The Vision for My Next Company

Let’s Make Better Apps for Music Creators

I’ve been happily surprised by all of the attention my previous post about starting a new company received. The intention was to cast a wider net in my search for co-founders and hopefully reach some awesome and bored people just waiting for a reason to do something new. Little did I expect to get so much positive feedback and hundreds of emails from people all over the world.

Thanks for all the support so far!

In the post I mentioned that I’d been looking into ideas for improving recruiting and this naturally led to a lot of emails from people interested in that space. However, after a couple of weeks’ research, I was less interested in helping people find better jobs and more excited about helping people make better music. Exploring different ideas turned out to be a great way to get a better perspective on what I’m really passionate about and get back to doing what I really love.

Music technology has been the red thread throughout my career and it’s definitely the field I know and care most about. I was always super interested in music and technology as a kid, started making music with computers as a teenager, worked as a sound engineer at Swedish Radio, wrote my thesis at Propellerhead, and helped building SoundCloud by connecting most of the world’s music apps to the platform.

I think it’s time that someone disrupts the music software space, and that’s what I’ve decided to do now.

What’s Wrong with Music Creation Apps Today

Ever since I wrote my thesis (available as pdf), I’ve been passionate about inviting more people into the world of music creation by drastically changing how music apps are designed. Companies like Propellerhead, Steinberg and Apple have done a great job turning the professional recording studio into affordable software. This has been a technically challenging transformation that has taken many years. However, with modern platforms like iOS, technology isn’t the biggest challenge for creating great music apps anymore. Therefore, it’s time to shift the focus to user interface design and ask whether the traditional studio model is really suitable for the next generation of music creators.

The studio paradigm adds a lot of unwanted technical complexity and limits our ability to properly design apps that support the creative aspects of music making. Without getting too academic, music apps are essentially way too complicated for most new users.

We need to design tools for music creators rather than sound engineers.

Music apps generally have too many features and are designed for too many use cases. This is generally due to the fact that a large chunk of revenue comes from paid upgrades, and in order for upgrades to sell they have to be packed with new features. The problem is that a ton of features isn’t necessarily the formula for making great apps.

How I Want to Build Better Music Apps

Before synthesisers made their way into pop music, critics claimed that real music could only be made with real instruments. Similar arguments were raised when digital technology was introduced in the studio world, and not long ago most people thought it would be impossible to make a hit single by only using a laptop and software. The next step is to bring serious music making to the iPad. The platform still has a lot of limitations, but limitations are good for creativity, and the touch interface opens up new possibilities for new types of interaction.

I’ve finalised the concept for our first product: an app for creating drum and sound patterns, and arranging them into songs. There will be no record button. You create melodies and rhythms by drawing notes instead of playing in real time. It’s essentially like a step sequencer that allows for more musical expression and variation.

I’m currently working on screen designs together with a very skilled designer, and the next step is to build a hi-fi prototype to test the interaction and validate the concept. The goal is then to be able to ship the MVP in less than 6 months.

We’re looking for a great audio app developer who wants to help building a solid sound and midi engine for our first app.

The core team will be based in Stockholm but we’re open to having talented people who share our vision working remotely. We’ll definitely need more great designers, iOS developers, DSP coders, and sound designers to realise our vision. If you’re passionate about building the world’s best music software, don’t hesitate to reach out via hello [at] henriklenberg.com and make sure to follow @lenberg on Twitter to stay updated on the project.

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