British startup Lost Music launched its music-discovery app quietly earlier this year before SXSW.
Now it’s getting less stealthy, announcing a new “curators” section populated by 21 British music blogs and media, as well as a partnership with Songkick for ticketing.
The free iPhone app has several uses for music fans. First, they can browse the playlists from the 21 curators, who include Vice’s Noisey and Thump channels; YouTube-native brands like Mahogany and UKF; website The Line of Best Fit and more.
Lost Music pulls in tracks from YouTube and SoundCloud, but also matches them to tracks on Spotify and Apple Music, with users able to sign in to both services within the app.
The second use is building your own playlists from the tracks you discover in Lost Music, wherever they came from, as well as from songs you’ve already saved in those other streaming services.
“In our view, there’s never been a place which so deeply connects what these guys [the curators] are talking about to your music,” co-founder Crispin Futrille told Music Ally ahead of the launch.
That includes providing a link back to the original blog post or video with every featured track. A positive move, especially given recent criticism of Spotify for launching its Fresh Finds new-music playlists, which scrape music blogs for recommendations without sending listeners back to those posts,
“It’s important to give the context and make sure you can click through to the editorial,” said co-founder Tom Mansbridge. “When you really like a track, you want to hear more about it, but you also want to read about it.”
It’s early days for Lost Music, but the four-person team behind it – no 150-strong Crowdmix-like operation here, which given yesterday’s news is a sensible strategy – are keen to find out how music fans will use their app.
For example, will people browse their favourite curators in Lost Music every few days to see what’s new, or will they use the app as their main music player?
“Are we a discovery engine, or are they going to do what we hope they’ll do, and see this as a place to keep their entire music collection?” said Mansbridge. “We can see us easily getting that weekly user, so the challenge we’ve got is converting them into a daily user,” added Futrille.
For now, the curators are all based in the UK, although the music they are recommending comes from around the world. At some point, Lost Music will expand its partners to other countries, but is taking a cautious approach as it refines the app and seeks funding for any expansion.
Social features are included: people can find friends who are also using the app through their Facebook and Twitter profiles, as well as their contacts.
“Social is ubiquitous: people expect to be able to do it, so it needs to be in there. But it’s not the entire value proposition of what we’re doing,” said Futrille. “Just to be clear: we’re NOT building ‘a social network for music’ here!”
Again, not Crowdmix, although Lost Music – like other startups working around the area of discovery and social – may have to deal with any backlash from the investment community in the short term, following the high-profile crash of the well-funded London startup this week.
Collywobbles over Brexit could also be an obstacle to British startups of all stripes seeking funding in the coming months, although in a positive note, Music Ally has heard of a mini-resurgence in the angel investment sector for startups seeking seed funding in the low hundreds of thousands, which lean teams like Lost Music may be able to tap in to.
The other challenge for startups like Lost Music, though, is how to build a business out of music discovery. Many have tried and failed, but while Futrille and Mansbridge are keeping their plans quiet for now, they are optimistic that there is a business to be built here.
“This [music streaming] is a fragmented market, which gives opportunities to build a business if we can add value to that ecosystem,” said Mansbridge.
“The audience we’re building is music obsessives. They’re prepared to spend money on music, and indeed, more money than any other group, but they’re very discerning,” added Futrille. “Our job will be to serve that group, and we have a few ideas…”