RealTime IT News

Online Music To Go Interactive

SAN JOSE, CA -- From iTunes to Rhapsody to Microsoft's forthcoming Zune player, online music is hot. But Nayio Media thinks consumers are missing out on a critical element – interactivity.

Armed with several patents, technology and big ambitions, Nayio plans to launch its community Web site later this month featuring interactive music titles.

The basic idea brings a type of Karaoke experience to the Web, but it's more than that. Consumers will be able to download and purchase songs in Nayio's Virtual Music Player (VMP) format, which lets them sing along with the artist.

The system then records the song and produces an additional recording that features only the user singing with all the original background music.

In a demonstration for internetnews.com here, Nayio chief operating officer Jay Bose easily recorded his own version of Cream's Sunshine of Your Love.

There will only be a small number of titles in VMP format at the beta launch later this month, but Bose said he expects that number to grow rapidly as more music publishers see the potential.

"Music publishers have a lot of older titles no one is buying for 99 cents, but this is a way to renew interest in those titles," said Bose.

Pricing for songs that might sell for 99 cents online elsewhere, would be $1.49 in VMP format because of the extra interactive and personalization features, he said.

"The Web site is going to be like American Idol meets YouTube," said Bose.

Naiyo users will be able to post their efforts for others to judge, and there are plans to offer prizes for those voted the best. There will also be a variety of customization options, such as background videos you can add to each custom track.

Naiyo is a Delaware Corp. based in San Mateo, Calif. The company also has offices in Seoul, South Korea. SK Telecom, Korea's leading mobile carrier, has a nine percent investment in Nayio.

SK Telcom licenses a Naiyo technology called "search music by humming," which will be part of the Web site. As the name implies, the technology, developed by Nayio founder and CEO Ky Hyun Joo, essentially lets users search for music by humming a few bars of the song they're looking for.

In South Korea, SK Telecom offers the humming search as part of its phone service options. After the system finds the song, users can listen to a clip and purchase a complete version, which is downloaded to their phone.

Naiyo Media was one of several vendors presenting at a media day here for iPark, a technology incubator funded by the South Korean government.

Kevin Lee, chief executive director of iPark, said South Korean firms have been looking for opportunities to export more technology to the U.S., particularly enhanced cell phones, which have been more popular in Asia and Europe.

"There's no killer mobile application yet, but I think mobile video, streaming and TV could be a major driver," he said.