For the past five months, I have been working almost exclusively on Jam for iPhone – without a doubt, the most complex application/platform I have helpedbuild. These five months brought plenty of joy, frustration, sleepless nights, anxiety and moments of sheer satisfaction. As cliché as this may sound, it was a roller coaster ride. I thought it would be a good ideato write about it, as I always loved reading posts like this myself. There’s a lot about the whole development process here too, so if you’re interested on the lessons learned only, feel free to skip to the end. I hope you enjoy reading through!

Background

Jam is an application developed by DreamWalk Interactive that enables people with little or no musical knowledge or experience to create awesome songs by merely singing on their iPhone. Unlike other similar apps, Jam for iPhone actually strives to understand what the artist (that’s what we call our users) tried to sing and builds backing tracks to match that on the fly instead of modifying the vocal track to suit pre-recorded loops. There are two major advantages in this approach: first, the songs Jam generates sound different from each other, which keeps people coming back for more; second, it is a much more rewarding experience for the artist. It is also a hell of a lot harder to do, as we were about to find out.

Once an artist creates a song, it’s time for the social aspects of Jam to shine. Music is (usually) a social experience, and we wanted to bring that to the app by allowing artists to publish their tracks, get fans, hit the charts and share their favourites. To make it all more fun, the whole app feels like a game, with users unlocking badges, getting signed to virtual record labels, earning royalties from their songs and so on.

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By Thiago Campezzi – Head of Development at DreamWalk Interactive

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