Spark DJ is going back to college
Local DJs James Jones Jr. and John Gavin Boss are getting ready for a nationwide college tour to promote their new app, Spark DJ.
The app, developed by Boss and Jones, launched this past summer after an investment round that included $50,000 in support from Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.
Spark DJ, according to its website, is a "music streaming service that combines DJ inspiration, seamless song transitions and requests from the crowd, giving users an exceptional party experience for any occasion."
Their goal is to now get the app in as many hands as possible, said Boss, who also runs a DJ service in Rochester called Apollo Music Group. Rather than rely solely on traditional marketing efforts, they plan to travel across the country promoting Spark DJ to college students, bar owners and event organizers.
“They can read that it does transitions; they can read that it’s crowdsourcing music; they can read that they can put in requests," said Boss. "But when people have interacted with the app, they have just really understood it a lot better.”
This fall, Boss and Jones will travel from college to college hosting Spark DJ parties and encouraging participants to try out their new service. They will be joined on tour by the DJ duo Secret Sauce.
“We’re going to go to a campus and essentially give them a Spark DJ experience, and let them understand what this new technology is," said Boss. "And from there, they have the app, they understand it, and now they can go home and throw their own party.”
For Jones, the idea for Spark DJ had been lingering in his mind since his college days at Notre Dame. He had developed a prototype for the app, but by the time he landed in Minneapolis for a job at Target, his DJ days were long behind him — or so he thought.
While working his corporate job, Jones met another rank-and-filer looking to expand his newly-formed DJ service in Rochester. Like Jones, Boss had moved to Minnesota to pursue a career.
“When I came here from IBM, I didn’t think I was going to ever DJ again," said Boss.
Boss and Jones began picking up gigs all over town, from the stage of SocialICE to the rooftop of La Vetta. Soon, though, they began facing the same problem Jones faced in college: demand for their services began to outgrow their capacity.
The solution? Jones, who operates under the name "DJ3J," brought up his college project to his new DJ partner.
Boss embraced the idea immediately.
"We were just hanging around the house," recalled Jones. "I was on my laptop working on my project a little bit, and started telling John about it. He was like, 'This is a really dope idea. How can I help? How can we put this together?' And then we just started to talk about some different ideas."
The two later left their corporate jobs and launched Spark DJ out of a small office in downtown Rochester.
How the app works
Unlike streaming apps made for personal listening, Spark DJ is designed to simulate the DJ experience.
That means keeping metrics on energy, key and tempo — things a live DJ would be focused on. The app then uses artificial intelligence to automate transitions so you can't tell when one song started and one song stopped.
“That traditionally has always been a unique feature to a DJ," said Jones. "One of the things people hire a DJ for is to transition music.”
Once the app is downloaded, a host can choose between curated playlists or allow users to request their own songs. Once songs are added, other users can vote on which ones they want to hear.
For Jones and Boss, it's these special features that they hope will help Spark DJ stand out in a crowded market of streaming services.
“We don’t want to be just compared to another music streaming [service] where you pop your headphones in and you listen to it when you’re doing homeworking," said Boss.
“We’re more of a group experience."
Spark DJ is available for download on Apple's App Store. Android users can access the app through the Spark DJ website.
You can also check out Spark DJ at Mystic Lake Casino, and locally at The Doggery and Grand Rounds.
Follow Sean on Twitter.
Cover: James and John of Spark DJ / Photo by Mercedes Johnson