Introducing SolidComposer

August 27th, 2010

Why do we exist?

3 reasons.

  1. To make you better at making music.
  2. To help you waste less time messing with your computer and spend more time actually making music.
  3. To make it convenient and fun to collaborate on musical projects.

How does it work?

After you spend several hours in the studio working on a track, you typically hit save, render the track, show a couple friends (or not), and go take a break.

Let's try something else.

Insert SolidComposer into your music-making workflow. After you hit save and render the track, upload it to SolidComposer. SolidComposer will store your project, create a beautiful song player which you can use to show your friends and get feedback, and complain about "missing samples." This is because it has noticed that your project depends on some audio files that you have not uploaded.

Dependencies

So if you upload the files that it complains about, the red text goes away and you're left with a nice green check next to "dependencies." If you click this, you'll see that it lists all the generators and effects you used in the project.

By the way, if you're using FL Studio, you can skip all this by simply exporting and uploading a .zip file. And don't worry about duplicating sample files. SolidComposer will detect duplicate samples and only store one copy.

At this point you are already preventing future headache by saving every version of the project you make permanently and securely. By uploading the samples for the project, you guarantee that you will be able to edit the project any time in the future. But what if you want to collaborate with other band members?

This is where SolidComposer shines.

Collaborating

Let's say the project was for your techno band, Psycho System. Your band member, Vance, got an email saying that you uploaded a new project. He clicks the link and begins listening to your song. He thinks it's great, but you should fix the break at 0:34, so he adds a timed comment and says just that.

If you're thinking, "Hey, that looks like SoundCloud's song player!" you are right. It's a great player and SolidComposer's player was inspired by it.

Now when you play the song back and listen to your genius track, Vance's comment shows up at the appropriate position.

But Vance has always been a believer in less talk, more rock, so he wants to start working on the song. He clicks "Check Out" and now the song is his. Nobody else can work on the song until he checks it back in. This prevents you from clobbering each other's work and ending up with two conflicting versions.

Anyways, Vance now owns the song until he checks it back in, but he still doesn't have the project files. Luckily, that's the easiest part. Look at the warning sign next to Dependencies: When Vance looks at the form, it's a little different. Whereas SolidComposer assumed that you had all the generators and effects in your own song, it did not assume that Vance did.

The form says he's missing Synth1 VST. Luckily, that plugin is free, so he can either click "don't worry, I actually do have this" or he can click the link to go download it. As for downloading the project and samples, there's a nice button that lets him download everything in a zip (which FL Studio an open directly).

So, in 4 minutes, Vance went from checking his email to collaborating on your band's song. And he didn't even have one of the instruments you used, let alone all the samples.

Version Control

When Vance is done, he Checks In the new version of the project. At this point you can see the history - the first version and the second version that Vance just checked in.

This is powerful because

  1. You can actually collaborate with people.
  2. You'll never lose a project or deal with a corrupt file again.
  3. Once you've worked on a new version of a song and have that urge to get feedback, you can get it in a quick and useful manner.
  4. You'll never lose the samples you need to be able to work on your song. Your projects will survive wiped hard drives.

Features

That was a quick story of one of the normal use cases for SolidComposer. Here are some more of the features you get.

Not All Your Band Members Are Producers

SolidComposer is for your vocalist and guitarist too. One of the actions you can take on a project is "Upload Samples." Your beautiful female vocalist can download the latest version you've uploaded in the project manager, record vocals, and click Upload Samples. These samples are provided in the project view for you to preview, download, and use in the song.

It's Super Easy to Start a Band

Start a band with someone you don't even know! You can invite someone to join a band via an invitation link, by email, or directly inviting them on the site. It is possible to, in 2 hours flat:

  1. Meet someone on the internet.
  2. Start a band.
  3. Collaboratively create a song.
  4. Have a link to the song to show friends.

Our goal is to make it possible to just start a band with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Solid Backup.

OK it's time for a test.

What do these two songs have in common?

Water on the Dancefloor by AkumajoBelmont
Groove Basin by Rayza

The answer is:

  1. They both rock.
  2. Sonic the Frickin' Hedgehog.
  3. They are both "works in progress"
  4. The authors have both reported that they have long since lost the source project files.

This brings sadness to my heart.

With SolidComposer, you have a backup of every version of every project, along with each sample file that the projects depend on.

Your data is stored on Amazon S3. Guaranteed to be 99.999999999% durable. It is not going anywhere.

Supported Studios

Currently, FL Studio and LMMS are supported. We plan on supporting other studios like Logic, Reason, Ableton, Cubase, Cakewalk, and even plain old MIDI files. Cast your vote for what studio you want supported on solidcomposer.uservoice.com.

Arena

I mentioned that SolidComposer would make you a better musician, but so far all I've shown is that it'll help you not want to throw your computer out the window.

Introducing the Arena.

In the arena, anyone can create a music competition. Competitions are great for

  • Getting musicians together.
  • Giving you an excuse to just make a song real quick instead of playing video games.
  • Giving and receiving feedback.

It's really open ended. You can have a themed competition, free-for-all, 2-hour competition, 2-month competition. It's really your decision. However what SolidComposer does do is make that competition a great experience.

Integrated chat room. This way anyone can jump right in and join the fun.

Automated listening party. After a competition is over, everyone listens to the entries, in order, at the same time, providing valuable feedback.

Everything is live. You don't ever have to refresh the page.

Relative time zone. No matter where you are, the time is displayed in your own time zone, so you can compete with anyone around the world without miscommunicating.

Next Release

This is currently the "Boten Anna" release. Many more features are planned. Help us prioritize and submit your own ideas on the UserVoice feedback site.

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