It Started as a College Project. Now It’s the Music Industry’s Hottest Recommendation Tool – Rolling Stone


Bobby Pinckney went to bed one night last August as a management consultant and woke up the following morning as the man behind one of the hottest music apps in the world. Discz, a song recommendation tool which Pinckney started as a class project during his senior year at USC, has captured the imagination of TikTokers. After several clips praising the app went viral, it shot to the top of the music section of the App Store in a handful of major markets — the U.K., Germany — and reached Number 12 in the U.S.  

This was all the more shocking since Discz was still very much a side-project in progress, and Pinckney had not yet spent a dime on promotion. “We don’t even support other languages yet but we had people in Colombia and France and Brazil getting more than half a million views talking about the app,” he says, still sounding slightly awestruck. “We have users in over 200 countries, even before we ever ran an ad.” 

In the months since this first eruption of interest, the 24-year-old Pinckney and Michelle Yin, his 26-year-old co-founder, quit their jobs, raised money, and went all in on improving Discz. They believe it can play a key role in music discovery at a time when listeners are drowning in new tunes and there are few reliable ways to help make sense of, or give shape to, the overwhelming deluge. 

In particular, the Discz co-founders want to span the chasm that has emerged between TikTok, the most fertile space for new music, and older streaming platforms like Spotify, which has acknowledged that it needs to do better at hooking the all-important youth demographic. “We were built for millennials,” Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek told Bloomberg in December. “I’m not a Gen Zer, and it’s something I’m well aware of. I am trying to spend time with young folks pushing the company to go for Gen Z, and later on, Gen Alpha.”

In a world where many young listeners unearth their favorite new tunes on TikTok, “there’s a drop-off when it comes to people going to save those songs on Spotify,” Pinckney says. The Discz team is trying to combat that drop-off, while also betting that their generation is more interested in receiving music recommendations from someone just like them rather than an executive at a massive tech company. “We’re tired of algorithms deciding what’s trending, or editorial teams deciding this is what you should listen to,” explains Yin, who was a senior software engineer at Facebook before she took over as Discz’s chief technology officer.

The elevator pitch for Discz — and the way breathless fans explained the app on TikTok — is Spotify meets Tinder. The app recommends you a slew of songs …….


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