Music is hardly an untouched subject in the world of startups. Countless websites offer the chance to upload, share and discover music, sometimes to the point where your bookmarks menu is full of links to songs you love.
But now Musicplayr, a new tool described as ‘unified listening’ by its founders, is bringing all of these services together in one package, giving people the ability to make playlists from music scattered all over the Internet. And being shortlisted at the latest TWiST Berlin vs. London event has helped provoke interest in the startup.
The idea is simple and clever – users can link any music they find on the Internet to playlists which can be private or public to be shared with other users. The service accepts links from all the big players like YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo and DailyMotion, links from music blogs and MP3s uploaded by users.
All the music is then accessible from one place, and just hitting play will allow you to listen to a continuous stream of songs from a variety of platforms, with the ability to skip forward and back, pause and repeat. The other way to use Musicplayr is in discovery mode – by ‘following’ other users you can create a stream of new music straight to your computer as they link songs to their own playlists.
Co-founders Thorsten Luettger and Stefan Vosskoetter created the platform as a side project after an attempt to use Tumblr as a music playlist proved unsatisfactory. Friends and acquaintances then began to ask if they could be included in the service as well. Thorsten said that the first incidence of this gave him goosebumps: “We received emails late at night with Excel sheets containing the email addresses of friends saying ‘Hey, could you invite these friends to Musicplayr?’ And that was the point that we thought, ok, we’re on to something.”
The advantage that Musicplayr has over other discovery platforms like Last.fm is that recommendations are not based on algorithms but come directly from humans. And that means it’s curated by humans – you can choose which songs you share and which ones you don’t.
Moreoever, Thorsten believes Musicplayr enables users to express themselves through their playlists. “Your recipients or your friends do not know if while you are listening to this, you have been in this discovery mode, or if you’ve been in this awesome mode, this happiness mode because you’ve been listening to this song because you really love it.”
While Musicplayr is currently focusing on grabbing the casual music consumers, Thorsten has his eye on possible future collaborations with the music industry itself: “We know that a lot of (artists) will have a really big interest to express themselves, on the one hand, and on the other hand connect with their fans.”
‘Content Owners Stay in Control’
He is adamant that artists will always be in control of their own content on the platform: “If someone decides they don’t want to have this music for free anywhere out there and they take it down, then it’s down on our platform as well. So that means content owners stay in control.”
Germany’s strict music licensing laws have not been a problem for Musicplayr, with the service automatically skipping past songs that are not available in Germany. The number of Musicplayr users who are German is less than 50 percent, and even though he doesn’t want to, Thorsten says that Musicplayr could be launched without Germany: “This is something that is very sad for the German consumer and for us Germans overall, but this not a problem for the business model of Musicplayr.”
The intersection of music and Internet is a busy one, and Thorsten has a list of 130 or so companies that he is watching carefully. There are plenty of platforms offering playlist services, like Mixpod and Playlist. But by focusing on free web music, video content and providing a clean and simple player for users, he believes they can stand out from the crowd.
Musicplayr will eventually follow a freemium business model where users can opt in to a monthly fee for a premium service, but for the moment Thorsten wants to focus on building the user base. The service is currently in private beta, but if you want an invite, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.