A New Sound: Trebel innovates online music sharing

Students are constantly plugged in, whether it’s into their computers or cell phones. It’s hard to walk through the halls without noticing all the people wearing headphones, tuned into their music of choice and bumping along to their beats.

Now students may have a chance to know what most students are listening to on campus – and all the music is downloaded legally.

Trebel, a new app that like Spotify and Pandora, allows users to listen to catalogs full of music but is exclusively for college students. With 3,000 colleges and 30,000 high schools in the United States, the app plans to start at large schools and move down into high schools.

“We have a product for millenials that’s made by millenials, who know what they’re looking for,” said Gary Mekikian, the CEO of M&M Media, which developed Trebel.

The app is interactive within the campus. Listeners at UB can find what is most listened to on campus and follow their friend’s accounts. It’s user-friendly, so it’s easy to simply listen to a song without downloading or “purchasing” it.

Trebel music has a simple mission: legal music sharing.

“Our mission is to enable young people everywhere to download and enjoy the music and other media they love in a safe and legal environment and deliver fair compensation to the artist community,” according to the Trebel website.

When users searche for music, they have the option to either preview or download the song. If the student chooses to download, a short advertisement plays while the music downloads. This advertisement generates revenue for the artist and rewards the listener with virtual currency, which allows them to listen to their music without the interruption of advertisements.

“It sounds a little confusing at first, but I feel like if I had it on my phone and it was the only thing I used for a while, I would catch on,” said Ian Carson, a junior economics major. “I like the idea of it, even though I usually use Spotify.”

Tristan Syre, a junior computer engineering major, pays for Spotify so he doesn’t have to worry about the advertisements.

“I would definitely try Trebel, but I’d keep Spotify too at first. If it seemed worth it I would make the switch,” Syre said.

Trebel has an innovative method of reaching out to students – the makers are bringing the app to specific universities and reaching out to the student bodies, encouraging them to try to free app and compare it to their other music sharing apps. Other universities include Ohio State, UCLA and Cali State Long Beach, covering all corners of the country.

“We wanted to create something that would change the music-sharing experience,” said Mekikian.

Mekikian has a daughter Juliette, a student at UCLA who he says has been integral to the project.

Reviews from students have been mostly positive so far, especially for the advertisement-music exchange.

“I’d rather listen to a bunch of ads one time to get the songs, then download illegally,” said Alfonso Froini, an Ohio State student.

Trebel is coming to UB due to its large and diverse campus. It hopes to reach out to students, specifically Greek life and student leaders, who are part of bigger groups. The company also felt that the range of music available on the app would be better served somewhere with such a diverse international population.

“We have a lot of Indian and foreign music,” Mekikian said. “We want to roll this out on a campus where our catalog can be used fully.”

Trebel, like most other music apps, allows users to download songs from the app into their music library or into a playlist. Trebel syncs with iTunes, which allows users to access the music already on their phone.

Trebel also hopes to utilize student populations for student ambassadors to promote the app and help build the company. They hope to come out with a blog-type website in which contributors can write about what’s up and coming in the music industry. The makers are working to create a new community of music listeners and lovers.

Jennifer Hunt, a library and information studies major, and Sally Heinen, who works for the Campus Ministries, don’t pay for Spotify but hates the advertisements.

They also said they would try the new app, provided it was as user-friendly as the others.

Trebel licenses the music from artists, which is what allows them to use the music on the app. Between licensing to the music and waiting for Apple to approve the app, the California based project has taken time to develop.

“We’re not looking to compete with the big names,” said Corey Jones, the product chief. “We’re just trying to create a product in which people can enjoy music.”

Trebel is just releasing their product onto the apple market this week. Type in “Trebel Music” to check out the community – see how ad-free listening operates.

Tori Roseman is the senior features editor tori.roseman@ubspectrum.com.