CastRooms: Meet the new Leeds tech firm aiming to revolutionise how people experience music from home
CastRooms, founded in Leeds, is a new platform which invites users to connect via video from their computers to performances by a range of musical artists, enabling them to experience online concerts with a visible crowd and open interactions between fans and artists.
The business’s founders, Mitali Mookerjee and Will Myddelton, met on the dancefloor of basement clubs in Manchester, and after a 20 year friendship, have used their passion for music to create the fledgling firm.
“I love music and dancing,” said Ms Mookerjee, “I've had a quite intense career, and the way that I relax and enjoy myself is to go dancing.
“Right at the start of the pandemic, my father passed away, and I found myself in lockdown. I was living on my own, and was really struggling to find ways to cheer myself up.
“So I just thought let me see what I can do to enjoy music online, and channel the pain of being on my own and losing my father into something positive.”
After a number of makeshift online parties between Ms Mookerjee and her friends, where they would use a combination of Zoom and WhatsApp to tune into musical performances on streaming platform Twitch, Ms Mookerjee conceived the idea for CastRooms.
The platform allows users to connect using a webcam and utilises a chat function between attendees, meaning those watching the artist can see and talk to each other, as well as the artist being able to see the crowd.
The business has now launched into its testing phase and second round of funding, after its initial pre-seed funding round was oversubscribed.
Speaking on how the business can still remain appealing post-lockdown, Ms Mookerjee said: “The pandemic absolutely changed the way people behave online.
“Suddenly, people who hadn't really spent time connecting with family or socialising online started doing that, and I think that has changed forever .
“And whilst people may have had some fatigue initially from being on a computer, what we’re seeing now is that actually, there is a growing need.
“Clubs are closing, and the cost-of-living crisis has meant that it's harder and harder to go out, the disposable income that people have is becoming more and more limited.
“Then you also have people who aren't able to easily go out every weekend, who could be carers, so I think there is absolutely a place for cast rooms.”
Castrooms also hopes to offer promoters and artists new ways to monetize in-person music events, selling tickets for online attendance.
Ms Mookerjee noted that these hybrid events could also enable in-venue video displays to show the online audience, creating synergy between the two crowds.
“I’d love it to enable people to feel like they're part of an event anywhere in the world,” she said.
“My dream is that artists from all over the world from across different genres are using CastRooms, so people can log in, join an event, and enjoy something from the far corners of the planet.”
Originally from London, but having worked in the Northern tech sector for 20 years, Ms Mookerjee added: “The Yorkshire tech community has been extremely supportive, and we’ve got a great set of investors. It's a place that is really industrious, people get on and do things and really help each other out, and I love that about Yorkshire.”