Friday, October 11, 2013
New app called SongPong turns music sharing into a social media game
The streaming service also lets you download tracks you like from iTunes.
The way consumers discover music in the digital era is consistently changing. But one thing that hasn’t changed, according Dallasite Michael Gorton, is how music connects us.
Three years ago, when Gorton’s daughter moved 900 miles away, the two communicated primarily by swapping new tunes. This inspired Gorton, a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, to develop a new app called SongPong.
The free mobile app allows users to send messages or play games with their friends in the context of sharing songs. For example, if a friend receives a promotion or is having a bad day, those with the app can “pong” that person with an inspirational note and thematic song. Additionally, the app has internal games like “Betcha Don’t Have It,” which entices users to share newly discovered tracks, and a status-like function called “What Am I Doing” based on a certain song.
It's a new tool for Denton-based jam band Afro Deezy Axe, who is using SongPong to disseminate a new single digitally. Posting a new track on traditional social media sites like Facebook and Twitter doesn’t guarantee clicks, said Dallas Crilley, manager of the band.
“Unfortunately, we live in a time where people don’t want to hear a song if they haven’t listened to it already,” Crilley said. “SongPong turns it into a game.”
SongPong is strictly a streaming and music sharing service. There are no options to create a personal playlist or personalize a radio station. In that respect, Gorton said, the app functions more like Spotify than Pandora.
To register, SongPong connects to a Facebook profile. The app operates through iTunes and is currently limited to iOS compatibility. It does not work on a desktop or laptop computer.
Users can send songs from their personal libraries or choose one from iTunes’ extensive database. Previously downloaded songs sent from a personal library are available to stream in their entirety through SongPong, while those chosen from iTunes’ catalog are transferred as the standard 30-second preview. Users then have the option to download the song through the app. SongPong receives five cents per download.
Songs received or downloaded via the app can also be syndicated to desktop or laptop libraries.
SongPong was released two months ago, but Gorton said it already has "thousands" of downloads. It is “more popular than we thought it was going to be,” he added, especially among the college crowd.
Crilley, a student at University of North Texas and founder of the local Singularity Records, believes the app benefits independent artists, even those not registered with iTunes because of the access to a personal library. It would be more helpful if the app had a tracking feature, he said, so he could manage how many times Afro Deezy's Axe's single "Mr. Popo" was downloaded.
While creator Gorton did not tailor the app to indie artists’ purposes, he plans to include more promotional features — like a featured band of the week — in a software update this winter. Apple is responsible for compensating artists.
SongPong can be downloaded through iTunes of the Apple app store. Gorton is unsure when an Android version will be available.