As more startups emerge featuring free music via such services as YouTube and SoundCloud, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort them out and decide who is worth covering. But Thorsten LÃ¼ttger, cofounder and Co-Ceo of musicplayr, an entrant in the upcoming Midemlab, has story was worth telling even though the service itself is rather simple and straightforward. Simple is not always so easy to do and part of the strength of musicplayr to date is its successful development from a minimal viable product.
See the end of the post for info on getting a musicplayr invite.
musicplayr currently features a single public playlist for each member that streams songs linked from such services as YouTube and SoundCloud. Though you can also upload your own collection, that is not available to other users. Members follow public playlists and can comment on individual songs. When one logs in, the initial screen features the most recently uploaded songs from playlists one is following. And that's the core of the product which has attracted thousands of users though still in private beta.
The musicplayr team is based in Germany and will soon be joining the vibrant scene in Berlin. The core team worked together on a previous project and Thorsten says they have a strong friendship that helps fuel an easy working relationship. They began development of musicplayr in late spring 2011 addressing two concerns:
- Fragmented music collections that may include playlists on multiple services as well as on one's personal devices; and,
- Disastisfaction with the music discovery process on such services as Last.fm.
In addition, Thorsten feels that what one is listening to now, a discovery feature of music services on Facebook such as Spotify, is not necessarily music that one might want to share or that represents one's taste.
After finding that others also shared their feelings, especially regarding fragmentation, they began work on musicplayr as a way to create a unified music collection. They were dissastified with their initial efforts which didn't quite solve the problems they were attempting to address. However, as people found out about their activity, they wanted to try it out so musicplayr entered an extended closed beta period.
They soon began to get late night messages, when people were using the service, requesting the option to invite friends and it became clear that they were off to a strong start despite the limits of their creation. So they suddenly found themselves in the enviable position of having unintentionally launched a minimum viable product that their new users liked enough to continue using and to share with others.
Since then they have been developing musicplayr with the intention of keeping it focused on music and only adding basic features that they consider undeniably necessary. So, instead of providing numerous ways to interact, all interactions focus on sharing music, following playlists and commenting on individual songs.
I found the process of getting started quick and easy however what draws me back is the active involvement of users, some of whom soon began following me and liking some of the songs I posted. The user base has an active feel that I find missing from too many of the services currently being launched.
While using musicplayr, I found myself wishing for more than one public playlist so I could develop themes, which I'm currently doing with private playlists. Thorsten says that multiple public playlists are in the works as are additional features based on user requests and obvious gaps indicated by user activity such as:
- the ability to send songs and messages to other users
- user search and local search to find other members
- tools for bookmarking and gathering music
- an embeddable player for blogs
Given the coming glut in services featuring free music, I think the sites that will survive the eventual shakeout are those with an active user base that stay in touch with the needs of those users. Given that the musicplayr team has that active base and is focusing on gradually adding only essential features for which there is a clear need or demand, musicplayr seems headed for bigger things.
If you're interested in checking out musicplayr, invites are available for the first 25 people who email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.