The past week has been dominated by Apple Music news, but how about making songs rather than just listening to them?
GarageBand is awesome software – unlike its perennially frustrating cousin iTunes – that makes songwriting on iOS and OS X really easy. But the problem is, it’s an Apple-only affair.
Soundtrap is a new browser-based music creation program that takes the same simple yet powerful approach and combines it with an HTML5 interface and video features that make it easy to collaborate with other musicians wherever they are.
Continuing Sweden’s track record for music startups – Spotify, SoundCloud, and Tidal all started life there – the company is based in Stockholm. Its CEO Per Emanuelson explains:
Music has always been strong in Sweden, not only with startups but also with bands. Abba, of course! We have a strong music education system. You play instruments from a young age, not just at school.
I think it’s also because the Swedes are pretty good at English, which means our music can take off abroad. We are such a small country, we have to go beyond our borders.
And if you think I hammered the GarageBand comparison a bit too much earlier in this article, the Soundtrap co-founder disagrees. He mentioned it first:
When Steve Jobs introduced GarageBand, he said that half of American households have an active musician in them. However, most of the tools available today focus on the pro-musician. Some people cannot handle all of these options but are still very talented musically.
We thought: how do you make this as usable as Instagram, while still having quality?
The result is an app that features the multitrack timeline familiar to most modern recording applications, coupled with an extensive library of loops (which are automatically transposed into whatever key you use), built-in instruments, and the ability to record. your own in various ways.
In-app instruments are easy to play with touch on mobile devices and your keyboard when composing on the desktop.
Under the hood, Soundtrap uses the Web Audio and WebRTC APIs, which the company has enjoyed very much since releasing its minimum viable product in late 2013. It was invited to Google I / O last year and was released. repeatedly evident for the application of new web technologies.
Emanuelson says the app’s user base has grown from 20,000 to 120,000 in the past two months, with educators especially fans.
From my brief time playing with the Soundtrap, I can certainly see the appeal. Going from an unreliable Skype conversation to a video call in the virtual studio with Emanuelson was incredibly refreshing.
Lag means you’re not going to be using the service for live jams, but it makes collaborating on a song very easy and if your connection is good enough it can even work well as a virtual rehearsal room.
The real potential is for Soundtrap to become the darling of Garage Band and Google Docs. By letting you share and collaborate on tracks both simultaneously and asynchronously, it’s much easier to work on music with anyone in the world.
The free package gives you access to 480 loops and allows you to create up to 5 projects with 125 instruments. There is a 30 day free trial of the paid plans.
The ‘Premium’ option costs $ 9.56 (£ 6.14) per month if you pay annually or £ 12.74 (£ 8.18) on a monthly basis and gives you 1,290 loops, unlimited projects and 152 instruments.
The cheapest “Pro” option is $ 4.76 (£ 3.06) per month if you pay annually or $ 6.37 (£ 4.09) month-to-month for a library of 930 loops, 50 projects and 133 instruments.
If you want a place to make music that will work on any of your devices and are looking for a place where you can collaborate with friends whatever platform they prefer, Soundtrap is definitely worth a visit. .
With a free trial of the paid features, you have nothing to lose. However, if you are already deeply rooted in an existing recording app, there is still likely a learning curve and you may not want to make the switch.
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