Designing a home for crate-diggers and serendipitous music discovery

Alexandru Giuseppe Ispas
4 min readMay 5, 2020



Music shouldn’t be like McDonald’s.

A bunch of very passionate people (including myself) are digging for unfamiliar music gems and we don’t have a platform where people can discover music other than big names, big marketing campaigns, and so on. teaser

The challenge

How can we facilitate music discovery through the lens of crate-diggers and create a sense of community?

There are two types of audiences when it comes to people searching beyond popular music:

  1. The lazies — people who want to go beyond “discover weekly…” but they don’t want to put in the time to dig for unfamiliar gems.

2. The nerds — people who find value in spending lots of time shuffling around until they have that serendipitous moment of “ What a gem!”

What makes things interesting, is that there is a love&hate type of relationship between these two.

How it all started

Is there a need for a place where people can discover rare music gems that most probably are not finding on any popular music platforms like iTunes or Spotify or didn’t even know that kind of music exists?

How can I test this idea without spending too much time and money?

I know that I have this problem and there is enough to start making something in order to test my assumption. I am one of the potential customers.

First, let’s see if there are some similar ideas out there in the market.
Yes, there is one, which is really old but it just works.

Soulseek — Redesign exercise

If you want to read about how this got started and the redesign of the iconic platform, please have a read here.

The solution

A platform where lazies discover music through snob picks and snobs get to know each other.

Start with “lazies”. Easier to research, test, and learn.

“Lazies” love the idea of having recommendations for great music. But not from everyone, they want to listen to music recommended by people they admire in some shape or form. Spread the word, test, and learn.

1# Iteration
Serve them a curated list of gems in a weekly newsletter.

Every week, seven gems straight to your inbox from your soon to be favorite djs and collectors, not from fancy algorithms or marketing campaigns.

Newsletter snippets

2# Iteration

Generate leads through landing pages and recruit participants for interviews through (interactive) surveys:

Landing & marketing pages:

Various iterations and A/B tests for landing pages.


Surveys used for recruiting participants and gather music gems.

3# Iteration
Build a streaming service of unfamiliar gems curated by people passionate about digging and sharing.

Rapidly creating an MVP for testing how people may interact for music discovery.

If you want to learn more about my approach to creating the MVP you can read it here.

4# Iteration
Refine and ideate based on feedback.

More than 80 hours of music gathered from the community. No copyright issues.

5# Iteration

Experiment ways of creating value for the “nerds” through prototyping various scenarios and use them for interviews as a concept.

The interactive prototype used primarily for interviewing and testing with nerds.

The results so far

We are still under the radar and it’s 100% bootstrapped but the reactions so far are encouraging:

  • 300+ organic subscribers for the weekly newsletter. No ads.
  • Support from Dj’s, both local and global and related communities like and
  • 50% of the music is not available on Spotify.
  • Support from music journalists.
  • More than 80 hours of music provided by the community.

We didn’t put any $ into ads or any other form of marketing. What we’ve gained so far is only through word of mouth.

Thank you for reading! ❤️

If you want to learn more behind the how’s and why’s you can find me on Twitter @agispas