Snapwave launches in private beta, to elevate music streaming through photography

Making music streaming more engaging, through photography.

This is the synesthetic journey we are on with Snapwave.

Within the past 3 days we sent the first private beta version of our iOS app to 200 music-loving photographers to kickoff our learning process.

We are currently testing our first set of 12 Photo Challenges around specific songs — including “We The People” by A Tribe Called Quest, “Break Apart” by Bonobo, and “My Church” by Maren Morris.

Music-Photo Challenges open for submission in Snapwave

For the next 30 days, these Challenges are open for users to submit images they own, or have taken, that best meets the stated Challenge Goal.

We’re experimenting with variations on Challenge Goals such as:

  • Submit a photo that captures the message of the song (i.e “We The People”)
  • Submit a photo that captures the feeling of the song for you.
  • Reimagine your photo as the cover art for the single.

Users also participate by listening to the song(s) while seeing and voting on other people’s image submissions.

The experience feels emotionally seamless. It speaks directly to the heart. No need to think. Just feel your way through it.

When we launch publicly, recording artists are going to be hosting these Challenges around their own music, directly connecting with fans through a visual conversation around their song, and delivering awards to winning submissions. Awards will range from the image being licensed for the artist’s official album artwork, to the winning photographer being given access to shoot photos from the pit at an upcoming concert.

Because one of Snapwave’s top goals is to maximize exposure for music-loving photographers, we allow photo contributors to link back to their website from their Profile page, and also from within their photo captions. (Instagram, comparatively does not allow people to link out from within posts).

New Music-Photo Challenges will be published regularly, current ones will be active for 30 days, and Challenge winners will be chosen based on the following criteria:

1.) ability to capture the mood and feeling of the song
2.) originality and artistic merit
3.) authenticity
4.) quality and professionalism of the image
5.) user votes (i.e. hearts)

The images people have contributed in the first 48 hours around these songs have blown our minds.

Take a look at a handful of our faves so far around the track Meet in the Middle by Ta-Ku.

Image contributions by Henrik Holmberg, VANDHEUR, and Carrie Welling
to half-simulate the experience, listen to this while looking at the images above : )

We‘re big fans of Ta-ku’s music and especially wanted to test out a Photo Challenge around one of his tracks because he’s a very forward-thinking artist, a brilliant photographer, and has spoken in interviews about wanting his fans to be involved in a more participatory way in making his albums.

In an interview he did with Bandwagon in July 2016, Ta-Ku says:

“I want to really delve into creating my own videos and creating my own visual representation, making my album a complete visual experience…”

Ta-ku also speaks about wanting his fans to be more involved with his music than “just listening”.

“I have an idea where I want people to actually hear and see me make the album, where they can be involved in the narrative of the album too. So my audience can be involved with some of the themes of the album and maybe in the names of the tracks. Even having people send in bits and pieces, contributing musically to it as well. It’s something I’d like to do.”

It is artists such as Ta-ku – who yearn to give their fans a more engaging and participatory experience around their music – for whom we built Snapwave.

Like Frodo leaving the Shire, we are early in our journey of learning why people desire better platforms for creative expression at the intersection of music and photography/imagery.

We’ve spent ample time learning how people utilize Instagram differently for this purpose, have spoken with handfuls of music-loving photographers, and in the process, found a few interesting trends to share with you.

Ways people capture and express music today through their photos on Instagram:

  1. captioning their photos with song lyrics
  2. captioning their photos with song titles
  3. captioning their photos with the song they are listening to when the photo was taken (mostly professional photographers who use music to inspire their shoots).
  4. using 3rd party apps to add 15–30 seconds of music around a still photograph (using the video format).

And here’s a few awesome Instagrammers to follow who caption most of their images with music in one of the above four ways:

As we continue through our first week in Snapwave’s infancy, what we want to know from you (our awesome readers) is this:

  • Are you someone who captions your Instagram images with something music related?
  • Do you know anyone who does?

If so, we want to hear from you!

Please comment on this post or email us at hello(at) and we’ll get in touch!

Like what you read? Give David Blutenthal a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.