Roughly 3 years ago, while Snowboarding with my two buddies Zac Byars and Clay McConnell at Beavercreek Resort in Vail Colorado, we decided to stop at our local “Sunspot” rest area, to grab a beer and recharge before we hit the next set of features. As we took off our boards to chill for a minute Clay happened to stumble upon a “Jam” while listening to music on his headphones and started to rap out the Lyrics. He promptly looked at us and said, “Man I wish you guys could hear what I was listening to”. And just like that, the idea was born.
I, a software developer, thought, you know, that wouldn’t be that hard to do. And so the adventure began. It began as just a way to sharpen my skills and learn technologies that I was interested in. I started out just developing a Web App, as that is what my day job focused around. So I actually got that up and prototyped pretty quickly. BUT, there were some major hurdles that were impossible to overcome that were very important for a Music App. For one, on the iPhone, if you are listening to music in the browser, and you put the phone to “sleep”, the music will be paused. Not good.
So, I began to look at developing a native app, something I had also been interested in learning. So I bought a Mac, as it is nearly impossible to develop an iOS app on anything but a Mac, and I started developing. And eventually a year or so later, after working when time allowed, a version of an iOS app, an Android app, and a Website were all prototyped and working.
So we released to friends and family and used it on a continuous basis, and eventually it got to a point where it was like, okay… Is this just a hobby/learning expedition? Or is this something that can be turned into a business? So I started to look at the business side of the Music/Media industry. And what I found was interesting… There will be another post with more of the details, but the gist of it is this: The wrong people are the ones making the money. And it had been going on for far too long. I wanted to change that.
I want to make it so the RIGHT people are the ones making the money.
A couple quick stats around it is this; on average, for every $1000 that a band brings in, they receive roughly $32. For every $1 Spotify earns, roughly $0.80 goes right out the door to the Record Labels. Something is not right here, the current model is not sustainable, and so WE at Sunspot are on a mission to change that. So, we drew up a plan.
We started to get more serious about the app, and more focused on what it was we were offering. I found a cofounder, and I hired a graphic designer to mock up a sexier looking skin. We started to talk to artists about what they were looking for, and what was missing. We looked around for ways we could differentiate ourselves from our MASSIVE competitors. So we did a lot of feature adding/pivoting.
We added Video, as well as audio, we added a Verified Artists platform, with a Payment system. We added Snapchat/Instagram style posting that works similar to the comment system that Soundcloud uses. We added LIVE streaming so that Artists and Users could share their performances, and Artists can get PAID for it. We added a chat room, we added Push Notifications, we added Leaderboards, so users and artists can see who their most avid listeners are. We added these items all while keeping the original idea of a Silent Disco for the World Wide Web. And then… It became time to share our application with the world, as we now feel the application is ready for prime time.
And now the next stage begins, convincing people to try our app.
Please try out the app, and join us in this adventure: Sunspot