Thoughts on DimSong – Going beyond the “playlisting” problem

DimSong, the first product from my new company VenLabs, was released a few weeks ago.  It’s been such a busy time – both finishing up the app, and then following through with launch and post-launch plans – that I have been neglecting many other aspects of life, including this blog.  I’ve spent ample time promoting the app on Facebook, Twitter, etc… so rather than using this post as another excuse to hawk my wares, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit about the thought process behind the development of the app, and some of the long-term goals I have for it.

DimSong (for the uninitiated) is a free app for iPhone & iPod Touch that allows you to control the “intensity” of music in real-time using touch, shake, or light input.  I place the word intensity in quotes because its not a specific musical or technical term, but rather an overall aesthetic impression that I’ve developed over many years.  I’m a big believer in the power of “natural language” descriptors for music, being able to describe music in common terms (loud, upbeat, energetic) as opposed to technical and musical terms.  I think this opens up music to a much larger audience, and allows for deeper understanding and connection without requiring a lot of specialized knowledge or training.

So, with DimSong… the intent is not that people fully understand and grasp what is going on when they manipulate the intensity of a song.  The truth is, there are a number of things going on under the hood in order to support the impression that the music is chilling out or picking up steam.  But that shouldn’t matter to the user, and its deliberately made transparent to them.  All they have to know is that when they shake the phone or move this slider, the music is going to adjust itself accordingly.  The idea is to use the technology to get out of the user’s way, and provide them with the most rewarding and compelling interaction possible.

But there is a larger and loftier goal behind DimSong.  I believe, strongly, in the appeal of an interactive music format that is truly reactive and adaptive.  In many ways, I see the potential for a realization of a “soundtrack of your life”, where we can expect music to underscore and highlight the actions of our day to day adventures.  Further, I believe that this type of functionality can be retrofitted into existing music, so that we can become the master controllers for the playback and arrangement of our favorite songs.

The current crop of music/tech companies that are all the rage lately – Spotify, Rdio, MOG, etc – are all working on solving what I call the “playlisting problem”.  That is… the focus of all of these companies is about access to content.  I want to have the music I want to listen to, grouped together however I see fit, and available anywhere.  Maybe I want to listen to it at the same time as someone else, or find new music through my friends.  Awesome.  I don’t want to knock what these guys are doing… its truly groundbreaking, revolutionary work in the space, and it is going to change the way we think of music forever.  But at the end of the day, the song you are getting is the same old song.  You may already have the exact same thing on your iPod, and on a CD, and playing on FM or satellite radio in your car.  Even though the delivery system may be novel, the product being delivered is still the same old product its always been.

Those type of innovations – while admittedly very cool – are not the kind that excite me.  I want to get beyond content delivery, and into the content itself.  Music isn’t just meant to be heard… its meant to be played, played with, explored and manipulated.  The mission of VenLabs is to “change the way we consume and play with music through technology”.  That’s not just marketing mumbo-jumbo.  That speaks to a true passion for delivering experiences that go beyond passive consumption.

DimSong represents the core nugget of an idea – an interactive and adaptive music format – that I believe in strongly.  In the coming months I will be hard at work bringing more and more interesting music into the app, and expanding upon the core functionality that currently exists.  To our early adopters – thank you for your support, feedback and encouragement!

Back to the Labs for me.  More soon….


  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: