Rapt.fm launched to the general public in beta last night offering a place to battle rap online or to simply observe the competition. But Rapt.fm intends to be more than just a battle rap platform with aspirations to help artists promote their music and possibly even get a record deal. To further that effort, Rapt.fm is also planning a YouTube rap video contest with a singles distro deal through Tommy Boy.
Rapt.fm is now officially open to the general public after a period of alpha development that began in 2012. Along the way Team Rapt.fm have been participants in Detroit's Bizdom startup accelerator and are rising symbols of Detroit's future.
The basic concept is simple. Rappers queue up and accept challenges that are conducted live in video chat room style. You can observe as a guest and, though I missed the high points of last night's launch, I did get a look at some late night action.
I haven't been keeping up with battle rap website developments but it's no surprise that video chatrooms have moved online battle rapping far beyond the days of typing raps in forums in realtime or posting rap videos and waiting for a response. Rapt.fm feels more like you're sharing the space with the participants, virtual though it may be, rather than observing a process from a distance.
But the world of rap is no easy place to succeed and simply providing a platform for rap battles may not be enough to build a real business. However, from Rapt.fm's site and statements to the press, you can see that there's a larger vision at work.
It's Bigger Than Rap Battles
In the Beta launch press release, CEO Erik Torenberg is quoted as saying:
"Our goal is to make Rapt.fm the premier place for hip-hop talent to be discovered."
In addition to providing a platform that allows any rapper anywhere to participate and possibly be seen, Rapt.fm has been organizing contests. Previous competitions have picked openers for shows by acts like Girl Talk, Royce da 5'9" and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
The new YouTube video rap contest is said to result in:
"A singles distribution deal through Tommy Boy Entertainment...The winning competitor will record a single that Tommy Boy will distribute worldwide through partners ADA Music and Warner Music Group."
Currently I can't find anything on the site about the contest but they may be running into launch glitches or haven't yet officially launched the contest.
Battle raps and contests are a good starting combination to encourage participation and slant it towards those with professional aspirations. But building a platform to be discovered by the industry will require industry involvement and that will require real talent showing up on the site and being recognized in the marketplace.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.