Back when folks watched television, there was American Idol and The Voice. Now, there’s…

Today, a group of music zealots and game geeks launched Chosen, an experiment in the gamification of music listening.

Chosen was predicated on the belief that we, as a human species, love watching performers compete. This love didn’t start with American Idol, or The Voice. It spawned its broadcast media life with Major Bowes Amateur Hour, which dominated the airwaves in the golden age of radio throughout the 1930's and 40's, and gave birth to artists such as Frank Sinatra and Gladys Knight.

But our love for performance competition goes back much further. The earliest records date the origin of the Great Dionysia in Athens, which comprised of competitions around poetry, drama, and choral signing, to roughly 500bc.

One can only imagine that this obsession started with the birth of mankind and is woven deep within the threads of our genetic fabric. We are born to compete and compete to survive.

Enter Chosen, where we’re attempting to free performance competition from the confines of linear-based television and traditional media. The most interactivity we see via TV shows has been the concept of text voting. And when smart phones came out, these shows essentially did nothing more than take text voting, stick it in an app and proclaim, “We have an app now!”

Chosen turns the genre on its head, where not just performers compete, but the 99% of us, who are fairly talentless as performers, compete to prove our expertise as judges. We can’t all perform, but we all have taste (well, at least we think we do).

In our efforts to turn passive spectatorship into an active form of gaming, we reached out through our networks to find a brilliant game designer. As chance would have it, we landed upon Cormac Russell, who had worked on Magic: The Gathering, amongst many other great titles.

Working with Cormac, we spent countless hours designing a series of games that would be fun, casual, and fast-paced, while simultaneously providing Chosen the data it needs to understand which judges are skilled and which performers have talent. So consider the graphic below, our “PageRank” for algorithmic talent discovery, where we’re attempting to turn spectators into a crowd-judged A&R machine.

On Chosen, Performers and Judges prove their worth in an effort to move up the leaderboard, gain rank and earn badges in an effort to make it into tournaments and finals. Upload a video or choose from our pretty excellent recording tools, including some seriously bad-ass video karaoke.

In our game “Star Spotting”, you watch three 15 second clips of three different performers, pick the one you think is best, and earn points by picking the most popular.

Judges are encouraged to record video reviews. The in-app video camera engages, and now you are building a reputation around your insightful critiques.

Our game “Judge the Judge” has you watch a 15 second performance clip followed by two video reviews. You pick the better judge.

Ultimately, your rank as a judge is based on an algorithm that includes your historical performance picking winners, the number of followers you’ve built, and the quality of your critiques determined from winning “Judge the Judge” rounds. (Yes, you can be top of the leaderboard and never record a video review).

As Chosen starts to expand and grow, the plan is to splinter competitions into genres and sub-genres, and evolve into a performance platform. From Swiss yodeling to high school marching bands to ukelele, we think there’s a much bigger global market that’s inclusive of all types of music instead of what you inevitably see on television: everyone singing in one particular style of pop (and equally important, getting to judge within your specifc genre of expertise!). Granted, pop would be the biggest category on Chosen if it was reflective of culture, but there will be hundreds of others to suit all tastes.

We hope you enjoy our best “first foot” forward. As goes with all start-ups, I can only fathom the pits and stops we’ll encounter along the way. May they be gentle and educational. Please help us grow it, crack the code, and give us feedback. We’re all ears. Go head over to our site for an invite. We’re also hiring!

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