Music has long been part of the backdrop to fashion — with loud bass or subtle strings helping set the mood as models hit the catwalk — and Tunepics aims that visual-auditory combination to the world of social media.
This story first appeared in the May 22, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Former Topshop executive Justin Cooke today officially launches social network Tunepics on the iTunes app store. An Android version is forthcoming.
“I took a photo in my library and I was listening to a song on my iPhone and I couldn’t understand why the two couldn’t be together,” Cooke told WWD. “It’s a powerful connector. The whole idea is you can create deep emotion around a picture and celebrate a moment.”
As Instagram has proven, the fashion crowd is ready to engage with brands and each other by sharing pictures. Cooke noted that while about 3.5 billion images are uploaded to the Web each week and roughly 100 million songs are downloaded, there isn’t a place where the two actions coexist.
Tunepics already has 100,000 beta users signed up, including will.i.am, Kate Bosworth, Airbnb, Tracy Anderson, Jamie Oliver and fashion and retail brands such as Chloé, Hunter, Asos, Paul Smith and AllSaints. Users can “retune” a post that resonates with them — much like Twitter — as well as post links from outside sites, something that is not possible on some networks, such as Instagram.
“The luxury landscape has shifted and digital communications allow brands like Chloé to reach new audiences around the world in an instant,” said Chloé creative director Clare Waight Keller, who runs the brand’s Tunepics account. “However, it’s no longer enough to simply be present on the established platforms.”
Connecting emotion and music captures what’s “going through your head in that moment,” she said.
Users can feature a song for every image that they post on Tunepics, and tag how they are feeling by way of an “emotion wheel,” which includes 16 feelings from happy, laughing, moved and excited to sad, crying and heartbroken. More than 35 million songs are at users’ disposals to post alongside an image — and users will hear the same 30-second preview that’s available on the iTunes store. If a particular song resonates, there is a direct link to purchase on Tunepics.
Billed as a multisensory social network, the London-based Cooke came up with the idea for the app three years ago, after a stint in public relations at Burberry and before becoming Topshop’s chief marketing officer, a position he held for a year before founding “disruption agency” Innovate7 in September. To date, the firm, which he leads as chief executive officer, works with celebrities and brands such as will.i.am, Coca-Cola and Ekocycle. Tunepics was designed in-house by Innovate7 and built by digital agency AKQA.
To Cooke, the ability to add sound to an image transforms any moment, and the music discovery component is central to the network. It will also be an integral piece to obtaining data — including popular songs and the emotions of users listening to songs at any given time. Users can also use the Tunepics’ weather filter and choose sunshine, rain, raindrops, snow or a rainbow to add more context.
“I’ll be able to see what a country like Brazil is being inspired by [and listening to],” Cooke said, likening this to a trending topic on Twitter. “You have a trending song, [and] it can be propelled to number one.”
Tunepics does not rely on direct advertising. The app is a certified partner of Apple’s affiliate program, and will generate revenue for every track downloaded. Shazam, the music recognition app, adds 10 million new users a month and reportedly generates several hundred million dollars in sales annually.
Cooke declined to reveal how much money was raised for the project, although it’s rumored that backers include a private venture capitalist and a leading global media group.