This Japanese startup changes how people relate to music



Akinori Fumihara, Founder/CEO

See the original article in Japanese

On January 13th, Japanese social music platform, Nana, held a collaborative music festival called Nana fes vol.1 featuring Joysound at Minami Aoyama in Tokyo. On that day around 120 users, mostly in their teens or twenties, got together for the event. It was broadcasted online by Twitcasting, and in total 10,000 users tuned in live during 4.5 hour event.

For those not familiar with the service, Nana lets its users share and mix their audio with other users on its platform, all with voices and sounds recorded through smartphone microphones. More than 5000 songs are posted on Nana everyday, with the average time for a user to stay on the site amount to 230 minutes per month. The monthly number of plays has surpassed 3.5 million, which shows how actively people are using the app.

nana fes

We had a chance to hear from Akinori Fumihara, Nana’s founder and CEO, about this event idea:

Since Nana’s launch, we have regularly organized offline meetups for our users. But as a music service provider, I have been wanting to hold a live music event for a long time. I set the concept as a culture festival for Nana users by Nana users.

I always wanted to help create “Sunday artists”, those who work during the week and then work on the music projects on weekends. The user experience at a live concert is different from singing on the app. And I always wanted to offer that kind of different opportunity, so this festival was my first attempt to do this.

Build confidence, relationships

One user in particular was especially fascinated with Nana, gradually gaining confidence in his singing by joining offline meetups. That led him to even sing at his company’s event, and now he is even thinking about doing street performances.

Fumihara wants to continue to be this kind of catalyst for singers and musicians:

Many people have musical talent, but I think many of them don’t think highly of their own skill. But if there is a place to show their works, they can get feedback about it. And by allowing users to post their work easily on Nana, it creates opportunities for real talent to be recognized.

Nana users are quite loyal to the service, many of them calling themselves ‘Nana-min’ (min means people in Japanese), or describing the collaborative process as ‘Nanaru’. Some Twitter users even list their Nana account link on their profiles, many of them create Twitter accounts just because of their activity on Nana. The two services are very complementary, in fact.

Fumihara thinks there are two main reasons for the site’s popularity, the first being that many users are teenagers, and often they don’t have friends with whom they can discuss their favorite music.

When I was a teenager, I didn’t have anyone close to talk about my favorite music with. Finding people to have a music session with was even harder. Nana users are very happy about collaborating with others, and once they collaborate, they get to know more about each other. They make a very strong bond over Nana.

I want users to see music as an activity that’s very easy to start. It should be easier to get involved with music without taking it too seriously.

Nana is currently available only for iOS, and an Android app is now under construction. Nana plans to continue holding music festivals too.

Combining online and offline, Nana wants to create a future where people can “sing with the world”.