Taxes. Death. A crazy ex. Mutual hatred for Sallie Mae. As humans, we all share pieces of ourselves like that in common. Something else?
Whether in class, in between careers or sitting at a desk right now dreading the always-boring weekly sales meeting stuck beside the one co-worker who always smells like wet Cheetos, fantasizing of creating an idea with the influence to change the world is something we all do. Being our own bosses and writing our own work schedule, too.
Well, imagine for a moment that you had this kind of idea and launched it in February of this year. Now imagine this idea hit its six month goal for users… five days after launch, and people in nearly 100 countries are embracing your idea and using it as soon as they wake up. Imagine Billboard’s five-time top ranked club music venue, 9:30 Club being one of your biggest fans. Imagine huge music festivals like Bonnaroo and Trillectro already onboard with the potential of your dream. Imagine multi-platinum artists like Jason Mraz and O.A.R. using your idea for both their enjoyment and to reach their fans. Imagine, after leaving a steady job, spending all of your savings and working 15 hours a day for two years, investors started competing to give you money for your idea.
Imagine your idea, your dream turning into a reality one small accomplishment at a time. Long-time friends John Reardon and Eddie Sniezek are living this dream with their new app “musx.” Dubbed the “Instagram for music” by Trillectro co-founder Marty Marshall, the platform is establishing its own lane in the seemingly crowded highway of music apps.
Last week, Reardon sat down with TSS, detailing their thought process and the impact they hope to make with musx (pronounced “myooziks”). The goal is simple enough. Become an indispensible app for every person in the world who listens to music.
TSS: Let’s get this out of the way first. What separates musx from Beats Music, Spotify, etc.?
Reardon: You don’t waste any time huh? This answer is fortunately a simple one. We’re not trying to be a Beats, Spotify, Pandora or SoundCloud. We are big fans of those services and have no problem saying that we still use them. When you know which artist or kind of music you are in the mood for, you can’t go wrong with any of those. With musx, we are hoping to fill a completely different niche. And by doing this, we believe we have an app that can coexist with all current music services and even compliment them, make them better. So I guess you could say we are the Scottie Pippen of music apps.
Right now, no matter what you use to listen to music, there is still no obvious place to go share songs or see what your friends and other trusted sources are sharing. When you think about it, we discover the best music from the people we know, but it happens randomly and we want to change that. We think that sharing a song should be as easy as sharing a photo, with the tap of a button, and musx makes this possible. musx is the simplest way to share and explore music with friends.
TSS: Simple question, but I’m guessing it requires a complex answer. Why was musx started?
Reardon: As crazy as it sounds, it goes all the way back to freshman year of high school. My and Eddie’s first conversation ever was about music, and since then we’ve always shared new tunes with each other — first through exchanging mix CDs then by emailing. A few years after college, we got tired of having to copy YouTube links and paste them into an email to share. You can call us lazy, but it was an unnecessary pain in the ass and made no sense that we couldn’t find, play, save and interact with our friends’ latest recommendations in one place. After asking around and doing a little research, we came to the simple realization that most people, not just us, listen to music in one place, then share it in another place where people don’t listen to music.
For example, Eddie and I would use YouTube as our primary source of new music. But, when we wanted to share it, we’d end up using email, Facebook and Twitter. The problem is, no one opens email, Facebook and Twitter when they want to listen to music, so anything shared usually falls on deaf ears.
Eventually, it became clear that our small realization was the root of a fundamental problem in music overall – the experience surrounding music has gradually become a more isolated, impersonal one. While algorithms are impressive and make listening / discovering easier, they don’t provide social context or anything remotely interpersonal.
Our goal then evolved to make music personal and fun again. We wanted to bring back the fulfilling and exciting feeling of making a mix CD for a friend and listening to it with them, and make that possible on a digital platform. What resulted was a simple, functional place to share music that also provides incredible value to artists, venues and other music professionals that has never been possible.
