Discovr is one of those apps that has managed considerable success on the basis of doing one thing very well, in a number of different ways. The Australian startup behind the Discovr apps, Filter Squad, was founded in 2011 and since they’ve had strong numbers across four apps, including Discovr Apps, Discovr People, Discovr Movies, and its first, Discovr Music. That last one gets a huge update today, with a complete reimagining in terms of function and redesign.
The original Discovr focused on a single central mechanic, which essentially gave you a mind map you could explore to find networks of related artists via a visual interface designed for touch. The new Discovr retains that element, but calls it a “Music Map” and makes it simply a small feature of the larger whole. Now, the app’s home screen is dominated by a social network-like feed, with artists, releases and video presented to a user.
Like on Twitter, you now follow your favorite artists, and that generates content recommendations. Discovr feeds you the catalogues of artists you like, complete with full-length previews provided by partners including Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, Soundcloud and YouTube. The app suggests new artists to check out based on the ones you follow, and also allows you to follow other users and see the music they’re sharing. You get alerts about new music releases from your favourite artists on iTunes, Rdio and Spotify, and you can share everything with your own followers and network.
In other words, Discovr feels a lot more like existing music discovery tools including Twitter Music, or Rdio and Spotify’s built-in social discovery features. So why go from being unique, to more closely mirroring some of the competition?
“We get a lot of great user feedback about the UI, but we’ve realized that what our users love the most is actually getting to discover new artists, dig deep into their music and content, and share what they find,” explained Dave McKinney, one half of the Australian duo behind Filter Squad, in an interview. “The UI is fun, and interactive, and will always be a core part of Discovr, but it’s also just a tool to get a job done – to explore music. We think there are lots of different ways that people can discover and enjoy music, and so this update is really about that. “
McKinney says that real-world music discovery is much more varied than how it works via most online products. You could hear about new music from a friend, or catch a song on the radio, find it on YouTube or by visiting the record store. Discovr’s newfound goal is to unify all those methods of discovery into a single app. And as to its defining visual maps feature, that’s not going away; it’s just changing.
The music maps in the new release are sharable, as live, interactive pieces of content that the receiving party can then explore fully. And they’re also the basis for an upcoming feature that allows for generation and sharing of playlists, which will be called “Visual Radio,” McKinney tells me.
Discovr is adding complexity to its product, but it’s also providing more of a consumption experience, McKinney says, vs. the previous version’s high user input requirements.
“The stream that you see in the new Discovr is all about bringing you the music that matters to you,” he said. “It’s a much more passive mode. This means we can support our more mainstream users with passive discovery, and our early adopter users with very active (map graph) discovery.”
The new Discovr app features a big boost thanks to new streaming content partnerships, but the startup is also going direct to artists for further its goals of helping promote musicians, and it’s starting at home with Tame Impala, a band based in Perth, which is also Filter Squad’s home base. Both types of partners represent possible revenue opportunities for Discovr.
Discovr’s new app is free, and designed for iOS 7. It’s a marked departure from Filter Squad’s previous formula, which has so far netted the startup over 3 million downloads across all of its apps, but it could be the key to unlocking renewed growth in a space that’s become lots more crowded over the past two years.