Aspiring, cash-poor musicians and other performing artists currently have no way to assess their talent, build a fan base, establish an online presence, create a unique brand, or generate revenue without spending a significant amount of money.

That was the impetus for the invention of Rated Next, a web and mobile app GMCCSponsorshipLogothat provides opportunities for emerging artists, created by co-founders Jason Gober and Steve Alston.

“Although there are a lot of platforms out there for artists a

nd musicians, there is no platform that allows the musicians to generate revenue and allow people to vote on things through social media. Do you really like this guy or is this guy not really good? That’s how we came up with this platform,” Gober tells Madison365.

“I used to see a lot of people just give buckets of money to perform in front of a headliner and I’m thinking to myself: How is that benefiting you? How do you keep those fans? How do you differentiate whether those are your fans or the headliner’s fans? It’s the business aspect that we saw and that’s what we want to tap into with this mobile application,” he adds.

The factors that artists get rated on are image, overall sounds, authenticity, and originality. “There’s also a “Next” factor that is calculated by your social presence alongside your overall scores.
The factors that artists get rated on are image, overall sounds, authenticity, and originality. “There’s also a “Next” factor that is calculated by your social presence alongside your overall scores.

Rated Next is an online musically-centered fantasy experience which redefines the way musical talent is discovered.

“I was playing fantasy football one day and I was just thinking about how much I was into it and how it was making me watch teams that I didn’t even like … and I wondered: What if there was a fantasy-type competition for music? And, then, we brainstormed from there,” Alston says.

Rated Next provides talent validation, revenue, vital data, and career-building opportunities for emerging artists. Artists upload media and enter free or paid competitions with other artists.

“Artists go in and upload their media and then they send out their link to friends and fans and whomever. These friends and fans rate them on these factors and each factor has a weight applied to it in order of importance,” Alston says.

Rated Next gives these artists the ability to create competitions. These competitions provide each artist with objective measures of public perception all while building a fan base. Unlike any other application on the market, the Rated Next system provides a real opportunity for talented artists to generate income and/or career-building tools.

“Basically, it’s a first online music fantasy platform. What that means is that we’re trying to bring some of the same fantasy football game aspects to music,” Alston says. “We’re having artists be able to upload their music and fans rate it on key music industry success factors.”

Site visitors, many from social platforms, rate the competition, on a 1-10 scale, based on several key industry success factors. A weight is applied to each factor as it relates to its relevance in determining industry success. Paid contest wins can be cashed out, or applied towards site-offered career building goods/service. For users who choose not to participate in paid contest, they still have the ability to create profiles which track essential data which provides them validation and valuable market expanding tools.

Rated Next co-founder Steve Alston
Rated Next co-founder Steve Alston

“The fans can create line-ups of artists where they can participate in a fantasy-type environment, as well,” Alston says.

Alston and Gober, who have known each other since back in the days of Blackhawk Middle School and Madison East High School, have been involved in media for over the last 13 years when they started doing a DVD Magazine in Milwaukee. “It used to be back in the day that everybody wanted to be an athlete – that was your ticket out,” Gober remembers. “Then as I got older it was always music. Everybody wanted to be a rapper. It’s shifted and changed. When we started doing the DVD magazine, it was like all of these people were doing music.

“From our early days, we’ve transitioned into doing work with mainstream artists and making connections to radio stations and media outlets kind of seeing where there was need for starving artists and the transitioning tools they need to get to the next steps in their career as far as branding, exposure, etc.,” Gober adds.

“Our initial interest was in Hip-Hop,” Alston says, “but this app is pretty much universal to all starving musicians where they can get a good feel for what their private perception is and how people view them because they will be rating them on many factors. But, also, they have the ability to make money … or to forgo that money for career-building tools and services.”
The factors that artists get rated on are image, overall sounds, authenticity, and originality. “There’s also a “Next” factor that is calculated by your social presence alongside your overall scores.

Pre-internet, aspiring artists would pay for media distribution, management, marketing, and more which could cost them upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. That approach, for the most part, has been replaced by Reverb, Bandcamp, Facebook etc. With 90.7 percent of artists being undiscovered, these sites do little in terms of generating revenue, providing measurable feedback, or creating market exposure. The new Rated Next app, the co-founders contend, will offer all of this for less.

“You may have a talent, but what do you need to get to the next level? Do I need a video? Do I need studio time?” Gober says. “Especially in an underserved market like Wisconsin and Iowa. You’re not in LA or NY where you can walk up to a label and do showcases or demo your talents.”

Gober says that there really isn’t much artist development any more: where somebody comes along and sees talent and they want to develop you. “This is not the days of the Jackson 5,” he says. “We began to think and we began to craft this platform where artists could share themselves through social networks and grow themselves as a brand and really get their music out there and have a sense of getting real, unbiased feedback.”

Their initial target market, they say, are urban musicians in the Midwest. They just recently brought on a CFO to iron out some numbers for their business. “We’re kind of at the in-between stage where we are trying to get over that hump and where we’re trying to execute a few things with the company,” Gober says. “We’re excited to get out here and start doing the footwork and to create that movement and that brand to be the driving force behind us. We have a lot of things going on right now.”
“We’re excited … compared to where we were a year ago we have really come a long way. We’ve gotten the right people on our team that can really get this to where we want to go,” Alston adds.

Readers can go right to the site and try it out for themselves. Alston says the Android version should be launched within 3 months and then the IOS shortly after. Phase 2 will roll out 6 months after that where they will be adding some new features and really pinpointing what users want.

“We hope that it can help artists profoundly in making some money and really knowing where they are at without …. Even a focus group would cost an artist $1,000,” Alston says.

“I’m looking forward to seeing successful artists tell their stories of ‘look where we started, and now we are here now – revenue coming in, able to get a video done, a growing fanbase. Hopefully, we can have those success stories that will testify for the app,” Gober adds.

“We’d like this to morph into something really great,” Alston adds, “But in the meantime we are willing to be patient.”