Request Lines Are Open

         The city lights are shining and a cool wind is blowing through the open windows of your car as you cruise down the highway jamming out to Terrapin Station, from The Grateful Dead. It’s been way too long since you’ve  heard “Dancin’ In The Street”. You arrive at your destination. You want more tunes from The Dead. You desperately want to revisit some old memories, and now you can’t stop thinking of another song you would love to hear, “Estimated Prophet”. You’re going to put that song on the juke box as soon as you get into the bar. There is just one problem. The juke box is paused, and the happy hour musician is strumming away. You wish you could just request a song without having to walk up to the stage. Kind of like the Touch Tunes app. I like that app because I can play whatever song I want to hear from my phone. There has to be a way to do the same with a live performer.

 Wait a second… there is an app for that! It’s brand new, and it’s called Hijack. You can now request songs right off the app when a musician or band is a registered user. Artists are able to customize their song catalog, and these songs can be requested live while the musician is playing. It gets better. If you plan on only sticking around for one song, than pay a little more and get your song bumped up, just like the new age juke boxes. This app  is going to change the way we interact at local shows for multiple reasons. My last twenty years have been spent behind the bar, observing both the musicians and the fans. I also have witnessed two things that coincide with why I feel this app is a complete game changer. The first being, introverts. Bar guests and musicians who are not comfortable interacting socially with people that they don’t know. I get it, because I have many friends who struggle with this. 

HiJack enables fans to digitally request a song. It gives the artist a chance to monetize his or her setlist and make a little extra cash at the show. It offers an instant connection to the musician’s website, social media and epk, (electronic press kit), connecting artist to fan instantly. Before, the connection could have been lost. And last, but not least, this app is going to connect the music fan with live music venues. Imagine your in an unfamiliar town, and you are dying to check out the music scene, but you don’t feel like having to search each venue for it’s listing. You pull up the Hijack app, and you immediately have a choice of music venues in your surrounding area, along with the artists or bands that are playing them. This app is brand new so be patient while the content gets uploaded.

 I recently had a chance to catch up with the founder of Hijack Jeremy Sakovitch and pick his brain on this amazing game changer. Here is what he had to say:

 How did you come up with the name Hijack? Can you tell us a little about this app?

The name came out of some brainstorming with the development team.  Part of the vision of the app is to give both bands and fans more control of the show.  Hijack is a term meant to reflect the idea that the app is supposed to let people take control of their live music experience.  At gigs, there’s often a disconnect between the musician and the audience that is difficult to get around.  As a musician, it’s often difficult to get the audience to pay attention to you unless you play the songs the audience really wants to hear.  But how do you know what the audience really wants to hear?  Hijack connects fans with musicians by letting fans make requests off the musicians song list.  No more walking up to stage with a napkin hoping the band knows what song you want to hear – now you can request a song that you like and that the musician knows.  That direct input from the fan creates a live interaction at the gig that isn’t distracting, but is fun and engaging.  

 If you request a song but neglect to leave a tip, will your song be played, or will this be strictly pay to play?

Right now the app will notify a fan if the musician agrees to play a song and will let the fan know what they “owe” for having their song played.  Musicians can set up tip amounts per song, so if they want to get a bigger tip for playing Wagon Wheel than for Radiohead, they can set it up that way.  The hope is that fans will be really delighted to hear the song they want and will tip the band using a credit card or PayPal for having their song played.  One of the more interesting features of the app is that is lets fans “bid” on requests.  For example, if there we for songs on the list to be played, anyone using the app at the show could “bump” the bottom song to the top of the list if they wanted.  This means fans could get into bidding wars to hear their favorite song next.    

 Did the idea of Hijack spawn while you were actually performing?

Sort of. I’ve been playing gigs out on the regular for about 10 years now.  I think I just started looking at the fact that people often interrupt me to make song requests and a lot of times they would want to hear songs I didn’t know.  I wanted the app to get around that problem.  I don’t mind playing requests, but I can’t stop my gigs for several minutes to talk to the one person brave enough to make a request.  The app allows me keep playing and see exactly what songs people want to hear from my song list.  

 This app is as real as it gets, and this is definitely a paradigm shift in the music industry. Who do you perceive will embrace this app more openly, the musicians or the fans?

I’m honestly not sure right now.  It’s still really new.  I hope that everyone will. But, my initial thought was to make something that other musicians could benefit from to make a little more money and to have to a little more fun at gigs.  

 Are you encouraging artists to put their originals on the song catalog as well?

Absolutely.  I’ve had people in bars ask me to play originals.  I think more people want to hear original music than cover musicians might anticipate.  But, when you hear someone playing covers at a bar, you don’t know if they have any original songs unless they play those songs.  Unfortunately, some bars tell you not to play originals because they don’t want their customers listening to songs they don’t know.  With the app, bar patrons could ask to hear an original, which would provide musicians an opportunity to share their own music.  

 How may songs can each musician’s profile accommodate?

As many as they want.  For most solo acoustic gigs, you probably need around fifty tunes.  The app might encourage musicians to increase their song repertoire so they have more choices to offer fans.  

 I am a fan and I request a song that has been played just recently. Will the app notify me to choose another song?

Not currently.  I’ve played songs more than once in a night before because of requests.  Cover gigs are normally four hours long, and often the bar will turn over during that time.  There’s no reason why you couldn’t play the same song twice if new people want to hear it again.  Also, the app let’s the musician decline to play a song if they don’t want to.  

Will this app take away from the social interaction of a gig?

I hope not.  The idea is for it to create a new kind of social interaction.  

 I love this app because I have many friends who are introverts and would never get in front of a band and request a song. Do you feel this app will finally help introverted music fans have a voice?

I think it does give people in the crowd more of a voice.  I think a lot of people would ask to hear a song they really liked if they didn’t feel like making a request would interrupt the show or make them go talk to the band.  

 Will you be able to search for musicians or bands by genre?

Right now you can do a band search by genre.  

 Will music venues be categorized by genre?

Venues aren’t really part of the app right now.  We’re still in the phase of trying to figure out if anyone wants to use this app at all.  I imagine that there will be a lot of refinement in the future to include more information about venues, but we need to figure out if musicians are willing to play requests through an app, and if live music fans want to use the app to make requests.  

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Feel free to drop us a comment so we can learn more. “If your’e not growing your’e dying.”



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