Timbre iPhone App Offers Stunning, Simple Local Live Music Discovery

New iOS app Timbre wants to help get you out to more concerts, by giving you a glimpse at shows nearby along with a free preview of what exactly you’ll be getting if you buy a ticket or pop into a free show. It does so with a product that’s remarkably simple, without any requirement to login or even associate one of your social network accounts to get started, and it’s free.

What Timbre provides is a minimal list of artists performing nearby, when you either allow it access to your phone’s location information or enter a ZIP code manually. The artists show up in a smartly designed river, which shows upcoming performances organized by date, starting with today and moving forward as you scroll down. Tap through to any individual artist, and you’ll get concert details, including a buy link that directs you to wherever tickets are being sold, and a sample track from the band will play in the background automatically, with pop-up playback controls available once you tap again.

To serve up music, Timbre uses Apple’s free preview API to grab 30 second clips of any given artist’s top tracks for streaming play. In an interview with Mark Kasdorf, founder of Intrepid Pursuits, the Cambridge, MA-based studio behind Timbre, he explained that while that’s enough for now, eventually the plan is to serve up full tracks and maybe even playlists, once licensing can be arranged.

“There’s going to be a release in a couple of months that will enable you to listen to entire songs,” he said. “We’re working out a couple of deals with some of the larger streaming services.” Timbre is a good candidate for Spotify API use, though Kasdorf wasn’t naming any names just yet. With access to full songs and even albums, Timbre becomes an even better marketing tool and delivery vector for local artists and bands hoping to sell off any last-minute seating inventory or get thirsty people into bars for free shows.

Right now, the main revenue source for the app is affiliate links, which it uses to redirect potential concert-goers to ticket selling websites when they’re interested in a track. That’s one way to make some cash, but not a very lucrative one and Kasdorf says there are other options in the works, like partnering directly with publishers and venues, or white-labelling the app.

Timbre began as a simple weekend hackathon project, and is funded by Intrepid’s consulting business revenue, but Kasdorf says he thinks there’s an opportunity to spin it off as its own company in order to pursue some of those monetization options about six months down the line, and an Android version is likely not far off. Timbre is far from the first app to tackle this issue, with Songkick offering up a dedicated Concerts app, and others like Local Concerts and onTour using your library to inform their recommendations. But mining your library is a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to discovering small local acts you’ve likely never heard of before. And the simplicity of Timbre’s product, along with its top-tier design and sharing features that just work and feed traffic back to the app make it a new standout in this category.