Hitlantis announced Monday (June 27) that it has raised $1.5 million in fresh funding for its music discovery service. The funding came from angel investors and includes private investments from senior Nokia executives and other private individuals from the media and telecom sectors. A series A round of $4 to $7 million is planned for the fall.
Hitlantis is a visually striking, innovative music service that can be used on the web or mobile apps (currently for iPhone and iPad). It allows users to visualize the universe of Hitlantis content as circles of various sizes arranged around a larger, open circle in the middle of the screen. More popular artists are closer to the middle, less popular artists closer to the edge. Artists with larger catalogs are represented through larger circles. And the sea of circles is arranged so that artists of the same genre are colored the same and situated together.
It's a social experience, too. Users can see what other Hitlantis users like specific bands learn more about both the user and band. In addition, bands can list what bands they like, which gives users a additional context for discovering new music (just like the way bands list other bands on their Myspace pages).
Hitlantis currently has about 5,000 bands and a community of roughly 200,000 monthly visitors, co-founder and VP, Timo Poijarvi told Billboard.biz last week as he was in Northern California for meetings. He added the app has been downloaded nearly 1 million times.
The app has been successful in some parts of Europe. The iPhone app peaked at #5 at the iTunes App Store in Finland, #66 in the Netherlands and #217 in Belgium, according to app analytics site App Annie. The iPad version has fared better, peaking at #1 overall in Finland and #13 in the Netherlands and #49 in Belgium.
However, in the U.S. the app peaked at #112 for all iPhone music apps on May 12 and has yet to crack the top 1,000 overall. There's a reason for the difference in success on the two sides of the Atlantic: Hitlantis's content - thousands of independent artists from Scandanavia - has little relevance to North Americans. A Hitlantis user may certainly enjoy the visual element of the app, but to connect in the States it needs more beyond the "wow" factor of the technology.
Poijarvi insists the app will continue to improve as more bands are added. In fact, the service can be specialized to certain markets. Hitlantis is currently creating a version of the app for the South Korean market and plans more for other Asian markets soon.
The service is sure to become more popular as new features are added and refinements are made. For example, Poijarvi says the radio function "will be much more intelligent" and will learn what the user likes and dislikes. The arrival of an Android app, which Poijarvi says is coming, will also help expand the service's reach.