European music app XITE has set its sights on the U.S.—and already has some lofty goals as it arrives stateside.
XITE, designed for connected TV devices, is hoping to become the next “Spotify for music videos on TV” and mobile, said co-CEO Cees Honig.
Founded in Amsterdam in 2008, XITE is looking to expand its footprint into the U.S. market. It debuted last December on Comcast X1 Xfinity, and last week, the app was added to the usual suspects, including Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. Mobile, Roku and tablet compatibility is coming soon.
The app allows users to watch a playlist of music videos, search for one to watch in particular or queue up a playlist already designed by XITE. All major music labels and a number of independent labels have licensed their full catalogs to XITE, including Sony Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, Beggars, PIAS, Armada and Spinnin’ Records.
“We know that people aren’t as lean-forward if you’re on your laptop or mobile,” Honig said. “We really created and shaped the product around that user behavior.”
Designing for a large TV screen—on which the majority of OTT viewing occurs—was how they approached the company from the start. While networks like MTV were moving away from videos and into longform content, Honig said he saw a wide-open opportunity in the marketplace to approach media and video from a tech perspective.
“We wanted to build an interactive user experience that is lean-back, personal videos and videos that find you,” he said.
Similar to other streaming music apps, users can skip a song and like or dislike the content. As you tell the platform what you like, you’ll get more personalized options.
While users do skip around the options, Honig said XITE has a “knack” for specialty curated playlists that attract users. With more than 90 different curated channels, users can choose between genres (from ’90s to country music) or “visual style” (if you wanted to watch only animated music videos, for example).
Alternately, users could make their own playlists after selecting a genre, a decade and a visual style.
After years of having the product in place in Europe, the team decided to expand because “if you can make it in the U.S., you can make it anywhere,” Honig said.
The company created a team in Brooklyn to understand the U.S. market and determine how to curate based on the tastes here. The growing team is built around leaders from the music industry. Athena Koumis, head of curation and culture for North America at XITEm is the former music curator at Spotify and founder of their Fresh Finds playlist and Shelly Powell, GM of XITE North Americam is the former svp, head of strategy and business development at MTV.
XITE declined to say how many users it has in the U.S. but claims to reach 80 million households across Europe, North America and the Middle East. Execs pointed to U.S. users spending, on average, around an hour on the app as a sign that once users find the app here, they enjoy it.
The app is free and ad-supported. In a few weeks, the company will launch an ad-free premium service for $4.99 per month.
“The platform is constantly learning and we’re able to leverage all that machine learning,” said Andrew Rosenman, head of North American ad sales. “The customer experience is informed not only from the content perspective, but to have the best advertisements and the most relevant ads as possible.”