We all have them: those brief, spontaneous little melodies that pop into the back of our heads, undoubtedly destined for greatness if only we had an ounce of musical talent or a five piece band at our disposal. Well, now you wannabe-maestros have your chance. UJAM is a new startup making its debut today at TechCrunch Disrupt that can turn your humming, whistling, kazoo-playing or not-so-in-tune vocals into something people might actually want to listen to. And it’s really, really cool.
There’s plenty of advanced technology working in the background, but to the user, the site really seems like magic. Whistle a few notes of ‘Ode to Joy’, and in seconds you’ll hear your tune played back by a grand piano. Or an electric guitar. Or a full orchestra, complete with sweeping crescendos that somehow fit your tune perfectly. You can swap between these options in a few clicks, tweaking the results until they suit your fancy. If you happen to sing a few notes out of key, UJam will fix them for you. And if you play an instrument (or at least, try to), you can also use this to quickly turn your one-man show into a full band.
Everything is web-based — just browse to the site and you can use your computer’s integrated microphone to start making music. Any modifications you make to notes, chords, and effects, are done in real-time. Oh, and as one fun sidenote, the UJAM folks point out that their site simply wouldn’t be technically feasible without Flash.
You may have already heard of two of UJAMs’ founders: composer Hans Zimmer and musician Pharrell Williams. Also at the helm of UJAM are co-founder Peter Gorges and Axel Hensen, both of whom have extensive experience in this space.
The site will monetize by offering additional instruments and effects (another obvious route would be to charge to download songs). UJAM hasn’t launched to the public yet, but we’ll be following it closely. It really is amazing — this is definitely one to watch.
Chris Sacca: I’ve never seen anything like that pulled off. This is really hot shit. I don’t understand where this business is there. This is something I would definitely play with.
Yossi Vardi: I’m going to use crowdsourcing for my answer (audience cheers)
Don Dodge: I love it. Hans Zimmer is one of my heroes.
Bijan Sabet: I’m blown away at this tools amazing presentation.
Chi-hua Chien: Is there a way to make this more social?
A: Yes, you could start a song and if you know someone better at drums you can share with them. Facebook it to your girlfriend as a greeting.
Vardi: We’ve seen a project that all of us that we want to play with it. This is very compelling, wonderful experience. Great talent. Don’t worry about the biz model! You see a great talent invest in it!
Round 2 Business Presentation
UJAM was one of the companies chosen to proceed to round two of the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield, where they talked about their business model. Here are my notes from that presentation:
Users can purchase upgrades – new storage style/instrument packages, song recipes, convenience and pro features.
Marketplace for user generated content – styles, instruments, song recipes
Corporate biz. model – promotion of products, movies, events through sponsored premium content and competitions.
3rd party API – Web services can integrate UJAM to add music creation and other offerings, paying for usage costs.
Music instructors, manufactures can sponsor styles/instruments.
Chi-Hua Chien – How do you deal with rights?
A: We’re talking to record companies already. We’re aware of publishing rights issue, we want this to be a biz for record companies as well.
Don Dodge: Vanity. People love to sing and hear themselves sing. They would pay to make themselves sound good.
Yossi Vardi – How about 1 customer biz model. Why don’t you sell it to MySpace?
Chris Sacca – I think there’s a greetings biz in there.
Bijan Sabet – I think the API is smart. Getting bands… The one thing I don’t like is consumer and corporate dual strategy.
This video contains all of the first round; UJAM is at 4:30.