Creators of live event app Whatslively talk shop
Australia’s live music sector is a significant contributor to the economy – last month Live Performance Australia (LPA) reported it was worth $2.5 billion – but it’s no secret the industry has taken a hit in recent years (Big Day Out’s cancellation follows a long line of festivals to hit the chopping block). Sydney’s Trishanth Chandrahasan and William Xue have been doing their own bit to get punters back into venues with the creation of IOS and Android app Whatslively, which tracks music you listen tgo and alerts you when artists you like are in your city.
We chat to Chandrahasan about what inspired it, how they funded it and why it’s nothing like Bandsintown.
What is the technology behind the app?
There are three main features in the application; 1) It scans your music playlists from iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and Google Play and alerts you to concerts from artists you actually listen to, based on the city you live in. 2) It then helps you instantly invite friends to a gig so you can find out which of your friends are keen 3) It shows you ALL gigs in your area so you can see what’s on anytime and create more spontaneous live music experiences.
Out of these three features, the second one relating to the gig invite feature is the new and unique technology. When you see a gig you’re keen on, you simply tap the ’Ask Friends’ button in the app and select friends from your actual phone’s contact list. What the app will do next is amazing. It will then send a special SMS to each of your chosen friends, alerting them to the gig and asking them to choose an interest status that best represents their interest for the gig. The chosen friends don’t need the app, they just need to respond to the SMS which is super easy. When they do respond, the app will notify you straight away via push notification and email of your friend’s responses. This innovative invite method is exclusive to Whatslively and no similar app has this feature.
What was your inspiration behind the app?
We believe live music is sacred. It’s one of those experiences that make you truly happy no matter what state of mind you’re in. Seeing one of your favourite artists performing the songs you love right in front of your eyes with real instruments, real voices is surreal. Nothing beats it. However, not enough people go out to live gigs. We see way too much empty space or empty seats at gigs.
We believe with the latest advancements in mobile technology, that technology is the answer. We’re big believers that technology should be developed not to keep people glued to their phones, but to help them actually connect with other people and discover new experiences. The way technology companies like Meetup or Airbnb create wonderful new experiences. So we wanted to create an app that focused on creating more live music experiences for people, by removing the biggest barriers.
We noticed that one of the big obstacles that prevents people from going to more gigs is the organising process. Our hypothesis is that if people had an easier way to organise going to gigs, they will go to more gigs. There needs to be a quick, easy and private way to find out which of your friends are interested in a gig without constant the back and forth. While there are great sharing methods out there like Facebook, email or Twitter we knew we could make something easier that focused on actual gig sharing. With our gig invite feature hardly no effort is required from you to send out the invite or your friends to respond. It uses a technology that is guaranteed to get more of a response than anything else, and that is SMS. People take their time responding to Emails or Facebook messages, but when it comes to SMS, the response is always better. So by using SMS at the heart of this new technology, and then building the components around it that focused on gig sharing, we know this will get people out to more gigs.
How did you develop the technology, did you use any outside help or funding?
Every part of the Whatslively product has been developed in-house. All our apps, all our social media accounts and website have been developed and maintained by us. We have received nil funding, we have no investors and have obtained no government grants. Why? We wanted to do this our way. We want to see more people go to live gigs and we believe we have the sincerity and the brains to get this done right. In this early stage we did not want to be swayed by external pressures to make money, so we funded this whole thing ourselves and put in all the work. That’s why you see no advertising in the app, or any blatant ways for us to make money in the app. The app focuses on one thing and one thing only, to get you out to more gigs. And it will stay that way.
How does the app differ from Bandsintown?
A few ways.
1. The gig invite feature we’ve developed is exclusive to Whatslively, no other similar app has this feature or anything like it.
2. We are local. This means we are more tuned into local events and announcements, so we are usually more on the ball with gig notifications than the others who are based in either the States or Europe, and think those markets are more important than Australia.
3. We are not making it easier to help people go to gigs. We are getting people out to more gigs. Our vision is more powerful and more sincere. We’re not an app, we are a movement. Our app is the central part of our movement, our social media accounts are also part of the movement. We didn’t get to 16,000 followers on Twitter, 6000 likes on Facebook for no other reason, than that we’re on a genuine mission to get people out to more gigs. We’ll be doing more things in the future to push this movement forward, by building on our apps and creating live music marketing campaigns.
What are your and Xue’s roles?
I am the product guy and William is the tech guy. Although we do a lot of other things and share responsibilities, those are our main roles.
How have early users reacted to it?
So far, our early customers love the app as a whole and it has already helped them get out to gigs they wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. In specific relation to the gig invite feature, the customers that have tried it out do use the feature and have found it successful in planning their live music experiences. As we get more customers, we’ll get a better idea.
Here’s an insightful testimonial from an early user:
“One of the great features of the Whatslively app is the invite your friends option. I get notified that one of my fave bands is coming to town by the app and can let everyone know all the details without even leaving the app or putting any typos in my group texts, like accidentally getting the date wrong which has happened to me once before when Bon Jovi played 2 dates and I ended up with tickets to one of the dates (the one I meant to put in the text) and my mate for the other night..” – Lousie Imray
How do you think this technology will get more Australians out to more gigs?
The three well thought out and carefully developed features the app has:
1. By alerting people to gigs from artists they actually listen to will make sure they never miss out on hearing about gigs they would actually go to.
2. By giving people an easy and quick way to find out which of their friends are keen on a gig will take the hassle out of organising the gig, and encourage people to go to more gigs.
3. By showing people all gigs in their city in any given time will help people create more spontaneous live music experiences. You can literally open the app and see all gigs in your area today, tomorrow or this weekend.
And we’ll be building more powerful features in the coming few months, so stay tuned!