Serendip Launches iOS App to Bring Music Discovery Engine to the iPhone

There are a variety of services that help music lovers discover new bands and songs, from Discovr music to streaming services like Grooveshark, Rdio and Spotify. Startup Serendip wants to go beyond helping people discover new music, helping them connect with friends who love music, and other users who share the same tastes. The company launched its web app out of private beta in August 2012, and today is announcing the launch of its free iPhone app.

Serendip co-founder and CEO Sagee Ben-Zedeff said the idea for Serendip came out of wanting to harness users’ social networks with their musical tastes, and the music others were already sharing. “At the end of the day the playlist that you get, which is the result of what people Serendip matches you with share, is the best proof that this thing really is engaging,” he said in an interview.

Unlike services like Songza that let users stream pre-selected playlists, Serendip presents custom playlists based on songs users’ friends and other users have shared on Twitter and Facebook. Users can sign in with Twitter or Facebook, and the service auto-follows any friends who are already Serendip members, recommends other users, and lets users specify a few of their favorite artists.

Once they go through setup, users see a dashboard with their playlist and who recommended the song that’s currently playing. The service then recommends other “DJs” to follow, showing why they’re a match based on their favorite artists and playlists. The platform pulls music and song information from BandCamp, YouTube, Vimeo, and Soundcloud. It auto-creates profiles for any Twitter user who has shared songs from one of those services on their account, so anyone who signs up can either claim their existing profile or create one from scratch, similar to how Klout auto-creates scores for every Twitter user, regardless of whether they’ve signed up or not. Because of that, they now have 15 million people in their database, and 10,000 active users.

They designed the mobile app from the ground up to make sure they weren’t just porting the web service onto a smartphone screen. The Instagram-style feed lets users browse through songs, starting a playlist from that song or just listen to one-off songs in their feed. Ben-Zadeff said that they’re already working on the next update, adding features like artist and genre radio, which will put it into competition with popular iPhone apps like Songza.

“At the end of the day we realized that most of the music consumption is done on mobile, and the fact that you can take this mobile experience with you everywhere makes it very appealing,” he said.

The company will be looking to raise capital this year, and they are also planning to introduce paid features, with plans to monetize the data collected on the platform. Whether they can make a big dent in the music streaming space remains to be seen, but this should be a good step towards getting mobile users engaged.

“We are all about discovery. We want to help you discover people who might not be your friend, might not be your neighbor, might not even speak your language, but really if they share the same music as you or the same music that you like, there shouldn’t be any reason you shouldn’t listen to the great music they’re sharing.”

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is a Co-founder and CEO at Willful, an online estate planning platform. Also a former Managing Director at Eighty-Eight, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.

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