Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything, said Plato. To paraphrase Ratatouille, “Not everyone can become a great artiste, but a great artiste can come from anywhere.” Often the most profound difficulty is finding good music beyond the labels and mainstream industry. However, SocialMob solves this with a unique solution — a music networking platform. “Music connects people regardless of colour, caste and creed; it is a universal language. We hope to create a universe where people are connected through music,” says Nikita Harindranath, social media assistant of SocialMob.
The start-up was conceptualised by Aghin Johnson. His idea was to create a social networking app that lets people meet others based on their music preferences. “Initially, the app encompassed indie music, a magazine, podcasts, and networking features, as these are the things people usually use to socialise. While acquiring the music for this we discovered just how decentralised the music industry is and came across some amazing artistes whom we haven’t heard about at all. The famous keep on getting famous, but some are just as talented but don’t get to see the limelight for some reason or the other,” says Aghin, an MBA graduate from PSG Institute of Management and Technology, Coimbatore. The idea was also supported by Aghin’s father PM Johnson, who helped fund the dream, and Siraj EA, who is a computer engineer.
According to Aghin, starting a radio station that would promote indie musicians was his initial idea, when he saw his musician friends struggling to find a stepping stone into the industry. He however dropped the thought when he realised licensing costs to start an FM station was a costly affair.
What makes the Kochi-based SocialMob stand out from other music streaming apps is that independent artistes are easily discoverable on this platform. “Numerous independent artistes keep releasing mind-blowing music, but most of us haven’t discovered these tracks because the artistes cannot afford the PR they need. Moreover, while there are other streaming platforms, all of them address the consumer side rather than the curator side. This has resulted in a lack of discoverability for a good 90 per cent of artistes in the community who are not backed by label giants,” explains Aghin.
SocialMob has created a platform where indie artistes have uncluttered limelight and have access to a widespread audience. “We want to help artistes lead an independent music career in the truest sense. From the users’ side, they have a networking platform where they can connect with others and even musicians based on their choice of music. We have Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help connect them. They can discover more good music, more artistes, support the independent music community, and connect with fellow music lovers,” he says, adding that the app has more than 1,000 artistes on board. While a majority of the artistes are from India, there is a handful from France and Korea as well.
How does SocialMob find artistes? The platform has a dedicated team that does extensive research and goes through various social media platforms to find talent. On the other hand, some come via word of mouth, says Nikita, who adds that there is a screening process while selecting the artistes. “We share the music amongst ourselves and decide on the artiste based on consensus and also on the amount of work the artiste has put into his/her piece,” she says, adding that they feature only independent artistes and original works as well as around 15-20 podcasts.
Supporting the artistes further, SocialMob organised a virtual music award show on February 28 this year. “The music artistes’ community were hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and its related lockdown. For most of them, gigs and live events are their sources of income. With no avenue to perform, artistes struggled with their livelihood, which was indeed painful to watch,” says Aghin, adding that the award was a way to acknowledge their hard work and effort in creating music at a time when things looked bleak and dismal. The team picked the nominations and the audiences picked the winners, the team said, adding that the award ceremony will be an annual event and will be held at a grander scale the next time around.
While the application is currently available on Android, the company is currently developing an iOS version for Apple users. There is also a desktop version that is in its beta stage, allowing only music streaming.