Hello and welcome to this beta test & preview of the local live music event discovery app called Social Kindred, created by Jay Leonard. But first a bit of context…are you ready?
Here is what you are in for with this article:
- Everything is Groovy…Or Is It? (Intro)
- Discovery App for Local Online Music Event Listings – A Gap In The Market?
- Social Kindred – Local Live Music Artist, Venue, & Event Listing App – Preview
- Beta Testing & Functionality of the App – How is it?
Let’s jump in!
Everything is Groovy…Or Is It? (Intro)
If there are any two worlds that would seem to go together perfectly, and yet seem at perpetual odds with one another, it is the live music world and the online world.
On the surface, all would seem copacetic, with well-known apps like Spotify, Soundcloud, and many other lesser known apps, providing a platform for thousands if not millions of musicians worldwide to share their songs, via the power of smart phone technology and the relatively lost cost option of online music distribution and streaming.
These intermediary entities who bring the music to the music streaming platforms include relatively accessible (compared to the olden days) online distributors like Soundrop, DistroKid, TuneCore, and CD Baby, that your average non-music business-y folk and even some musicians who use these platforms are sometimes only vaguely aware of.
By now the below screenshot of the Spotify interface should look familiar to most…
The two extremes of artist types on these platforms being the small indie artist (minimal promotional budget via working regular jobs) up to the major label artist (bigger promotional budget via the label).
This is but an aside for you people at home, but the amount of streams that an indie artist gets (which pay such enticing amounts per stream as $0.004, depending on platform), is determined by, overall, how much money goes into promoting the artist. It is rare that artists who have smaller (or zero) budgets get noticed by the algorithms, and, by extension, the populace, but that is nothing new.
Here is an average streaming day for your average artist on Spotify For Artists, checking in on the stats for the week, complete with anomalous spike in traffic.
Meanwhile, in terms of music listeners and the apps they use to find shows, people are quite familiar by now with other online entities like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite, who allow you to buy and sell tickets to all manner of performances everywhere around the world.
Here is what the Ticketmaster app looks like for those who don’t use it…
The fact that this process of music lovers everywhere in the world being able to listen to their favourite artists online, and then find out where they are playing next is just another marvel of the modern world, but when you go from a macro to a micro level, things don’t look quite the same.
Discovery App for Local Online Music Event Listings – A Gap In The Market?
While things might seem to function on the global level in terms connecting the public to their favorite musical acts with relative ease, on the local level, things are different.
Say, for example, you lived in Acton, Ontario. Can you think of what app on your phone you’d use to see what bands are coming to town when, and playing where?
As of February, 2020, perhaps there is no such app.
When you think about it, in most cities and towns, people are still very much dependent on local listings found in approximately four places:
- Actual news periodicals with a music section
- Online news periodicals with a music section
- Music venue websites with a calendar or schedule posted
- Websites of musical artists themselves who have tour dates posted
Actually, the above is not strictly true, as even apps like Spotify and others are incorporating musicians’ tour schedules directly into their artist pages.
As mentioned, however, there is still one demand which seems to not be met, and that is – how does one easily check which artist is playing at which venue in one specific city or locality by way of an easy-to-use smartphone app?
No doubt musicians and marketers alike have been pondering this logistical conundrum for a good while now, with Jay Leonard being one such person.
Social Kindred – Local Live Music Event, Artist, & Venue Listing App – Preview
Jay Leonard, hailing from the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, has been involved in the music scene for decades now, playing in a variety of different musical acts, and he came to this author’s attention as a drummer in a progressive rock outfit called Humshuttle.
Today, he plays with a band called Romeo Sex Fighter, and, in his spare time, has been trying to lauch an app that will hopefully solve the aforementioned issue of being able to check who’s playing where on any given night in your local region.
He admits that he isn’t the only person to have thought about how to make an app such as this. Many others surely have as well. Heck, even this author has pondered upon such an app, but you have to be a certain kind of person to go ahead and actually “roll out” such an app. It ain’t easy, baby.
For those who have any experience with making apps, or know what is going on in the world of apps in general, you probably know that making an app from scratch these days, as an indie developer, without having the ability to code it yourself (surprise! – most business owners are not coders), can be an emotionally and mentally exhausting thing to do.
Without getting into the actual nitty gritty of what makes apps in general hard to make, much less promote, suffice it to say that Jay Leonard, with his new app Social Kindred, is attempting to address the gap in the app market of apps that show users who is playing locally at what venue and when, with all the pertinent details included.
Beta Testing & Functionality of the App – How is it?
Lucky me, I get to test out the app for myself, to see how it performs.
Social Kindred is still somewhat in production, and not widely available, so I need to use a special testing software to use it.
While Social Kindred is currently available on Google Play, it is at this “pending” stage with Apple, where, despite it actually being a functional app, it is still waiting for approval by the app store gods.
For developers in this situation, it usually means that they must return to the drawing board
So, since Social Kindred is on the cusp of actually being widely available, with a few more hoops to jump through, such as proving its viability as an app, it means a few people get to try it out and provide potentially useful feedback.