TSS: On that note, you’ve mentioned that musx is an artist-friendly app. We’re curious about Chris Keup’s involvement. That’s rather impressive even if his name may not jump off the page to the casual music fan.
Reardon: Yeah, man. Chris is a phenomenal guy with incredible experience and insight into the music industry that Eddie and I could not replicate. He founded White Star Sound out of Charlottesville, Virginia and has had everyone from Jason Mraz to The Infamous Stringdusters record there. He’s also an ASCAP member and award-winning singer-songwriter who won the Sammy Cahn lyricist award in 2000. When we started to get some traction with our idea, we brought Chris on specifically to help enhance the app’s value to artists and make sure their best interests were in mind throughout development.
TSS: Leaving full-time jobs, describe the apprehension by stepping out on a leap of faith and chasing a dream and leaving the traditional 9-5s.
Reardon: Funny thing is, until the moment Eddie suggested starting a company, I’d never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Ever. To me, it was something that only existed in movies.
Fortunately, Eddie is the smartest guy I’ve ever met and there is no one else I trust as much as him. So after six months of us working our 9-5s then working from six-midnight on musx, when he suggested that we leave our jobs to pursue this thing full-time, I knew he was right. He made a simple but powerful point, “If we have a Plan B [our current jobs], we’ll never put everything into Plan A.” After about a week of sleepless nights contemplating what to do, it became clear that you only get so many chances in life, if any, to take a real risk.
And when that opportunity comes, you have to do it. Looking back ten, twenty, fifty years from then, we knew we’d be much happier knowing that we at least tried to do something big. Bottom line, we knew we had the chance to create something that could make people’s days and even lives better by improving the experience surrounding music, and that was more important than job security.
TSS: One concern I’ve seen in reviews of the App is the use of YouTube and Vevo as the only source of the music people can find on the app. Do any steps need to be taken in response, and if so, how do you guys plan to remedy that issue?
Reardon: Fortunately for us, YouTube has one of, if not the most extensive library of music. But, for those that are concerned, we’ve added the ability to share SoundCloud songs as well, which will give anyone who uses musx access to an unrivaled library of music. We love YouTube and SoundCloud!
TSS: The App has recently been released – what’s next? Any future (or near-future) plans for musx??
Reardon: We have the best development team in the game with Savvy Apps. Hands down. They take our ideas and make them better and are wonderful to work with. So, we will always be updating and enhancing the app and we have some very, very exciting plans over the next 12 months that we can’t wait to share with everyone.
We want this app to be increasingly enjoyable and useful for anyone that uses it, so we will always be looking for better ways for them to explore music and collaborate with friends, artists and live music venues.
TSS: There’s much dedication to musx on phones. Are there any plans for a desktop version?
Reardon: Most definitely! We’ve already started work on a web version. Ideally we’re going to put that out this summer along with Android.
TSS: Last question. For anyone still on the fence, why should they give musx a chance?
Reardon: musx gives everyone a simple and fun platform to share and enjoy music with their friends, free of the noise found on Facebook, Twitter and email. Instead of having to search for music, musx brings the best new tracks from the people and sources your trust right to you on a single feed.
For regular music fans like us, follow your friends to have their latest song and concert recommendations at your fingertips. Follow your favorite live music venues and never miss a show you would have gone to — venues will be posting songs by upcoming performers and including a link to buy tickets, meaning you’ll be able to sample the music, buy tickets and, most importantly, share it with your friends all in one place.
As for artists, venues and blogs, check out these numbers… Nine of the 10 most liked Facebook pages are musicians. Seven of the 10 most followed accounts on Twitter are musicians. And nine of the 10 most viewed videos on YouTube are music videos. But, still, there is no obvious place where musicians and fans share music. This is what we hope to become. musx lets you engage music fans where they go looking for music, and you can also reach your existing networks at the same time.
Plus, you know, it’s a free app. So you might as well try it out!