An Interview With Thumbplay Music CEO Evan Schwartz On Designing A Great Music Service

image from This is part two of my interview with Evan Schwartz, who is the CEO and co-Founder of Thumbplay Music. In this segment, Schwartz talks about balancing passive consumption with active engagement in the fan musical experience, as well as, how elements of gaming can be incorporated into a streaming music service.

Hypebot: As we empower passive music listening, how do we keep fans actively engaged with artists?

Evan Schwartz: This is something we think about all of the time. We are trying to find the right balance of passive listening and more engaged music-collection-building in Thumbplay Music. There are times when people want to be in a "lean back" mode when listening to music, but we believe that music fans still want to connect with artists and build a collection of music whether it is a pile of CDs or a collection that we store in the cloud for them. We have some exciting new features launching in Q1 that will uniquely bridge passive music listening with more engaged collection building.

We are also excited to use the incredible data that we collect on a daily basis to help fans connect with artists. If you like Radiohead, for example, we want you to know when they put out new music, when they are playing a show in your town and where you can buy Radiohead merchandise.

Hypebot: When streaming services have the same catalogs, how do you differentiate – be a better filter?

Evan Schwartz: It's all about user experience. It is our job to make the experience fun, fast, effortless, social and completely customizable, and to do that better than any service out there.

If you want a lean back experience, then we should make that incredibly easy and obvious. If you want to dig in and really explore a genre or an artists' full catalog, done. If you want a great music discovery experience, one click, done.

Thumbplay's approach to getting there? Oversimplified, but we did it by hiring some really smart folks on the tech side, some really passionate music fans on the product side, and then we do a ton of listening to our customers. I can't stress the customer side of it enough -- getting Thumbplay out there early on all three mobile platforms was a huge advantage -- we've had a major head start in getting customer feedback and putting systems in place for ongoing, two-way communication – and we've been able to evolve our product intelligently and steadily as a result.

Hypebot: With Spotify's recent efforts to enter the U.S. market, do you see them as direct competition?

Evan Schwartz: If and when they arrive in the States, then we would view them as a competitor.

Hypebot: How can video game elements be utilized to strengthen user engagement on Thumbplay?

Evan Schwartz: I can definitely envision ways that we could incorporate elements from gaming. But at this point, that is a bit down the road for us. We're focused on making Thumbplay Music the best service it can be, and making sure we're everywhere our customers want us to be. For example, in the first quarter of next year, you'll find Thumbplay doing deals that bring the service into set-top boxes, etc. Stay tuned, lots more to come from this team!

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