By Billy Huntsman
A unique and free music streaming application was recently released to New Mexico State University students.
Trebel Music, created by M&M Media, a California-based digital media service, allows users to browse, listen to, and download a wealth of music with virtual currency, or “music coins.”
“This ‘point’ concept comes from games,” says Gary Mekikian, M&M Media founder and CEO. “Young people love to play games. And what happens in a game? As you play, you earn points and then if you want to buy virtual goods, you can spend these points to buy them. That’s what we’re doing here.”
Trebel generates revenue, both for itself as well as to compensate the artists whose music is featured, by displaying advertisements while downloading, previewing, and searching for songs.
Each ad the user views gives him or her a certain amount of coins, depending on what kind of ad it is, which the user can then use to either play a number of songs without being interrupted by ads, or to legally download a song. Users are automatically gifted 5,000 coins upon downloading the app. No actual money is being used on the user’s part.
A user can download a song from Trebel when connected to Wi-Fi, then listen to the song when offline. Trebel also syncs with any music a user may have on iTunes and/or Google Play, and can combine to create playlists from all three services.
The app also allows a user to view a particular song’s lyrics, watch the song’s official music video, play music in the background while the user goes to a different app on his or her phone, and sync with Bluetooth to play while in a car.
By using Trebel, students can avoid using rip or torrent sites, which can subject a student’s device to malware, viruses, as well as violate federal law and NMSU’s copyright infringement policy, both of which carry harsh penalties. In an email reminder sent out by Norma Grijalva, NMSU’s chief information officer, those caught infringing upon copyrighted music, movies, and other materials are liable for up to $30,000 per infringement if done unknowingly, and up to $150,000 per infringement if done willfully.
There is also a prominent social aspect to the app.
“We also want to build a social network around music,” says Mekikian.
To do this, Trebel allows a user enrolled at one of the universities to which the app has been introduced—NMSU, for example—to look at the listening activity of other NMSU-enrolled users, as well as ‘follow’ them. Once followed, a user will receive a push notification informing him or her of what the followed user is listening to.
Further, the top downloads at a particular campus are tracked, so that users can know what music is most popular in their area.
“We have this really cool feature now where (you) can share (your) coins with other users around campus,” Mekikian says.
The users who receive these gifts can use the coins to listen to and/or download more music.
“Our patented innovation allows friends, family, and sponsors to pay for all of your music or part of your music,” says Trebel’s website.
Trebel’s music library encompasses about 70 percent of the current Top 40, and what songs are not available on Trebel can be requested.
“This is not another app that was designed by old guys in suits in corporate America,” says Mekikian. “This is an app that was designed and built by Millennials for Millennials.”
Trebel cofounder and Mekikian’s daughter Juliette, currently a 17-year-old high school student, was instrumental in designing Trebel’s interface.
In partnership with major and indie labels, Trebel was piloted in the middle of 2014 by five universities along the West Coast. Over the course of about eight months, these universities provided Trebel feedback.
Thus, the current Trebel “has been thought through with input by the Millennials,” says Mekikian.
M&M hopes to expand Trebel to more than 3,000 universities throughout the country by the end of 2016 before making the international leap beginning in 2017.
To download the app, search for www.trebel.io/dl, or for “Trebel Music” in the Apple app store.