Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider
Chris Swain thinks music discovery should be more like a game, which is why he was demoing his brand new app Cred.fm last night at SF MusicTech.Swain is not the typical entrepreneur. He is a USC professor who co-founded the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab.
Cred.fm was hatched out of a his lab, but later spun out as a startup.
“We are passionate about music, we had an environment of game mechanic nerds. We were frustrated how hard it is to find good music. We wanted to see if we could use social media to make music relevant to you,” he said.
Cred.fm connects you to your friends on Facebook, then launches a virtual DJ party room — very similar to Turntable.fm. It then gives you an “influence score” based on the music you recommend to them, and how many of them like it.
It’s still a work in progress — the beta launch was just last night, and the app seems to have some bugs like a search function that doesn’t always work right — but the idea is interesting.
“In any social network, there are tastemakers that emerge,” said Swain. “We want to find those tastemakers.”
Other sites like Spotify and Turntable.fm have shown that people do want to tap their friends for help in discovering music, rather than depending on a computer algorithm.
“There’s nothing that really combines the two together. I look at a lot of the social games out there, and I see people spending a lot of time with content they aren’t passionate about. We take social game techniques and apply it to music, a medium people are passionate about,” Swain said.
The plan is to make money through the sale of virtual goods, for instance by letting users upgrade their avatars or buy extra stuff to decorate the DJ booth.
The professor teamed up with Phil Quartararo, former CEO of Virgin Records and Warner Bros. Records, and John Boyle, a multiplatinum artist manager with an MBA. So far the company has been bootstrapped and launched their beta product last night at the music conference.