What if the Instagram of song samples was… Instagram? This is what a French startup is currently noticing with its latest app. Sounds is an iPhone and Android app that lets you discover music and also seamlessly share your favorite songs to multiple social networks, including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and Tinder.
“Unlike other apps, we only use the cover art when you share a song,” co-founder and CEO Rhai Goburdhun told me. “That’s why our users share a lot more often. We don’t use music as a way to showcase user-generated content.”
The company started three years ago with another app. It’s been a long and windy road, but Sounds seems to be the winner the team was looking for. It’s one of the most popular ways to share songs on Instagram, which has become quite popular ever since Instagram added videos.
While Sounds also works with other social networks, Instagram is by far the most popular network among users. Every time you share a song on Instagram, there is a watermark in the bottom right corner telling you that this short sample was made using Sounds. Here’s how it looks like:
“We signed a partnership with The Fader for example. When professionals share something, they don’t have a watermark. In exchange, we ask them for some feedback. So far, we have 3,000 artists and labels using Sounds,” Goburdhun said.
Partners include Ed Banger Records, The Bowery Ballroom and Bromance Records. The company is also currently talking with major music labels (Sony, Warner, Universal) to sign direct licensing deals and stop relying on the SoundCloud API.
And this is key to understanding Sounds — Instagram sharing is just the first step. At heart, Sounds remains a music discovery app powered by SoundCloud, iTunes and Spotify samples. If the startup can sign deals with labels, it could create discovery channels with curated playlists created by artists and labels.
While the company is not there yet as there are very few channels, 25 percent of the user base already spends more than 2 hours listening to music in the app every day.
“In six months, we want to make Sounds the unique portal to your music. We are going to add a Shazam-like song identification feature, and all of this without adding new screens,” Goburdhun said. “You’ll be able to discover, listen, share, identify and even maybe buy concert tickets.”
As you can see, the company is very ambitious. It’s going to be hard given that it competes with heavyweights, such as Spotify, Apple and YouTube. But there is one thing for sure, Sounds found a great viral loop with its Instagram sharing feature.