Chen Hua, founder and CEO of mobile Karaoke app Changba, shared with us at TechCrunch Shanghai how the app managed to gain 100 million users in no more than one and a half years.

Mr. Chen is a serial entrepreneurs. Before developing Changba he and his team spent about one year studying how mobile services could be different from those based on PC. Of all the special traits with smartphone, including gravity sensor, flash sensor and direction sensor, Changba finally chose the combination of phone speaker and earphone.

He labels Changba as an Instagram for voice. Similar to Instagram which enables ordinary users to produce beautified pictures and share with friends. Changba is for enabling the ordinary to record singing and share to social networks. Changba also offers tools to optimize your singing.

Changba has had 100 million registered users and 30 million monthly active accounts in no more than one and a half years since its launch. Here are some takeaways from Changba on why the app gained traction in such a short time in China.

  • Free. Changba buys background music rights from music companies and offer the whole service for free. 
  • High quality content. The optimized singing blew some users away otherwise they couldn’t find their voice sound so beautiful.
  • Everyone wants to be a star. Fans would do anything including spending money for stars they fance.
  • Marketing. Campaigns on traditional media like TV shows so that those rising stars on Changba became the stars accepted by the majority of audiences. It also cooperate with traditional brick-and-mortar KTV clubs for users to be able to consume Karaoke wherever they like.

As I called it the startup star of 2012 in China, the mobile Karaoke gained traction immediately after being released in May last year. The second climax occurred after the app was featured by one of the most popular TV shows in China. That helped Changba expand to second-tier cities, Chen said at an event earlier this year.

Chen Hua said today that after China the next markets they’d like to expand to are Japan, Korea and other Asian countries where users love Karaoke as much as Chinese do.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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