TastemakerX, the startup that lets music fans get credit for discovering popular bands before they become cool, is opening to the public today.
If this sounds like an app where your annoying music hipster friends can be their annoying music hipster selves, well, that’s kind of the idea — but, less annoyingly, it’s a place to discover new music and get recognized for those times when you manage to be early on a trend that eventually goes big. TastemakerX allows users to buy and sell shares in musicians, then based on the value of their “portfolio” and their other activity in the service, they get a T-score showing their influence. You can also comment on bands and trades, give props, and follow other users to see which musicians they’re investing in.
The company was founded by Marc Ruxin and Sandro Pugliese, who both started their careers in the A&R department at record label EMI in the 1990s. A private beta version of the app launched right before the Coachella music festival in April. Now Ruxin (who’s also the CEO) says the company has taken what it learned in the beta period, tweaked the product, and is ready for a larger audience.
The iOS app’s interface has been revamped to remove “lots of the non-intuitive ‘flips and swipes’,” Ruxin tells me: “There are lots of examples of screens that were buried, that we have brought forward.” For example, one of the things he saw during the beta period was that there was “tons of trading, but not tons of following.” He attributes this to the fact that the following option was “buried in ‘flips’ that were non-intuitive” — something that has now been improved.
And the game is no longer mobile-only, thanks to a new website that allows people to participate in all the aspects of TastemakerX.
TastemakerX has raised $1.8 million from investors including Baseline Ventures, True Ventures, and AOL Ventures (which shares a corporate parent with TechCrunch). Plans for future improvements include API integrations providing things like concert updates, plus the ability to buy more Notes (TastemakerX’s virtual currency), and more gaming and social features like badges.