It’s no surprise Phoenix-based Rachel van Nortwick is a music lover, considering she’s the founder and CEO of Vinylly, a dating app that pairs people according to their music tastes. Music has always been important to van Nortwick, “I started going to concerts as soon as my parents would let me out of the house,” she says, “and up until COVID-19 I would go to one concert a week.”
Vinylly launched in the Apple store in October 2019 and is currently in development for Android. To match people, the app simply combines the user’s Spotify data and their answers to a brief music questionnaire. When you find someone you’re interested in, press Play and you’ll be taken to their profile, where you can see their music tastes and begin chatting. Within the chat is the Suggest Concert feature, which prompts users to move their relationship from virtual to in-person by attending a concert together. The app has gotten nothing but “super positive” reactions, says van Nortwick and users say the app is straightforward, easy-to-use, relevant and unique.
Van Nortwick developed Vinylly after watching friends and family struggle with existing dating apps that only gave way to meaningless connections. “Music spans across ages, demographics and gender,” she says, “and it’s a universally connecting part of our world.” Creating a way for people to meet and share music just made sense. “For something that is so important to us, whether it be that music is everything in your life or you just really like this one band and you want to be able to share that with someone,” van Nortwick explains, “there isn’t an app out there that connects people based on music compatibility, so I saw the opportunity and created Vinylly.”
Being an entrepreneur has had its ups and downs for van Nortwick. “It’s really great to be able to create something that you are proud of and that you can say, ‘this has my handprint on it’ about,” she says. Watching people connect is rewarding for van Nortwick because she sees the need for Vinylly. But with that, she says, comes the knowledge that the successes and failures of the app rest on her shoulders. To overcome that feeling, “you have to be willing to not be deterred from your goals and you have to be pretty scrappy,” she says. “But when it’s working on something that you love, I think you find the energy to do that.”
Unsurprisingly, the onset of COVID-19 presented a challenge for Vinylly. “It’s not as if we can go and promote the app at concert venues or to people leaving concerts,” van Nortwick says. Her background in marketing has proved helpful as the company transitions to a more digital advertising campaign. On the flip side for Vinylly, music listening and dating app usage have risen during the pandemic, “so that works in our favor.”
The company also released updates to the app to adapt it to COVID-era concert restrictions. The chat feature that allows users to purchase live concert tickets together was adjusted to include tickets to livestream concerts. And since so many of those virtual concerts are now on demand, users can easily set up a time to watch one together from their homes.
Moving forward, van Nortwick hopes that as more people begin using the app, Vinylly will avoid the stigma associated with some dating apps and become “a brand that people respect, trust and go to for cool music culture information. Vinylly is at the heart of what I want to bring people and am super passionate about.”