Vampr, initially released in May 2016, is a location-based mobile platform that was developed to facilitate networking, music discovery and communication between creatives of the music industry such as musicians, songwriter, producers or other industry professionals. The startup was founded by the two Australian musicians Josh Simons and Barry Palmer and is based in Los Angeles. Being part of Apple's "Best of 2017" app list, Vampr facilitated over 3,5 million connections between creatives until November 2018. In the following, we will take a closer look at the app's functionality and use.
Vampr - Functionality
Regarding its functionality, Vampr is quite similar to Tinder. You swipe left or right to "like"/"dislike" individual profiles of other community users. Each user has a small profile that includes an audition section that allows you to upload or embed music demos of previous projects, a short biography and a section listing your favourite artists to highlight your taste in music. Per user, additional information like name, age, a selection of genres and categories of what the user can contribute to the community in the case of collaboration. That set of information is used to offer you the best search results as possible. The discovery preferences look fairly flexibly adjustable that allows you to define search criteria like age range, distance, current location, gender, genre and category (e.g. singer, songwriter, producer, guitarist, etc.). A messenger is also included to enable the dialogue between the music creatives if they like each other.
From my point of view, the user interface is looking horrible. The mint-green main colour that is used for the Vampr logo and all other headlines and icons is just not appealing to me. More than half of the screen is used to show you a picture of the possible future collaborator that indicates the completely wrong emphasis. By using this app, you are presumably for a skilled musician with a certain amount of professionalism, not an attractive looking beauty queen or Adonis for your next date night. The entire app concept is too visual for its original intention. The developers failed to translate the visual emphasis of Tinder to the needs of the music industry. I was expecting the app to directly present a few seconds of the user's best reference when it suggests me the profile that suits my search criteria. The audio-related options to present your material to the community are limited to only one Youtube video and one Soundcloud file although the music references should take centre stage. An integration of Instagram is also missing that could be an additional possibility to check out the artist more in detail and get a better feeling about how serious and professional the candidate is taking the business of making music.
Another significant downside is the logic behind the matching process and the activation of the messenger function. All profiles that you liked and therefore were swiped right are instantly displayed in your app internal messenger without waiting for the other party to decide if they like/dislike your profile. Quite soon you will recognise, that your messenger is looking messy. I am sure the developers want to give you the option to pitch to the liked profile without waiting for the other user's action, but I prefer the way how Tinder handles the situation. In the Tinder app, both users need to like each other first to be able to start the conversation. The way how Vampr implemented the messenger activation logic can flood your inbox with tons of unwanted messages and requests. Then it is up to you to clean your inbox that can be time-consuming and frustrating.
During the few weeks I was testing Vampr, I did not find one candidate who was meeting my expectations of professional collaboration, even though I steadily increased the distance variable until I set it to "global" at the end. You also may face issues of getting an adequate amount of user suggestions depending on your current location and how popular this app is in that area. I had the overall impression that most of the users are beginners in their field that did not reach a certain level of professionalism yet.
The app concept and design need an overall revision to create an app that is more focused on the music industry with its matching & communication features, and the way how the content is presented. If you are looking for good semi-professionals or even professionals, I would not recommend this app. I am not a fan of staring at the phone for hours swiping left and right and checking out user profiles for hours each day. You can use this time more effectively. I prefer networking through my contacts that recommend each other or the face-to-face dialogue with creatives, e.g. at any kind of art events. I will continue with browsing Instagram or Youtube for potential collaborators when I am looking for global creatives. I can do that faster; it makes more fun and reduces the number of moronic matching apps on my mobile phone. Feel free to test Vampr on your own and let us know your thoughts about it.