Joshua Legarreta | Staff Writer
Since the introduction of music streaming services such as Pandora, Google Music and Spotify, music has become more accessible than ever.
Or has it? With a new tool in hand, a small company out of California is looking to change the way music is being listened to. Titled M&M Media Inc., the company was created when one of CEO Gary Mekikian’s daughters noticed a friend downloading apps full of fake tracks.
“This is a music app for millennials, by millennials,” Mekikian said, referring to the 200 15- to 22-year-olds who helped develop the app.
Displeased with MP3 converter sites and how other services were both offering music and compensation to artists, this spurred Mekikian to create a new app: Trebel Music.
“It’s really difficult, except for headliners, for musicians to make a living,” Mekikian said. “Even though they’re creating really great art, and their art is being consumed more than ever before, it’s important to me to make sure musicians whose music is being consumed are compensated for it.”
At first glance, Trebel Music looks similar to the average mobile music experience. Tiles fill the screen with artist names, and a bar near the top lets users switch between top songs, albums, new releases and genres.
But there’s something else to it. “Top downloads” and “top plays” sections featuring the University of California at Los Angeles also show up, which Mekikian paid special attention to. In an exclusive screenshare session demoing the app, Mekikian explained users could learn more about their communities by seeing what songs were most played and downloaded.
“My personal philosophy is that music is unlike any other consumer product,” he said. “Music is not like Coke, where if you can’t afford it, you can stop drinking it.”
Akin to Pandora and Spotify, Trebel Music does feature advertisements but goes about them in a way unique to the app itself. Ads do not interrupt listening experiences, as they take the form of tiles in the artist or song selection queue, and video ads will only play during the downloading of a song.
Most importantly, seeing these ads grant users virtual currency they can save to later “buy” music with. Though the virtual currency has no set name yet, Mekikian said by spending it on songs users want, they are in turn helping support their favorite artists.
Mekikian describes Trebel Music as a “download and play” service, rather than a streaming service.
Despite this difference, the app’s competition is anything from streaming services like Pandora and Spotify to MP3 converters and YouTube video downloaders. Local Denton musician Crystal Solano sees compensating musicians as vital, but worries that musicians might not get the attention they’d receive through these other means.
“It’s difficult to have a job based on letting your music be heard for free,” Solano said. “It’s hard to get onto radio and in concerts, but I also know it’s important that you’re heard, and these apps can be a good help.”
Art education junior Joycelyn Jimenez said she thinks the avoidance of mandatory ads and virtual reward system will make the Trebel Music app beneficial to students.
“They’re aiming at the right demographic,” Jimenez said. “College kids aren’t exactly people with the most money, so personally I would like to be able to purchase songs and have access to them. Music is an inspiration to me.”
While the app has not officially been released for download, M&M Media Inc. is hoping to bring Trebel Music to the UNT campus during the fall semester. Mekikian said they are looking into partnering with Greek organizations, local businesses and radio stations to promote and test the app.
“UNT is one of the largest, most socially active and diverse campuses in Texas,” Mekikian said. “We want to develop long-term relationships with students who understand the value in what we are doing and are excited to be part of it at an early stage.”
Students interested in the app can get involved with Trebel Music by contacting the company through www.trebelmusic.com or emailing Corey Jones, Chief of Product at M&M Media Inc. at Corey@mnmmusic.com.
Featured Image: Screenshot | Trebel Music website