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Startup discovers hit songs

October 23, 2014
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Startup discovers hit songs
The Song Market is an online platform that allows music fans to discover potential hits. Courtesy The Song Market

One part fantasy football league and one part stock market, a new social gaming platform allows music fans to show off their ear for the next Billboard hit.

The Song Market

Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids, said this month that it will make an initial $5,000 investment in The Song Market.

The Song Market is an online platform fostering a competitive spirit among music fans to predict a song’s future popularity.

Using a virtual currency to buy and sell individual songs, traders can compete with friends in groups called Crowds with a goal to buy low and sell high to earn a profit.

Derek Debiak, co-founder of The Song Market, said that by creating a platform for users to trade songs based on individual speculation, users can compete in way similar to a fantasy football league to show off their eye for talent.

“You are buying and selling songs based on what you perceive to be the future popularity, and then as the prices fluctuate, the value of your portfolio will go up or down, similar to a stock market,” Debiak said. “At the end of the competition, there is a winner, so you kind of have that ability to show off and take credit for your early predictions, before most people realize that music was going to be popular.”

Currently, The Song Market is based online with the expectation to expand to a mobile application once the core functionality and features are added to the website, according to Debiak.

Target market

With a current target market of music fans who take pride in staying up to date on songs and genre trends, Debiak said the goal is to have users passionately competing against each another to draw in a secondary spectator audience.

The team would eventually like to pursue creating a tiered user level, where high-ranking traders on The Song Market are invited to compete against other successful users in the social gaming platform.

“At that point, The Song Market will really start to become a tool for music discovery, and at the same time, a music enthusiast will also have a platform to take credit for their early predications, as opposed to getting lost in the noise,” Debiak said. “Until now, there has never really been a way to quantitatively measure that kind of intuition, so The Song Market aims to provide a platform to show off that ability to predict music success.”

The team

The Song Market team is comprised of three co-founders: Debiak, who oversees business development and information technology management; Matt Ao, in charge of software engineering and database design; and Mackinley Smith, who is the front-end developer and API designer.

The team has worked collaboratively on the platform for six months, with Debiak initially starting on it roughly a year ago.

Next steps

The Song Market will use the Start Garden funds to continue building and developing of the online platform and validate the newly launched private beta version.

The beta program is meant to test the website’s operations and provide feedback from early users.

“We are fine tuning the engine, which is essentially the main software,” Debiak said. “As we get the engine tuned, we will be able to start adding on new features to enhance the user experience and keep the users coming back. With that being said, there will be a very strategic method of how we push these new features in terms of using lean methodology to make sure we split test all of our assumptions.”

The funds will also go toward implementing a marketing campaign to increase awareness.

Debiak added that it’s validating to have the interest and support of the downtown seed fund.

“Although we have had some level of interest and success — pitching the idea, going to pitch competitions — Start Garden’s interest in our idea and seeing the potential of what we are trying to build, it really was a great validation of what we have been working on,” Debiak said. “It is really energizing for us moving forward, knowing that we have the whole ecosystem of support kind of pulling for us.”

The Song Market is required to return to a monthly Start Garden Update Night event after a couple of months to present on its progress to be considered for further funding.

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