Let’s take a closer look!
Social Kindred has 4 main screens, each of which is fairly utilitarian in nature, supporting the overall purpose of the app itself, which I also happen to like. No frills. Let’s start with the “Venues” page.
In this version of the app, it is based around the Kitchener-Waterloo / Tri-Cities area of Southwestern Ontario, and the artists and venues reflect that.
This is basically what drives the app – to be able to zero in on a local scene that affects you on a local level, versus knowing where all the big acts are performing around the entire region.
In this case, the user (you, me, whoever) is mainly interested in the venue if you’re from that area, or visiting that area. It’s a little bit like the concept behind Air B’n’B, where you are only interested in places you already are, or will be going to soon.
As such, these venues are local to this particular area, and you as a user can see who is playing at them by clicking them. Easy! Except since the app is in its beta stage, we can’t yet see who is playing at this particular venue…
Eventually, these pages will all tie together. But you might wonder, how will the app know about what is going on in the area?
Behind the scenes, Social Kindred does the heavy lifting by fetching (“scraping”, as we web geeks call it) the event calendar from a given venue’s website.
For the end user, they simply have to click the venue to see who’s playing, and it’s up to the venue to keep that list refreshed, which will then by extension keep Social Kindred up to date.
Now let’s move on and look at the “Artists” page…
The artists, like the venues, are local to the area in question (in this case, Kitchener-Waterloo), and when the user clicks on them, they can see where any given local artist is performing on any given night.
If that artist isn’t playing, then they the app tells you that there are no shows scheduled. If they are playing, it tells you when and where. Except, not yet. Since it is still in the beta stage, you can only see the artists’ bio and perhaps a link to social media like Facebook.
Thus it is to every local artists’ advantage to be in the Social Kindred database, so that they can show up if someone searches for them.
There will be, at some point, a tipping point where if and when the app gets popular, artists not included in the artist list for Social Kindred will almost seem non-existent.
It is also to their benefit, if they are in the database, to play shows, or else then it looks like they aren’t active.
Let’s now look at the events page of Social Kindred’s app…
This is arguably the most useful part of the app, because it brings together local artists and venues in the form of events. In other words, an event would not exist if an artist was not performing at a venue. Right?
An artist can have no shows and still show up as an artist, and a venue can have no shows and still be in the list as a venue, but an event can’t be in the event list unless there is an actual legit event happening. Fancy that!
This is the page that I would probably look at the most, if I had the actual app and was feeling like going out that night. I think, personally, the thing that would stop me from looking at this page would be that if it cast too wide a net.
Like, if I couldn’t see ONLY what was going on in my city, and was forced to learn about events too far for me to bother with, the app would quickly become like any other app that simply seems like it’s spamming me with irrelevant information. In this regard, the app will have to be carefully compartmentalized to be effective.
In other words, if it can be laser focused to events that only I care about (ie. within reasonable cabbing/Uber distance), I’d probably check in regularly to see what’s up in my city / town.
Lastly, we’ll check out the “Articles” page of the app…
This page could be useful to users, provided the content was good and relevant to their interests. It might be cool if this page could be sorted by region, in case I didn’t feel like only reading articles relevant to my area specifically.
For instance, I might only want to see shows that are close by, but I might want to read about things that are not close by, in case I want to go somewhere else.
Then again… if this page was set up in a certain way, I could see myself reading about a band in a nearby city, and then “subscribing” to that band, even though they were somewhat far away from where I lived, because I read something cool about them, and want to go to that town, if there were enough cool events taking place with cool acts and such.
This makes me wonder, will the app have a way to sub to artists? Or sub to venues? Hmmm…the more I think about it, the more questions I have.
Open Questions To The Social Kindred Team
So, the last section got me thinking of a few innocent little questions I want to voice before wrapping up.
- How much can I narrow down my search geographically for events / artists / venues?
- If it can narrow these parameters down, how does it do it?
- Can I subscribe to artists I like?
- Will the content in the “Articles” section be only relevant to certain cities?
- Who will write the content in the Articles section?
- Will things in this app have permalinks? For instance, will a venue have its own permalink?
- What if venues don’t update their tour schedule, does this mean Social Kindred won’t be up to date because the venue is slacking off?
- Will venues have things like up to date menu items (ie. food and drink)?
- Will artists be able to upload their own photos to their pages?
- Will the app pull artist data from somewhere or does the artist fill it out, or someone at Social Kindred does this for them?
- How will artists apply or qualify to be associated with the app?
- Will there be some kind of system by which popular artists will show up first, like Google search results, or will you be unilaterally fair, as in strictly keeping things alphabetical?
- Will you work in things like user voting with stars, and reviews like Yelp?
- Will this app notify me ie. if my favourite local band is playing somewhere in my city or do I have to keep checking the app?
Seems overall like a pretty cool app with a lot of potential. Will it take the music world by storm, or be another skid mark on the road of apps that crashed and burned? We will have to wait and see! Thanks for reading, and comment below if you feel like it!