If people were upset when albums got boiled down to one hit single, they’re going to be extra pissed to learn that a new startup is cutting three-minute songs down to seven-second shareable clips. It’s also cleverly exploiting a loophole in the iTunes terms to do it all for free.
Mindie is a new iOS app that isn’t beholden to past constraints on music and music videos because it doesn’t use the whole song. The app borrows its format from Vine—video segments up to seven seconds, which play when your finger touches the screen—but the concept here is different. You shoot the video, but the soundtrack is any iTunes artist.
Mindie uses iTunes’ API to access a 30-second preview of the song you want, but only grabs the first seven seconds. That solves two problems: one, a massive catalog of songs is available for use, including iTunes exclusives. Two, it’s usually the hook, so no soundtrack editing is required.
The big picture here is music discovery through a new kind of "music video." These days it can be hard to convince people to spend four minutes watching an over-produced lip-synced performance. Maybe that’s not what a music video should be anymore.
Stanislas Coppin, one of Mindie’s cofounders, explains, "We're a music sharing platform through music videos. We believe the best way to share music on mobile has to be visual and close to daily life." No Bentleys or mansions or "video ho’s" required.
Most music services are still trying to figure out music discovery, but something’s clearly not working; the social features in Rdio and Spotify are lackluster and these services aren’t having an easy time convincing users to pay for monthly music subscriptions. Music videos are the original high-power content marketing. Mindie goes about introducing "discovery" without even mentioning it to the user—the way it should be. "A good video tells a story," says Coppin. "With Mindie, music is the story. It unlocks people to easily make videos more entertaining, funnier, meaningful."
Coppin says the most challenging part is making searching for songs fast, an area of constant work for the team. Because Mindie came out of a failed and never launched—Path like—mobile social network, it only took about a month to retool and build. The tricky part was syncing the music. "What we are most proud of is the idea of recording while the music is playing," Coppin says. "I think it's a quite simple gesture but which is really interesting in the way that it create interaction between the maker and people around, and it's recognizable."
Mindie may initially seem like a me-too take on Vine or Instagram video, but it’s actually trying to accomplish something completely different. It flips traditional music videos on their head and challenges the idea of watching a three-minute song on a phone. The app also sells music discovery in an organic and natural way to people who weren’t looking for new music, the only way discovery can thrive in the mainstream today.