Rewind, a new app that aims to make it easier for music fans to experience the best songs of decades past, is designed to meet consumer demand for nostalgic music experiences and lets users “travel through time” through the music charts from 1960 through 2010 to learn about how older songs have influenced today’s hits. The app was created by Ziad Al Halabi, a developer whose day job is mobile app development for TIDAL and who previously launched Backtrackit, an audio player for musicians that received over 2 million downloads. The goal of Rewind, which started out as a weekend project, is to provide a way to revisit older tracks that once ruled the charts. Or 1965? The app’s description asks, “What were the biggest hits at the time?” These questions may be simpler to answer for older music listeners, but Gen Z represents a new generation of consumers who are discovering music through applications like TikTok, where the release date of a song is not always significant.
TikTok has already proven its worth in introducing young people to classic songs of previous generations, such as Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” which went viral on the video app and then debuted in the Top 10 years after their first release. And they are not the only ones. This interest in old music fits in well with other Gen Z “nostalgia” trends, such as their embrace of flip phones, Y2K fashion, wired headphones, disposable cameras, 90s music (a preference that spans generations, in fact), and vinyl. “Rewind is a compilation of all music, artists, and major events in one place. “It’s a unique way of discovering old music with a touch of nostalgia that reflects historical eras.” According to Ziadh, Rewind is ideal for tastemakers and fans seeking fresh music from the past.
The app isn’t just a way to look back on charts from years past, however. It goes even further, with some contemporary twists like allowing users to explore music from a given year by top albums and top music videos, as well as growing the top Billboard charts. It also gives a look at major trends from a given time period. For example, looking at 1991, there is a selection of “grunge-defining” records, such as Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” among others. Other sections focus on music that received major radio airtime that year, highly anticipated releases, and newly formed bands that emerged that year, among other topics.
In addition, Rewind has a “News” section that displays major events and moments from the year in question. It also features ads with a retro feel, such as ads for the first distortion guitar pedal in 1965, while users of the 1980s may see ads for new synth instruments that helped shape 80s sounds. The app used ChatGPT to write short reviews of music albums in its “Weekly Discovery” feature, and it made use of AI to create mixtapes for different years by asking ChatGPT questions such as “Can you make me a mixtape of the 90s’ best guitar riffs?”
Another option is to scroll through a TikTok-style music feed that comes with each year, in which you can see song excerpts from the year in a vertical flow. This particular feature could be improved with “like” or “comment” buttons, but for now, you can play, pause, or open the track directly in TIDAL. Given Ziad’s position, it’s not surprising that Rewind is more integrated with TIDAL, which allows subscribers to listen to tracks in full, as the developer explains. This is because his work at TIDAL allowed him to quickly access TIDAL’s API and catalog, but if Rewind becomes popular, he would like to add support for other music applications.
But even without a TIDAL subscription, users can stream the 30-second previews and browse the app’s TikTok-style feed. The app was launched last month and immediately started receiving a few thousand downloads. It is currently growing slowly. It is available as a free download on both Android and iOS, and currently, it does not generate any revenue.