Soundwave nears real-time success

An Irish music discovery company, founded after seeing a Swedish girl walk into a lamppost, believes they are on the same growth trajectory that led to Twitter and Instagram’s multi-billion-dollar successes.

Soundwave came into being after one of its founders, Brendan O’Driscoll, decided to try and find out what music the Swedish girl was so engrossed in that she failed to spot a lamppost.

Mr O’Driscoll and Aidan Sliney, both from Ballycotton, Co Cork, joined Craig Watson in founding the company. They believe that after almost two years, they have the last piece of the jigsaw that will make them the leading music discovery company in the world.

The one piece of data that the company was missing was what music people were listening to on YouTube.

“One of the big things that we wanted to do, was cover everything. The one category we were missing was the younger people who didn’t have a credit card to get a Spotify account. They are all listening to music on YouTube,” said Mr Sliney.

Soundwave, who raised $1.5m (€1.1m) in seed venture capital from Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, and ACT Venture Capital, have developed an algorithm that distinguishes what music is being listened to on YouTube.

“It is huge for us. It was the only demographic we were missing.”

Soundwave, which has been downloaded by 750,000 people around the world so far, is now in a position to provide companies and users with information on exactly what music is being listened to anywhere in the world in real-time.

This kind of analytics is one of the fastest-growing businesses in the world, with Apple paying $200m (€145m) for Topsy, a company that produces real-time Twitter analytics last week.

Mr O’Driscoll does not dismiss the comparison between Soundwave and Topsy. “Yeah, you could say that. Our ultimate aim is to try stitch all the music players back together. It is very fragmented at the moment.”

The company has expanded and now employs nine people full time and they are being hounded by advertisers and music companies who are looking to get access to the company’s data.

“We have people knocking down the door at the moment, but our priority is getting the product right.”

The company has been producing constant new iterations of the app to make sure the music discovery element is as sharp as possible. The development of the YouTube data was in response to demand from the Soundwave’s users and the founders are hoping it will help fuel their growth.

“We are on the same growth curve as Twitter and Instagram and that we are focusing on at the moment. We are delighted to be doing this from Ireland.”

In a nod to their roots, every one of 750,000 apps that have been downloaded proudly carries the line, “Born in Ballycotton. Built in Dublin.”

* To download the app, visit


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