Once A Turntable Rival, Spotify App Soundrop Launches On Deezer As Co-Founder Steps Down As CEO

Soundrop lobby in Deezer
On the heels of Turntable.fm shutting down its recorded music listening rooms to focus on live events, Oslo-based rival Soundrop is doubling down on the social listening model. Today, to complement an existing app for Spotify, Soundrop is launching an app on Deezer — a streaming music rival to Spotify — which will let users on Spotify and those on Deezer come together in virtual rooms (‘tens of thousands’ of rooms created so far) to consume music simultaneously, and extend Soundrop’s scale as a marketing platform for the artists, labels and brands with whom it works. At the same time, Soundrop’s co-founder Inge Sandvik is stepping down as CEO, replaced by Jørn Haanæs, Soundrop’s chief revenue office and a former exec from Warner Music.

To mark the new app, Soundrop is launching three new rooms featuring Euro club DJs and producers: Trentemøller on November 25 at 6 PM GMT; The Bloody Beetroots on November 26 at 4 PM GMT; and Yuksek on November 27 at 6 PM GMT. You can listen to those here.

Soundrop, which officially turns two today, launched its first service in January 2012 as a Spotify-only app. It quickly picked up traction at a time when Spotify had little in the way of its own discovery features and social features to help users wade through the millions of tracks they could potentially listen to on the platform. The “rooms” on Soundrop are interactive: users can “vote up” tracks they like, see how others are voting, and speak with others in the various listening rooms.

Since then, though, times have changed for both. Soundrop has added access via Facebook as well as its own standalone iOS app and web interface — services that incorporate videos from YouTube in cases where tracks have not been available on Spotify. Spotify has also enhanced its own platform with web interfaces; discovery and social features of its own; more apps from third parties — and potentially a lot more, courtesy of its latest, $250 million round of funding.

Launching on Deezer is emblematic of how Soundrop wants position itself as more platform agnostic. It’s a different tune from Soundrop’s Spotify-only early days: the two share an investor (Northzone, which backed Soundrop with $3 million last year); and at one point Soundrop engineers were working out of Spotify’s offices in Stockholm.

Soundrop features both user-created listening rooms and brand-, label- and artist-created listening rooms. The latter service, which works on a B2B2C model (in which labels, brands and so on pay Soundrop to create the promotional rooms on its platform) has shot up in activity: Soundrop hosted 42 artist events in October, compared to eight during all of Q4 2012. The company tells me that it is now at 150,000 monthly active users (before today’s launch).

Adding a Deezer app will potentially help Soundrop scale out that B2B2C business because it means a bigger potential audience for those listening rooms, something that may be spurred also by a potential Deezer launch in the U.S. And that will give Soundrop an important negotiating chip with those labels, brands and artists. From what I understand, the intention is to add more streaming platforms over time — although, given some of the consolidation we’re seeing in the space, the list of potential candidates make shrink before Soundrop has a chance to reach them.

As for the management change, it’s not completely clear why Sandvik is stepping down as CEO. From all of my conversations with him in the past, it sounds to me like Soundrop is executing on plans that Sandvik himself had helped lay out. It sounds like he may be moving on to something new — playing on his background as a serial entrepreneur, perhaps.

“I have been putting all my time and effort to the company now for the last 2 1/2 years. It’s been a great time and I am proud of what we have accomplished,” he told me. “What drives me is to build great products with great people, and I see that there are some great opportunities to do that outside Soundrop.” He tells me that he will stay on the board and will remain a major shareholder of Soundrop.

Haanæs — who had been Soundrop’s chief revenue officer before taking the role of CEO — had previously been an executive for Warner Music in Norway. It may be just a coincidence, or it may be by design, but Warner Music happens to be owned by Access Industries, which is also a major shareholder in Deezer.