The Verzuz battles Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have been organizing on Instagram have been a fresh breath of musical air the past several weeks. They’ve really done something special for the culture. While so many music greats are getting their flowers, I can’t help but remember that these battles are adding to Zuckerberg’s net worth. Apparently, networks have approached Swizz Beatz and Timbaland about taking the battles to another level. For now, the duo are keeping the battles organic for the culture, but I think there’s definitely an opportunity for Timbaland and Swizz to follow Dr. Dre into the land of billion dollar businesses. Here’s my thought for the Verzuz platform.
The Second Screen
A few weeks ago when T-Pain and Lil’ John had their battle, T-Pain mentioned that it would be great if they could plug their audio straight in to come out of the audience’s speakers. The bad audio in parts of RZA and DJ Premier’s battle showed how valuable this would be. T-Pain’s thought got me thinking about the second screen conversation that has been taking place in the media world the past few years. It’s the concept of enhancing your viewing experience on a TV or computer with parallel content on another device like your phone.
Lots of people are consuming data on their phones while looking at the screen. Further, I imagine a lot of people have been casting the IG battles to their televisions, Sonos, Google Home, and Alexa devices. Imagine the Verzuz app taking advantage of people’s propensity to use a second screen to create higher fidelity in-home experience for folks.
Lisnr Has the Answers
How would the Verzuz app create this in-home experience? There’s a startup out there called Lisnr that uses ultrasonic sound to deliver instructions to your phone or other devices. I’m pretty sure the technology Rodney Williams and his team built could be used to send direct audio from a battle you’re watching on your phone or casting to your TV.
Shazam may be coming to mind for you as the more realistic option to handle this. The problem with Shazam is that it uses a library of recorded samples of music to identify songs. That’s why you get all that latency when trying to figure out what that banger is you’re listening to. Shazam’s servers are busy searching for the song that matches the sample they captured from the song you’re listening to. Lisnr sends a direct instruction to your device on what to do, making for way faster speeds.
What Could Go Wrong?
When I say “Ok Google,” both of my phones and my Google Home devices perk up listening for instructions. I often wake up to alarms from my phones and Google Home. For some reason, the technology for listening devices isn’t at the place where multiple listening devices on the same WiFi network can coordinate which device will answer a query. If all the devices are getting instructions from the Lisnr signal, it would be a mess having multiple devices playing music out of sync. For now, I suppose the fix for that would be to make sure only one phone in the house has the volume up.
Use Cases for Days
There are so many ways Verzuz could power the audience ownership innovators like Ryan Leslie have been pushing for years. Imagine listening to a new artist at a concert and you get a pop-up on your phone asking whether you like the track they’re performing and then whether you want to get on their email list? Imagine these live battles where you get a ping after every round of tracks giving you the option to vote on who won the round. The amount of data artists could get access to would be boons for them and create interesting partnership opportunities for platforms like Steve Stoute’s UnitedMasters, Ryan Leslie’s SuperPhone and Angela Benton’s Streamlytics.