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March 07, 2006


James Quintana Pearce

Hmm...I'd like to hear karaoke in Finnish...
As an FYI, South Korea had mobile karaoke back in 2004 (although it wasn't "online") (, and it's also in the US ( and India, where Channel V did a Talent Hunt (
I think the really interesting about this story is the tie-up with Pop Idol...I think those sort of reality shows are going to find other innovative ways to get audience participation going...

alan moore

Hi James, you mean you have never been to a finnish karaoke bar. haha :-)

A most exoctic experience.

Thanks for the hat tip on the other similar initiatives.

I think you are right - there is a whole load of ways to attract and engage communities into having some fun at the very least.


The company I work for also did it in Canada in 2004 as a contest called Rock the Mic in association with a TV show here:

alan moore

Hi Mark I shall go and have a look at the site.

BTW do yoou have any user stats? I know Tomi would be fascinated as would I



Tomi Ahonen

Hi James and Mark

Thank you for the comments. About Karaoke and how wrong I've been about it. I talked about the Japanese and Korean Karaoke services on mobile phones back in 2001 - in 2003 the Koreans had upgraded their Karaoke to include the "virtual dance tutor" - ie your dance teacher as a stick figure, that you could set to your fave songs, and slow them down so you learn the steps slowly, etc.

For all the discussion about Karaoke, I had also regularly dismissed its ability to cross over into the mainstream as a mobile service outside of Japan and Korea. How wrong I was. The moment i heard about this - the first "networked" or community Karaoke if you will - via Finnish Idol/Common Man's Idol, I finally understood what the appeal was, and then the usage stats are quite to be expected.

Here is my take on it. We've seen hundreds of attempts to do karaoke on the mobile before - with the same mistake we are now seeing in TV content to the mobile. By copying the existing version and trying to squeeze it to the mobile. The Common Man's Idol is not karaoke like before. It is a new evolution variant of Karaoke, a kind of "super karaoke" if you will.

Normally we would not log onto our phones or the web, seeking a networked group of karaoke singers to torture our ears.

It needed the "context" ie the ongoing Finnish Idol TV show, to suddenly energize all idol-wannabes to go and try out for the mobile phone variant, and only because of the sudden contest around it, the random people were curious to go and listen and vote.

This is exactly what Alan and I have been talking about whenever we talk to the content industries - don't try to copy your existing service onto the mobile phone. Understand what makes it the Seventh Mass Media, quite different from any of the previous six, including the web, and only THEN, build something that was not possible before.

Never before this Finnish Idol contest, could you look at TV, and point to a TV show, and say, let me get into that show. Even if you called "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" - you had to enter the pre-screening contest to hope to get onto the show. Now for the first time this concept allowed you (almost) to join in the actual action of the TV show. True citizen-participation. ANYONE with the guts to sing, could do so, and over a thousand did.

Also I promise you, we've only seen the tip of the iceberg on this. What they need to do at the next iterations, is to use this common man's Idols version as the "feeder" contest, to allow the winner of the Common Man's Idol to be an automatic entrant into the next year's Pop Idols contest, as a kind of "peoples' choice" candidate.

And there are a million permutations of the community, viral and interactive elements in how to share and spread the idea further. But for that you need to book Alan and me for a workshop, ha-ha...

I really think this is a breakthrough idea. Vastly more significant than little other technology invasions to reality TV formats that we've seen recently.

Ok, its late and I'm rambling, so I'll stop now. Thank you James and Mark for commenting.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

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