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The Man Behind MOG Music -- And Beats Music -- Tries Again With Chosen, a Music Game

David Hyman used to sell music subscriptions. Now he's offering a free karaoke game for your iPhone.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

David Hyman took one crack at digital music. Now he’s trying again.

The difference is that MOG, Hyman’s old company, was trying to convince people to pay for music. Chosen, his new company, has a lower bar: It will try to convince people to play music games.

Chosen, which launches today, is an iOS app that offers a variety of games grouped around karaoke and amateur performances. But users don’t have to sing to play. Different games allow them to judge performers, or perform themselves by filming their own “American Idol”-style judgments. Or they can judge the judges. Etc.

The game is free for now, and Hyman says he’ll eventually add a way to buy virtual currency to pay for features he’ll introduce later. Hyman’s own money comes from investors including DCM, Rhodium Capital and Fosun, who have backed him with $6.5 million so far.

At the very least, Chosen’s approach is an interesting one. Most people don’t want to sing (or dance, or tell jokes, or whatever — it’s easy to see Hyman extending this to other stuff down the road), but Chosen lets them participate with singers (or whatever, eventually) in a low-effort way. Kind of like the way Facebook or Twitter lets you participate without doing much.

Hyman’s last company required a lot more effort: He wanted to get people to pay $10 a month to stream music. But MOG, like other streaming services that aren’t Spotify, never got much traction, and in 2012 he split the company and sold its pieces to different buyers.

One of those was Beats Electronics, which eventually overhauled MOG and turned it into Beats Music. That service is undergoing its own overhaul and should be relaunched by new owner Apple sometime this year.

In the middle of that timeline, Hyman filed a lawsuit claiming that Beats pushed him out so he couldn’t claim an equity stake in the company. You won’t be surprised to hear that he doesn’t want to discuss the suit while he’s launching a new company.

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