Kathy Alexander, a theatrical performer and singer who has performed on stage at Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse, Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre and with the occasional cover band, said she found it difficult to pursue her third passion of vocal teaching among a limited pool of open pupils on the Island.
“Making new connections with other artists, that’s not something that’s happened much for me outside of (theatre),” she said.
Alexander, her husband Kevin and two other veterans of Victoria’s music scene now make a living from their solution to educate more vocalists.
Since its public launch last September, the founders of Singdaptive said they’ve found success with musicians and vocalists as an alternative to education platforms like Masterclass or Udemy. That success was capitalized on by investors including John Maeir, CEO of Blue Microphones, and Charles Huang, co-founder of Guitar Hero, who brought the Victoria-based startup’s valuation up to $2.75 million after their last round of investing at the start of the year.
The difference between Singdaptive’s programming and better-known competitors is its delivery. “If you go and search how to sing online, you’ll often find these same methods that are just one person pushing one particular singing method,” said developer Stephen Evans. Instead, Singdaptive has its users record themselves for one of the platform’s 21 instructors to provide live or asynchronous feedback.
The vulnerability and gusto presented in performances recorded ahead of time compensates for the cons to remote teaching, such as the inability to coach body or posture as she would in a live lesson, Alexander said. “The thing we didn’t expect is that it encourages deeper reflection … because the student’s not right there in front of me waiting for my response, I can really digest it, really hear and really reflect. Likewise for the students (with instruction).”
Each of the startup’s four founders is well versed in Victoria’s music and audio-technical industry, which Evans described as an overlooked powerhouse in the city. He, Alexander and remaining founders Kevin Alexander and Greg A. Barker had each worked for the Victoria-based vocal instrument manufacturer TC Helicon before pooling their contacts and establishing Singdaptive in 2018. “A lot of the music tech companies seem to be a little more private,” among Victoria’s tech startup communities such as VIATEC, said Evans.
The now four-year-old startup is tasked with spurring client growth through digital marketing and balancing that growth with capacity, he continued. “If we suddenly get 1,000 users in a month, we’re going to need more teachers… We need to be incredibly cheap to run so that we can grow (staff) slowly,” he said.
The road so far and challenges ahead have paid off with the reception of the platform’s first month, Alexander said. “It’s been amazing that singers of all levels and with really different needs have been pleased with the progress they’ve been able to make on this platform,” she said. “The fact that we’re a team, that we have an instant and easy way to check in with each other, compare notes and records of what we’ve done with our students right on the platform, has been so fun for all of us.”
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