Rappi's sheer scale and ease of use could make it a game-changer in the digital live entertainment business, particularly in Latin America, where it operates. The company, launched just five years ago, becoming only the second Colombian startup to reach "Unicorn" status when it raised $1 billion in 2018, and it has been expanding its capabilities at a fast pace.
Originally launched as a delivery app – think GrubHub, Instacart and Uber Eats — it now takes its inspiration from apps like China's WeChat, which combines a messenger service, social media, online shopping and payment to create a completely integrated mobile ecosystem.
Rappi, for example, not only provides "last mile" deliveries (the end delivery to the consumer), but also functions as a payment and banking app and an all-service app. With Rappi, says Ruales, you can access a broad range of services, from someone to come wash your car at home to someone give you a manicure. Creating a platform for live events was a logical next step and an "added value."
For artists, it's guaranteed income. Rappi can either charge a small fee per viewer (which goes to the artist), or it can offer the concert for free to more people with sponsorship support.
In Medrano’s case, fans will pay a small fee for a 50-60 minute concert filmed in a state of the art Rappi studio that conforms to all health requirements during the COVID-19 lockdown.
"We’ve been wanted to do a show since the beginning of the lockdown, but we wanted it to clearly be a concert -- not a livestream -- a concert that originated from a platform specialized in concerts," says Medrano, who hasn’t done any livestreams since the beginning of Colombia's strict lockdown orders took effect in March.
“I’m about playing live. That’s what I enjoy most,” adds Medrano, who is known for his soulful, guitar-accompanied ballads and his deep distinctive voice. When Medrano and his manager, Fabio Acosta, began to explore options, they encountered Rappi as an alternative. "When they told us they wanted to launch a livestream button, we were really intrigued and we got together." For artists, Rappi's appeal lies in its huge user base, but also in the ability to monetize.
Rappi does not take a percentage of earnings, but a "small take" to cover production costs and use of the platform.
"Our model is not to make money," says Ruales. "I win because I offer a value proposition for users, where artist fans we’ll be able to watch their artist and will want to join Rappi. Rappi acts as a big microphone that amplifies the audience."
For Medrano, that will mean singing and playing his guitar in front of potentially millions of paying customers versus simply YouTube users. "I’m going to perform in my most intimate format, playing my songs with just my guitar," he says. "That’s how I write, that’s how I got started, but it’s a part of me fans rarely see anymore as I’m always touring with my band."
Beyond Medrano, Rappi is already planning ahead and is closely to finalizing contracts with 19 other performers, including musical acts, YouTubers and influencers. The company now has a team devoted to livestreams and has partnered with booking agencies to find the best talent.
"It’s ambitious, but it's new and we’re learning and taking it step by step."