Student-developed app helps you discover new music

Two ITU students are living their startup dream with a new music app that lets music lovers find music by up-and-coming artists easily.

EntrepreneurshipappsITU Business Development

With services like SoundCloud and YouTube, it has never been easier for aspiring musicians to reach a large potential audience. However, musicians often find their tracks drowning in the enormous amount of music available online – 12 hours of music is uploaded every minute to SoundCloud alone. Limelight is a new app-based music service going live this fall, aiming to make the selection of new music by undiscovered artists more manageable, for the benefit of artists and music lovers alike.

"We see a huge need among upcoming artists who are simply drowning in all the music uploaded online. They are lacking exposure to the right audiences. At the same time, it is our experience that listeners who would like to discover new music do not have the energy to actively search for music online," explains Qadar Ahmed, who has founded Limelight with fellow student Anders Nygaard.

The two entrepreneurs met in the Global Business Informatics bachelor programme at ITU and have been working on the project for about a year. Last fall, Limelight was accepted into ITU Business Development’s Startup Programme, and the company is now moving on to the second phase of the programme, Proof-of-Concept, which includes an investment. Today, the Limelight team counts seven developers and designers, five of whom are students at ITU.

Personalized music flow
Users of the app will be able to define what music genres they like and rate tracks with a thumbs-up or down. In this way, an algorithm personalizes the music flow to the user’s taste, while artists are guaranteed exposure to listeners who prefer their particular genre.

Limelight.
Limelight will allow users to give tracks a thumbs-up or down. In this way, the algorithm will personalize the stream of music to the user’s tastes.
"The algorithm rewards good songs and gives them more spins. If a song is voted down again and again, it will not be played as much. We trust that our listeners have an interest in upvoting and downvoting honestly, so they will get the music that suits them best. But there is also a charm in encountering quite obscure music that you would never otherwise have found," says Anders Nygaard.

This is exactly why for every tenth song, the listener will be presented with a highly ranked song that falls outside his or her usual taste. In this way, the Limelight creators hope to expand the musical horizons of listeners.

Feedback for the artists
For artists, Limelight has a useful feedback feature that provides very detailed information about their audience and their preferences, explains Qadar Ahmed.

"As an artist, you will be able to see exactly at what point in the song people begin to like or dislike it. This feedback can be used to evaluate for instance whether placing a guitar solo at the beginning of a certain song is a good idea. At the same time, an artist might discover that they are very popular among 16-19 year-old girls and perhaps use that information to consider playing more gigs at high schools. In this way, the app can be springboard for development," he says.

Record labels interested in data
Limelight will be ad-free and free to use for both musicians and listeners, and the founders do not expect to be making money from day one.

"In the beginning, it is all about building a community of listeners and artists. We need to have a good selection of music to make Limelight interesting for the listeners. Later we are going to implement something called 'song boost' where artists can pay a small amount to get their songs played more among a specified audience," says Anders Nygaard.

In addition, several record labels have already shown an interest in eventually buying data that allows them to discover new talents with great potential.

Next goal: 500 artists this fall
At the moment, the Limelight team is working hard to spread the word among talented musicians across the country by visiting venues, rehearsal rooms, schools and other places where musicians meet. Before the app is launched this autumn, the creators hope to get at least 500 artists into the platform to ensure sufficient variation for listeners.

Already now, amateur musicians can upload their songs to Limelight free of charge. The only requirement is that the musicians own the copyright to the music. The artist retains all rights to their music.

"We encourage all artists out there to put their music up. All musical genres are welcome - from metal to hip hop," Anders Nygaard finishes.

Further information

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email viar@itu.dk