What: Tunewiki was the first social networking app for music lovers – and it’s still the best. You can use Tunewiki as a music player (a’ la iTunes), but instead of keeping your favorite song to yourself, Tunewiki lets you tell the world what you’re listening to. The song your listening to shows up on Tunewiki’s Music Map, which shows what all registered Tunewiki users (there are over 5 million of them!) are using the app to listen to at any particular time. Of course you can check out what others are listening to – and if you like their tastes, you can follow them, Facebook-style, and get updates on their listening experiences.
Besides showing you what others are listening to, Tunewiki also keeps tabs on the most popular songs (worldwide and by country) so you can keep abreast of the biggest hits in the Tunewiki music lovers community. If a particular song strikes your fancy, you can watch a Youtube video of the song being performed (the vast majority of popular songs seem to have videos available to watch free online) – and if you like the song enough to buy it, there are links for purchase from the iTunes and Amazon stores.
To top it all off, Tunewiki provides access to about 25,000 Internet music streams, courtesy of Shoutcast. And no matter how you listen to your Tunewiki music – from your smartphone or computer library (there’s a version for almost every popular smartphone and PC platform), you can check out a song’s lyrics “karaoke style” – with the lyrics scrolling by as the line comes up in the song. And perhaps the most amazing feature of all – lyrics can be automatically translated into more than 40 languages! And, in addition, Tunewiki now offers games you can play with other users, like “Lyric Legend,” in which you can show off your lyric knowledge prowess.
Why: Music is always more fun when you listen to it with others, and in today’s connected world, Tunewiki offers a virtual community that lets music lovers get together – online, and even offline, because you can follow and contact users in your area. For users, Tunewiki makes music listening more interesting, turning it into a social activity that they can get active in. And it’s also a great boon for music companies, artists, and retailers, because it gets people excited about music – not just the music they already know and love, but music from artists, or even genres, they may not be familiar with.
If you want people to buy music, you have to get them to listen to it at least once so they can like it – and Tunewiki’s tools daily expose thousands of people to music they are not familiar with, setting them up as possible customers. In fact, Tunewiki may be the most “unifying” music cultural experience since the death of AM music radio – the kind that used to play songs from different genres in a “top 40” mix that was really based on interests of a wide range of listeners, instead of just one specific genre (“Oldies,” “Classic Rock,” “Urban,” etc.), as is the case today, which is great not just for the music business, but for what used to be called “the common culture” as well.
Israel connection: Tunewiki was developed by Rani Cohen, along with partner Amnon Sarig and programmer Chad Kause. In a recent interview with Cohen, he told me that the basic Tunewiki app will remain free; with over 5 million users, the app can support itself with ads. “We have a good sized user base – more than 5 million downloads in 210 countries – so we’re able to draw revenues from advertisements,” Cohen said. “We are building a community with Tunewiki, and we believe that community will be open to other, premium services we may offer in the future.” The company recently raised $7 million in a second round of funding led by Motorola, followed by an announcement that DOCOMO Capital, the venture arm of Japanese mobile company NTT DOCOMO, was making a “strategic investment in the company in a supplemental closing to its previously announced Series B financing.” And as befits a company so committed to social networking, Tunewiki has become a truly international organization, with offices in the U.S., Australia, and Russia, as well as in Tel Aviv. “Music is an international language,” says Cohen, “and we’re glad that Tunewiki is able to bring good music to so many people.”
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