#nwplyng is an social music sharing application that allows users to share music based on context with their friends and family. The app is available on Android Smartphone handsets and can be download at the Google Play Store. It will be available on iOS device soon.
Design: We checked the app on our Android smartphone (Micromax A90S) and found the app to be aesthetically pleasing: it follows Android’s Holo UI guidelines and sports a clean layout, something which most Indian apps do not seem to follow.
– Social Signing In: To use the app users need to Sign up on the app using either of the three social logins: Facebook, Twitter, and Foursqare. The process was simple enough and involved connecting to social networking site and choosing a username.
– Music Timeline: Like any other social networking platform, users can follow #nwplyng users or follow their friends from Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare that are already using the #nyplyng platform. The Home tab features the activity timeline from the accounts one follows, and users can either like or comment on the activity. They can check-in to music by clicking on the #nwplyng icon on top right. With each check-in, users can add context through a YouTube video, their location, a picture and a comment.
– Shazam-like music detection: The app scans the music from the users stock music player to make it easier for the user to share a song. Apart from that, user can manually search for a song or use the audio fingerprinting feature to recognize a song playing anywhere, something like Shazam. #nwplyng Founder Utsav Agarwal, informs MediaNama that they are using Gracenote API for the feature. We tested the feature and it worked as it should for us.
– Gamification: The company has also gamified the app — it provides badges on each check-in and allows users to become manager of an artist they frequently play. The company claims that it plans to roll out real world incentives in coming months. Agarwal informs us that if one is a fan or manager of an artist on #nwplyng, they could be rewarded in terms of free tickets, discounts on merchandising, meet & greet, exclusive artist content, shout out on Social Media, among others. This is something that Foursquare had hoped would attract users to check-in when they got businesses on board: this is almost Foursquare for music.
The app also allows users to simultaneously share the update with their network on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. While on Twitter the app appends the hash tag #nwplyng which allows users to search content quickly. The company recently integrated with Facebook to add check-ins to a collections on user’s timeline.
– Monetization: Currently, the company has no plans to monetize the app for the next 12-18 months. The company is seed funded by MobMe Wireless. Agarwal informs MediaNama that “there are ways through iTunes affiliate sales, artist specific badges & artist promotions, ticket affiliate sales; but none of them are of any value without a substantial user base.” It appears that the company will try to build a user base for the next 12-18 months before trying to monetize.
He also points us to another possible way to monetize through Artist Dashboard – a platform wherein artists can access statistics and analyse their fans, and use the same to reward their superfans. This is similar to Merchants Dashboard that Foursquare had introduced in July 2012. It difficult to miss that Foursquare recently chucked its location check-ins to remodel itself as a local search engine, for its difficulty to monetize through check-ins. It needs to be seen how #nwplyng monetizes.
One of the major hurdles for #nwplyng, we believe, would be getting users to check-in. Not many people prefer to make an effort to check-in unless there’s some offline incentives involved. I remember when people started using Foursquare in India to check-in to shops, they had hoped that offline incentives would be involved to it when Foursquare takes off in India, however that hasn’t quite happened.
While a lot has been happening in the internet music space, not many have been able to crack the music discovery or artist discovery. Music streaming apps like Hungama, Saavn*, Gaana*, Dhingana etc do a tiny part to aid music discovery, however we feel that they could do better. Most of these apps concentrate on the music streaming part of the app.
Note that Last.fm also somewhat works on similar model like that of #nwplyng by automatically scrobbling the music one plays on their device. For monetization Last.fm relies on radio subscriptions plans customized to user’s listening habit. Last.fm also allows users to buy music from new artists from their dashboard.
Update (Nikhil adds): There are two changes that #nwplyng needs to make. Firstly, from an interface perspective, when it is detecting the music that is being played, it needs to have an animation that indicates to the user that the music is being detected. It just indicates to a user that a there is work being done, else one isn’t sure if the app has hung.
Secondly, and I find this as a case for uninstalling the app – I haven’t given the app the permission to post badges without my authorization. While I can choose to tweet a song that I’m listening to – the app gives me this option – it doesn’t give me the option of choosing not to publicise that i’ve got a badge. I’ve deleted the second of the tweets below.
It should be my choice, not that of #nwplying. After this, I’m irritated and not very comfortable about using #nwplying, and as far as I’m concerned, this is reason enough for me to uninstall the app. It takes that little.