I met with Songkick at SXSW, a Y Combinator startup that aims to bring live music to the masses. The London-based company is announcing some exciting new features next week (I call it “music semantics”) but for now, I’ll share what interests me about its current offerings.
CEO Ian Hogarth wants to “change the way people think about their Friday nights.” His reasoning is simple: when consumers want to see a movie, they do a quick check on Fandango or Moviefone and head out. Going to a concert just isn’t as easy. Even following the tour dates of mainstream artists is a headache, with listings and ticket sales scattered far and wide online. Songkick scrapes all those sites for you, grabbing venue and ticket info from major ticket hubs, as well as MySpace pages and music blogs. Users have a one-stop-shop for band listings, in addition to an instant price comparison list of competing vendors.
That’s all well and good for music lovers but what I really like about Songkick is its intent to appeal to the mass consumer. Through several innovative tools, the company wants to create more music lovers out of its audience. The Songkicker plug-in for iTunes, Winamp and Windows Media Player scans users’ music catalogs and lets them know of artists in their library playing nearby. Bandsense is a distributed ad platform that recommends area bands based on your IP address (check it out at www.missingtoof.com). And Battle of the Bands is a fun little app that combines MySpace data, blog mentions and Amazon sales to produce an Alexa-like ranking chart for bands.
Throughout our conversation, I kept attempting to bring Ian back to the technology; how recommendation and discovery are a hot market sector and that his algorithms could possibly be applied to other areas. But he would have none of it. Songkick isn’t interested in boasting about the brilliance of its technology. They’re singularly focused on using that technology to make live music more approachable to the general public. It’s a refreshing attitude to encounter in a startup and bodes well for the company’s future success. With most companies in tech today, considerable force is usually necessary to make them keep end-users top-of-mind. Songkick has been there from the start.