On February 24, Musikki launched its Music API: an algorithm that allows developers to access real-time information about a given song, album or artist. It’s a live-updating music catalogue that can be used in a variety of different ways by developers.
The idea started out as a consumer app developed by João Afonso. The app scoured the internet for feedback and live information about an artist or a song much like IMDB does for movies, but with more impetus on live-updating information.
After winning a Building Global Innovators competition sponsored by MIT which gained €200,000 in funding, Afonso started developing the backend of the app from scratch with his team.
Hot Topics caught up with Musikki’s CEO and co-founder João Afonso just before the release of the API.
Hot Topics: If Musikki was initially aimed at being a consumer app, how did you end up creating a B2B product?
While we were developing the app after winning the competition (Building Global Innovators), I started creating my own network around the music industry and getting feedback on the product. I started going to events and meeting with some of the key players in the industry; seeing if we could make partnerships and get any traction in the industry by partnering with them.
The funny thing was that, as well as loving the product [the consumer app], the developers started asking us if they could access the data as well. I saw the opportunity there. I knew that there were already some companies offering music metadata like Rovi, but the developers were still looking for a different product, so I saw an opportunity.
I told my team we were going to develop our own backend, our own API then we would develop our consumer products on top of it. If this really was an opportunity we could create our own B2B product and satisfy everyone else.
HT: What makes your app different from existing models that collect music metadata?
There were other companies that were offering the separate parts of the service that we’re offering, but none of them all together.
They didn’t have the real-time thing. We’re not only using other people’s APIs to operate and we don’t rely on a static database. We have our own crawlers for music metadata, including articles about specific artists from curated sources.
Amongst other things, the real-time updates allowed us to create a notification system.
When an artist releases a new video on YouTube, we send you a notification saying “this artist released a new video on YouTube 20 minutes ago”. Then you can be one of the first to watch the video, and if they announce a new album you get a notification to preview the new album.
HT: With the majority of your users being based in America, why did you choose London as a base?
At the end of the day we’re a music business, and London is where the industry is the most concentrated in the world; all the stakeholders are here. It would probably be sexier for our current investors to have a start-up in Silicon Valley, but we need to be where the business is.
In Silicon Valley you have the investors and the tech, but the partners and clients would be all scattered around the US. In London you have the artists, the investors, the labels and they’re all an hour away. Every important tech music company is based in, or has an office in London, so it’s the place to be for us.
HT: How do you engage with social media?
We can use our API to create content for us to share on social media. We use the data that we get and share it before anyone else, so when our system tells us that an artist has uploaded a new video to YouTube we can be one of the first to give information on Twitter about the new release.
We were more focused on social media when we were a consumer product at the beginning. Now we aim for our promotion on social media to get us into relationships with other industries. We aim our tweets at labels and try and create a conversation around us so we can be known within the industry because we are focused on being B2B.
HT: Do you think the current startup culture in London is one of the reasons that your app can grow so quickly?
Yeah totally. One of the reasons that we are here is because London is doing a terrific job of capturing startups from other countries and bringing them here. London has a thriving ecosystem which always helps to bring new ideas and new companies in and we felt very welcome.
HT: Do you think that the consumer interfaces are an area for growth or will they always cater to hard-core music fans?
I think the app will always cater to more hardcore fans, which is also one of the reasons why we are more focused on the B2B side of things. We know that the consumer side can only grow to a certain level, but the things that we have created at the backend around music metadata can provide all other services that is more focused on the mainstream.
The app is more of a niche thing, especially the way that it is built, but even if you’re not a hard-core music fan you can still use it everyday.
HT: How would you like to see your company grow from here?
We would like to become the main provider of information to the whole music industry. To become the real backbone for the music industry when it comes to music metadata and information and content. That’s where we want to be.