Interview: Alex Parish of Tastebuds.fm

By on Thursday, 26th January 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: While we at TGTF have been courted (pun intended) by various dating Web sites for “guest blog posts”, this article will be – at least for the near future – the *only* post we will have on the subject of dating and relationships. End of.

And this one is special, because Tastebuds.fm was launched in the summer of 2010 as a dating service that takes into account musical tastes as a means of matching up potential partners. A couple of friends nudged me – hard – to try it out for myself and I’ve been on the site for a couple weeks now, quietly watching the activity but not taken the plunge in contacting anyone. Yet. (While their network is enlarging, the majority of their users are in the UK.) But I was quite eager to pick co-founder Alex Parish’s brain to find out what led to the creation of this service, how it differs from the other dating sites out there and what hints he had for prospective users.

For those of you who have not heard of this service before, I encourage you to watch the video below before diving into the interview.

What event / discussion led to the creation of Tastebuds.fm? Was this something you saw potential with that you could use yourself, or your friends could use, etc.? Was this based on personal / friends’ experience that “traditional” online dating sites don’t work? Or did you have other inspiration?
I actually first met Julian (Keenaghan)- the other founder of Tastebuds.fm – while forming a band. We were talking about how music can say a lot about a person, and as such thought matching people with similar music taste might work in an online dating scenario. At first we built Tastebuds.fm as an experiment, but we quickly found that it had global appeal as it has now attracted people from hundreds of countries around the world.

What I find really refreshing about your site is that it’s catering directly to the same kind of people that read TGTF: keen music fans. Do you expect (or have you noticed) that the majority of people who have already signed up for accounts are passionate fans, so therefore your goal is to match up that subset of people who can be mental in their passion for music?
It’s true that the majority of Tastebuds.fm users are keen music fans, as well as regular concert goers, but our aim isn’t to match just music fanatics. For example, you only need to name 3 bands you like to get started – and pretty much everyone can do that!

What do you think are the best benefits to using Tastebuds.fm versus those other dating sites?
The music you like can say a lot about you, your personality and core values (it can even reveal how likely you are to go all the way on a first date!). As such, it can be a surprisingly good indicator of compatibility.

We’ve also seen that music can help people overcome the greatest problem on dating sites – what to say in the first message. Our stats show that you’re far more likely to get replies to messages you send on Tastebuds.fm compared to similar sites, so it’s definitely serves as a great ice breaker.

How did your collaboration with last.fm come about? (Your name, Tastebuds.fm, sounds like a direct connection to the other company.) Did Last.fm feel like a natural choice for importing musical tastes into the Tastebuds.fm framework?
We’re not officially affiliated with Last.fm, although (totally coincidentally) our offices are in the same building. Last.fm’s API allowed us to easily import peoples favourite music, so it felt like a natural choice to integrate. We’ve also integrated with Songkick, allowing our users to meet up at gigs they’re going to.

Tastebuds.fm users can choose bands that they like (which show up under the Favourite Artists area) and bands they don’t like (Turnoffs). I’ve seen some people have a long laundry list of faves, whereas others just choose a couple. Which strategy do you think Tastebuds.fm works best with?

Your matches on Tastebuds.fm are ordered by how many favourite bands you have in common so having more bands listed on your profile should help refine your matches. You can also select eight of your favourite bands to be featured at the top of your profile, so it’s easy to distinguish the music that really matters to someone from the hundreds of bands they listen to on an occasional basis.

What other hints do you have for people new to the site or those are curious to maybe try it?

A nice way of breaking the ice is sending someone a song you think they might like. It’s always nice to get new music recommendations, after all.

Some dating sites aren’t shy in broadcasting to the public how great they are as the starting point for great long-term relationships. Do you have any success stories you can share?
We’ve been going just over a year now, but have already heard about the first Tastebuds.fm wedding. Hopefully there are plenty more to come!

What are some short- and long-term goals you have for Tastebuds.fm? Are you planning campaigns with music festivals, radio stations, etc. in 2012?
We’re launching a couple of fun new apps shortly, as well as some exciting new features for the site that make it even easier to chat with new people. So watch this space!

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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