As a music listener and fan, while a great choice of upper-tier music streaming services is out there, it can be difficult to find a new venue to discover independent music….it can be lost in the grand sea of mainstream artists and playlists.
And believe it or not, as an independent artist or band, it can be equally difficult to get airtime (and screen-time) to the masses of music fans. It’s analogous to a Christmas shopper looking for a unique crafted gift and the target craft business trying to find each other in the sea of Black Friday madness.
Add to that cost. For a listener, to gain true freedom on a mobile device requires monthly subscription costs. And for the bands & artists, long and costly up-front costs and contracts can be common. All this leaves a true need for an alternative music discovery service that allows bands and fans to find each other, and is financially friendly to both in the process.
Enter SongCast, an Android radio app (think Pandora here) that aims to solve these problems for music fans and artists alike. For us fans, SongCast is a free app that plays only independent music for our discovery and consumption. For artists, SongCast provides a reasonable cost and flexible way to upload music for distribution and purchase.
How does this work? Well, for us fans it’s easy enough: simply download the SongCast app from the Play Store (link here). Then you are taken to a setup screen looking for your name, email, age, etc. SongCast will then ask you to highlight your preferred genres of music to get you started down the right road. You can also link your Facebook and Twitter accounts for sharing purposes.
For artists, you set up an account, and are free to upload music as you wish. You can upload individual singles or whole albums; up to you. And you pay-per-month for each single or album uploaded and active. No long-term contracts.
Plus, SongCast distributes your music to all the popular online retail outlets (Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, etc..).
The interface and use of the SongCast app is pretty simple and upfront. Once in, you are greeted with the option to explore music, including categories “Today’s Picks”, “Artist Spotlight”, “Trending”, and “Radio”. Once you select an artist to check out, you are presented with a list of songs to check out. Your options for moving through the music (such as repeats) are limited, but you can expand your options with certain actions such as sharing a particular song on Facebook or Twitter. Otherwise, you’re free to back out of an artist you’re not digging and check out others in the main screen. You can also save specific songs with a heart button, or block artists entirely if you really don’t like it.
For artists, you are provided a dashboard to follow in essentially real-time how your music is being received (number of streams, streams-to-completion, blocks, etc). On the payment side of things, you are paid at the same level as you would be on the mainstream sites (see SongCast’s FAQ page for more info). SongCast also sends a monthly sales report, detailing how your music is performing across each retail outlet.
What We Liked
As a music fan, SongCast is valued for its simplicity, cutting through the clutter to let you peruse and find new music that you may otherwise never even get exposed to. It operates as a hybrid radio/streaming service, avoiding the extraneous features to focus on the music. I personally ran across several bands and/or songs that I’ve saved and plan on exploring more in Spotify.
There is also a dedicated website (songcastradio.com) that allows you to explore on your desktop.
What Could Use Improvement
In my opinion, the interface could be a little too simple, in that there isn’t a lot of tutorial options available to you….you’re left to figure it out on you own. Which was fine by me anyways (I’m an app fiddler); but others could get a bit frustrated in getting the lay of the land. And given the competitiveness of this app market, that could spell trouble for getting a bigger footprint.
A small thing that was both frustrating and a bit laughable; upon entering my personal information to set up an account, there is a box to enter your birthday. But when you click on it, it takes you to a monthly calendar view, set to today. The ONLY way to get to your birthday is to tap the month-back button. I’m in my 40’s, which equates to 50-plus taps on this button to simply input my birthday. I have no idea why this exists, but I do hope it gets rectified, and soon. Again, a small but frustrating, and laughable, issue.
I really enjoy the SongCast app; it gives a true break from the usual music streaming interface and main music selection formats. While the interface can be a bit barren in terms of guiding the user, it also excels in trying to stay in the background, allowing the artists and the music to stand front-and-center. For both music fans looking for new favorites, and for artists/bands looking to become a favorite of more fans, it could be a true match made in (Stairway to) heaven.