A new app called Rewind wants to make it easier for music fans to explore the best songs from decades past. Hoping to satisfy users’ demand for nostalgic musical experiences, Rewind allows users to “time travel” through the music charts from 1960 to 2010 to learn how older songs influenced today’s hits.
The app was created by developer Ziad Al Halabi, whose day job includes mobile app development at music streaming service TIDAL. The developer says he likes working on music apps, having previously released an audio player for musicians, Backtrackit, which garnered around 2 million installs.
With Rewind, which originally started as a weekend project, the goal is to offer a portal to explore older tunes that once ruled the charts.
“[What] would it be if you opened your favorite music app in 1991? Or 1965?” the app description asks. “What are the biggest hits at the time? Who are the best artists or up-and-comers?”
For older music fans, these questions may be easier to answer. But Gen Z brings a new group of users who explore music through apps like TikTok, where the song’s release date doesn’t necessarily matter. TikTok has already proven successful in introducing younger people to popular songs from generations past, such as Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” — both of which went viral on the video app, breaking into the charts for years then their initial performance. And they are not alone.
This interest in older music coincides with other Gen Z “nostalgia” trends, such as their embrace of flip phones, Y2K fashion, corded headphones, disposable cameras, 90s music (actually a generational preference ) and of course, vinyl.
“I’ve always been interested in how music has changed over time,” Ziad said. “Back is a capsule of all the music, artists and big events in one place. The app offers a new way to discover new old music that is based on historical eras with a slight touch of nostalgia,” he continues. “It’s exciting to see momentum with thousands of listeners, Rewind is perfect for tastemakers and fans looking to discover new music from the good old days,” Ziad added.
However, the app isn’t just a way to view past years’ rankings. It takes things a step further and even includes some modern twists.
For starters, users can explore a given year’s music through top albums and top music videos, in addition to zooming in on Billboard’s top charts. It also delves into relevant trends from a given time period. For example, looking at the year 1991 offers a selection of “grunge-defining records” such as Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten, among others. Other sections feature songs that have had major radio airplay this year, highly anticipated releases and newly formed bands that have emerged this year, etc.
In addition, Rewind includes a “news” section that features important events and highlights from the year in question. It also features ads that give it a retro feel. For example, listeners in 1965 would see ads for the first distortion guitar pedal, while consumers browsing the 1980s might see ads for new synth tools that helped shape the sounds of the 80s.
For a bit of fun, the app uses ChatGPT to write short music album reviews in its Weekly Discovery feature and uses AI technology to curate mixtapes from different years by asking ChatGPT questions like “can you make me a 90’s mixtape -the best guitar riffs?”
Another feature offers a way to scroll through a TikTok-style music feed that accompanies each year. Here you can listen to clips of songs from the period in a vertical feed. This particular feature could be further developed to include like or comment buttons, but for now you can play or pause the song or open the song directly in TIDAL.
Unsurprisingly, given Ziad’s work, Rewind is integrating more deeply with TIDAL, allowing subscribers to stream songs in their entirety. The developer explains, this is because his work at TIDAL allows him easy access to TIDAL’s API and catalog. But if Rewind catches on, he’d like to add support for other music apps. However, even without a TIDAL subscription, users can stream 30-second previews and scroll through the app’s TikTok-like feed.
“The feedback I get from users is that even though I don’t have a TIDAL subscription, it’s still fun to go through the different years, get a weekly album discovery, scroll through the feed TikTok-style,” Ziad tells us.
Launched last month, the app gained several thousand downloads in its debut weekend and is slowly growing. It is available for free download on both Android and iOS and is currently not monetized.