m a partner – I’m advertising your label, your artist, your product, your music on my platform – so we should become partners – like how radio is marketing for recorded music.”

(In the US, where Skrachy is based, only songwriters receive a royalty from radio play.)

How does Skrachy want to work with the music industry?

Cooper hopes that Skrachy will offer unique influencer marketing opportunities for labels and artist teams. “I want Skrachy to be another channel that exposes artists and their music to a larger audience. If thousands of DJs across my platform are playing music by a new artist regularly and it starts to pick up steam, then that’s another way for a label to advertise – it’s free advertising!

“I want the industry to understand that a DJ mixing your artist’s song over the internet is not necessarily a bad thing from a business perspective – we become a primary marketing channel for labels artists and music.”

The Skrachy team identifies DJ influencers and offers them free membership of its influencer program, in exchange for committing to performing on Skrachy and bringing in other DJs to the platform. And as a knock-on effect, these DJs will bring in listeners.

“We estimate that each DJ can bring in, on the very conservative side, at least ten users to the app, so if we have 5,000 DJs, we expect a minimum of 50,000 listeners – and we expect organic growth from there.”

Skrachy’s Premium listener fee is $3.99 a month – cheaper than DSPs’ monthly streaming subscription, and in Cooper’s mind, a definably different service. “You’re listening to curated music, specific to your genre, that is always live.”

Cooper is planning for the app to point listeners in the other direction, too: by the end the year Skrachy is aiming to have built-in song recognition software “so that at the end of a DJs event, there will be playlist of what was played”.

That’s a little like a DJ mix on Mixcloud, except there will be links sending users to listen on DSPs or purchase a download. “This is how we can become a partner and asset to labels, publishers and artists – we become a recommendation engine.”

Need to know: Skrachy factfile

Category: DJ Livestreaming/discovery
Headquarters: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Management Team: Kevan Cooper, Founder/CEO; Keith Cooper, Co-Founder/COO
Funding so far: 100% Self-Funded

Skrachy is currently seeking to develop relationships with: DJs who want to build their brand and business, and consumers who want to discover, access, and experience music in a new way – 100% live.

Contact details: info@skrachy.com

Joe Sparrow

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