After a year of hard work away from Bowdoin, Alexi Robbins ’14 recently launched a new music app, Tamber. So far hundreds of people have downloaded it and it’s attracting positive reviews by users and techies.
Tamber was born from an idea Robbins dreamed up a couple years ago. A big music buff, he wanted to create a tool that would introduce people to new music, by streaming songs, and also help them locate nearby concerts.
Last December, the Tamber team, which consists of Robbins and coders Geoffrey Lee and Mark Canning — who are undergraduates at Harvard University and University of California, Berkeley, respectively — revised their business model after hitting some bumps along the entrepreneurial road. Narrowing their app’s purpose to just suggesting shows, they raised $26,000 from investors and Robbins took time off from Bowdoin to work exclusively on his venture.
The latest version of Tamber launched in late June. People with mobile devices can download the free app to discover musicians playing within 200 kilometers of their location. They can also buy show tickets through the app and invite friends by sending along a musical sample via text or email. Tamber gets a cut of the ticket price.
To tailor the app to individuals, users first enter their favorite musicians and musical genres, and they can import their Facebook musician ‘likes.’ Tamber then suggests concerts, prioritizing the performances based on users’ tastes, concert distance, the date of the show and whether the artist is up and coming. The app tracks artists to chart their growth in popularity, factoring this into personalized concert suggestions.
“The app takes cues from the famous Netflix suggestion algorithm,” Robbins said. “Inspired by Netflix’s use of user reviews to inform movie suggestions, Tamber tracks artists across the web and uses their growth rate as indicator of quality. It’s one ingredient in the secret sauce that allows Tamber to accurately suggest shows from newer and lesser known artists.”
So far, the app is attracting positive attention. BestTechie recently published a bubbly review: “Tamber, a concert recommendation and booking app, is fresh out of the App Store gate (as of June), and with so-far glowing reviews and high user ratings hooked to its belt. Labeled as ‘the first suggestion engine built for live music,’ Tamber builds upon the features of suggestion platforms like Bing, but molds it into a functional experience for live music junkies.”
One of the reasons Robbins shifted the app’s focus away from streaming music — which would compete with companies like Spotify or Pandora — to promoting live music is because this service better reflects his desire to support artists and buttress the music economy. He said the the streaming model “is in a legal gray zone, and while other music sites do it, it’s a bit roundabout in terms of actually supporting artists.”
Tamber makes a point of highlights big-name artists and music festivals as well as smaller shows of less well-known musicians. In a press release for the app, Robbins explained, “The tickets to the big concerts are getting more expensive, so we also want to help people find the shows that are closer and have newer artists who charge a lot less. These can actually be the best shows to go to, but finding them takes a lot of work or connections.”
The live music industry is growing, and is increasingly musicians’ main means of earning money, Robbins noted. “It was a perfect alignment,” he said.