MEB Staff Writer Murjani Rawls recently caught up with CEO of Pinyata, Mr. Steven Puri. They discuss how unique the Pinyata app is and how it’s connecting fans of musicians with their favorite artists in an awesome, interactive way.
MEB: Just for our readers, describe a little bit about yourself and how the idea for Pinyata came about
Steven Puri: I was a VP of Production at Fox Films overseeing action franchises including Die Hard and Wolverine. A friend of mine, Justice, approached me and we talked about how we used to use Facebook all the time, but didn’t anymore. We talked about how we loved it back when it was all our friends together posting photos and talking about the events in our lives. We eventually got inspired to re-create that and found a partner in Lee Lowry, an engineering genius who shared our passion for telling stories. We all quit our jobs to build Pinyata into a really easy way to tell stories together by posting photos and comments.
I’ve been using the Pinyata app and it seems more about community and sharing stories rather than just one picture. Do you intend Pinyata to be a version of a digital picture book?
Yes, you totally get it and I so appreciate that you’ve been playing with Pinyata. We discovered a lot of people were quietly craving a fun way to tell stories together…the big surprise to us was that bands started using Pinyata to tell stories not just with their friends, but with their fans. Not being rockstars, we hadn’t considered that rockstars would want to have this new, 2-way relationship with fans…almost to treat them like friends. But I guess that’s what community is about – creating stories together. And fans love the genuine engagement with their heroes through Pinyata.
Was there an initiative to differentiate from apps like Snapchat who are not totally story-oriented?
I think Snapchat is awesome and so brilliantly designed. We definitely see a big difference that Pinyata is more about a collaborative, fun way to tell stories that you save and go back to over and over. All your stories are neatly organized on a timeline, so you can browse around easily.
We’ve recently had a lack of behind the scenes shows like MTV Diary that have a candid look from a music artist perspective. Did you envision Pinyata taking place of that and filling that void?
It’s funny you ask – we’ve been approached not only by bands who want to tell stories about what it’s like to be on tour, but by the casts of several TV shows who want to tell stories about what it’s like on set. All these artists want a place to tell stories together since many of them are friends IRL. We’re noticing more and more of Pinyata’s content is not just #selfies, but cool photos of artists sharing their daily lives.
Will Pinyata support video in the near future?
Yep. We just released animated GIF support in Pinyata this week and we’re designing video support right now. Instagram and Vine have demonstrated so beautifully how this can work.
Artists like Beau Bokan from blessthefall and Ryan Seaman from Falling In Reverse have embraced the app. Are there any plans to expand partnerships with more artists or outlets?
Yes, every day we’re hearing from fans about other artists they would like in Pinyata so we approach them, show them how they can get more deeply engaged with their fans and so many of them have been digging Pinyata. Just this week Gerard Way started experimenting with it – he’s got a very creative mind and I’m curious to see how he invents new ways to tell stories on Pinyata.
What are some of your favorite genres of music and/or bands?
Thanks to some of our first bands, I’ve learned a bunch about the Warped Tour/Alternative Press world and it’s really fun and engaging. In our company our musical tastes run from mainstream pop, to EDM, to hardcore to hip-hop/rap/R&B and more. We’re really listening to our users and taking their suggestions about whom to approach next. When we tell an artist, “hey – we’ve got a bunch of your fans that want to tell stories with you on Pinyata” it gets their attention since artists are doing all this grueling touring, recording and everything else because they love their fans and want to engage with them.
For the future of Pinyata, are there any special expansions or improvements you are planning for future iterations?
We’re really excited to throw off expectations and break boundaries. The whole time we were building this our friends, and now artists were telling us what they wanted that they couldn’t get elsewhere…and we were told how impossible it was to build that. Every day we’re building new things like GIFs, video support, sharing, etc. If you have ideas, we’d love to hear!