TORONTO – While music fans have been walloped with an endless array of streaming options that deliver instant access to their favourite Justin Bieber and Elton John tracks, Stingray Digital says all of those services fall short of expectations.
Just a few weeks after Apple Music launched in Canada, the Montreal-based company plans to unveil its latest play for the consumer music market, a commercial-free mobile phone app called Stingray Vibes.
The service, which starts in late July, will connect listeners to more than 1,500 channels of non-stop music from seemingly every genre.
Unlike on-demand music services, users can’t pick the specific tracks they want to hear, but Stingray chief executive Eric Boyko says that’s actually a selling point for people used to traditional radio.
The company has a staff of curators who scour the depths of catalogues for hits and hidden gems and then deliver them in a steady flow of music catered to specific tastes.
“We are for 90 per cent of the population that wants non-interactive music that’s very passive,” Boyko said in an interview.
“The other 10 per cent of people who are music aficionados can go to a service that’s on-demand.”
Even though Boyko is aiming for the mainstream market, Stingray will have to make a lot of noise to get noticed. The number of subscription streaming services has spiked in Canada over the past few years as listeners expect to assert more control over what they hear.
Spotify and Tidal are the most recent arrivals to the group, which already included Google Play Music, Songza, Rdio and Deezer.
Stingray hopes to squeeze into the market by pairing its streaming service with telecom companies who will sell the subscription as part of a bundle of wireless add-ons for $9.99 per month.
What makes Stingray Vibes different from many of its competitors is how listeners can dive into a distinct music style, even if they don’t know exactly what they want to hear.
In a recent demo, Stingray’s app allowed a listener to narrow their customized station to a specific genre by applying layers of up to five different filters from a list of options.
For example, listeners can start with a broad theme like “Hanging out at a coffee shop” before filtering down to even more specific sub-genres like “indie vibes” or “trip-hop cafe.”
Stingray Vibe is a side project for the media company which has built its business primarily on supplying mood-setting music to retailers across the globe, like Aldo, Canadian Tire and McDonald’s.
The company also beams music to Canadian cable TV subscribers through Stingray Music, a broad list of channels formerly known as Galaxie Music before the company bought them from CBC/Radio-Canada.
Last month, Stingray Digital Group went public in hopes of raising enough capital to acquire more of its small international competitors. The company’s stock has jumped nearly 18 per cent since listing on June 3, closing Friday at $7.36 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Boyko is focused on sneaking the sounds of Stingray into every nook and cranny of the day until the company’s music is providing a soundtrack to your life.
Aside from retailers, a deal with Air Canada recently made Stingray the music provider on its flights, while some hotel chains have started to feed their music into guest’s rooms through Bose sound systems.
The next step for the company is to make the Stingray Vibe app available for small businesses, complete with all the tools they would need to get started, said Boyko.