The digital age has had a huge impact on the music industry. Not only have YouTube and streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora made it possible to listen to your favourite music from virtually anywhere in the world, it has also become much easier for independent artists to release their material and reach a wider audience without label backing.
On the one hand, this has been a much needed shot in the arm for an industry that has had an especially hard time adapting to the internet. The flip-side is that self-producing and releasing material is now so simple that, overwhelmed with the choices on offer, it can be much easier for listeners to stick to what they know.
Choosic is an attempt to resolve this problem by making music discovery interactive and fun.
The basic premise is simple. Choosic streams songs randomly. If you like a song, you swipe to the right and save it to your playlist. If you dislike a song, you swipe it to the left and into oblivion. The app offers a mix of established artists and artists you’ve probably never heard of before. The more you use the app, the more attuned it becomes to your musical tastes and the more accurate its recommendations become.
On paper, this is a pretty neat idea. Swiping and algorithms which determine your tastes are hardly new concepts but, to Choosic’s credit, no-one had ever thought of applying them to music streaming and discovery before. The concept feels fresh and Choosic’s creators definitely deserve kudos for out-of-the-box thinking.
The app is beautifully designed and very simple to use. Once you sign up, you are prompted to choose your three favourite genres of music. Whenever you load the app, it goes straight into discovery mode and starts automatically playing songs for you to swipe to the right or to the left. A drop down menu on the top left of the screen allows you to go to playlist mode, where you can play the songs you had previously saved to your playlist.
The interface is fluid and intuitive, and swiping away becomes surprisingly addictive. Streaming worked without a hitch even on my no-frills 3G plan. The randomisation engine seems to have a bias towards emerging artists, at least in my case, but this is a good thing.
Where Choosic gets top marks for design, usability, originality and its music discovery function, it doesn’t fare too well in other respects. Some of its drawbacks may well be deal-breakers for the more dedicated music aficionados.
The choice of three music genres is unnecessarily limiting. It will be unpopular with listeners that have eclectic tastes or wish to set a particular mood.
Playback in discovery mode stops unless you keep swiping. In a way, this is part of the appeal, as it makes music discovery an interactive and fun process. However, it also means that music discovery necessarily has to be an activity. You cannot leave the app in the background whilst doing something else.
This doesn’t seem like such a big deal, since the songs you like are saved to a playlist for future listening. There is however only one playlist ordered by date, and so far it cannot be sorted any other way. This is a huge bummer, and renders the app practically useless for most other applications except music discovery.
All in all, the app is a great tool for music discovery. It makes the process simple, fun and interactive. Unknown artists stand to benefit most from the app, and would do well to make sure that they are on it. Unfortunately, there is not much else one can do with it. Choosic’s creators would therefore do well to give the app some more functionality, or at least make integration with other music services a possibility.