This NYC Startup is Rethinking Vines



If you want to make a quick video but want a little more than just your iPhone your options are limited. Unless you have fancy software that you don’t mind using, there should be an easier way to express your creativity through media. Thanks to Playy you should never run into this quandary again. With their platform bringing together up and coming artists and producers, all you have to do is create your video around it. Just like that you can go from doing nothing on your phone to making a 10- second video the whole world can’t wait to see.

With their dynamic app in place, Marc Milberg & Stoyan Vasilev tell AlleyWatch about the various markets they plan on tackling.

Tell us about the product or service.

Playy gives its users the ability to discover music through video. Our product allows music fans to shoot a 10-second video with a library of tracks uploaded directly by rights holders. Our aim is to show the artistic properties of user-generated content while deepening fans’ connection with the music/genres they have a passion for.

On our web portal, artists, musicians, & producers can upload/manage their original music, which makes it available on the app for all users to make video content with. During the upload process, the tracks are genre tagged/labeled by the rights holder (or the person who uploads the music on their behalf), which optimizes the music for search and discovery.

Once videos are shot, they are uploaded to the Playy platform and can also be shared on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere on the web.

How is it different?

Great question. We focus on up-and-coming music and musicians.  These are the people who are most passionate about music — they go out of their way against all sorts of hurdles to make music, (in the case of the musicians)… or find new music and express themselves to it (in the case of the fans). Even if at first sight, it may appear that that’s a rather narrow approach, there are actually significantly more people who make music and are not hugely popular, than those who are. Additionally, the spectrum of independently produced music is much wider than what one would hear in a top 40 type of chart.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

We are attacking the markets of:

  • Independent music producers.
  • Mobile power users who are incredibly passionate about creating content.

Our potentials customer base for both of these markets is a subset of the users of existing services, which we are sharing relevant metrics for below.


  • Musicians, artists, and producers have uploaded more than 100 million+ tracks and clips.
  • 12 hours of audio uploaded every minute.
  • 150 million registered users (up from 10 million in 2011)
  • 175 million total listeners a month.

YouTube Mobile:

  • More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices.
  • YouTube’s mobile revenue is up 2x y/y.
  • On mobile, the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes, up more than 50% y/y.
  • The number of hours people spent watching videos on mobile is up 100% y/y.

What is the business model?

We are currently focused on building a product which people love and a community that really cares about what we are doing (for artists, fans, and relevant brands). Once we reach critical mass we are going to experiment with different monetization models (native ads, placement, sponsored content, etc.).

Our value proposition to artists is that they can reach a much wider audience through organic discovery based on user generated video content. On the other side, we offer music fans the ability to co-create along their favorite musicians — an act of engagement/participation, which goes far beyond passive consumption.

We are currently not partial to a particular business model, as we consider it a first priority to make it crystal clear that we provide value to our customers.

What inspired the business?

The business came from a personal problem. Back in late 2013, I found it very difficult to make video content with a soundtrack to post to Instagram. If I wanted to make any sort of video with music, I had to go to Final Cut Pro or iMovie, and cut something together myself… or piece content together using multiple third party apps.

When the team came together and we started to unpack the concept we realized there is a lot more there. We saw an opportunity to express a set of values and quality of intention, in addition to providing utility. We see our platform as vehicle for much needed evolution at the intersection of the music & tech industries.

Why is the use of video the right mechanism for music discovery?

Because video provides an incredibly powerful opportunity for heightened engagement. Music discovery is one aspect of this. The problem which we are addressing (from an end user’s perspective) is that “digging” for new music is a laborious process even when that’s your passion. We want to leverage the collective network of curatorial decisions (from anyone who cares about music) as ”the computational power” which changes music discovery from a painful and/or passive endeavor, to pleasant, seamless, and active engagement.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

In 6 months we want to develop our product and company to reflect the value proposition which we are bringing into the world (both from the musician and music fan perspective) beyond any doubt and/or confusion to anyone who encounters Playy.

We plan to do this by proving “our point(s)” on a smaller scale first and then expanding — while preserving the same core premise/value proposition. This would entail changing the reach and life of a music artist in a noticeable, tangible, and unquestionable way.

We would also like to have closed our Seed Round by then. We are incredibly excited about the things we can accomplish once all of us are working on Playy full time.

What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?

There are two actually:

First, how critical your core team and advisors are. You really have to make sure every person on your team provides an absolutely critical role to your product/company or there has to be a personnel change. You cannot build an excellent product and company with a mediocre team.

Values are important. You have to surround yourself with people who share your ideals and passions.

If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?

New York provides such a diverse range of individuals to interact with. Our list is practically endless and goes far beyond the startup world, but one person who comes to mind is Fred Wilson.

Union Square Ventures has been at the forefront of disruptive technologies across all fields and Fred has this incredible insight of picking winners. We also see a parallel with our product to his interest in SoundCloud becoming a culturally relevant audio platform. We like to believe that we have a overlapping mindsets and values.

Why did you launch in New York?

New York is where music, art, business, and passion intersect. The startup scene here has also produced many companies, which are solving relevant, real-world problems, while creating opportunities, which simply were not there before.

Additionally, our leadership team met here. Two of us attended NYU and the third one (who has his own digital agency) provides creative + digital services to NYU.

And finally, New York is where a lot of hard working, creative people, with entrepreneurial mindsets come to create the reality that they want to see and experience in the world.

Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?

Soho House has definitely been “the company favorite.” It’s our “de facto meeting room” with third parties. We’ve attended a lot of relevant events and met many stakeholders there. Their drinks are pretty good, too.

About the author: AlleyWatch

AlleyWatch is the destination for startup news; opinions and reviews; investment and product information; events reported, experienced, seen, heard and overheard here in New York. But it’s who we are that makes us different: we’re the writers and the entrepreneurs; the investors and the mentors; the lawyers and the marketers; the realtors and the recruiters – the people who work in the industry.

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