As an independent rock musician, Stationhead CEO Ryan Star recalls getting frustrated every time he tried to convince a radio station program director to play his songs. “We don’t break the hits, we play the hits,” was the common response. Six years later, the startup Star co-founded—a form of fan-organized radio for the streaming age—has become something of a hitmaker itself.
In late May, fans of the Korean pop superstars BTS convened on one Stationhead channel where the host played BTS’ new song “Butter.” Some 240,000 listeners on the app streamed the song at once, helping drive Butter to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for nine weeks.