Soundwave: How One Audio Sharing Start-Up Found The Next Tech Frontier

In June 2013, Bendan O’Driscoll, Aidan Sliney, and Craig Watson launched the first iteration of Soundwave, a music streaming app with an emphasis towards sharing with your friends. Over that time, Soundwave has created quite the head of steam, earning accolades, a nod from Silicon Valley icons, even financial backing from Mark Cuban. Little did this Irish start-up know, their idea would become the next frontier for the technology industry.

Owning music is no longer enough, iTunes revenue declined as much as 20% over the past year! Streaming services like Spotify currently make up 21% of the music industry’s revenue. Back to back years, music streaming has seen a 6% increase in revenue. These sales trends illustrate an interesting narrative has brought us to the current state of affairs in technology. Soundwave found a unique niche within the market, creating the first truly interpersonal music listening app.

Soundwave aims to put the “social” back in “social media”. The application aggregates all of your music streaming services into one convenient place. Users invite their friends to private chats and share what they’re listening to. The chat then saves all the shared songs for any participants to view at a later time. As the Soundwave site says “It’s a simple, fun way to create playlists together.” This service takes music curation to a personal level, rather than receiving recommendations from an algorithm referred to as "the experts," you’re getting them from your friends.

The intimate nature of Soundwave is a welcome change of pace as far as the technology industry is concerned. Social interaction as become increasingly impersonal, at least amongst the tech giants. Facebook newsfeeds have become part of the routine, scrolling with your eyes glazed over, maybe smirking every so often. Google functions as a flowchart that directs you at information it thinks you want to see. Forbes puts it best when they say “in a general backlash against tech-as-culture, the human touch seems to matter once more.”

In response, Facebook, Google and Apple are all hoping to get in on the action. Facebook's music ID shares with others what media you’re listening to by updating them on the newsfeed. Apple's Beats Music has a sophisticated system where industry experts make music picks based on where you are and what you’re doing. In a similar fashion, Google's Songza makes playlists for it’s users based on the time of day and the mood you’re in. It appears that music curation is all the rage, people want to interact with their music, and Soundwave appears to be ahead of the curve on this one.


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