By Zach Collier
Attention all indie lovers: a new streaming service with an emphasis on local discovery is now in open beta. Hunter Derrick and Bowie Roy are the founders of Saylo Innovations and the minds behind the Mixlo app. Over the last two years, the duo have been quietly building out the service with a team of dedicated developers. Mixlo is the first streaming service that allows you to find indie music being made by artists immediately around you – and it’s being developed right here in Utah.
When I sat down with Hunter and Bowie in Midici Pizza in Orem, I was immediately struck by their enthusiasm. The two were originally musicians in the Salt Lake City-based band Saylo before becoming tech entrepreneurs. Their experiences recording and performing inspired them to fuse their passions for music and business and to provide discovery opportunities for indie musicians.
“We had gradually begun to pivot in 2018,” Hunter says, “I became involved in some other good business opportunities, and was actually doing due diligence for another startup. But neither Bowie or I could ever get the passion for music out of our heads. I had the idea for Mixlo while we were performing in Saylo, but when Covid shut everything down in 2020 we decided to drop everything and pursue it. We had years of industry experience and now had the connections and resources to actually make it reality.”
Musicians are always looking for tools to grow their audience. For Saylo, they had passion and energy, but were missing two big ticket items: money and ways to reach the right listeners in a very competitive market.
“Mixlo aims to change that,” says Hunter. “For artists, the app has the potential to be the most useful early-to-mid career tool available. It provides money and exposure to the right people at the right time.”
For listeners, the app gives them the power to support local artists through direct tips, gives them access to concerts in their area, connects them to communities around the world, and allows them to have their own voice and thoughts be heard. “Essentially, Mixlo aims to be the first fully interactive platform so you can watch local become global,” says Hunter.
Over pizza, I told the guys how excited I was about this concept. I’ve had a similar idea about geo-targeted music discovery for a long time. Lacking any sort of tech know-how whatsoever, I decided to start a local music magazine instead. I can’t express how cool it is to open up a GPS map, see artists around me, tap on them, and start listening.
“I believe it could be the biggest change for the industry since the emergence of Spotify,” says Bowie. “Look at how Tinder using location services has changed the dating world; who’s to say that modern location tech being used for music can’t achieve a similar impact? Not only that, but having a platform where music organically mixes with social aspects amongst a geographic community can bring a huge real-life culture change to the ways these communities discover and support music together.”
In addition to being able to discover artists around you, Mixlo has the first location-based charting algorithm that can scale worldwide. “Mixlo can make local turn global in many new ways, and it’s shown through our artist growth system,” Hunter explains. “It doesn’t necessarily matter how many times a song is streamed.” Their charting algorithm takes ticket sales, comments, likes, saves, shares, and streams all into account. “Both artists and the users grow their accounts by showing support.”
Skills from their time as active musicians have translated well into the tech world. “Here’s an interesting skill that I don’t think gets acknowledged enough as a valuable strength: the ability to handle rejection,” says Bowie. “Local musicians continually have to learn how to take the positives out of every situation that seems negative on the surface, and that was definitely our experience in Saylo as well. Whether it was not getting placed on certain Spotify playlists or failing to win a battle of the bands, it didn’t always work out the way we’d hoped, but we still had to learn from those experiences and try again if we wanted to achieve our goals in the long run. I’ve actually come to be very grateful for the difficult experiences we had as it prepared us well for the experience of becoming entrepreneurs. It’s not always easy, but that’s not always a bad thing.”
With the Mixlo app in open beta, Hunter and Bowie are learning a ton from test users. They’re working overtime right now, fixing technical challenges and adapting the user experience based on feedback. I asked if being in open beta made them anxious. “I think ‘determined’ would be a word that would apply here,” says Bowie. “We’re ready to keep working day-in and day-out to make it a platform that can really make a difference for local music communities.”
“Luckily, public response to Mixlo has so far been extraordinary,” says Hunter. “Our unique algorithms are working well, and the reviews are great. It’s also nice to hear from artists. We want them to have better, more modern tools than they currently have, and their feedback is essential in creating that.”
The duo plans for Mixlo to be almost fully international by next year. In five years, they hope the app will be a household name and the go-to for emerging artists. “Just imagine opening the app and checking out what the music scene is like in Tokyo right now, or Mexico City, or Dublin,” says Bowie. “There’s so much music out there that’s waiting to be discovered.”
Musicians and fans can download the beta version of the app here. Make sure to check it regularly – updates will be coming out frequently over the next few months. “And please, let us know what you think!” says Hunter. “We will actually use your feedback. You’ll notice things we never thought of, and we really want to make a difference.”
Make sure to follow Mixlo on Instagram. You can listen to “Ruin” by Saylo below.
3 replies on “Creating a Game Changing Music App: Bowie and Hunter of Mixlo”
[…] of capital to get moving – and getting started in the music business is no exception. We asked Mixlo co-founder Hunter Derrick: What advice do you have about finding funding for your passion? What are your thoughts on […]
[…] Mixlo is the first streaming service that allows you to find indie music being made by artists immediately around you – and it’s being developed right here in Utah. See how you can sign up for their open beta test. […]