AOL's Mobile-First Group Steps To The Stage With Play, An Instagram For Music

As you know, we’re now owned by AOL. And while it’s a big company, you’d think we’d be able to find out some tidbits of information about secret projects they’re working on. Nope. Sometimes it seems as if they’re fine with anyone else finding out what they’re working on as long as it’s not us. Take the “mobile-first” group for example. We heard about their tablet reader thing when everyone else did. And now we’re hearing about their secret music-sharing app, Play, when everyone else is.

Well, at least it’s a good idea. It’s essentially Instagram for music. At least that’s how Senior Director of Mobile Projects Sol Lipman pitches it to me.

Music is the fabric of our lives,” Lipman says in a sincere way that almost makes it sound as if it’s not a level-5 cliche alert. “We wanted to build an app that allowed you to share it in a really interesting way,” he continues. So they teamed up with the AOL Music team to build Play, an app debuting today for Android devices.

And it’s good timing. SXSW kicks off today. And the festival is heavily integrated into the app. For example, AOL has secured some exclusive streaming rights from shows at SXSW that you can watch from within the app. They also have Spinner’s MP3 of the day, and full-length previews from AOL’s CD Listening Party.

But the key to the app is the sharing of the music that you already know you like. Thanks to all of the content available to you in the app — including Rdio content — you can easily share any song with your Play friends, Facebook or Twitter. These songs can be shared with the album cover art, or a picture of your choosing.

And if the other Play users subscribe to Rdio, they’ll also be able to listen to the full songs. Otherwise, non-Rdio users will be able to hear previews of the songs. There’s also a light geolocation layer (where you shared the song from). And you’ll be able to comment and like others’ shared songs.

Again, the app will be Android-first for now. But Lipman says an iPhone version will be out in a “few weeks”.

But the app is not without competition. Rival app SoundTracking is also making its first appearance in time for SXSW, though it will be iPhone-only at first.