Students jam along to 'NostraJAMus'

University students launch new music application

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Fourth-year students won money from the University's Entrepreneurship Cup to put toward their original music website NostraJAMus, which allows users to bet on songs and how popular they will become in the future.

Lauren Hornsby | Cavalier Daily

Nearly a year ago, fourth-year Commerce student Collin Waldoch received a message from his brother containing only the song “I Wanna Get Better” by the Bleachers and the words: “so good.” The message gave Waldoch the idea for NostraJAMus — a website where you can win cash prizes for submitting songs that might soon become popular.

“When you discover a new song we think a lot of times people are like, ‘I know this is going to be big — I know it’s going to blow up’,” Waldoch said. “And we are providing a platform where you can kind of claim a stake to that song and reap the rewards when it does get big.”

Waldoch — who has been developing the website in collaboration with fourth-year Commerce students Robert Koch and Tony Olmert, fourth-year College student Vincent Ning and fourth-year Engineering student Michael Paris — named the website after 16th century French clairvoyant Nostradamus. Nostradamus is notable for his collections of quatrains — or prophesies — that have been cited for predicting major world events.

The website similar to fantasy sports leagues, but for music. In order to gauge how a song’s popularity changes over the course of the contest, users accumulate “jam” points.

“You will be rewarded for finding a song early,” Koch said. “But, we also want to incentivize people to find artists with smaller numbers of followers, and in our algorithms, we kind of incorporate this.”

The website fosters competition by allowing individuals to be “tastemakers” amongst their friends and family and awarding cash prizes to those who discover a big hit. Additionally, NostraJAMus aims to strengthen the connection between listeners and artists by giving out musical prizes, such as concert tickets or band posters.

“When you submit a song that does really well, we are going to reach out to the artist and kind of let them know and say, ‘Hey, you were just supported big time,’” Waldoch said. “We’re hoping to foster that band-fan interaction and hopefully parlay that into the band supporting the site as well.”

The website launched two new contests this weekend, with Remix/Covers and Original content categories. Data from the songs, such as increases in its playcount, are tracked and used to calculate “jam” points. Additionally, each user has his or her own user profile, where the songs entered into the contest are recorded and other users can view results.

“We are trying to essentially democratize ‘tastemaking,’” Waldoch said. “We want to allow you to be a ‘tastemaker’ and let you build up your reputation by finding good songs before they get big.”

To earn funds to get the website up and running, the group participated in the University’s Entrepreneurship Cup in November and won over $12,000 between the semi-final and final rounds.

“We got second place, and so [the money] was an accolade,” Ning said. “The money is going to the company, and we are using it to further build our business.”

Currently, the website is free of charge for those who wish to sign up and enter contests.

“For the spring, we are trying to build a user base and we are going to keep it free for now,” Waldoch said. “We’re just trying to build something and have fun — we’re not as concerned with the monetary aspects.”

Ultimately, NostraJAMus aims to encourage people to discover more music.

“At the end of the day, if 300 people spend an extra 30 minutes discovering music next week, I’d be happy,” Waldoch said. “I think there is so much good music out there that just needs to get noticed.”

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