Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Week 8: Write Rhythms & Give Feedback, Value Proposition, First Stats, Incorporation

Artists!  You can now write out rhythms with InNotation!  Head over to http://dfavela.com/innotation!

Feedback & Features

We wouldn't have such a useful service if we simply stuck to planned feature lists and specs before input from you, the quick musician.  To that end, we really want you to try writing out music!

Okay, so you  know about pop music...
It was last week's feedback that put editing notes -- which are now done! -- as the next priority, and it's that same feedback that is going to make us decide on how best to react to what users are saying  most.

  1. I'm trying to tap in "Shave and a Haircut" and I have no idea if I wrote it correctly because I don't read music.
  2. The note lengths are changing too fast for me to get the one I want.

    ...but do you know about the classics?
What did you think about your experience?  Here's how to really find out:
  • don't try to test out the feature for bugs, 
  • don't limit yourself to analyzing each component unrealistically, 
  • just try to write out your music and the best solutions (and any bugs) will expose themselves!
A different type of classic.

Value Proposition

On Saturday, we attended an informational and pitch-contest event hosted by Cross Campus, an up-and-coming collaborative workspace here in Santa Monica.  The observations and answers we found there, combined with the continued feedback from users both new and loyal, have further honed in and revealed the best angle for our pitch.

Here's how you can explain our service to a friend.

Buddy: Hey, what's that?
Heartily-Incredible Person: Just a competitive music creation game.  It's online and in development right now.
B: What does it do?
HIP: You know of Mozart or Beethoven, right?
B: Yeah.
HIP: Tell me who today's Mozart and Beethoven are.
B: Uh... I don't know, "Call Me Maybe" is pretty popular right now.
HIP: That's right.  None of us know because we're just letting the musical geniuses of our time die unheard.  You've probably seen better talent on YouTube than most of America has heard in a decade of radio, but your discovery ends at someone's Facebook wall!
B: Wow.  Historians are going to look back at our civilization's artists and either laugh or try to forget us.  How do we keep that from happening?!
HIP: This is how we're going to find the best music humanity can make.  You, I, and other awesome musicians and listeners are going to push some quality music up into humanity's winning musicians bracket.  Other musicians'll do the same.  Then anyone can go here and listen to the best music thanks to us -- actual composers and musicians!  Who knows, maybe I'll win with this piece I'm writing; I'm pretty awesome, after all.
B: You must be if you knew about this!

This angle was tested by refining it continuously during conversations at Saturday's event.  The more we got toward the angle of an online game for better music, the better the reactions.  It makes sense, after all: who doesn't want to create music as easily as playing a social game?  Who wouldn't want to hit the search button on YouTube and find the cream of the crop from other actual musicians?

Here's a version of the pitch itself; note that "InNotation" as a name may change.

InNotation is the musician's cheap, intuitive, and accessible game to
globally improve music in a market otherwise barred by
cost or isolated by old software models.
Their creations can be submitted and judged against other works and by other musicians.
Users and works can win a spot in competitive rankings, ultimately
crowdsourcing the best that internet-connected musicians have to offer.

By the Numbers!

Late in the week, we were able to set up a tracking system for some analytics.  Before we get into the numbers, though, let's make these vanity metrics even better by considering where we stand.
  • The days currently tracked are days without major updates. 
  • We haven't pushed on marketing devices, whether it's our twitter account or actual advertising.
  • Our user base is relatively closed, with friends merely looping in their friends that are also frustrated musicians on the lookout for great solutions.
The website on which InNotation is hosted shows over 100 hits as a daily average, with the innotation page being the most popular.  We'll update with more milestones over time.

Forming the Corporation: Legal Steps

On Friday of last week, Robert wrapped up the first steps for our monetization.  With interest and development continuing for our project, we want to use this button for a few things.
  • Ensure that the functionality is implemented correctly!
  • Gauge how effective a Google Wallet "Buy" button is outside of the app.
  • Gauge how supportive users are willing to be to let us keep making this!
After launch, supporters will be rewarded with an indicator that sets their usernames apart from other users, indicating that this early adopter had the foresight and disposition to help establish our product and company.

Luckily, a friend informed us that this is a big legal step just as we were on the verge of finalizing the implementation with our Google Merchant account.  Saturday's event yielded answers, guidance, and resources which indicate our next step is to form our corporation.

We are now looking into legal counsel.  If you have input or recommendations around pre-paid legal services (our most likely option at this time), please contact us at our email (trivialsoftware [at] Google's popular mail service -dotcom).  If you are a lawyer or attorney capable of advising us for a deferred cost, we are happy to negotiate terms for your services.

After this next step, we will be able to start iterating on monetization strategies to -- we hope! -- set an example as a non-evil, effective microtransaction-sustained service provider.

... And the Beat Goes On ...

Robert takes the reigns of development as legal counsel is sought and incorporation finalized.  He'll be setting the stage with a treble clef and time signature to clarify the writing of music.  After that, he'll be starting on an indicator for the metronome so that rhythm-writing becomes clearer.

Expect a new build with those indicators next week, as well as a company well on its way to being founded!

No longer shall the software developer's language conflict with the artist's language!
(Courtesy of a Facebook share from our early adopter Frank Salgado)

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