Technology has heavily disrupted the music industry, but in the last year or two the digital landscape has solidified somewhat. Spotify and Rdio have created market-leading, on-demand streaming platforms, Pandora remains a major force in streaming radio as Apple’s own iTunes seeks to carve out its audience, and the YouTube tie up has seen Vevo become the primary source for music videos.
That hasn’t discouraged others from seeking to continue shaking up the space, though.
A number of plucky start-up music apps are finding both interest and investment in their particular visions of the future of online music. Whether or not they succeed in an increasingly mature and competitive market place is as uncertain as anything else in the fast-moving tech sector, but each has its own prospective benefits.
Five Music Apps Gaining Momentum
Here we look at 5 rising platforms that hope to become household names in the next few years:
About as fresh as you can get, Jukely launched earlier this year in NYC and has since expanded to nine more cities. It takes the familiar concert recommendation model demonstrated by the likes of Songkick and adds a significant social layer. The goal is to show you when friends and acquaintances are interested in the same shows/artists, encourage invitations and boost ticket sales through shared anticipation and experience. The social element isn’t entirely new, with even Ticketmaster integrating Facebook event attendance into its sales process, but the space is young. Jukely pulls in a wide variety of music and social data, which could mean the secret sauce of its social algorithm helps it to stand out in a crowded field.
Another ‘Made In NY‘ hopeful, Songza is gaining a lot of attention and often features prominently on app storefronts, helping to swell its user base. Essentially a playlist app, Songza adds so many filters that it becomes a go-to alternative to on-demand services when the listener has no idea what to spin. Selections range from mood and time of day to more traditional criteria like genre and era, offering plenty of routes to inspiration when no individual artist springs to mind. The human factor is integrated with carefully curated playlists that can be saved for later. While not revolutionary, the platform is so well executed that it could easily become everyone’s favorite back up.
Pledge takes the crowdfunding option that has become so popular with creators and customizes the experience for music artists and fans. As with the other start ups here, there are many competing in this space and it’s only going to get busier as regulation permits more money to flow into these channels. But PledgeMusic’s perspective is that “fans don’t need more ways to buy – they need more reasons to.” With this outlook they encourage direct relationships between fans and artists and do everything they can to bring down the barriers. An option to add a charitable donation and a flat fee for the role it plays has seen the platform gain a lot of attention from prominent musicians, including
Like Jukely, WillCall is striving to make the live show a much more regular, easy-to-attend night out. While its New York counterpart focuses on social connections, though, San Francisco-based WillCall is targeting the transaction side. From easily transferring purchased tickets to friends, buying merchandise through the app or even simply tipping an artist out of the goodness of your heart, this is the app that hopes to provide the perfect place to support your favorite artists financially. Whether or not fans will want to add of these activities to the traditional ticket purchase process is the main challenge for WillCall to overcome, but anything that encourages people to put a few extra bucks in the pockets of artist is worth trying in our book.
Despite being named after a nefarious transforming robot from the 80s, Soundwave has perfectly benign intentions for the music industry. Another app that falls into the broad ‘discovery’ category, the platform has friends in high places following testimonials from Apple’s Steve Wozniak and British polymath Stephen Fry. Rather than requiring you to apply filters to narrow down what you’d like to listen to, Soundwave gathers together your listening activity from other apps and makes its recommendations from there. With functions that expand to local concert listings and social listening, Soundwave is broader in scope than other apps and may find a need to refine its unique selling proposition as it expands. Listeners are still willing to test out new music apps, however, so it has some time to do so.
As always, standing the test of time and adapting to a tumultuous industry will be the key to success for each one of these hopeful music apps. Proof positive that innovation and technology won’t stop the relentless march on the music industry, even as the market seems to settle down.