A Q&A with Musicplayr co-founder Stefan Vosskoetter

By  January 17, 2013


The music industry has broken down in recent years and as artists and labels look for ways to monetize their music, one service is trying to tie it all together. Meet Stefan Vosskoetter, co-founder of a new service called Musicplayr. Musicplayr allows you to collect your favorite music from nearly every outlet on the web including Youtube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, and your favorite music blogs. You can then take your custom created playlists and stream them through a beautiful interface complete with full screen music videos. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Stefan about the idea behind Musicplayr, how his service is changing the music world, and the push to bring Musicplayr to the US market.

Q:

How did the idea behind Musicplayr develop?

A:

So I created a Tumblr and started to put all of this content on it, the videos from YouTube, Vimeo, and widgets from Soundcloud. While I was doing this my partner and I ran into the same problem. We were switching between websites so we were listening to the music on Soundcloud & Youtube and it was then that we decided to create a rough prototype. At the beginning this was a side project and we really were trying to solve our own problems. Right from the beginning two interesting things happened. The first thing was this very small group of people we invited were actually posting stuff all the time they were very active. So they were really interested in posting the music they really loved. The second thing was probably after two or three weeks I had a perfect collection of music in my music stream because my friends and the users were posting really great songs. So for me, directly from the beginning I had a great collection of music. It was then that we decided ok, lets turn this into a real project, raise some venture capital and then create version one of our product. This is where we are at the moment.

The big idea that is taking off is the idea of a music profile. When you browse around on Musicplayr you will find a lot of profiles that really have nice background pictures and really express themselves in a very rich way.

Q:

You are primarily based overseas, do you have any plans to move into the U.S. market soon?

A:

Yes, we started in Europe and we want to get to the US as well. We have a PR team and are starting to do some things in the US. We’re also going to do something at SXSW. My co-founder is planning on being at San Francisco Music Tech. We’re trying to get a foothold there as well. Most of the users are German but we have users from Mexico, Japan so it’s really world-wide.

So when you sign up as you noticed you have to follow people. We want to make sure that when a new user comes to the service they have music in their inbox and in their music stream. We don’t want to have users that come to the service and see that it’s empty, forcing them to instantly import songs from the web. In the future we know that a lot of people have problems with following complete strangers. We’re going to change this a little bit so when you start using Musicplayr you have to follow lists which pair you with the right music from the beginning in your music stream and then you can start exploring Musicplayr and find the right people to follow.

Q:

There are a lot of music services that couple the online and mobile streaming services today. What do you think sets Musicplayr apart from the various services that are out there?

A:

So services like Spotify or iTunes have an audio catalog. So they have content that has been commercially released and on Musicplayr we try to really capture all the free web music. I read an estimation that around one hundred and twenty million songs are distributed on all the different platforms that we allow on Musicplayr. We allow users to pull songs from across the web to create their own player. This is probably the major difference for us versus the traditional services with normal audio catalogs. There are other services like This Is My Jam and they also work with the free web content. We think there are two things which set us apart from services like This Is My Jam. The first thing is really the focus on the music profile. We created a very clean interface, which is very colorful with a lot of pictures and is very emotional. It really gives users the opportunity to create a beautiful musical identity, a beautiful music blog. This is the focus: on the profile and this elegant user interface. The second thing which differentiates us is the coming Gracenote integration. We get all the metadata for this content, which will then allow users to slice and dice their content.

Q:

When you were in beta testing, did reach out to any musicians and did you have any feedback from them on what they think about Musicplayr? Have any well-known musicians signed up and do they like it or are they against it?

A:

This is a very important question. Yes there are major artists who have already signed up. They are very popular in Germany, artists like Thomas D, he’s one of the most important German hip-hop guys we have. He has a band called Die Fantastischen Vier that is huge in Europe. There are also three well-known DJ’s. The interesting thing is that they use Musicplayr it like a real user rather than an artist. They don’t create music profiles to present themselves as musicians. They don’t post all their music, they’re really posting music they like. And then they use their Musicplayr playlist to post on Facebook and Twitter. They share underground songs with their fans and give them the music that they like to listen to. So they are using Musicplayr really as a music fan to collect and curate the music rather than promote themselves. Until now we haven’t had an artist which puts up his Musicplayr profile and promotes his music there. In the future we will have different things that we think they will really like.

The first thing is song identification. We will have a link below every song to iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. We really think of ourselves as a discovery engine and users can buy the music if they would like. The second thing is, we will create premium functions for the user. What we really have here with Musicplayr is a way for users to want to interact and use the free web music that is out there.

We are really trying to create a Musicplayr experience to handle this free web music that engages the users to actually pay for it. We will eventually create a premium function where the user has to pay possibly five dollars per month and then we would pay royalties to the artists. At the end of the day what we are doing here is creating a musical experience which is so great that users are paying for free web music. This is the first time that this kind of content is monetized beside the monetization that we have today like advertising on YouTube. We really think we can add value for the artists.

Q:

What are your plans for gaining a US following and how are you marketing the product here?

A:

We have had great feedback from the press in the U.S. We had a nice Techcrunch article and a nice article on The Next Web. The one thing that we really are trying to do is PR there, the second thing is that we want to start to go to the events. For example SXSW, it’s not finished yet but we will probably have an event there with German bands playing, we really have to plant our roots and then get it rolling.

Q:

Where do you see Musicplayr going in the next year? What are your next steps and are you currently developing the premium features?

A:

The next really big step is the integration of Gracenote. On the mobile IOS application we’ve already integrated Gracenote so you can do mobile fingerprinting like you can do with Shazam and instantly store this content with one click to your Musicplayr playlist. On the web we really need to integrate Gracenote tagging because there are so many opportunities for us to improve the product as a real archive, as a real music player with this metadata. This is the most important project over the next two or three months. There are a lot of small things we will change on the platform but the next biggest thing is the Gracenote integration. When you play a video on the top left there is also a full screen button.s This is really a completely new interface for a player and we want to bring this to the iPad as well. You can imagine Musicplayr appearing on a screen in your living room. This is totally different from anything that we have seen.

Q:

Do you plan on expanding into Android, having an app in the near future and tablet capabilities as well?

A:

Yes definitely, I think this will take some time. For now we have the first version of our iPhone app. We will fine tune this a little bit and then we will bring this to the iPad with some modifications. I think when we find a good set up on version 1.0 of the IOS platform we will move to Android for tablets and phones.

Q:

Do you plan on integrating with your own app on a service like Roku or Xbox Live?

A:

In the future the demand will be there. If our users are utilizing these devices or platforms then we will try to get our product on them. It’s a problem when you are on Musicplayr on the web and want to switch it over to your mobile phone and can only play iTunes or Spotify. We really have to go to all of these platforms to offer the entire Musicplayr experience.

Q:

Anything else that you’d like people to know about Musicplayr?

A:

The most important thing I’m proud of is when you look at these beautiful music profiles and people are really putting a lot of emotions into their profiles. What they are doing there with these beautiful background pictures and these beautiful profile pictures is they are really presenting themselves. This is really the difference from my perspective. When you post a song on this kind of profile, it’s a song that you really love and so the quality of the song should be really good. It’s not like on Spotify where everything is shared that you are listening to. Here we really only share what you really deeply like. This is really what we tried to build.

For more information about Musicplayr and to sign up for the service please visit www.musicplayr.com You can also download the iPhone app here