Canadian Startup Award Nominee Rithm’s Music App is Fun, But Be Careful How You Use It

Music-sharing app Rithm is up for a 2013 Canadian Startup Award. I grilled co-founder and CEO Mike Wagman over email to get the scoop.

In basketball, pivoting is a way of deking out your opponent to head in an unexpected direction. In business, pivoting refers to turning the figurative ship around, either away from failure or towards success. The founders of recommendation app MavenSay did a little of both when they realized that their app wasn’t getting the uptake they wanted.

“As we as we were growing MavenSay, we noticed something intriguing,” explained Wagner. “Not only were people recommending music much more than any other category, they were also using songs as a way to share messages and emotions.”

The company decided to launch a completely different product called Rithm, which enables users to pull a song from the iTunes catalog and send it to a friend. The song can be packaged with a picture, a video, or a sassily animated emoji, like a finger-snapping hipster or a twerking … twerker. As a result of their pivot, MavenSay saw a vast improvement in growth.  “Rithm has grown 10 times as fast as MavenSay in half the amount of time.”

Not one to settle for armchair reporting, i dove into the field and downloaded the Rithm app to try it out for myself. As an initial test, i tried stumping the app with an obscure song that i knew was in the iTunes catalog. Sure enough, it popped up, and i was able to send a fair-use-friendly snippet of the it to a test address, including the song’s album art and a seasonably late shimmying Santa animation.

With my test completed, i was ready to put Rithm through its paces. What song should i send to my wife to tell her how i was really feeling?  The answer, of course, was Mickey Avalaon’s hilariously offensive “My D*ick,” which always provokes exasperated eye-rolling from my longsuffering life partner. (Note: the obscured word in the song title is “Dick.” i replaced the “i” with an asterisk to make it less offensive, dear reader. But please know that it is, in fact, the word “Dick.”)

i queued up the song and enhanced it with the aforementioned twerker animation, as if the whole thing wasn’t lurid enough to begin with. Then i punched in my wife’s cell phone number and, giggling, swiped the screen to send her my tawdry masterpiece. She was in the next room, so between snickers, i called over to ask her how she liked my message. “What message?” she asked. My face turned ghost-white when i realized i had punched in the wrong phone number.

Of course, i can’t fault Rithm for my mistake. Tech support types would call that a PICNIC error (problem in chair, not in computer).  Still, as i picture the mortified face of my errant anonymous message recipient and the punitive legal action that’s sure to follow, i have to admit that Rithm is a pretty good time.

Keep those good times rolling by voting for Rithm and all your favourite nominees in the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards!