SXSW starts today and all sorts of tech companies are jockeying to become this year’s Twitter, which famously exploded at a SXSW of yore. One company poised for a SXSW breakout this year is TastemakerX, a social music company that seeks to gamify users’ music sharing in order to spur users to engage with the platform more and more.
Will it work? The week before this year’s SXSW, the president of TastemakerX, Marc Ruxin, took to HuffPo to write about his baby: “In the end, there is nothing more powerful than a person insisting that you listen to a piece of music. ... Put simply, people powered music recommendations lacked scale before the modern social web and algorithms only excel in the assumptions and data garnered by scale.”
Imagine a marriage between Pitchfork and Foursquare, where music reviews and likes are combined with social engagement and check-ins, plus analytics that measures a music’s hipness like a fantasy sports league.
Twitter made a splash at SXSW because it filled a need, and it appears that a similar opportunity could exist for a TastemakerX. For starters, it’s a tech company that is focused on music, and SXSW is a music festival with a tech show strapped onto it. So there will be tons of music fans on-hand and a thousand musical acts. Way too much music to see.
So how does a SXSW attendee make the most of the festival's music discovery? Download TastemakerX and discover what musicians at the festival other people like and which shows they are checking into, with real-time metrics so you can determine if you are going to like a band before it becomes cool.
The social music space remains a relatively underserved niche of the greater social media universe. Pandora has existed virtually unchallenged until the relaunch of Myspace with its reconfigured radio feature - but Myspace is still yesterday’s news compared to the way Tastemaker uses geolocation and game elements to prod users into checking in and posting content.
TastemakerX isn’t the only newcomer into the social music space. There’s Turntable.fm that allows users to DJ inside of chat rooms; it also employs game elements like the unlocking of special features and avatars after enough users enjoy the music you’re playing for them. And there's Phantasy Tour that uses many of the same game elements as TastemakerX to enhance the concert tour experiences of the motley caravan of mobile-connected young folks who spend their summers traveling the country to follow bands like Phish.
But while these other social music tools have a limited audience in a well-defined market niche, TastemakerX might have a scalable platform that could engage the Pitchfork crowd with a new way of looking at its music consumption - as a competitive game.
Check it out and let us know what you think.
[Full disclosure: TastemakerX is one of the sponsors of our SXSW party this year and helped us find some of the amazing bands that will be onstage.]