Kevan Cooper, the Founder and CEO of Raleigh-based Skrachy, was attending his son’s 18th birthday party when he had an epiphany.
It was 2019, and his son was struggling to put together his DJ setup. After finally getting the equipment together, Cooper, who has worked in IoT for more than 10 years, imagined a platform that could have prevented the whole situation.
“What if I could have a DJ that was remote that we could tap into via an app and be able to book the DJ, allow the DJ to monetize, and give the DJ the ability to remotely stream to us without being there physically?” Cooper said. “Thus, the concept of Skrachy was born.”
Skrachy, which is currently participating in the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP) in Raleigh, is an all-in-one platform designed specifically for DJs to stream online while monetizing their work. DJs can create events, book clients and advertise through the Skrachy portal. On the other end of the two-sided platform, music listeners gain access to an array of DJs from all over the world, allowing them to stream or book their favorites for events.
Timing can matter a lot for a startup. In Cooper’s case, he might have picked the perfect time to begin working on Skrachy because just a year later, the pandemic shut down live events, stripping DJs of their ability to perform in person and removing a large chunk of their livelihoods.
“Their biggest pain point was, ‘Hey, I can’t do anything live,’” Cooper said. “All of the venues were shut down. Here’s a way to really expand your audience and your brand beyond just your local geographical area.”
Because DJs had to resort to streaming during the pandemic, they found themselves in hot water legally on the most popular platforms, Facebook and Instagram. These platforms do not pay the music publishers or music labels the rights to play music, so they started taking down DJs’ work.
That’s a key value proposition for Skrachy. No longer do DJs have to use platforms where streaming their content is illegal, as Skrachy has partnership agreements with music publishers and the publishing rights upfront for live performances.
“That is my biggest competitive differentiator,” Cooper said. “I’m the only live platform out there for DJs that allows them to stream and monetize legally.”
So far, Skrachy has around 100 DJs on its platform and 1,000 listeners. While they completed a soft launch in 2020, Cooper said they took a pause after hearing consistent feedback from DJs that they wanted more than just audio streaming. Now, Skrachy plans to unveil its new audio and video streaming-enabled app by the end of this year.
“We focused on having a high-quality audio solution and DJs like that, but now DJs have become artists in their own right and they want to be seen,” Cooper said.
To date, Skrachy has been a family-run operation. Cooper is the CEO, while his twin brother and music producer Keith is the COO and Cooper’s wife Deidra Hudson-Cooper is the Chief Business Officer in charge of partnerships.
It’s been a bootstrapped startup for now. But Cooper is already looking ahead to raising a $500,000 Series A round next year to grow Skrachy’s marketing and video capabilities. This is all so the platform can enable more listeners to discover an alternative to the stale playlists they listen to on Spotify, Cooper said.
“That experience is totally different from the pre-canned playlists from Pandora or Spotify,” Cooper said. “The evolution, though, has been in bringing in video and really making what we consider small enhancements to the user experience.”
From discussions with customers, they decided to add a tip function as well as change credit card requirements for Skrachy’s 30-day free trial.
Ultimately, Skrachy’s vision is a disruption of the music industry as we know it. There’s a different energy that comes with DJ mixing, Cooper said, and with Skrachy, that experience from DJs across the globe will be available live to everyone.
“We want to change the way that people listen to music,” Cooper said. “The listening experience today of a traditional music service like Spotify is stale. Everything’s pre-recorded.”