The four Trybe app founders outside Chad Kroeger’s jet on a trip to Silicon Valley. From left, Bill Swinimer, Felipe Freig, Chad Kroeger and Dan Swinimer. (Submitted photo)

TECHNOLOGY

B.C.-born Trybe social media app’s award system connects with Nickelback singer

Rock stars, jet planes, scooter tricks and the creation of a new platform ready for launch

Dan Swinimer helped gather a tribe to launch a new app he hopes will disrupt the world of social media and websites where things are bought and sold.

Currently beta-tested for public launch, the Trybe platform counts Nickelback singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger among its four “founders/angels,” along with Swinimer, his father Bill and fellow Surrey-area musician/construction company boss Felipe Freig.

“We set out to try and monetize social media, while making it a safer and more positive experience,” said Swinimer, who lives in the Clayton area of Surrey. “We felt it unfair that social media users do all the work, provide all the content but make none of the profits.”

Trybe is based on an award system that sends as little as 10 cents per “like,” coupled with a built-in “win-win” for users, as Swinimer describes it.

“Every time you award someone else’s post, you get exposure for your own post which gives you a better chance of your post being seen and also making money in awards,” he told the Now-Leader.

“It’s turned into a thing, it really has,” added the Ontario-raised Swinimer. “We sold shares and raised almost $2 million, we have head offices in Toronto, a CEO (Thomas Jankowski) and staff of 10 coders. It’s turned into so much more than we originally conceived.”

In the late-2000s, Swinimer and Freig were members of the rock band Jet Black Stare when they met Kroeger, who shared a manager at the time.

(Story continues below video)

Today, Swinimer is a songwriter/producer with his own Manicdown Productions, and Frieg runs Langley-based Versa Homes.

A couple of years ago, Frieg told Swinimer about an issue involving his teen son, Jadis, who’d been posting video of his scooter-riding tricks to social media.

“You can’t even believe the tricks that this kid can do on the scooter, it’s amazing,” Swinimer said. “His son didn’t have any sponsors at that point, but he was spending hours and hours every day practicing, getting really, really good, and then he spent his own money buying all this video equipment and editing software. So he’d spend four or five hours a day practicing, learning tricks, videoing them from multiple angles, then he’d edit these videos just so that he could post them on social media. And what does he get for that? The ‘likes,’ and that’s it. He’d been doing this for a while, and we realized that with the social media model, everyone is providing the product and getting nothing in return.”

(Story continues below video)

View this post on Instagram

Few super sketchy ones too stay active¡! • Got rained out before I could get the last one any cleaner :/ • •👇🏼Make sure to follow the sponsors👇🏼 • @luckyscooters 🍀• • @highrollerenergydrink 🎲 • • @thespacebrace 🦴• • @lairproshop 🛴• • • • • • • • • @ohlaybrand @undialed @jpscooters @thescooterfarm @scootusa #legacyproscooters #tiltscooters #tiltlife #undialed #undialedtv #tsiscooters #outsetselect #aztekscooters #rideproto #protoscooters #skyhighscooters #ohlaybrand #scooter #scootering #explorepage #ohlaybrand #rideua #aoscooters #tsiordie #jawnsondeck #skate #giveaway #nativescooters #envyscooters #ethicdtc #tvps #bluntscooters #northscooters #thescooterfarm #skateboard #playboicarti

A post shared by J Freig🇨🇦🇨🇱 (@jadisfreig_) on

After Swinimer and Freig talked some more, they clicked on the idea for Trybe as a way to monetize social media.

“It’s a platform where if you post something, you have a chance to make money on that post,” Swinimer elaborated. “When people post to social media, the most important thing is content, connecting with people and receiving validation from others. So imagine if you mixed in the possibility of making money and also having complete control over how many people will see your posts.… The more people I reward, the more people will see my posts, and the more chance I have of making money on my posts. If the content is good and views-to-engagement ratio is high, it also drives exposure to the post, so that lights a little fire under the post.”

• RELATED STORY, from May 2020: Arm surgery for Nickelback’s Surrey-raised drummer Daniel Adair.

Out of the gate, Kroeger had the level of celebrity pull sought by Swinimer and Freig for Trybe.

“We discussed it with Chad and right away, he was excited about it because he could see how it could transform the music business,” Swinimer recalled. “It could completely disrupt the entire distribution chain, because it’s a pain in the ass going through iTunes, which takes a lot of the proceeds. So what about a world where you post new music on Trybe? You give a download code to anyone who rewards this post with a dollar or more, and now you’re keeping all the money that comes in.”

Right now, to get early access to the app, users join a waitlist by downloading the iOS or Android app from trybe.ly.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Nickelback raved about Trybe’s launch to the band’s 738,000 followers on the rival Twitter platform: “No more giving away your creativity and time to social media giants. The new way — Social. Be yourself, be with your people, get rewards. See you on there.” A day later, Avril Lavigne posted the same message for her 21 million followers on Twitter.

Swinimer says Kroeger is “very involved” in the project, and likes to be in the meetings when and where he can, including the time when the four Trybe founders flew in Kroeger’s private jet to Silicon Valley.

“We didn’t tour with Nickelback (with Jet Black Stare) back then, but toured with a lot of their friends, like 3 Doors Down, Hinder and Staind,” Swinimer recalled. “For someone of his level of recognition, Chad is very accessible to musicians. He’s not hard to find and he’s happy to talk to people. One night he took us out to celebrate our record deal when we first signed it, so that was kind of our first foray. He took us out to the Commodore Ballroom because Kid Rock was doing a special invite-only show there. So we’re in his little VIP section, and then we went to some penthouse suite afterwards to hang out. It was weird, man, because up to that point it was all independent music, never getting anywhere, and all the sudden we’re partying with Kid Rock. It was a wild ride.”

In the decade since those rock-band days, after Jet Black Stare’s record deal with Island Def Jam had collapsed, Swinimer turned his attention to country music and launching the careers of musicians including Madeline Merlo and Jojo Mason. “I’ve been living in Surrey for 20 years,” he noted. “I built my production company here and have written/produced upwards of 40 hit songs since starting.”

• RELATED STORY, from March 2020: Surrey’s JoJo Mason brings mom along for Saturday song during Diesel Bird Digital Music Festival.

As for Trybe, the app’s public release should be in a month or so, he said.

“We’re using a system where we are making it very exclusive and making people excited about it, excited to get in early. We have multiple celebrities on board to get behind this new idea once we are public. It’s very exciting.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The French Creek Pollution Control Centre. (PQB News file photo)
RDN targets grants for major projects in Nanoose Bay, French Creek and Whiskey Creek

Official says projects have a strong chance to be approved for cash

The regional fire training building project is now in use by fire departments in District 69. (Submitted photo)
Parksville Qualicum Beach area has new regional training building for firefighters

Project a collaboration involving multiple fire departments

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Alberni. (News Bulletin file photo)
UPDATE: More sailings cancelled after ferry breaks down

Queen of Alberni out of commission, BC Ferries revises schedules

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay arrives at Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Anti-mask protesters cause disturbance on ferry at Horseshoe Bay

Queen of Oak Bay delayed by about 45 minutes Saturday morning

In this photo illustration, a provincial election mail-in ballot sealed in an Elections B.C. return envelope is seen before being deposited in a Canada Post mailbox, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The final result of British Columbia’s provincial election won’t be known for at least two weeks because more than 700-thousand mail-in ballots have to be counted by hand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s snap election means 700k ballots will be counted manually, delaying results

Elections BC spokesman said employees in 87 electoral districts will count mail-in ballots one by one

Most Read