Over the coming months, I'll be adding a focus on mobile apps developed for use by professional musicians in the broadest sense. Last week I interviewed the cofounders of two mobile apps, Vyclone and CrowdSync, designed to stitch together fan videos of live shows and facilitate the creation and editing of videos from multiple sources by fans. These apps take the user generated video content made famous by YouTube and turns such footage into a vehicle for artists to connect with fans and even for the production of actual music videos.
This week I'm focusing on Vyclone, in part because they can claim a wee bit of seniority in the space, but rather than comparing apps or reviewing them as products, I want to share their stories and focus on each app as a standalone product.
Vyclone's Origin Tale
I spoke with Vyclone cofounders David King Lassman, a serial entrepreneur, and Joe Sumner, a seasoned musician determined to come to terms with the digital age despite his preference for an earlier era.
Sumner shared an increasingly common origin tale for apps related in one way or another to live shows. Touring in the 'oughts, Sumner said that his initial idea for the app came from seeing fans at concerts recording shows and finding that the results being uploaded to the web were typically of poor quality. In the process he began to envision the merging of this footage into higher quality edited videos.
This audience behavior has actually inspired many app creators yet still surprises some of my older friends who, like me, come from an age where such tools were not as readily available or as ubiquitous. Live audiotaping of shows characterized my generation and was often done surreptitiously.
Now one can see fans freely recording concerts with smartphones. Fortunately, rather than attempting to suppress such behavior as many in the music industry have done in the past when facing new technologies, musicians like Sumner who prefers the old days are stepping up and not only adapting but finding new roles in a changing world.
Vyclone Receives a Wide Range of Positive Recognition
Connecting with his entrepreneurial friend David King Lassman, they set out to turn Sumner's vision into reality and the resulting app, Vyclone, has already been widely noted in the larger tech media space including being named one of:
This broad recognition is quite impressive and includes a presence in a variety of other best of 2012 tech columns and lists of top apps.
Here's How Vyclone Works
Vyclone is available as a free iOS app that allows users to record video, upload it to Vyclone, have it automatically synced with other video from the same event and receive an edited version in return. Users also have the option of remixing the video footage using the app even if they weren't at the event or part of the recording proces.
Though Vyclone does have a website, the action is focused on the mobile app. However, a web and tablet version is on their roadmap since that can make the editing and interactive experience much easier.
Vyclone identifies related video using physical location via GPS, specific venues and overlaps in time. The resulting algorithmically edited and remixed videos can be uploaded to social media sites and also saved on one's camera roll allowing for upload to YouTube.
I think the mix of automated editing with the option to remix the footage is a particularly powerful combo. Despite a certain amount of hype around increased creativity fostered by tools such as Vyclone, the reality is that most user generated content is created by folks who don't want to be faced with making editing decisions or doing anything the least bit complicated. Yet allowing for editing after the fact opens up the app to the needs of what one might call superusers as well as people working directly with bands.
In fact, though they take the longest audio track available from uploaded footage, use that as a source and normalize the rest of the audio around that, Vyclone can also work with bands to employ live feeds and special recordings made for such use.
Better still, up and coming artists can contact Vyclone and they'll do their best to work with you on utilizing higher quality audio. But the longer term goal is to improve the app to the point where higher quality audio is simply part of the process and can be employed without contacting Vyclone.
The Many Uses of Vyclone
As Dan Kricke notes in a hands-on review, the process doesn't work so well when you're the only one recording the event and uploading it to Vyclone. So individual users are likely to be frustrated by the lack of critical mass.
However, as I recently suggested to a young musician, Kat Liang aka F0XYr4bB!T, who contacted me through mutual friends for music marketing tips, such video apps are ideal for turning a live show into a video shoot by fans.
I suggested she organize a special event, get her current friendbase to turn out with their smartphones and focus on one or more of her best songs. Since she has yet to record a full music video, this would be a fun beginning that might actually result in something of which both she and her fans could be proud. If nothing else, it would bring her local fans and friends together, build solidarity and encourage them to spread the word by sharing the resulting video.
Though Vyclone is not a music-specific app, Joe Sumner's involvement and the trend setting nature of musicians has put them in a position to connect with many in the music industry to make use of and market Vyclone. Vyclone has numerous examples of well known musicians such as Jason Mraz and Madonna who have embraced the app.
In addition, Ed Sheeran has a video for his song "Give Me Love" off his debut album that shows a different way of using Vyclone. It combines fan footage and footage shot by a Vyclone crew for a more diverse look connected by a single song.
Vyclone Intends to Maintain Strong Involvement in Music
Both cofounders emphasized that though Vyclone can be used for a variety of other things, they not only feel a particularly strong connection to music but believe that Vyclone can help musicians benefit more directly from fan generated content. Eventually they anticipate musicians sharing in revenue as the company develops currently undisclosed ways to make money.
If you're interested in more of the Vyclone backstory, simply Google Joe Sumner and David King Lassman and you'll find out quite a bit about two already accomplished men now focused on this mobile video app.
I should note that Sumner didn't mention that his dad is Sting which I didn't realize till after the fact. That impresses me a lot more than name dropping such a lineage. All most celebrity kids have is their parents' name but Joe Sumner's got a name of his own.