Photo Sharing + Playlists = Selocial

7/3/14Follow @XconomyDET

David Baird was working in London as a musician and producer—he’s had his songs featured on the Showtime series “House of Lies” as well as the Wayans Brothers movie “White Chicks”—when he hit upon on the idea of a photo-sharing app that allows users to pair the photographs that they post with short playlists.

So Baird moved back to his home state of Michigan; set up shop in Detroit, where he wanted to be part of the city’s revitalization; hired a team of developers; and got to work creating Selocial, now in beta. Selocial, which Baird describes as “Spotify meets Instagram,” essentially takes features that are popular on other social sites—the ability to post selfies, post music playlists, and scroll a news feed—and combines them into one.

Selocial users create a bare-bones profile, which allows them to upload photos and search the SoundCloud database for songs to attach to them in the form of a playlist that’s up to 15 minutes long. (This feature might have extra appeal to old-timers like me, who remember the playlist option in MySpace fondly.) And if users want to go beyond the 15-minute limit they can purchase additional time.

Selocial also offers a news feed feature that finds stories based on keywords associated with any given Selocial post and activates when the music is played. For instance, if I posted a photo with a rainbow and added a song referencing weather, the feed might show news of a storm knocking out power to local residents.

Selocial also has what it calls a “social currency program.” For every “like” a mix receives, one second is added to the user’s time bank. Five seconds are added for every new follower. (For now, users can only earn time by garnering likes and follows inside of Selocial, though Baird says the ability to earn time by sharing to other social media sites outside Selocial may be added in the future.)

Selocial launched in May, and Baird says the site now has just under 1,000 users and five employees. It’s self-funded at the moment, though Baird says once he sees more traction with the site, he will pursue seed funding.

Baird admits his site has competitors—he mentions Fratmusic and 8tracks—but he says Selocial is less cumbersome with a more mainstream feel. “I realized there’s a hole in the market for this,” he says. “Not only can people make mixes, but there’s also the social aspect and the news aspect.”

Baird hopes to monetize Selocial down the road through partnerships with cell phone providers or advertisers such as car companies; he envisions branded mini-playlists that Selocial helps maintain. Though the musicians who post music to SoundCloud—most of them independent artists—agree to forgo royalties as part of SoundCloud’s terms, Baird believes Selocial can eventually be a great medium for artist discovery. As a musician himself, he’s devoted to the idea of Selocial helping to break new artists.

“What is going to make a user interested in your music?” he asks. “That’s why we built this. People need music to connect emotions to that photo they posted. Selocial allows them to find that music.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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