Music videos are making a comeback. That much is clear in the success of platforms like YouTube and Vevo who showcase music videos from the world’s biggest artists. It’s also evidenced through established artists’ attempts to do something different with the medium to gain some press — Pharell’s recent 24-hour music video for “Happy” being one example, Beyoncé’s “visual album” another.
It’s not only the big guns that are embracing the music video, though. With production costs dropping (we’ve all got a video production studios in our pockets these days, right?), unsigned artists are also hoping to gain some exposure through producing professional-looking music videos for their songs. But, on platforms dominated by the major label musicians, how do you find these new and emerging talents?
You could spend hours trawling the web for some music that tickles your fancy, or you could download Rormix — the mobile app dedicated to bringing you the best videos from unsigned and emerging artists.
Rormix has been in existence for less than seven months and is currently mobile only, embracing iPhone, Android and the new Firefox OS. We previously featured it in our list of best music discovery apps and the service has come on leaps and bounds since then. In a competitive space, Rormix co-founder Chris Farrell tells me he and his team are not fazed by already-established services and apps like ReverbNation, Beat100 or Band of the Day. “These platforms do not have established mobile platforms or there apps are partially lacking,” Farrell said. “The music discovery is not a pleasant experience for the user and the content has not been filtered. We are a tool for the user as well as a platform for the artists.”
In its short history, Rormix’s growth has been exponential, now counting 2000+ music videos uploaded to the platform, over 25,000 downloads in over 160 countries with over 2000 monthly active users (and growing).
It’s easy to see why. The app itself is beautifully designed and the experience of using it is a delight. Updated to version 2.0 only last week, Rormix features an interface that is as good looking as it is easy to use — it’s bright, colorful, simple and straightforward. In fact, I think it is one of my favourite implementations of an iOS 7-style design.
For anyone that has used video apps like YouTube or social networking apps like Instagram, the layout of Rormix will feel almost second nature. In the app, music videos are organized into scrollable feeds. By default, you’ll see ‘Recommended’ videos — if you allow it, these are suggestions are based on the music in your iTunes library and Rormix learns your preferences based on videos you ‘like’ in the app, too. You can also see the videos you’ve liked in a list, so you can keep track of the music you’ve discovered. Each artist has a Rormix profile – tap an artist’s name and you’ll be shown a description of the band, links to their social media, the ability to see all of their videos and follow them on the service.
Videos on Rormix can also be seen in ‘Fresh’ and ‘Trending’ feeds, showing you what’s new and what’s popular, as well as being viewable by genre.
Discoverability in the app doesn’t stop there. The search function in Rormix is exceptional and makes finding new music easy. Simply search for a commercial artist and the app will show you emerging talent that is similar to that artist. When a musician or band uploads their video to Rormix, they select three artists they identify with and they are tagged with those artists’ names for search. Rormix users can add tags too meaning discoverability only gets better with the help of the community — think that band sounds like Coldplay? Simply tag the video and maybe fans of Coldplay will find and enjoy it. In this way, Rormix becomes “a product built by music fans,” explains Farrell.
Rormix’s focus on artist discoverability is clear and it is certainly an area where the app excels. It’s a benefit for emerging artists and new music fans alike. Personally, I’ve found new music through the app, such as this awesome rock song from Australian band The Sinking Teeth, that I would never have had the chance to hear without rormix. I have subsequently gone on to purchase more of the band’s music through iTunes.
Qualms I have with the app are relatively minor compared to the overwhelming positives. Deeper integration with iTunes would be nice (to purchase music from the aforementioned band I had to leave Rormix and search manually for the artist in the iTunes Store). Quick links to purchase the tracks featured in the app might be a nice addition.
Further, I’d like to be able to discover new music near me, for example, and have an iPad version of the app, so I can continue the excellent experience on the larger screen (fortunately, Farrell tells me both of these features are in the works). I also have some concerns as to how the service will be monetized in future – currently the app is free and there are no ads in sight. Rormix’s co-founder tells me ads will be implemented in future but also states plans to add additional services for artists that will generate revenue for Rormix. We’ll have to wait and see how that pans out but I, for one, am truly excited for the future of this app.
The wrap up
The good: Spectacular user interface, plenty of new music to be discovered and a strong community vibe. Rormix is a win-win for music fans and emerging artists alike.
The bad: Direct links to purchase iTunes content could complete the experience and future feature additions will no doubt round out the feature set of the app.
The verdict: If you’re a fan of emerging music, Rormix is an essential download. It’s beautiful and fluid to use and you could discover the ‘next big thing’ or just an indie talent you absolutely love. Download Rormix for iPhone for free on the App Store now.