Mood-Based Music Discovery Strings.FM Wants to Bring Back the Mixtape

Andrew Konoff says he used spend a lot of time making – and sharing – physical mixtapes and CDs. He says it was a way to tell his friends what he was feeling through music.

“This is a way I’ve always connected with people,” he says. But, with the move away from physical storage and the growing popularity of streaming music services, he noticed that “something had changes about how people communicate by music.”

Konoff is the founder of Toronto-based Strings.FM, a new app that will allow users to create what he describes as “mixtapes for the mobile era.” The iOS app, which is available for download in the App Store, is also a music discovery tool.

It’s “trying to find that moment that everyone hast when they’re listening to music,” Konoff says when they say, “yes, I want more of this.”

The app does that through moods – allowing users to indicate how they’re feeling through a mixture of emoji and colours.

Konoff says the app uses acoustic features, things like the number of beats per minute, and tries to “match that what relevant to a certain mood.”

The app suggests songs to users and then allows them to swipe right or left, depending on whether they like it or not. As it develops, the app will get better at matching songs to moods.

“We’ll be able to read your mind about what you want to hear, what you’re in the mood for,” Konoff says.

The idea to base the app around mood comes from the way music’s been organized since the dawn of the MP3 era, in lists.

Konoff says he was looking for “some way of getting out of the lists of songs.”

When he was thinking about “how do you categorize 20 million songs,” he says “mood kept coming up.”

When people were talking about songs the were listing to they would say “I was feeling that or I was in the mood for this,” Konoff says.

Currently the app is only available for Rdio Premium users – that’s where the music comes from – while a Spotify integration is in the works.

Konoff says he wants the app to be free and ad supported and he thinks advertisers will want to advertise on Strings.FM, because its a “machine learning system for evaluating mood” and it will be able to deliver “the most relevant, contextual, mood-based ads.”

And he thinks that could lead to other outlets for the technology he’s developing, with the potential to move into dating apps or social networks.

“Its hard to codify what makes a connection happen,” Konoff says, but he thinks mood has a lot to do with it. But, he says, it’s still early days.