Intelligent media discovery is very difficult to do properly. In the olden days, we used to ask our friends, or listen to mix tapes and hope we could figure out what a track was. Then came last.fm with their fancy big ideas about recommendations. Netflix got in on the act and all it took was one Meg Ryan movie after a binge of Van Damme and it all got thrown out the window. Any media focused service, from Beatport to YouTube to Spotify, uses some sort of system to give you suggestions of what to consume next. It makes sense from their end as it keeps you on the service, and from ours it’s just useful.
It just so happens that not one, but two upstart (or startup) services hit the scene that might be worth you checking out. Although both apps are aimed at the “consumer” (I really hate that word), in a way, we DJs are all end users of music in some way.
The problem is that machines aren’t very good at giving you related media. Enter moretrax.com, a startup that hopes to use human brains to give you better track suggestions. I guessed that Moretrax seems to focus on searching things like DJ mix track lists to find tunes that are known to fit with your searched track. Which is great and can be very useful, but that can be frustrating if you have a particular sound in mind and it seems to be a one-off. Moretrax pretty much confirmed to me in an email that’s how their system works.
The developers are promising to add more music services to hook into, along with apps for various platforms. Currently, the service is a beta responsive website that works pretty well on different form factors.
To quote the devs: “On the app side, our vision is to become a comprehensive hub for discovering music by connecting information and media from various platforms across the web in an organised and intuitive user experience.
“We want to create the ultimate music search tool for DJs and music lovers by binding together media from the main platforms (Youtube, SoundCloud, Bandcamp) while also giving context to the music through deeper information on artists history, labels, venues, events and the connections they have to each other. We want to create a map of music across the physical and digital realms.“
As a side note, I’m also pretty impressed with the press release they sent through. It’s more like a brochure, if anything…
The other service is huurd.it. The development team, based in Chelsea, London, seem like an enthusiastic and passionate bunch, with a neat concept fusing several different mobile app ideas. Fundamentally, the app is a sort of Foursquare meets Soundcloud, allowing artists to pin tracks to their location (called ‘dropping a track’, geddit?) which listeners in the area can check out. Users of the app can also see what’s going on globally, so you can check out the vibe anywhere in the world.
Currently, the app is only for iOS but an Android app is currently in development and on the way, the devs say.
Here’s their blurb:
For the musician
You’re a musician; bedroom, emerging or world touring artist.
You want to be huurd and reach everyone with your sounds, but you just don’t have the time and money to hit various audiences. Or you just want to let the world know your brilliance even more.
Never before have you been offered an opportunity for free global promotion….think about that.
For the listener
The beauty of huurd.it; anyone can listen to new music wherever they are by simply opening the map and clicking on a nearby profile; Based on real time experience!
- Discover new music nearby and globally everyday
- A real time music discovery experience
- Find undiscovered talent, everyday, every minute
- Personal contact with musicians.
- Share new musicians before the record labels.
- Recommend collaborations! …genius
Now, my issue with mobile-based music apps is not so much the apps themselves but that unless you’re living and working in a city centre or large town, network coverage for data is pretty much a mess. Even when coverage is decent, connectivity can be flaky making streaming unreliable, even if you can update app data. I have a running joke with the wife that I get decent 3G, right up to the point where I pull my phone out and need to access something, when it inevitably drops to GPRS.
I get the impression that the whole wireless infrastructure is a bit of a jury-rigged kludge of technology. Anecdotally, iOS does seem a bit better at staying connected, but Apple probably give best-practice a back seat with their smartphone radio technology.
This issue aside, huurd.it certainly have a novel take on music discovery, and if they can get some big-name artists on board, this could be a really interesting way of getting some location specific exclusives. Imagine if Deadmau5 was in town, doing a couple of shows, and knocked up a track during some down-time in his hotel room… giving local fans the chance to become curators of his track to the wider world would be a pretty cool way of making them feel special.
I must confess to a little bit of a fascination with the startup world, and I love how everyone can take little elements of other services and stir them together to create a fresh spin on a market. Both Moretrax and huurd.it take a very different approach to the problem of getting users to unearth little gems via serendipity.
With the arrival of the Internet Age, portable computing and digital media, the turnover of new media created has increased exponentially. The problem of finding great art hasn’t changed, but there’s so much more coming out, and the window for appreciating it is getting smaller. That track you love right now will quickly fall to the bottom of the pile as you hear the tons of amazing music you find every day. As such, it’s easy to see the concept of something like thisismyjam.com as a kind of social commentary, where you’re only allowed to love a track for a single day, and quickly move on to the next. In that respect, I’m glad people are trying to find a way to help us with our never-ending search.
Do you have any tips for making music discovery easier? Give both services a try to let us know what you think in the comments.