DanceJam is a well-thought-through Web site about dance and dancing, surrounded by what looks to be a solid business plan. I tried out the still-closed beta and then got a run-through of the site and the business by the exec team, CEO Geoffrey Arone and CTO Anthony Young (co-founders of Flock), and Chief Strategy Officer MC Hammer (blog). That added a bit of novelty to the meeting.
The first pass on DanceJam is this: It's a site where people can upload videos of themselves dancing and see other dance videos as well. The site will host contests in various styles of dance, and there's a social network angle too. If you like to dance and like to watch others dance, this site offers up a very good experience.
On the business side, there's more to it. Hammer is working deals with advertisers to host real-world dance events for their benefit, and he says he's working on television projects around DanceJam. As Arone noted, MTV, ABC, and NBC are all working on dance shows for the upcoming season (if you're wondering what impact the writers' strike is having on television, this is a small part of it).
There's also a curation element to DanceJam. The team will track and describe styles of dance so users can see where their moves fit in, and more importantly, will correlate the styles with cities and clubs, making the on-the-ground portion of the DanceJam business more workable. Tracking who's dancing what and where also helps DanceJam bring communities together, especially for styles without a geographical home, where, as Hammer says, "there are all these players and no field."
Online, of course, the site will run ads. But not preroll video ads. Hammer was adamant about that.
Soon to come will be a video upload utility and a video editor, so users can select just small clips from their routines to upload. DanceJam will, in fact, limit uploads to 30 seconds, mostly so it doesn't run afoul of music licensing laws. It will also apply song recognition technologies to the uploaded tracks, and sell music downloads to users.
The video player also has dance-friendly features, like slo-mo and jumpback, which is cool if you want to learn a move you see.
There's an American Idol aspect to the site. Hammer says he wants the users to "participate in the star-making process," which I think is code for sponsored contests where the winner's pay-out is a drop in the bucket compared to the promotional value the sponsors get by paying it.
There are a lot of moving pieces to DanceJam. The site and the business are more ambitious than are revealed at first blush. Based on what I've seen so far, plus the technical success of Arone and Young's Flock browser, and Hammer's music industry connections and hard-won experience, I would not be at all surprised if this team delivered on its plan.
The public site launch is "close," I'm told: within a few weeks.