Technology Tuesday: Are You a TastemakerX?

Last week we told you about a cool little site called ThisIsMyJam which allows you to pick your “jam” for the week and share it with the world. It is a great way of sharing a song and seeing what your friends are listening to. However, if you want to dig much deeper into music discovery and immerse yourself in a massive multi-player music influence game, then TastermakerX might be for you.

Maybe you’ve noticed a few cryptic tweets or Facebook posts lately along the lines of: “I just bought 150 Shares of Sigur  Rós [SGRR] at $18.25. Go long!” Well, what the Hell does it all mean?

TastemakerX is an iOS app that crosses a fantasy sports league with a stock exchange. It allows users to invest “notes” into a portfolio of bands and performers that climb in value as the popularity of your artists increase. Baked into the trading component is social sharing, biographies of bands, news items and the ability to listen to song clips of the bands & purchase tracks via iTunes.

So what is this? Currently a mobile app available on iOS devices designed for iPhone but of course can be used on an iPad as well. In the near future, you will be able to use the app from within Facebook and Android devices as well. Some functionality is also currently available from a web application. It is in a limited beta with rolling invitations with public rollout coming shortly. You can download from the app store and register right from the app. Once your registration is accepted, you will start out with a bankroll of game currency that are called “notes.” Like any social apps or network, you’ll choose to follow existing friends and then find other people to follow. You can share activity from TastemakerX across existing social sites like Twitter or Facebook.

What is the point? Of course the overall goal is to have fun, learn about new bands, find new music to listen to and let your tastes help influence others. This is accomplished through the stock market like trading component where you snag the “stocks” of bands that you think will become more popular. It becomes a fun way to quantify your ability to spot “the next big thing” and put your “money” where your mouth is. The more you trade, like, share and interact with the app the more “points”  you get allowing you to “level-up” within the game to such tiers as “newbie”, “intern” and “manager”. So even if your portfolio is in the dumper, you can still actively participate.

So, how do I find out what’s “hot”? TastemakerX is really two sets of distinct data to look at. Bands and the players themselves (the Tastemakers). So, just like looking through the stock market charts, you can see which bands are trending and on the upswing. Want to get in on the action with them? Simply make a trade either with your existing notes or by cashing out of a band you already own. Buy low! Sell high!

Like the real world, shares in a band are limited so you may want to jump quickly before the price spikes too high. Looking through activity streams of your friends or other players, you can see which bands are being actively traded. While many may already be known to you, it can be gratifying spotting a band that your friend bought, listening to them, and realizing they are your taste. Check them out next time they come to town and they blow the roof off the place? Perhaps you want to increase your stake. Similarly, you’ll also want to keep an eye on the players that seem to have a knack for spotting up and coming talent.  These are the “TasteMakers” whom the whole idea is named after. It is always fun and exciting to catch bands that are about to explode. Keeping an eye on bands that are beginning to trend and buying their stock is not really about “winning” the game at all. It’s about finding music you love, shows that you’ll enjoy attending, and quite possibly developing new friendships which seem to flourish when common musical bonds are shared, discussed and enjoyed.

And of course, the term “hot” is completely subjective as well. In addition to the trading component of the game, the most important thing is finding shows or albums that will be smoking hot for you to enjoy despite any future increase in popularity. Searching for your favorite bands and looking to see who the top few shareholders is a great way of finding some new music. Simply see what else is heavy in their portfolio. Odds are that you’ll have some overlap in taste.

Cool example use cases of TastemakerX There’s a handful of uses that seem pretty compelling to me immediately. One of them is looking at bands after a big festival to see which ones made the biggest impact on attendees. In time, it’s not hard to imagine that out of tens of thousands of attendees that there will be enough users to adequately measure “buzz” by looking to see which bands were traded most actively. Another is simply being able to keep a sort of “musical diary” by looking back to see when a band first hit your radar screen. It might also be fun to look at who else bought shares of a band after a particularly hot local show. Perhaps this is someone you want to follow to keep tabs on other upcoming shows that you may enjoy. And if nothing else, TastemakerX simply as a conduit to discuss music with like minded people is a pretty decent use in and of itself.  From a heavy user who wishes to dominate the “music stock market” to the casual user simply interested in broadening their music horizons, TastermakerX can hit a sweet spot for you.

[iOS interface showing a portion of my portfolio]

[Web interface]

Bottom Line This is a fun vehicle for music discovery and an interactive way of helping you get a daily dose of music. And if you think that isn’t important, I think the five million people that were touched watching a senior citizen enjoy Cab Calloway will disagree. While there’s tons of depth already with news feeds, trends, activity streams and social sharing, it is not hard to envision TastemakerX adding a slew of additional features. For example, it would be cool to see bands rewarding early influencers, being notified of trending bands coming to your area, and other such things.

So what are you waiting for? Hop aboard. I’ve got some Megafaun (MGFN) I’m itching to trade.

Full Disclosure: One of the co-founders of TastemakerX is a good friend who dates back to enjoying Phish shows with me at the Wetlands, Portchester, the Haunt, Hamilton College and every nook and cranny bar in the Northeast. You’ll notice that Sandro Pugliese’s desert island band is Phish, so you may want to follow him too, as like me, he has impeccable music tastes.

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Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
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One thought on “Technology Tuesday: Are You a TastemakerX?

  1. Sandro Reply

    Thanks Parker for the thoughtful piece about our little app :) Seriously though, I think you really touched on a good number of the core values for both players and artists since it really is all about the connection between them: from the initial discovery & enjoyment and then to the deeper connection that we all seek.

    We’re still in beta but by all means use the access code: PINKMOON to get early access – redeem here: http://www.tastemakerx.com/promo_code

    And be sure to send feedback, we’re still in the early days…

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