Propellerhead has developed new portable music-creation apps and an accompanying ecosystem for musicians and consumers.SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Propellerhead, the Swedish software developer behind such products as Reason, Re- Cycle and ReBirth, has launched a new social music-making platform that enables musicians worldwide to collaborate. Leveraging the company’s mobile apps and global access to the cloud, the Make Music initiative, launched June 1, enables participants to upload tracks for other Propellerhead users to further develop, remix or edit.
“We think there’s a real revolution underfoot,” says Doug Provisor, SVP of sales and marketing, Propellerhead Software, in San Francisco. “We see the future for making music being highly mobile-based. People have got a studio in their pocket; all they need is the software and the motivation to use it.”
The new platform addresses some of the limitations of the traditional MI industry, Propellerhead believes, opening up the creative process to people of all ages, any gender and regardless of economic circumstances or geographic location. “It turns out that these people, if they’re younger, are growing up on mobile,” Provisor explains. “We estimate that there’s at least half a billion installs of music-making apps on iOS alone, from at least 1,000 unique apps, including GarageBand. That’s a huge number and dwarfs anything in the MI space.”
But these non-professional music makers are typically working in isolation, he also notes. “They’re lonely islands, generally with no way to connect with other music makers to experience what magic there is when you make music with other people.”
Propellerhead has already built a significant user base for its mobile apps via Apple, including Take, a 3-track vocal recorder, and Figure, a music creation tool. “We’ve had over 2.4 million installs of Figure, which launched a few years ago,” Provisor reports. Take is intended as a dedicated tool for the many music makers who have been using the Voice Memos app that comes with Apple’s iOS.
For Propellerhead’s new social platform, “Our simple use model is that you can create a piece of music, drop it to the service, somebody else can create something on top of it and drop it back. You can enter the service by creating something, or by looking and discovering something that inspires you.”
Any registered user can work on the uploaded sounds. “If I record something and drop it to the service and you open it, you can do with it whatever you want—even edit it or make it unrecognizable from what I put out there.”
Although the cloud offers unlimited storage capacity, for the moment, says Provisor, “We’ve got an arbitrary limit of 10 minutes on music pieces. That could be a song or a loop or noise.”
Displayed with each uploaded piece are metrics such as the Propellerhead app originally used to create the music, the number of plays it has received and the number of versions that it has further generated. “We have one piece that has had about 200 reuses,” he reports.
Tracing that branching and a piece’s lineage offers potential in the future for things like music licensing, he also comments: “You can tell who contributed to what.”
Results thus far have been a mixed bag, as might be expected. “But we’re seeing some really interesting collaborations,” he says. For example, “We’ve got people in China making beats, and rappers in Saudi Arabia rapping over them.”
For the moment, the developer is approaching the initiative like an internet start-up, studying what users are doing and listening to what they want, so the platform could well evolve. For instance, other cloud-based services such as Blend and Splice offer a collaboration platform to professional users. Eventually, Propellerhead might enable pro users to create a “studio” where they can collaborate privately, for a fee, he says.
“We don’t have a revenue or business model associated with this; it’s free. For people using it a lot, for the purpose of commercial music production or trying to develop their skills, we may have a paid service with unlimited storage. Advertising might be one of the business models in the future, like Facebook.”
There is also interest from Apple, Avid and other developers to integrate with Propellerhead’s platform, he reports. “We’ve created an SDK that allows third-party apps to connect to our social network. When that occurs, it means that if you’re using GarageBand or Pro Tools or any of the other 1,000 apps, they will be able to be front ends to this social network.”
But initially, says Provisor, “We’re focusing on what we think is an unmet need out there, which is music-making for people who just want to do it for the love and joy of it. You can look at this as a dating service, matching people with similar interests in music.
“But the real innovation, we think, is that it could be somebody who is just a self-taught rapper and does it for fun. Now they have a legitimate way to express themselves and collaborate with other people.”