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TuneGarden is a free-to-use web app that gives musicians constructive feedback on their SoundCloud tracks.
We want to ‘gamify’ the process of reviewing amateur music, making it fun and engaging. Amateur artists can reliably get the critiques they’ve always wanted - for free - and music fans can play a fun music-themed game, while hearing the latest independently-made tunes on SoundCloud.
Everyone working on the app is an amateur musician. We came together to develop this idea because we believe it can help musicians like us - we hope you think the same way!
In TuneGarden you earn virtual currency by reviewing other users’ SoundCloud tracks and you spend that currency on uploading your own SoundCloud tracks for review.
You don't have to spend ages building-up a following just to get people to listen to your tracks. No more days spent trawling music forums. No need for a fanbase. The app does all the hardwork for you and helps promote your music in a new and exciting way.
TuneGarden makes reviewing music fun. The system is represented by a virtual garden floating in space, where your tracks take the form of growing and blossoming trees. As well as uploading your music, you can also spend credits to customise your garden to make it reflect your musical tastes.
Of course, if you want to skip the gaming elements, then no problem. You can just review tracks, get credits and upload your own tracks for review.
As amateur musicians, we know how difficult it can be to get constructive criticism, despite the myriad of platforms available to upload your music. Getting feedback on your music is an uphill struggle. TuneGarden is an genuine attempt to change this and create a new community of musicians helping and encouraging their peers to improve and create more music.
1. TuneGarden uses the SoundCloud API. So you log in with SoundCloud account, access your library of tracks and pick the track you want feedback on.
2. Then you select the track’s genre (so country music fans won't have to review dubstep!). You also get to decide what kind of feedback you receive by selecting up to three ‘Track Elements’ to be rated out of five (such as ‘Lyrics’, ‘Song Structure’, ‘Vocals’, ‘Production Quality’ etc)
3. That track gets automatically pushed out to a random percentage of TuneGarden users. The reviewers listen to the track and rate each Track Element out of five.
4. Reviewers can also write a written critique of the track. If this critique is constructive and is “approved” by the uploader, then the reviewer gets bonus rewards within the app.
5. Finally the reviewer rates the track as either "Grow", "Bloom" or "Blossom" If it's "Grow" the track pushes out to 3 more random user, if it's "Bloom" it goes out to 4 more users, and "Blossom" goes out to 5(numbers are representative, percentages of userbase will be used in actuality).
6. The process repeats and the track continues spreading organically throughout the community, seeing how many listens and ratings it can get during a set period of time, before it becomes inactive.
7. Every week the top rated tracks get promoted on the TuneGarden blog.
Not a musician? No problem! You can review other users' tracks, earn credits and use those credits to buy Tune Trees from other users and plant them in your own garden. If you’re good at spotting which tracks become popular, you’ll get recognised as music expert, get extra rewards for your garden, and become influential. Think you have an ear for good music? Put it to the test!
Meet the Groovebots. They're fully automated gardening bots that maintain space-faring gardens. Like their alien creators, Groovebots love music; it's the source of all their energy. But there's a problem. The aliens that created the Groovebots died out many years ago after a planet-wide mosh pit went out of control. Because the Groovebots are robots, they don't know how to make their own tunes to power their gardens!
So as a musician it’s your job to adopt a Groovebot! Help your Groovebot grow its garden with your tunes. Buy items and clothing to keep your Groovebot happy. Will your Groovebot be a head-banging metal-head? Or a up-all-night electro-clubber? You decide!
You get to see your SoundCloud tracks as seeds, which eventually grow into Tune Trees. The more listens and ratings you get the bigger the Tune Tree grows, and the more achievements it will earn.
In TuneGarden you can use your credits to buy and collect a whole range of music-themed items that reflect different genres, musicians and songs. The Groovebots have picked-up loads of strange and interesting paraphernalia over the years, you might be surprised at what you find in the store! New items will be regularly added. Can you collect them all?
