STRV & Songclip: A New Form of Expression
When Songclip came to STRV for design and development, they came with a vision: build a platform by which users can create, customize and combine visual communication with tunes from the world’s biggest artists.
Now, some three years and a heck of a lot of work later, Songclip offers a revolutionary way to utilize licensed music, working with a format build for the 8-second attention span of modern communication.
As the world’s only patented messaging API platform, Songclip is the go-to place for any social or digital company looking to offer fully-licensed music clips as a feature. With a vast database of popular music, it gives users access to byte-sized clips that can be added to pictures, videos, stickers and more.
Just like GIFs, choosing the right tune is an efficient way to quickly connect with friends. So it’s only natural that this feature signals fresh terrain in the areas of social media, entertainment, messaging and dating platforms.
In many aspects, Songclip also represents a new medium for music consumption within itself. Regardless of whether one’s preferred listening system is vinyl, iPod, downloads or streaming services, these methods don’t cater to the unavoidable nature of our ever-shortening attention spans. And they certainly don't easily integrate with texting communications.
In the words of Songclip CEO, Andrew Blacker, “With over 60 billion text messages sent daily in the U.S. alone and growing, texting dominates human communication. But now, with Songclip, music is part of the conversation.”
Songclip offers users the ability to search by mood, genre, keyword, artist, expression, album or song title to help them communicate an exact frame of mind. If a user’s not quite digging the pre-selected song choices, they can choose another. Want to shorten a song to a specified length? Go right ahead. Songclip was built to be the perfect tool for saying happy birthday, making plans with co-workers, getting back into good graces with family and stoking the flames of a sports rivalry with friends.
For a closer look behind the work which brought this multi-industry game-changer to life, we sat down for a Q&A with STRV backend developer Milan Manasievski, iOS developer Tomas Cejka and project manager Filipe Simoes.
Please give us an overview of the project.
Filipe: Songclip launched in 2017, but we’ve been working on the project for three plus years. It’s one of the longest-running client projects we have at STRV. In addition to the app, we’ve built Messenger and Slack extensions as well as sharing capabilities for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and iMessage.
Milan: We’ve also built a way for sharing the API with partners so they can implement Songclip with their apps. We’ve helped Songclip become a strong, reliable platform.
With Songclip, the music thematically connects with the visuals of whatever imagery is used. How was this achieved?
Milan: It’s all about the metadata that we get from, for example, a GIF and the given song clip. There’s some magic around that which combines those two to find out how good of a match they are. There’s a bit of machine learning which is involved as well. A user can search for a song if they’re not satisfied with the pre-selected song clip. So, in this way, the actual user base assists with improving the matching of songs with GIFs.
What was the creation of the Songclip keyboard like? Any hurdles in the design or functionality process?
Tomas: To be honest, it was quite crazy. First, we struggled with limited memory in the keyboard extension because we were animating items in collections and in various formats (mp4, gif, webp). Second, we needed a native keyboard. But the final result is good, and users like it—so it was worth it.
Creating a platform of this scale must have been quite the undertaking. What did it take and what were some of the biggest challenges?
Milan: The whole thing was pretty much built and designed in-house. The client came up with the concept and had a wireframe, but there were many variables and unanswered questions. We created a method by which a song can be dragged and dropped and, in the process, we get all the metadata: year of release, artist, title, album, everything that’s attached to that file. In the same process, we were able to figure out what the portions of that song are so we can create clips from it automatically.
Tomas: We tried different variants of flow so that user sharing would be fast and simple. We did a lot of user testing and AB testing to proof user expectations and behavior with how they use the app. There were many changes made in the development process.
Milan: The iOS app was built from the ground up. The API which talks to the iOS app was also built from the ground up. Then there was the music, which is all copyrighted; we had to find a way to communicate with the music label to let them know how many downloads each song has had and how many times it's been listed—generally reporting end usage with the labels.
Filipe: Right now, it’s Milan and Tomáš on the project. But we’ve had many different teams working on it for a long time. We had designers such as Katka Potuzakova, as well as additional frontend and backend help from Jakub Kotula and Jan Hybl. The project has had quite a history of cooperation from multiple departments at STRV.
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