Music apps and services often feel overbearing because they try to offer a multitude of features simultaneously. On-demand streaming, Pandora-style Internet radio stations, collaborative playlists, social hooks and so on and so forth.
In the photography space, Instagram has proven to be incredibly popular because it strips away much of this noise and focuses on a quick, stress-free way of shooting and sharing images.
Yap, a startup that launched a second screen television app for iOS devices back in 2010, is launching a new iPhone app today called Yap Music, which aims to streamline the process of following artists and discovering new music.
How it works
It’s worth getting Yap Music’s fatal flaw out of the way first; the service is almost completely dependent on Facebook.
Users connect to the app through their existing Facebook account, after which the app then pulls in all of the existing bands and artists that they’ve chosen to follow or ‘like’ on the social network.
Avid music fans will have a diverse stream of content to browse from the get-go, but those who make an effort to avoid Facebook will need to build up a list of artists from scratch. Yap Music does a pretty good job of accelerating this process, however, with an area for artists that users’ friends are following, as well as dedicated sections for specific music genres, such as rock, pop or country.
The home screen then offers up three choices; the user’s curated feed, a global stream for specific music genres and a discovery feature called ‘Search & Discover.’
Tapping the first option will create a stream which looks and feels like Instagram. There’s a simple, vertical stream offering images and videos uploaded by artists through Facebook. There’s a small area for the band’s profile image, as well any accompanying status update and the option to share and ‘like’ it over on Facebook.
As users scroll up and down through their feed, a small playback icon is shown in the top right-hand corner. It offers a link to the relevant iTunes page, either for the song in question or a recent track if the artist is posted about something inapplicable; a photograph from the studio, a festival date, etc.
To add new artists to the feed, users hit the ‘Search & Discover’ option from the home screen. Here listeners can search for an individual artist, browse by genre or look up what their friends are following on Facebook. It’s not particularly innovative, but the interface is functional and works well for the most part.
Venturing into the ‘Genres’ section is arguably the most interesting and powerful part of the Yap Music app. Here users can scroll up and down numerous vertical streams for different music types. A scroll bar along the top offers a new genre with a single swipe and all of the content shown below is for artists featured outside of your network.
Here, users can choose to add these artists to their curated feed, as well as access their iTunes page if they feel compelled to make a purchase. I often found myself absently flicking up and down these streams while I had some free time, but stumbling across an interesting video or image that resulted in a new artist I wanted to check out. It’s simple, but rather like Instagram – just works.
The bottom line
Yap Music will both live and die on its Facebook dependency. By leaning on another social network, the app already has a wealth of content to serve up to its users. The problem is that if users aren’t too keen on Facebook, or don’t have many friends who engage with it either, the service is far less compelling.
Integration with other services is pivotal. Twitter seems like an obvious addition, but Google+ wouldn’t go amiss either. The ability to source tracks from other music apps too, such as Rdio or Spotify, would also improve the experience no end.
Regardless, Yap Music offers a new, if familiar experience for discovering and following musicians. There’s a lot to be iterated upon, but as a first version it’s a decent effort.
➤ Yap Music | iOS
Image Credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images