Two music fans with technology backgrounds have launched a live streaming service geared around DJs, using support from Newcastle-based accelerator Ignite100.
Marketeer Wil Benton and developer Ben Bowler recently graduated the programme with Chew, an internet platform which live streams major international DJ events and bedroom amateurs.
Mr Benton, who studied a degree in pharmacology before working in digital marketing, and DJ-cum-developer Mr Bowler, met through their involvement in promoting dance music events.
Mr Bowler was an intern at music label AEI Media where he worked on building a live streaming service that was used to promote their artists, which triggered the idea.
He explained: “The aim was to get AEI’s product out to as many people as possible, and live streaming was a great way to do that. I worked with the likes of YouTube Live but found there were copyright issues and barriers to streaming live events. That’s when the idea for Chew was born.”
Initially the pair established a small agency which specialised in live streaming events, and managed to land work with the likes of ITV.
Mr Benton added: “The agency worked well and managed to cover costs, but we knew there was more to be had. We also wanted to democratise live streaming and open it up people beyond the big media companies.
“Ignite gave us the head-space and a little bit of money to develop the idea and get it off the ground.”
The six-month Ignite accelerator programme culminated in Chew completely re-writing its technology, accruing more than 3,500 registered DJs and embarking on a quest to raise £120,000 through regional and London-based angels.
Chew is currently a free service. The aim is to build user numbers, both on the viewer and broadcaster side, before attracting venture capital investment to propel the idea into a commercial one which uses subscriptions.
The pair are sure of its market, as Mr Benton explained: “We’ve built Chew having looked at both sides of the equation. From the established DJ’s point of view it’s about building their fanbase and engaging existing fans in new ways. And for the consumer, typically a bedroom DJ, it’s not only about experiencing the live event but also about understanding the art and informing their own mixes.
“The idea is to build the user base as much as possible before any move to monetising the service. Previous experience told us that immediately charging people to use the platform would deter the grassroots level and mean we only attract people who have the means to pay to get their music on there.”
Chew is not without its competitors. The likes of Boiler Room has successfully been live streaming underground music events to an internet audience for some time, and Twitch.tv has developed live streaming of gaming. Mr Benton and Mr Bowler think their narrower focus on DJs and dance music sets them apart.
Splitting their time between Newcastle and London the pair have also met with a number of major labels with the aim to secure top-flight DJs to the platform — a process which is expected to take some time.