BY ASHA MAHADEVAN
Think music startups and you don’t usually think Queens. However, for Long Island City resident Alex Jae Mitchell, basing his business in Queens was a no-brainer.
“The low rent costs help me put everything I have into my business,” said Mitchell, 24, who moved here seven years ago from Washington, D.C.
That business is a website called Audiokite.com, a startup offering independent musicians feedback on their songs from the public. He founded the website six months ago and a month later launched out of a co-working space, Create NY Space.
“The way the music industry works, feedback comes down to being the opinion of the taste-makers, not what the public wants,” Mitchell said.
Audiokite uses Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to bring independent musicians’ works to a section of the public for a review. The reviewers listen to the songs and then answer a questionnaire that is customized according to the needs of the musician. Their feedback helps musicians get a better idea of how their audience reacts to a song.
The song is evaluated on the basis of vocals, lyrics, beat, song structure and even the name of the song and the band name. Reviewers answer questions such as “How likely are you to stream this song?” and “How likely are you to attend a live show of the artist if they were playing in your area?”
“This is some measure of objectivity in a subjective field,” said Mitchell. “We are not saying a song is good or bad.”
If a song does exceptionally well among the reviewers, then Audiokite, for no extra charge, will put the artist in touch with people in the industry who can offer them better opportunities.
“I have seen how difficult and unfair the industry is toward independent artists,” Mitchell said. He started his artistic career as an electric violinist and now works as an audio producer. “There is a huge base of talent and the artists are not being developed.”
Mitchell said that reaching out to audiences can be prohibitively expensive for independent musicians, but Audiokite makes it possible for them to get feedback at a far cheaper rate.
Being in Queens, instead of Brooklyn or downtown Manhattan, means he can keep costs low and “offer more value at lower prices to the musicians,” he said.“It helps us be fair to artists, which is important in a business like this.”
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