TastemakerX is a virtual stock market that rewards you for discovering a band first. It’s the music snob equivalent of having a double digit ID number on Facebook. It’s the app equivalent of James Murphy’s assertions in this awesome song. It taps into that obnoxious “FIRST!” mentality that the Internet somehow fosters, and it’s pretty damn addictive.
The company launched to 1,500 beta users before SXSW, and even with such a small sample group, the bands that traded up on TastemakerX (Alabama Shakes, Policia) reflected those that got the most buzz offline, founder and CEO Marc Ruxin said.
Tonight in anticipation of Coachella, the company has released 5,000 more beta accounts. And that’s not all, snobs: Pando has access to 1,000. Use the code PANDABEAR (lol) right here. Coachella, which this year expanded to two weekends and will draw 75,000 attendees a day, is known for being a cell reception black hole. So if you want to check it out, I would suggest downloading the app now.
Why check it out, you ask? If you are a passive consumer of music and truly don’t care about being obnoxiously “First!” you probably shouldn’t bother. But if you often seek out new music, and take a little pride in your taste, then you might enjoy it.
It’s a game. And a discovery engine. And social. And a little addictive. It fills those cracks of the day that would otherwise be occupied by email, texting, Tweeting, checking in, Drawing Something, playing Words With Friends, farming virtually, or otherwise messing around on your phone.
My office has the slowest elevator I’ve ever ridden. Without it, I probably would’ve never gotten sucked into the mobile game vortex. As NYT Magazine nicely outlined, silly little games that chip away at our time (without ever sucking huge chunks), are incredibly successful. TastemakerX is one of them.
(Sidenote: Were I still the college version of myself, with endless time and a sense of self-worth entirely reliant on my taste in music, I would have dedicated pruning my portfolio on this thing.)
Festivals like Coachella are important to the users of TastemakerX. Beyond just buying stock in a band, and getting social cred for it, users are really eager to upload their photos to the app, Ruxin said. It’s a way of broadcasting to your friends, “I was there.” We live in a “pics or it didn’t happen” world, guys.
TastemakerX is building more game mechanics, like badges and rewards for shareholders that come directly from the bands. There is already a series of levels and a “T-score,” which works like a Klout score. The company plans to add a Songkick integration, as well as a Spotify app. Eventually it’ll integrate with virtual currency platforms, so users can buy more stock with real money, everyone starting with a set amount. And then, API integrations.
But before all that, the company, which has $1.8 million in funding from Baseline Ventures, AOL Ventures, True Ventures (and also our chairman Andrew Anker), has to actually, you know, launch to the public. That’ll happen at in June, at Bonaroo.