Upbeat: Reddit for Music

How We Got 1,000 Users In A Weekend

Upbeat is the internet’s music charts. We’ve bootstrapped the entire thing, and have already seen some exciting traction. We’d like to tell you about our experience so far.


Our application is built from the ground up with performance and scalability in mind. We use some of the latest, yet proven, technologies (Node.js, Redis, and Angular.js) to build a highly scalable and maintainable web app. We feel that it is critical to provided a consistent, sophisticated user experience across multiple platforms, so we created a mobile first responsive design with a minimalist, yet effective, UI. We are leveraging Soundcloud’s awesome streaming API and track database to allow user’s to submit songs and curate them by genre, utilizing a ranking algorithm similar to Reddit’s. This results in what we hope to be the internet’s live music billboard charts.

Our Plan for Getting Early Users

We are taking a calculated approach in to attract users to our new application. After researching how other startups gained traction in their early days, we know it is important to target a niche group of early adopters — for us, those are music bloggers.

We put together a list of about 300 blogger emails and have wrote personal beta invites to each and every one of them. So far we have had a great response (~10% conversion) which has given us great initial feedback on the app. After our first round of fixes we geared up for the next round of users.

Fortunately, I run a music blog/email newsletter called Noon Pacific, which has a subscriber base of about 15,000 people and is comprised of loyal music lovers, so it was natural to promote the app to them first. From one email blast to this list, we saw over 400 sign ups in one day (that’s ~2.6% conversion rate), which was incredible. We learned some scaling lessons on this day, and after a few more tweaks based on great feedback through email/twitter, we were even more amped to see what our next user acquisition plan would result in.

Reddit. I’ll just say we were beyond stoked when we saw it on the front page of /r/programming. We saw some insane amounts of traffic from our Reddit “hug” and came away with another 600 users and the sign ups are still trickling in.

And now Hacker News. We realize we are still hitting the early adopters of apps by hitting these select targets, but the feedback we’ve seen is too invaluable to pass up, and we’re learning a lot about scaling early on so that we can better prepare to ‘cross the chasm’, as Geoffrey Moore would say.

Where We’re Headed

We are solving a real problem: There is not a good channel for music discovery outside of what the major record labels pay to put in front of you. We think there is great demand, and a genuine need, for a democratic voting process for songs on the internet. We are going to be the ones who bring that to you. We’re passionate about music, technology, and experiences that can change the way you live and work. There’s a lot of work to do and we’re excited about every minute of it. We welcome any and all feedback and hope you are inclined to sign up!


Thank You,

Clark // Shaun // Phil

The Upbeat Team

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