Art needs to be shared with enthusiasts, friends, and fans alike. Social network Skillbox functions a platform for the art community and does just that.Rashi Varshney
If you have seen Gully Boy, chances are that you loved every bit of the bond between Murad and his mentor-turned-friend MC Sher. While not everyone can meet a real-life MC Sher, you can find your own on this platform.
Gurugram-based Skillbox is an social network and discovery platform that connects artists, musician, bands, DJs, producers, session artists, photographers, designers, and sketch artists with enthusiasts and businesses. The platform works in two ways - connecting and collaborating like a mix of Facebook and LinkedIn.
Incorporated in 2016, the company launched an Android app officially in February to address the fragmented live event market in India. Before this, it was only a web-based platform. However, based on app reviews in Play Store, it seems as if the app was testing waters since November 2018.
Skillbox claims it has 5,000 users. It says it has connected about 2,000 artists and 100 venues. In a press statement in February this year, it also claimed to have facilitated 1,200 gigs. The company has generated more than Rs 1 crore worth of business for artists and businesses in various categories.
Now, the startup is promising to make things easier for its users through its app.
YourStory tried the app, and here are the first impressions.
On signing up, a user is asked to choose an account type among the three options - artists, businesses, and fans.
Then you can select tags from a wide variety based on your preference, like rock, journalism, metal etc.
The homepage, called FeedBox, is a feed of the latest posts and news based on one’s preferences and profiles followed, like any other social media platform.
The user profiles are visually appealing and come with a dashboard, which gives a snapshot of the number of followers, categories (fan, artist. business), interest areas (tags), and other necessary details of an artist like contact details.
Businesses or fans can follow the artists to get all the latest news directly on their personal feed. On the profile management end, one can edit information, add music/photos, and manage playlists and people they follow.
Users can promote themselves with a host of features on the app.
It’s audio streaming service, StreamBox, provides musicians or artists with a reliable way of showcasing their work to discerning audiences online and monetise it as well. Musicians can also stream their music videos or audio clips using this feature. But the app crashed whenever we tried using this feature.
A feature called, Discover, helps a user dig deep and narrow search criteria for artists and businesses using a particular type of artist, genre, tags, etc.
Like media player apps, Skillbox allows users to also create playlists, which helps in showcasing one’s music taste to the audience at large. Users can also choose privacy options for each playlist, making them public or private.
One key feature for businesses is the Book Artist option, which allows them to book an artist directly from the app after viewing their profile and work repository. Skillbox says all processes are streamlined and an e-contract is readily available upon booking, which makes the process smooth for businesses and artists alike.
When we tried this feature, we found the booking process easy and seamless. All you have to do is fill in the details like your budget, if you are a corporate or a fan etc. But, since the artist guessed we were not making a serious booking, she did not confirm. According to the startup, once there is a confirmation from the artist, users can pay the artist via the app itself. Since, we did not try the full booking, we could not see how this feature functions in the app.
A feature called TalkBox makes the app interactive. This works like a forum with users posing questions and joining other discussions, similar to how Quora works.
In conclusion, Skillbox is an impressive effort. The app manages to combine superior User Experience [UX] and an extremely sleek User Interface (UI) with some prominent ‘artistic’ features. But, much to our disappointment, the app kept crashing when we tried to upload a media file. The silver lining was that with each crash, the app launched a crash report mail, which was very easy to send.
The app seems to be in work-in-progress mode. But, since this is its first month in the market, we can cut it some slack.
The app is free on the Google Play Store, and has just over 500 downloads, with a rating of 4.6 out of 5. Media reports suggest that the iOS version will be launched in April.