By Brenlee Coates
Everyone these days is a YouTube DJ.
You want someone to hear the newest track from your favourite artist, and you go straight to YouTube to pull up the video. Then you play the next recommended video, and the next one, and suddenly you’re running through Beyonce’s entire discography.
That’s because YouTube “has every single song ever,” says Aaron Wojnowski, developer of the app Musi. “YouTube is a music centre… but no one had a way of listening to the (songs) directly.”
About two-and-a-half years ago, Aaron and his high school pals, David Bell and Christian Lunny (of Dash Agency), dreamed up an app that allows you to “organize and manage (YouTube’s content) as if it was your own.”
As long as you have Wi-Fi, or are using data, you can access the endless YouTube (and Soundcloud) libraries, listen to the songs, and create playlists right in Musi.
“We really like to push Musi as an organizational tool,” explains Aaron. “(It’s a) simple app to let people listen to YouTube videos.”
Although it’s an app that simplifies a process – YouTube has playlist capabilities, but nothing like what music listeners have come to expect – Musi’s been nothing short of life-changing for some people.
“A lot of people use it at work… It’s really changed a lot of people’s lives.
“To make people’s lives easier through music, that’s really rewarding,” says Aaron.
For those wondering about licensing, Musi doesn’t actually allow you to download music – it streams songs from licensed material from YouTube. “They just publish their data, and they handle all the licensing, and then we’re allowed to play the content,” explains Aaron. While it may look like you’ve built up a library in Musi, the songs aren’t actually saved onto your phone. “You can’t download music, or listen to the music through (another) music app,” says Aaron.
There have been a few copycats since the Musi makers started, but between Aaron’s search engine optimization expertise and Musi’s user-friendliness, it has stayed competitive.
It’s even a concept deemed worthy of CBC’s Dragons’ Den, where partners Aaron and Christian recently presented.
While the results are under wraps, the exposure of the show will no doubt help them earn more free downloads – which also helps them earn cash.
About six months ago, they introduced banner ads on Musi, and are reaping the rewards. “Recently, it’s really skyrocketed,” says Aaron. “I really wish I did it from the start.”
Interstitial ads – or full-page ads that pop up before or after content – have just recently been incorporated, which means revenues will grow exponentially.
The duo is user-conscious, so it won’t go too far to interrupt the ease of Musi. (Likely why they’re after Dragon money at all).
Aaron has always been about enriching users’ experiences with technology – in Grade 9, he was the go-to techie to jailbreak people’s iPods (essentially opening up the device to non-Apple approved apps, which can be somewhat arbitrary).
He earned enough money from this practice to buy his own iPod – but he yearned for bigger and better.
His dad made him a deal. If Aaron could build him a purchase ordering software for his company, he’d buy him a Mac.
Aaron was successful, and soon went on to do contract work for startups in Winnipeg, and even New York.
He is now completing his second year of computer science at the University of Manitoba, and landed a job in San Francisco with a startup this summer – a passion of his.
“I love just boot-strapping initial products, getting viable products together.
“I like to work with startups a lot too because they don’t have a lot of rigid processes in place.”
If Musi survives the Dragons’ Den, there’s no telling where his own startup could go.
The Musi app is available for free in the App Store. Visit http://www.feelthemusi.com for more information.