Today a new music streaming startup called Whyd launches with $700,000 in seed funding from private French investors.
Whyd is founded by Giles Poupardin and Jie Meng-Gerard, both based in Paris. The site aims to be a place for users to collect digital music from around the web.
Spotify and Netflix have pioneered the model of access over ownership — meaning people don’t buy, download, or rent CDs or DVDs anymore, they just stream the content they want to consume. But Spotify and Netflex each have glaring holes in their catalogues. Spotify may have just added Led Zeppelin, which was a huge win, but it still lacks the Beatles and a number of other major acts. On the indie side, it is even more spotty. (Same goes for Netflix. This is why the company branched into its own content production to keep subscribers from fleeing, and why “What to watch on Netflix” lists have become so prominent.)
Whyd solves the “not on Spotify” problem by collecting a user’s favorite music from anywhere on the Web, including YouTube, the no. 1 place where teens listen to music. The site also supports SoundCloud, Mp3 blogs and Deezer. Users can easily save music to their Whyd accounts with a browser plug-in, similar to “read it later” apps like Instapaper. Of course, on Whyd you still have to listen to that annoying 30-second ad that plays before the YouTube video of any popular song.
(Support for Spotify, Rdio and Songza is not available but in the works.)
Whyd features all the bells and whistles of a standard music app — curation, following, a feed of activity from people with similar taste to yours. Since it’s new, Whyd smartly doesn’t try to find your friends, instead pairing you with existing users who have a similar taste in music. Piki, the failed app from Turntable.fm, did that too. It made solid recommendations, most of the time, but it wasn’t enough to garner strong adoption for the app.
Music discovery is a tricky nut to crack with many, many startups grasping at it. The problem is most people share music with their friends, but they don’t necessarily share their friends’ taste in music. The desire to connect with strangers over music hasn’t proven to be strong beyond the world’s biggest music geeks. Casual music fans are fine to simply to crib music recommendations from their friends (taste disagreements or not) or from famous tastemakers like Sean Parker. Even Songza didn’t take off until it brought in expert playlist curators. The peer-to-peer curation game hasn’t quite caught on.
Still, Whyd offers a useful feature that picks up on peoples’ prominent desire to categorize, save, bookmark and revisit music they like. Spotify’s move to double down on playlists, making playlist listening free on mobile, further proves we are obsessive about playing around with our digital music files. Beyond that, Whyd is addressing the big issue of our current media landscape: fragmentation. It aims to be one music player to rule them all.
Whyd opens publicly for all users today. The product is currently Web-only.
Image via Wikimedia Commons