Apps, Mobile & SMS

Fetchnotes’ Users Help Make Social To Do Lists More Useful For Music Fans and Musicians

Team-fetchnotesFetchnotes is a social note-taking app that began life with a focus on improving to do lists and notes to self by keeping things simple. As the team closely watched user behavior, they found that sharing was a growing use case and that often people were sharing notes related to music. So an app initially designed for individual use with sharing as somewhat of an afterthought has revealed its usefulness to music fans and, therefore, musicians. The new version, released last week for iOS, will be available for Android and the web in coming months. And as more data accumulates, hopefully we'll see even more usage related to music.

I spoke with Fetchnotes co-founder and CEO Alex Schiff last week about their new app. To be honest, if he hadn't had an introduction from another tech founder with whom I already have a relationship, I might not have responded immediately to his request for coverage though, if music use cases continue as they have, it would have eventually happened.

I mention that because, while 'who you know' has always been a key to success, 'get an introduction' is the current advice making the rounds for tech startups seeking investors. It works with the media too though you've got to have a product that supports following through.

Initially Designed for Individual Use

Fetchnotes is a relatively simple app that began as a productivity app, basically allowing you to create to do lists and reminders organized by hashtags. Alex Schiff and the rest of the initial team attended the TechStars Boston accelerator in the fall of 2012 where they built the previous version.

Now they're a bunch of mostly college dropouts pursuing the startup dream. Too bad they couldn't get some of that Peter Thiel money.

While looking closely at issues related to productivity software, as well as messaging and email, they came to the conclusion that most productivity apps were bloated and ultimately got in the way of productivity.

As Schiff related in an initial email:

"We felt like no one in this space was building tools that worked for people individually as well as they worked for people together. Products are either "anti-social" (as Evernote calls themselves) or start with social and work backwards (most collaboration products, or even worse email)."

In the process they decided that:

"Social utility should be layered on top of personal utility, not the inverse."

Schiff related that in the previous version of the Fetchnotes app, one which ultimately acquired 80,000 users, they kept things simple. Individuals could organize their notes using hashtags and share within the app using @username.

So if you found out about a concert you wanted to go to, you might write a note such as "@username2 let's go see the kids with funny hats #concert this weekend" and it would not only show up on @username's account but also be sent to @username2.

You can get more details on the earlier version if that's of interest.

User's Social Behavior Leads to More Social Features

Schiff said they were not only using the app themselves but watching user behavior closely. The current app includes a lot they learned in that process.

For example, users started to find ways to share notes beyond the app, something Team Fetchnotes had not necesssarily expected. So this version includes options for so doing.

They also noted that users didn't necessarily dive right in and start using the app every day. It seemed to take about 3 weeks of use to stick and those who shared notes were 10 times more likely to make it over that hump.

So last week's release, available now for iOS with a web and Android update to follow, added such sharing features as:

"Notifications when people share notes with you (push and in-app)"

"Address book integration to share with non-users"

For my part, when checking out the app I really wanted to be able to see what strangers were posting under a specific hashtag. Currently the focus is on private use or note sharing with friends. But it seems like a public feed for those who want to make posts totally public and the ability to connect with strangers might be helpful in that long trek Fetchnotes hopes to make from 80 thousand to 80 million+.

What's This Got To Do With Music?

Schiff shared his own music use case:

"Personally, I have a #music tag where I put songs and artists that I want to check out later — often when I’m at a concert and I hear an opener I really like. Often, I’ll share some of those bands I like with my friends via Fetchnotes."

"If they’re a user, they’ll get a push notification and see that note, and it’s already grouped with all their other notes related to music because I used that hashtag #music (though you can use whatever tags you want, it’s just the most common one people use). If they’re not a user, they’ll get a text message or email with the name of the band/song. Best of all, we show them where they can buy it on Amazon too (though we’re working on more music-related integrations soon)."

I couldn't get the Amazon link to show up but I give up quickly. I hate typing on those little screens. But the idea is to integrate more music services such as iTunes and Rdio so that a song preview is also possible.

This is an excellent example of how user behavior, not just Schiff's but many users, is leading to additional features. These additions may seem contrary to the simple beginnings but basing such features on actual behavior makes it a more organic fit than the current changes we're seeing from social networks like Twitter and Facebook that are actually based on advertisers' needs and then pitched as helpful to users.

Media-related notes as reminders to #checkout things later are quite popular and include music. As Schiff noted, people have long emailed themselves such notes but they often get lost in busy inboxes. By organizing notes with hashtags it's easier for people to go back and follow through on checking things out.

He also pointed out that many people, not just Fetchnotes users, discover new bands who are opening for the band they've gone out to see. Being able to make a quick note that's easy to find later ups the chance that they'll become fans of that band as well.

Schiff also felt it would be a useful tool for musicians who are juggling lots of tasks, especially on tour, since Fetchnotes is designed to make it exceptionally easy to keep up with one's to do list.

I don't know that musicians have really picked up on Fetchnotes that widely but so far the 4th top tag is #music with tags such as #spotify and #concerts also popular. So music fans within the user base are certainly putting it to work.

I'll keep an eye on Fetchnotes and we'll see if it becomes more useful for musicians. It's nice to see that they're already integrating third party services like Amazon and creating features that will be good for creators. And hopefully future progress will prove I wasn't simply swayed by a high level introduction.

[Thumbnail image: Team Fetchnotes]

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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