online music

It seems like every old, musty arcade has a skee-ball machine — or, as I prefer to think of them, magical machines that turn an ordinary quarter into prize-winning tickets by way of a rolling ball. Other games offered more enjoyment, others were a bit cheaper, but none seemed to offer the quarter-to-ticket ratio of the skee-ball machine, which promised to provide a few minutes of fun and whichever prize you managed to win by the time your parents came around to say that arcade time was over. The skee ball machine was essentially rewarding you for doing something you probably would have done anyway.

Fanattac is hoping to become the skee ball machine of streaming music. The service, which is expected to launch later this week, offers “points” for listening to an album, reading a music-related news article, or otherwise engaging (ugh) with an artist online. These points will be used to earn prizes, from albums and posters to autographed merchandise and, the company hopes, items unique to its catalog. You’re probably already listening to music anyway. Why not get rewarded for it?

The service works about as you might expect. It’s available as a website and, soon, a mobile application, and allows you to listen to music directly through its interface. Tracks are provided by SoundCloud and Rdio — provided you have an Rdio account — and Fanattac CEO Dan Faiman says that other providers will be added in the future. New music is served up through a community-driven “StumbleUpon-like” feature, and you can share tracks and artists through Facebook, Twitter, and email. Every action garners a certain number of points, which can be redeemed for prizes in the Fanattac catalog.

“We want everything from the merchandise you can get on tour to signed guitars, or maybe merchandise that is exclusive, or even CDs or vinyl records that can be signed by the artist,” Faiman says. “Things you can get if you were to go to the tour or the show, but also really stuff that’s exclusive to us.” The company also plans to partner with artists and organizations — it’s currently running a promotion for the Warped tour, for example — to offer free concert tickets, promotional items, and the like.

“For the artist, signing their signature to a piece of paper or a poster, they do it every day,” Faiman says. “But to a fan it means everything — it makes their years just by getting it.” That’s what Fanattac is about. Even though the service offers a bunch of social features, hopes to draw revenues by selling concert tickets (through a partner), and intends to help fans and artists build communities, it’s really the streaming music equivalent to a skee-ball machine. Or, as I prefer to think of it, a website that turns your listening habits into prize-winning “points” by way of a play button.