Despite creating galaxy-traveling space gardens, Groovebots are a pretty insecure bunch. They want to be dressed in the coolest clothes and show-off their owner's impeccable musical taste. So it’s up to you to buy your Groovebot apparel and make sure it stays cutting edge.
Yes! TuneGarden is free-to-use. We're amateur musicians ourselves and we started this project because we believe it can help musicians like us. This is truly a passion project and not a money-making one. However, obviously in order to cover server costs, updates and other stuff we have to generate some funds. That's why we've gone for a 'freemium' revenue model, common to many free-to-play games.
So in TuneGarden there will be two currency types - ‘Credits’ and ‘Records.’ Credits are earned every time you review a track, but Records are much harder to earn and will only be awarded to users who complete harder tasks - such as submitting a certain number of constructive written critiques that are approved by the track's uploader. However, as a shortcut, you can also get Records by paying real money. Records can be spent on buying extra special items and on ‘Garden Expansions,’ which let you upload more tracks from your SoundCloud library to TuneGarden. Remember, you don't HAVE to spend real money to buy Records, if you put in the effort, you’ll can still earn them without paying a penny or a dime.
The success of this IndieGoGo campaign is essential to TuneGarden's development. We've made progress on the app's development over the last few months, but it's a big project, and all of us have day jobs. As freelancers, IndieGoGo funds will be used to allow us to suspend all our current clients and focus 100% on getting the app built. It will also allow us to bring in some necessary outside expertise for the development of the app's backend and admin aspects.
Here's an estimated break down of funds: 8% on IndieGoGo/PayPal transaction fees; 20% art and design fees; 55% on coding fees; 15% server set-up/management fees. If everything goes to plan, we're aiming to get the closed beta rolled-out in February 2014.
What are the risks?
Developing TuneGarden undoubtedly carries risks. While the app’s features, in isolation, are not unique or difficult to implement, the concept in its totality is pretty new. The biggest challenge we face is balancing the maths in terms of how tracks spread from user to user, as well as virtual economy-based issues (such how many credits it costs to upload tracks, cost of review rewards etc), these issues will have a big impact on how smoothly the whole system runs and on the ultimate goal of generating useful feedback for musicians. Another big issue for us is making sure we pay close attention, early on, to what feedback elements are working or not working. This requires a fine balance between providing constructive feedback for users, but also ensuring the review process isn't too complex and time consuming. Because of all this we anticipate a relatively long closed beta period, where we fine tune and tinker the guts of the reviewing system and economy as much as possible, until it runs smoothly enough for open release.Who are we?
Creator - Project lead/Designer: Christopher Reynolds
Chris is a video game and tech journalist from the UK. He's written for a whole bunch of publications, including Play Magazine, Smartphone Essentials, NowGamer, Which? and GamesTM. He listens to everything from Miles Davis to the Pixies, and secretly wishes it was still the 90s and he was in a generic alt-rock band (as you can probably tell from his SoundCloud page).
Co-creator - Designer/Artist: Sergey Basov
Sergey is a professional Russian from St Petersburg and has been working in the videogame industry for over six years as a designer and artist. He listens mainly to stuff like Square Pusher and Jimmy Edgar. He makes electro music and smokes too many cigarettes.
Dave is a coder from Ireland and has been helping out with programming duties, servers, and all that technical stuff. When he's not computing he's makes dreamy indie rock, which you can listen to here.
Chris is based in the US and reviews music for record labels, as such he's been lending a hand with the track review system. He's into "singer songwriter stuff" and you can check out his "singer songwriter" SoundCloud page here.
Big thanks to /r/WeAreTheMusicMakers!
Big thanks to the WeAreTheMusicMakers subreddit, which provided a lot of inspiration for TuneGarden. In particular, thanks to reddit users - /u/evan274, /u/archycockroach/, /u/BeatsByiTALY/, /u/teuast/, /u/AddHawk/.