Tired of hearing the same artists over and over again on your Pandora or Spotify channels? Fort Greene resident Shannon Byrne, 27, has come up with just the thing to get you out of your musical funk (unless funk is what you’re into). So far, her free service A Song a Day has 44 curators personally selecting daily songs sent to 3,000 subscribers. She’s hoping that with her Kickstarter campaign, launched earlier this month and ending in 19 days, she can raise the funds she needs to expand the service while retaining its signature human touch.
Byrne, chief content officer for CloudPeeps, started A Song a Day last October. People have always come to her for musical recommendations, she said, so she Tweeted her idea to email one song every day to about 20 friends as a fun side project. When a friend posted her idea on Product Hunt and gained 500 subscribers, she realized she could further customize the experience and meet demand by finding other people like her who make discovering new music a daily part of their routine.
Four-hundred people have approached her asking to be a curator, but making the project scalable has become the biggest issue. “Right now our matching process consists of me sitting down and listening to all the subscribers’ preferences,” she said. She listens to the songs they list as favorites so she can get an idea of which curator is the best fit. She and the curators read user feedback every week, and she assigns people new curators if they’re not happy with the selections they’ve been getting so far. She’s thinking that if she can tag her users’ preferences, she can take some of the legwork out of the process.
The songs, of course, will always be picked out by a human. There’s no arguing that algorithms have revolutionized the way we listen to music, but it turns out that many people like having music recommended to them by a person rather than a machine. A Song a Day’s genres encompass everything from jazz to punk to folk.
Williamsburg resident Matthew Ström is co-curator of the New Gaze genre, which combines New Age and Shoe Gaze. He’d never even heard of the term until he offered to be a curator and found that it reflected his personal taste. He enjoys taking a break from his job as a designer and developer to mull over his choices. “I like taking some time during the week to think about what songs these people will like, and I like hearing their feedback and getting better at it each time.”
For now, Byrne hopes the Kickstarter will give her the cash she needs to keep the venture going; she’s excited to experiment with her ideas for expansion and doesn’t shy away from using trial and error to find out the best fits for her business model. A big part of what will determine her success is the ability to attract advertisers, since she’d like to keep the service free. “If we could get to 10,000 subscribers by spring that would be awesome,” she said. “If we got to that number it would show we have true traction, and if we don’t, honestly, we’ll still keep going.”