The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.
[More from Mashable: Analyst: Apple Will Sell 1 Million iPads on Launch Day]
Quick Pitch: Users place bets on undiscovered bands and their favorite artists in this social media game.
Genius Idea: TastemakerX was created for music lovers who take pride in knowing about bands before everyone else. Bet on the sure success of off-the-radar singers and songwriters in this music version of the stock market and watch how your favorite artists do. Plus, discover musical acts along the way.
[More from Mashable: What Is Your All-Time Best Apple Story? [CONTEST]]
TastemakerX is a mobile application for music fans and influencers who believe they can pick out the next Jennifer Hudson from the audition stage of American Idol or pick out a star on NBC's The Voice faster than Christina Aguilera can spin around in her chair.
It's a mobile stock market game to showcase musical trendsetting skills -- knowing about Lady Gaga pre-global domination (on the charts) back in 2008 when "Just Dance" first debuted. When artists make it big, gamers will earn "notes," the game's virtual money, to buy more artists and show off their skills in connected social networks.
Marc Ruxin, the CEO and co-founder of TastemakerX, has worked in the music industry scouting unsigned artists and written about the music scene for years. He believes this app is filling a need for a music-based social graph. The creators of the mobile app wanted to build a social network for people passionate about entertainment -- music in particular.
"It's a mobile social game around culture," Ruxin said. "It's like fantasy sports for culture. The music graph doesn’t exist. This is a vertical that is dedicated to music the way the IMDB is focused on movies."
Users can buy stocks in garbage bands on the rise or in classic groups such as The Beatles.
As the network gets bigger, TastemakerX users will be exposed to many artists their friends are liking. Trending tastemakers and artists will be shown. Samples of artists, along with short biographies, photos and reviews are also available, making for easy artist discovery.
The application allows users to build portfolios of favorite artists using "notes" instead of money. Users trade bands when they are faltering in popularity. Think it was a bad choice for M.I.A. to share the stage with Madonna during the Super Bowl this year? Trade her up for 50 shares of Adele or Taylor Swift who seem unstoppable in music sales.
TastemakerX can be connected to Twitter and Facebook to share activity on various feeds.
"It has an Instagram-like functionality, plus a gaming aspect like Foursquare. The goal is to gain followers and get more "notes," concert tickets, specialized band posts, news and information experience that is like IMDB."
Ruxin hopes the application will serve as a platform for artists to reach out to their fan base with access to an exclusive track, secret concert opportunities or tickets for their biggest shareholders.
"In tastemaker, [artists] will see top influencers, when [fans] bought you, so you can reward and understand your fan base," Ruxin said.
Eventually, the creators of the application hope to be able to sell virtual "notes" to users, plus bring on brand-focused ads and sponsored posts.
The free app is only available for iPhone and iPod Touch at this time. Invite codes are necessary, as the application is still in beta.
Want to give the Tastemaker a try? Mashable readers can access the application by visiting the TastemakerX website, submitting an email address and entering "Stereolab" as the promo code. Then, download the application and follow registration instructions. Later, come back and tell us what you think!
Image courtesy of Flickr, Will Folsom
Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.
This story originally published on Mashable here.