Lisnr app connects artists, fans with exclusive extras

The initial concept for Lisnr came from Rodney Williams, but it came alive through a team of five co-founders on the Cincinnati StartUpBus en route to South by Southwest last March. “When I got on the bus, Lisnr didn’t have a name, but within two hours, we had a presentation, and within another two hours, we had more things, and by the time we got to Austin, we had a working product,” Williams says.

Lisnr creates interactivity with songs and albums by packaging exclusive content created by musicians with music files. For example, say that an artist announces her next album will be Lisnr-enabled. This means you can buy a music file from any source and listen to it anywhere. With the Lisnr app running in the background, you receive exclusive content via automatic notifications based on the Lisnr-enabled tracks.

This content, which can be anything from a tour of the artist’s house to a peek at the song’s inspiration, comes from the artist. Backstage video, unreleased tracks, lyrics or artist interviews are other possible extras.

As you listen, the Lisnr app downloads content and saves it to your device. “An average fan will unlock many pieces of content throughout the day,” explains Williams, Lisnr’s CEO.

His co-founders – Chris Ostoich, business; Chris Ridenour, tech; Nikki Pfahler, design; and Josh Glick, mobile – form Lisnr’s team, and Williams says two new hires are on the way.

Since (and during) SXSW, Lisnr garnered support from the music industry; Williams has strategic advisors from cable station MTV, publishing and management firm Primary Wave Music and the Grammy-nominated artist Nas. For these bigwigs, Lisnr represents an unprecedented connection between artists and fans. The app also tracks listener behavior, such as where, when and how often a song is listened to.

According to Williams, Lisnr plans a full-scale launch in mid-2013. The company is currently supported by Cintrifuse, a non-profit startup incubator based in Cincinnati, and seed-stage investor CincyTech.

By Robin Donovan
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