By Erik Thompson
When inspiration strikes, you need to catch it quick -- on a bar napkin, the back of an envelope, a whiteboard or a smartphone. For songwriters, that means capturing that elusive melody or writing down the perfect lyric before it floats away into the ether.
Countless musicians have used their iPhone's notes app and the voice-memo function for these purposes, but how about something that's been designed for their creations? A Minneapolis group is debuting an app called Hum, with the intention of being a faster,
smarter, better way to capture and organize your songwriting ideas.
On Monday, January 27, three designers/musicians -- founders Aaron Shekey and Joseph Kuefler, along with the app's back-end architect Ellen Shapiro -- launched a new app that seamlessly combines those many different tasks into one terrific new tool for songwriters.
"So many apps focus on automating the musical experience. It's easy to find synths or drum machines or looping apps, but no one seems to be focusing on the songwriter," explains Kuefler. "The guy sitting in his room with a guitar trying to find that next chord. The girl on the bus with a melody stuck in her head. These are the people we're focused on."
The fact that both Shekey (the Usual Things) and Kuefler (the Alarmists) are musicians as well as designers helped them pinpoint precisely what a songwriter needs in an app, as well as what was currently lacking in the marketplace. So they crafted an app that satisfies all of a songwriters' disparate needs, conveniently storing song sketches all in one place, while also seamlessly combining lyrics, melodies, and song structures into one sortable space that you can easily share with your bandmates and friends.
They worked directly with a bunch of musicians while they were developing the app, who helped them focus on their distinctive needs and how best to clearly and cleanly integrate what they were looking for directly into their app. "To our surprise, word spread pretty quickly and we soon had requests coming in from other states like California and Utah -- even as far abroad as Australia and Germany," explains Kuefler appreciatively. "Every tester helped to make Hum better, and we're forever grateful to them."
See a shot of Hum on the next page.
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