As a “geek,” Xie Lulu has a lot of knowledge of open-source hardware and robots. He was a senior product manager in WeChat’s smart hardware group and a member of the W3C IoT working group. He also participated in the drafting and revision of IoT standard protocols.
Besides, he used his spare time to teach himself more than a dozen instruments such as guitars, keyboards, flutes, saxophones, etc.
In the process of learning musical instruments, he even started to make electronic musical instruments by himself, and successfully “DIY-ed” electric drums and electric saxophones.
In addition to making music in his small music studio, Xie Lulu also talks to other electronic music enthusiasts on the forum “Keyboard China.”
In 2017, Xie found that if you want to connect an electronic instrument with an IPad, you need both an adapter and a USB-MIDI special cable. It’s a tedious process, and it costs 350 yuan.
To solve the problem of the connection between the music work station and the electronic instruments, Xie Lulu made a demo of a wireless Bluetooth MIDI product.
He put this Demo on the forum. And people started to message him, thanking him for the product and giving him red pockets on WeChat.
After receiving many praises, he realized that the connection problem is a significant issue for electronic musical instrument players, and the virtual instrument app is still nonexisting in China. The idea of developing a virtual instrument formed in his mind.
In October 2018, he began collecting user data and researching in his spare time. In July of 2019, he resigned as a senior product expert of Alibaba and devoted himself full time to the development of JamKoo.
In September, JamKoo officially launched on the Apple App Store. This app allows users to connect MIDI controllers such as electric pianos, electric blowpipes, and electric drums via Bluetooth.
In October 2018, Xie attended Music China 2018, a musical instrument expo in Shanghai, during which he and his instrument lover friends had a conversation about music apps. Most of the music apps on the market are for professional musicians, such as Cubasis and Garage Band.
“There is a lack of a product that balances the needs of the musicians as well as the amateurs,” Xie Lulu concluded. After realizing this, he positioned JamKoo as “apps for beginners of musical instruments,” in other words, “to make digital music easy.”
JamKoo was first internally tested among 50 of Xie’s friends, both offline and online. After dozens of upgrades, version 1.0.49 was launched on the App Store. The standard version is 6 yuan, and the professional version is 40 yuan.
In the standard version, users can connect their own MIDI keyboards, electric pianos, electric blowpipes, electric drums, and other devices via USB-MIDI cable or Bluetooth to play and record built-in virtual instruments such as piano, snare drum, saxophone, erhu and so on.
The professional version users can add accompaniment tracks to the app and also share the finished music with friends on social media.
In the 1.0.49 version, users can only pick from a pre-installed instrument library. But in version 1.1, JamKoo added a support feature for Soundfont. Professional users can now import their favorite sounds from various cloud services.
Xie Lulu, who is dedicated to improving the sound quality, said that JamKoo has been discussing cooperation with a famous domestic virtual instrument company, and will launch a high quality paid sound package in the future.
He also mentioned that he is currently developing a support feature for AUv3 format plug-ins. He said that this format is the new mainstream format introduced by Apple, and recent user feedback shows that European and American users are very much looking forward to the support feature.
Today, among the thousands of paying users of JamKoo, about one-third of them are outside of China. The conversion rate from standard to professional is 20%.
What surprises Xie is that even though he and his partners did not promote it, JamKoo ranked No. 1 in music app downloads in China for several days at the end of November, and ranked 52 in all paid apps. It even ranked 54th in the US.
Xie Lulu told us that JamKoo had secured the angel round financing. Next, he will focus on developing the educational aspects of the app.
In Xie’s vision, there are three areas in which we can”make digital music easy”: tools, education, and sharing. JamKoo will focus on making music education fun for children. A partnership agreement with the Xinghai Conservatory of Music is under negotiation right now regarding music software research, talent training, and education feature design.
“In the era of technology, many professional fields such as film and photography have all gone through the process of democratization, and there is still much more that can be done in the music field. I hope that in the future, JamKoo can be the DJI of music.” Xie said, sincerely.
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