Comedy has been part of music services for years, though it doesn’t get much trade ink. (See RAIN’s review of how comedy tracks are presented in eight music service. The piece was written in 2014, so includes Rdio and iTunes Radio, neither of which is available in the same way now.)
While you can listen to tracks from comedy albums in music services, there are problems which afflict aficionados of stand-up artistry, and which combine to under-serve the audience just as poor presentation of niche music categories like classical and jazz under-serve those fans. An audio startup called Laugh.ly, which presented at TechCrunch Disrupt, is planning to become a smart streaming service dedicated to comedy.
How do music services fail at presenting comedy? First, as with classical and jazz, there is the metadata problem. The global music platforms serve the fat head of the consumption tail with a standardizes artist/song/album data structure that mainstream listeners understand. At the top level, representing the most use, that data template facilitates music search and discovery well enough for top category hits and stars, but not for side categories.
The other problem with comedy in a music service is obvious: It’s not music. The music intelligence layers which guide listeners to content they like don’t apply at all in most cases. (There are exceptions, and in our review cited above you can see how attempts to understand comedy deliver sporadic successful experiences.)
Laugh.ly is tackling both issues — metadata and category — with dedication to the genre and technology under the hood. According to the Disrupt presentation, Laugh.ly has spent years developing an intelligence layer that resembles Pandora’s Music Genome, applied to spoken work humor. That could be a remarkable breakthrough if it works, benefiting listeners with better discovery of comedy performers, and helping the performers at the same time. (Pandora’s stated mission for musicians, reinforced in the new Tim Westergren era.)
Laugh.ly’s public beta launch is scheduled for summer. Go here to stay informed of that.