Today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jonathan Gray, the forward-thinking CEO of Encore. We dove deep into the inception of his company, what fuels its innovative drive, and how it's redefining the way artists and fans interact.
What inspired you to start this particular venture?
My journey with Encore began when I had the chance to collaborate with my co-founders, Edelman and Kid Cudi, back in 2019. We shared a common goal: to help artists make money and forge a deeper connection with their fans. We aimed to do this through the dynamic worlds of mobile and gaming technology, ultimately creating Encore Studio. This mobile app is a powerhouse, allowing artists to produce live shows with just an iPhone. Shows can be as simple as a selfie or as complex as an immersive 3D AR world, all created through interconnected iPhones.
The app's currency is "claps," with each clap costing ten cents. Fans can participate, engage, and even top the leaderboard by clapping the most. This system also enables artists to make money from their live shows, while fans can earn claps through various activities. The key principle is that it only takes one clap to get into any show. This setup caters to every kind of fan, from casual listeners to dedicated superfans seeking exclusive merch or artist interactions.
Last year, we held over a thousand shows on Encore, and this year we're further expanding our offerings. Our vision for the company is to support artists beyond just music production. There's a multitude of tasks that artists have to tackle, such as visual content creation, marketing copywriting, and more.
Expanding the Scope with AI?
In recent months, we've been working to incorporate AI into our platform. The last generation of AI, which heavily involved computer vision, allowed for groundbreaking work in AR and computer vision on phones. Now, we're looking to harness the power of large language models, image generation, and video generation to further enhance our services.
This week, we're launching our cover art generator. This tool lets artists input the lyrics to their songs, select a few visual styles, and generate storyboards for potential cover art. Artists can then refine and finalize their cover art through a series of iterations and overlays. We're excited to continue down this path, helping artists create lyric videos, visualizers for Spotify Canvas and Apple Music, and even write pitch emails to Playlisters using AI technology.
What is your long-term vision for the company?
The big picture for Encore has two core elements: aiding music artists and leveraging technology to achieve that aim. It's exciting to see a substantial market opportunity for music, an industry that I believe is significantly undersized given its societal value. Rather than advocating for labels or artists exclusively, I believe the focus should be on enlarging the pie. We need to create new revenue channels, tools, and content for artists to tap into, which will in turn grow the market itself.
Direct monetization, mobile micro-transactions, and gamification are key steps to achieving this. Surprisingly, one of the most under-monetized aspects in the industry is the release of new music. The buzz that new releases create is largely not capitalized on, happening mostly on social media for free. We believe there is a vast opportunity here to create meaningful, mutually beneficial, and monetizable experiences for artists and fans. Our five to ten-year plan? Let's double the size of the music industry.
It's always inspiring to hear about innovations that challenge the status quo, and that's exactly what Jonathan and his team at Encore are doing. Their unique blend of mobile technology, AI, and an unwavering dedication to empowering artists is a game-changer in the music industry. We can't wait to see where their vision leads them in the years to come.