How original is your idea ?

Heyaa !

Lets talk something about startups, thinking and effort that goes behind them.

I never thought of coming up with Altertunes. It was more of a learning process which eventually transformed into a passion to build a professional website. But then it is never easy to think of an idea which can click for you over internet now-a-days. However in my case, my music technology background combined with my passion to play music, drove me to work on something which can help users maintain their music online.

But, what if I was not a guitarist, or what if I would have chosen some other field to work upon in my college days. A website over music won’t have been my first choice then. This brings us to a question, what factors influence someone, to start a website on a particular idea ?

Here I have tried to jot down a few things that I learnt from my experiences while working upon Altertunes :

  1. Idea behind your website: Most important aspect which influences the success or failure of a website is the idea which it runs upon. In todays world,  where people have succeeded doing almost everything which they can think of, its tough to come up with an original idea. You think of something and you will find hundreds of websites offering the same service in some or the other mode. If you happen to find an idea which hasn’t been implemented yet, you are a successful person. But the story doesn’t end over here.
  2. Look out, do some research: Before I started working on the ideas driving Altertunes, I thought of many more ideas to implement. While a few of them were already in place and implemented by others, rest were impossible to implement due to some technical limitations. If you happen to think of an idea which is unique, and you are feeling happy about it, better stop by and look why hasn’t the idea already been implemented ?
  3. Who are your targeted users ? More the number of targeted users, more is the possibility of your website to be a hit (as simple as that!). But in reality, it doesn’t simply end here. In the case of Altertunes, which happens to be an online music management website targeting users who love listening to music. But this doesn’t qualify all music listeners as users for Altertunes. Why would someone come to a website, and stream a song to listen to it ? Why not listen to the same songs locally (i.e. on their PCs) ? Similarly, if your website focuses on musicians and not music lovers, that further, narrows down the margin. Finally, your targeted region (Indian sub-continent, US, Europe etc) also makes a huge impact on the number of users your website targets.
  4. Does your website live up to users’ expectations ? After the birth of Google and other companies who have used Ajax and other technologies to build their websites, the expectation threshold of the users from a website has increased many folds. Spell Checker, Auto Suggest, Dynamic web pages are a few things I can think of, which a general user will expect from a website nowadays. So even if your idea is unique, it doesn’t guarantee your website a top ranking in Alexa. So better look out for a good coder or designer who can implement all the know how of web 2.0.
  5. Revenue and Publicity – Have you thought about it ? One of the initial mistakes I made with Altertunes was, I never thought about the revenue and publicity factor for it. Though revenue doesn’t matter to Altertunes at this point in time, but it will soon become a factor as the traffic increases. With more users expecting same level of service you will some really good servers for your website, and they doesn’t come for less nowadays. So better think of a revenue system for your website before you release it. Secondly, I never thought about how will I make Altertunes reach to the masses. I always thought that my Gmail friend list of 1120 will be more than sufficient to publicize Altertunes. Nowadays an Orkut and Facebook application is must for your website to be a hit among masses. So add these two components to your game plan.

Probably this can be a never ending list of things, but I have tried to jot down some of the most essential ones here. If you think any of the important point which I have missed discussing here, feel free to post the same here.

All the best for your Startup 🙂

My journey with Music and Altertunes

Hey there !

Its been close to 5 years now, since I first plucked the guitar strings and close to 3 years since I started working in the field of Music Information Retrieval and Audio Processing Technologies. Overall I can say that, the better half of my life has been ruled by Music in the past 5 years or so, and it continues to do so in the form of Altertunes.com.

Launched on 1 April, 2008, Altertunes is a social utility that helps people find their favorite music more easily and efficiently. It all started about 6 months back in October 2007, when I was given some training sessions on Web Application Servers. I was then introduced to the terms like Tomcat, Apache, IIS and other web application servers. Though the training sessions got over in a few days, it was a new beginning for me. I was so awed by these technologies that, my next 6 months were fully occupied by them.

Though my job profile didn’t demand any knowledge in the field of Web Development, out of interest, I started working on developing my skill sets in web development. It took me about 1 and a half months to know the basics of web development and how the things work on web. Finally, I thought of combining my knowledge of Music Information Retrieval and Web Development together, and came up with Altertunes.

The basic idea behind Altertunes was to come up with technologies that will allow its users to manage their music online, access them from any part of the world, and share their favorite songs and artists with other people in a trusted and secure environment. With Altertunes, one can explore this vast trove of music to their heart’s content. One just needs to drop the name of one of their favorite artists into Altertunes and rest is handled by it. Altertunes will quickly scan it entire music database, to find songs musically similar to the user’s choice. Then the user can just sit back and enjoy, create playlists, see who else on Altertunes is having a similar music taste, what all playlists others have made. To build the music meshup in Altertunes, I used API’s from AudioScrobbler and YouTube.

In future, I look forward to developing browser-based tools and applications which will help users manage their music from their desktops, get real time recommendations and related stuff which current music recommendation systems like last.fm and musicstrands fail to provide.

Music and My Guitar : How it all started (Part 1)

Well if you ask few things I can’t live without, apart from my parents,love and friends it will be guitar and music that will make to the list.

But I was never a born musician. There were friends of mine (Amit Chandra alias Candy and Navneet Singh alias Noni) from school days who used to play old country stuff along with Lucky Ali and K.K. but I was always a part of audience then.

My first real introduction to music was done while I was preparing for JEE examination(25th December 2002). By then Candy and Noni had moved from the world of Lucky Ali to Metallica, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith and the likes. One day after my coaching classes as I entered Candies house I found a lot of noisy stuff going inside. Actually they were listening to Fly Away (Aerosmith). At that stage I was just like any other normal person without a bit a of knowledge about music. I couldn’t even play Sa,Re,Ga,Ma on guitar or infact any instrument. I asked them ‘Whats the big deal in this song’. They laughed at me and asked to sing the song for them, as they were planning to form some rock band. Well I unaware of the world of music, scales, pitch etc etc started mummering the lyrics of the song in my own tune and pitch. I can still recall the way the laughed at me after I sang the first line of the song ‘Gotta find a way’. Actually I sang something ‘Gaataa find a way’ in old dehaati style.

Well that was my first encounter with the world of music. They gave me a CD full of rock songs and asked me to listen to it. Slowly and steadily, don’t know out of what reason I liked the songs, specially Smells like teen spirit(Nirvana). As Candy and Noni were looking to form a band they turned to me. They initially thought of training me as a drummer and for about 15-20 days I was official drummer of the band . Candy being as Vocalist/Bassy/Guitarist and Noni with Vocals/Leads. Anyhow they soon realized the mistake they made by making me a drummer and Candy took my place and I moved to bass guitar.

…to be continued