When Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz writes a blog post, he almost always starts by quoting a rap song and embedding the track into the post with Bop.fm.
When I click the audio player, it plays me the song from the best available source. Track isn’t on Youtube? I don’t have a Spotify account? But it’s on Soundcloud? It plays.
The Y-Combinator-backed startup Bop.fm lets users listen to and share universal song links and playlists that work for everyone by automatically detecting the user's best available source. Today, the service launched a free iOS app. Bop.fm wants to be the "true one-stop shop for music" says co-founder Shehzad Daredia in an interview with Billboard.
The mobile app launches with only YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud integration, while the company's desktop version (previously launched to the public in December 2013) is compatible with YouTube, Spotify, Rdio, Soundcloud, Deezer, Rhapsody, XBox Music and Beats Music.
The app lets users search for and play tracks and access and create playlists, on-demand with no skip limits, for free. The service also recommends playlists and tracks based on a user's previous listening.
The app can only use Spotify as a source if the user is a premium subscriber, as Spotify imposes limits on free mobile listening. If a user listens through the Bop.fm app, that listen still generates a play count and a payment for licensed tracks.
“Although Bop.fm has unified the experience of music streaming through its web platform, users today can now create their own universal playlists straight from their iOS device, and search for awesome playlists curated for Bop.fm by major artists like Tiesto, Lil Wayne, Keith Urban, Depeche Mode, and more,” Daredia says in a press release. On Bop.fm’s desktop version, users can import playlists from Rdio or Spotify to the service. Started making a favorite songs list of 2014 on Spotify but frustrated you can’t include Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” or Willow Smith’s King Krule cover? You could import your existing playlist and add those tracks on Bop.fm.Favorite Songs of 2014 | Listen for free at bop.fm
Users can create new playlists and edit your existing playlists in the app but can not importing playlists directly in the mobile app yet. Also not available on the app yet: offline syncing or track purchases. Some other frustrations are the lack of album pages on both the desktop and app (Daredia says this is on the road-map) and the inability to sort playlists.
Bop makes some revenue from referring subscription upgrades and takes a cut of in-line purchases (from Amazon, iTunes and GooglePlay) on the desktop version, but right now the company is focused growing the product. "Long term, it’s a data play." says Daredia, citing the company’s ability to build "an Echonest like recommendation product" further down the line.
Bop is in a unique position to collect a more comprehensive view of music popularity than each of the services it supports can alone. That is, if Bop.fm becomes popular itself.
When I first showed Spotify to my Dad, the first thing he tried to do was “stump” it. He typed band names into search until one yielded no results and promptly dismissed the service. Catalogue fragmentation frustrates consumers, that’s why YouTube is technically the most popular music streaming service. An aggregator like Bop that brings YouTube’s entire "catalogue" together with the libraries of various premium services and Souncloud is much harder to stump. Bop.fm still doesn’t pick up my Bandcamp favorite’s and sometimes it makes association mistakes (instead of Liars’ track “Mask Maker” I got this Pretty Little Liars episode recap). But as the service adds more partners and works out the kinks, it could become the powerful “one-stop shop” for streaming the services strives to be.