Ellen DeGeneres will announce today (Dec. 4) the launch of “Ellen’s Dance Off,” a dance competition in partnership with Chosen, a mobile app launched last March that allows users to engage in performance-based contests headed by former Beats Music, MOG and Gracenote CEO David Hyman. The inaugural dance-off will use Missy Elliott’s hot new single “WTF (Where They From)” featuring Pharrell Williams, a song that hit No. 22 on this week’s Hot 100.
“I’ve been dancing for 13 seasons and it finally dawned on me…”Why am I doing all the work?” DeGeneres said in a statement to Billboard. “So now I’m excited to see what talent is out there. I wanna see kids, teenagers, parents… And if you can explain how to download an app to your grandparents — I’d like to see them dance too.”
Chosen, a free app, will enable Ellen fans of any age to both upload dance performances and judge others’ nifty dance moves with the competition running through the end of January. The winner of “Ellen’s Dance-Off Missy Edition” will win a trip to Los Angeles and appear on the popular daytime talk show.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is the app’s first media partner and as part of the deal DeGeneres’ Ellen Digital Ventures will take on an undisclosed ownership stake in Chosen. DeGeneres is well-known for her extended dance sessions during her show and brings to the table an impressive social media presence that includes more than 50 million Twitter followers, 22 million Facebook fans and a YouTube channel that receives more than 200 million views a month.
“It’s a great fit,” Chosen’s Hyman tells Billboard. “It’s a great way for the audience to be engaged in a much more meaningful way and so much of the show revolves around dancing.”
Hyman is bullish on the myriad of ways his competition app can be used to promote music. “Instead of just doing an NPR First Listen,” he says, “it’s like, ‘Hey everybody, come compete using my song either by singing, lip syncing, dancing or whatever. It’s a much more fun, interactive and an engaging way to leverage your existing fan base with a new song or album instead of just putting it out there.”
Television, too, has apparently shown great interest in Chosen. “These days it’s rare that people watch TV and don’t have their mobile phones in their hands at the same time,” Hyman says. “In the last few months I’ve had many media entities reach out to me to see whether we can do a contest to promote their TV shows but we couldn’t because we didn’t yet have the tools. Empire reached out wanting to do a competition where somebody won a recording contract on Empire Records.”
In the next month or two Chosen plans to release a turnkey tool set allowing anyone to build their own competition. “It can be anything from a user who wants to do drunk poetry, skateboard stunts or Christopher Walken impersonation contest,” Hyman says. The new tools will allow users, media entities and brands to use the platform for their own unique competition categories.
While Chosen won’t reveal its user numbers, Hyman says the app has had over 50,000 performances uploaded from all over the world and over a million games played since it launched in March. The app is not yet monetized, though the plan is to eventually generate revenue through advertising and in-game currency.
Chosen thus far has raised over $6.5 million in funding from investors that include DCM, Rhodium Capital, Fosun and CrunchFund. Hyman forecasts another round of financing within the next six months.
To find out more about “Ellen’s Dance Off” go to ellentv.com/chosen.