AUSTIN, TEXAS — Do you think you have good taste in music? Of course you do. TastemakerX lets you find out just how good your taste is, as measured by the desirability of your favorite artists according to other players of the game.
Although the iOS app is currently available, TastemakerX is still in private beta, allowing SXSW attendees with access to start betting on the bands we see here. A little bird told us that TastemakerX would be opening up to the public here at SXSW, but Evolver.fm has confirmed that the little bird was mistaken; spokeswoman Katy Garlinghouse said it actually won’t be launching publicly for “several weeks.”
Once it does launch, or if you’re allowed into the private beta early, you can search for the artists you like, or which you think will become more desirable over time. Then you buy shares in those bands to add them to your portfolio — just like a stock — starting with 25,000 “notes,” representing the game’s currency. Like the stock market, TastemakerX has an exchange where you can trade “your” bands to other people at a price determined by the market.
To inform your trading decisions, you can monitor charts within the game, read up on band biographies, and check out their pictures. You can also fill out your own biography and follow other users, a la Twitter, to track changes in their portfolio.
We’ve seen this idea before from Hollywood Stock Exchange, which succeeded in capturing the imagination of legions of film buffs — as well as a in music-themed variant whose name escapes us at the moment, possibly because it never gained traction. However, the concept of trading shares in artists might make more sense as an iPhone game than it did as a website, because users will be able to add bands as soon as they hear about them and make trades on the spur of the moment, rather than waiting until they get home to fire up their web browsers.
So, what is TastemakerX like to play?
We received access to the private beta (updated), and found out. For starters, the app scans the music on your iPhone to figure out what kind of music you’re into. The app automatically rewards you with one share in some of the artists represented on your iPhone. Then you answer three questions to create your biography, and invite friends via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, your iPhone’s contact list, and/or by searching for specific users.
To populate your portfolio, you can search for bands or buy more shares of the ones on your phone. Each band page includes a streaming audio sample of the band’s music from iTunes, photos, biographies, and a side-scrolling list of similar artists, in case you want to corner the market on indie pop or some other genre. You can also add your own photo, location, or message to each band page.
We are now the proud owners of 1,000 shares of Mogwai. Stay tuned to hear more about this intriguing app, including when it launches.