TastemakerX Builds a “Taste Graph” to Reward Music Trendspotters

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‘What is your favorite artists, your favorite book, your favorite film,’ but I doubt you have ever updated them,” Ruxin says. “Most people don’t know what you like and most people never look back at what they said on Facebook or Twitter. The current social platforms don’t serve vertical taste at all.”

The company plans to make money by selling virtual notes to people who have spent their initial 25,000-note supply, and also by letting brands run sponsored contests with more notes as the prizes. When users buy copies of the songs they discover through the site, TastemakerX will earn commissions from Apple. Finally, the company will be collecting data on artist popularity that could be valuable to music studios.

In addition to buying and selling shares, members will also be able to express their admiration for bands by checking in from concerts and posting pictures. All such activities earn members more notes to spend. “Our goal is to take anything that is saveable and documentable and create an archive of who you are in a vertical way,” Ruxin says. “It’s a very different paradigm from just pushing things to Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and never seeing them again.”

TastemakerX iPhone screen showing recent trades

If TastemakerX catches on in the music “vertical,” Ruxin says the concept could easily be adapted to let users acquire shares in movie actors, restaurants, food, wine, and politicians.

The startup has 11 employees spread across three offices in San Francisco, New York, and Guadalajara, Mexico, Ruxin says. It has raised $1.85 million in seed funding from True Ventures, Basline Ventures, AOL, and Guggenheim Partners, a private equity firm that also happens to own Billboard magazine and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ruxin says that for him, running TastemakerX is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. “When I was a little kid, there was a British deejay named John Peel, who ran the most important music show on the BBC for 50 years. Getting on the radio with John Peel was what it took to get credibility. I wanted to be him, the guy who found the bands that were going to be awesome.” Now Ruxin is doing more or less the same thing—except he’s figured out how to crowdsource the job.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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