How 3 College Kids Founded WOMP.in (Like Pulse.me for Music)

Posted February 13

A year in open development, music discovery site WOMP.in is the brainchild of Jason Wimp, Michal Krupa and Neil Mallinar — three college students still earning their undergraduate degrees from Indiana University, University of Illinois: Urbana Champaign, and John Hopkins respectively.

WOMP, set for its official launch this March, emerged from Wimp’s previous, more typically collegiate venture: a graphic t-shirt company. Selling a variety of design-emblazoned pocket t-shirts, Wimp named the shirt-producing unit WOMP not as a reference to the sound of a dubstep bass rumble, but as an acronym for “What’s On My Pocket.”

WOMP’s transformation from T-shirt company to music website was serendipitous. After posting music videos to his T-shirt company’s blog, Wimp says he viewed them with Pulse, which aggregates blog posts and online articles (including those from Evolver.fm) into a grid of tiles.

“I was looking at our different blog posts and thinking there should be a way to play these [songs] continuously, without having to click on each tile in pulse or each article, or even each post.”

Wimp mentioned the idea to a cashier at the bike shop where he worked. She recommended he talk to her friend Michal Krupa, and the two hit it off. Krupa brought his best friend Neil Mallinar on board, and the three launched the resulting music web app online as WOMP.in last August, developing features as an initial batch of users began to use the app.

In a nutshell, WOMP.in (which uses some song data from The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm) is a music player and discovery service that pipes in tunes from YouTube and SoundCloud in a layout somewhat similar to that of We Are Hunted. The player controls sit at the bottom of the screen, while a right sidebar adds personalization, playlisting, and sharing features.

The service’s Pulse.me-like design, which the team calls “The Wall,” is filled with dynamically-generated tiles holding songs, comments, and likes from other WOMP users (there are only a few hundred currently). Each tile has a band photo in the background creating a nice hodgepodge of music and album art. A sidebar and play controls at the bottom handle everything else.

With a sweep of the mouse and a single click, you’re finding out about new music — mainly, music the team thinks you should hear, based in part on what other users are playing. WOMP’s Wall presents local and more widely-popular music in no specific ratio, giving local artists more exposure than they might otherwise get.

“We really wanted to help musicians, and we wanted to create the best marketing platform for them,” Jason told me, “So showing them right next to, I don’t know, Jay-Z’s face, or Skrillex’s face — or any of these really, really big musicians’ faces — puts them in the same boat as them.”

Right now, as mentioned, WOMP is powered by the team’s parsing of user behavior, but they’re looking at ways to personalize that further.

“The wall is going to become… a generic landing page for our site. But the wall itself can be customized with all these different filters as well as the user’s own aggregated library [of music found on the site].”

In addition to listening to The Wall, you can also search YouTube (which is after all, a music service) and SoundCloud directly. In all cases, YouTube songs don’t display any video, which runs afoul of YouTube’s terms of service (more on that here), though we’ve been told that feature will be implemented in WOMP’s official release this March.

“We’re trying to be effortless; we’re trying to decrease effort as much as possible and we feel this is the best way possible,” said Wimp.

Overall, WOMP’s eye-pleasing layout will make it worth checking out, especially if you like to pick and choose your music, rather than having it play complete albums or radio stations. It won’t be the only music service you ever access, but has room to grow depending on how its up-and-coming personalization features come out.

If you’re looking for a way to inject your listening with some fresh jams and a nice view — or if you want to glance at what (some of) the kids are listening to these days, and to “collect” some of it to your personal account — WOMP warrants a try.