Business News Digital secures $2 million in funding

By | Published on Friday 11 July 2014

It’s all about the playlists in 2014, we all know that.

People are navigating the 20 million plus track catalogues offered by most of the streaming services by utilising playlists. Sometimes they create playlists themselves on lazy Saturday afternoons, sort of the digital equivalent of music fans alphabetising their record collection. Often they nab playlists created by their more music literate friends via social media or within their streaming platform of choice.

And, of course, they’re increasingly relying on lists complied by experts, celebrities, media or other notables, compilers who are now competing with radio and MTV as the opinion formers in music, with new plugging teams being recruited at the labels to make sure these people are aware of every single shitty new track being released. What joy.

Most of the streaming platforms, having, as they do, the same catalogues, same price points and pretty much the same service, are increasingly using the playlist phenomenon to compete – either by saying “our proprietary playlists are better than theirs” – or by assuming that users who have set up a stack of personal playlists on their system will be wary of switching to a competitor where they’d have to make their lists all over again.

But what if the future of playlisting is outside the platforms of the streaming services themselves? Plenty of people have suggested that service-agnostic playlisting is the future, with start-ups like Songdrop, Tomahawk and already operating in this space. And it’s the latter that has got everyone talking this week, on the back of news it has just secured $2 million in funding from Charles River Ventures, SV Angel, Y Combinator, FundersClub and others.

The firm is in the process of expanding its own platform with verified celebrity pages, where artists and others will be encouraged to share playlists with their fans. The advantage of doing so on, rather than setting up playlists within Spotify or Beats and then sharing those via embeds on an artist’s own site, is that the system will pull the music from Spotify, Beats, Rdio or Deezer, depending on which service a fan is using. It can also pull in music from YouTube and SoundCloud where available.

The new funding will be used to further grow the platform and to push on with a range of mobile apps. The firm’s backers seem confident that there is much mileage in being a standalone playlisting business, even if revenue models are still to be worked out. If they’re right, and playlisting moves outside the streaming platforms, said services will probably have to find something new to compete with. Which is probably when exclusive content deals will kick in.