Trap Karaoke started out as a simple enough idea. Organizer Jason Mowatt was talking with a friend after a business meeting.
“I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could go to karaoke and rap Future?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah that would be cool, like trap karaoke.’ I was like, ‘OK, that’s what we’re going to call it.’ And the rest is history.”
Mowatt and his co-organizers, including event promoter Lowkey, have put on three Trap Karaoke shows so far, in the Lower East Side, Bed-Stuy and Washington, D.C. The shows have been a hit, each one selling out quickly.
“It’s sort of like living out this fantasy,” Mowatt explained. “You’re on a stage in front of hundreds of people singing like you’re in your bathroom. And then there’s a sense of community. A crowd of people who can understand that music and appreciate it. There’s no VIP there’s no bottle service it’s just a safe space between a group of people who all love the same thing.”
One way that Trap Karaoke has packed its shows so far comes from Mowatt’s day job, where he does marketing for the Williamsburg-based tech company Thunderclap. Thunderclap is sort of like Kickstarter for social media, where instead of donating money to a product, you donate a social media post as a signal boost to get out the word about something. Recently, Mowatt has been using Thunderclap’s new service, a push notification app called Crescendo, as well.
“Leading up to the D.C. event there was so much demand but the venue had a hard capacity,” he said. “The tickets we were saving for the door we decided to sell online. If people wanted to buy they had to download Crescendo and get a push notification with a link. They sold out in 40 seconds.”
Trap Karaoke has drawn not just crowds, but good deal of attention from celebrities, activists and tech leaders. Deray McKesson attended the D.C. show this week, and tech founder and CEO Tristan Walker tweeted at Trap Karaoke, asking them to put on an event in San Francisco.
“Being at #TrapKaraoke DC last night was a reminder of the joy, the beauty, in blackness. We will win,” McKesson wrote on Twitter.
— deray mckesson (@deray) December 14, 2015
Mowatt is from Prince George’s County, right outside of D.C., and worked on Capitol Hill for seven years before making his way up to New York. A few years ago he worked on putting together a music festival in the area and used Thunderclap, which as that point in its infancy, as a way to get the word out. It was tremendously successful, and Mowatt struck up a friendship with Thunderclap founder (and wildman) Dave Cascino. Earlier this year, Cascino hired Mowatt to do marketing for the growing startup, particularly as it focuses attention on Crescendo and push notifications.
Mowatt said for the next show they’re going to use Crescendo to create the setlist for who gets to perform.
“We’re gonna send out a push notification and there’s gonna be a card where people can sign up to perform,” he explained. “Whoever reacts the quickest, those people will get to go on stage. We think it’ll be a fun way to use push notifications. And everyone will feel like it’s an even playing field.”
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