Improving upon a 200-year-old product is never an easy feat, but as the saying goes - build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. Tyler Draker is doing just that with his new mobile app that focuses on improving upon a product invented in the early 19th century, the metronome.
Enola Labs worked with Tyler to develop his concept, Mighty Met, into a reality. Since its launch last Sunday, the application has made quite the splash breaking the top 250 rankings in the App Store’s Music Category and being featured as an app of the day by top app review sites Appadvice and Macrumorspro. We caught up with Tyler to talk a bit about where his idea came from, the development process and his future plans for Mighty Met.
Tyler, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Tyler Draker. I’m an Austin native and graduated from The University of Texas last May with a Radio-Television-Film degree. Before that I played the trumpet in my middle school and high school bands. Since graduation, I’ve been working on several film sets around town including A&E’s Shipping Wars and American Idol when they were here. I’ve been working on Mighty Met in my time off from that.
What gave you the idea for Mighty Met?
I was doing a program with UT called UTLA where you live and study in Los Angeles for a semester. It’s a great way to make contacts and get film experience out there before you graduate. I was sitting in my dorm room one night, I forget what I was doing, but it occurred to me that if you drop an editing timeline into a metronome that would be a very easy way to control it. The rest sort of developed from there. But it started as a cross between a metronome and a timeline from most video editing programs.
How long ago was this?
That was in late April of 2013.
What was the process from the idea to making it to a reality?
It was a bit of a journey actually. I brought some friends on board that knew how to code and we naively thought we’d have it in the store by August . But as we started to actually try making it, we began to realize just how much work is involved in actually getting an app to the store. My friends ended up dropping from the project and it looked like it might fall apart. It was just my brother and I left at that point and we decided that the best route from there was to hire a professional company to help me code it.
When I was working with my friends I was the sole designer so I spent a lot of time working on the UI and how the user moves around the app and what tools they have to help control the metronome. I think that definitely helped when I approached Enola Labs because I knew exactly what I wanted and knew that my budget wasn’t huge, so there was a lot of stuff that wasn’t going to happen in the first iteration. So I focused on making the best metronome possible that had clean design and all the core features that someone would want in a metronome.
It was a smart move on your part to focus on a viable product for your budget. A lot of people want to do everything on the first iteration. How did the design and development process work with Enola Labs?
That part, honestly, was the smoothest part of the whole process. Enola Labs included a few hours of design to help me really make the app look professional. I think it looked good before, but still had a certain amateurish feel to it and they helped me polish it up. The development process started after that. There were a lot of emails back and forth and a few meetings to look at how it was going, but the whole process was very smooth.
What were your biggest challenges in the process?
My biggest challenge was designing the app with our budget in mind. I really wanted to find a balance between what users expected, what would blow them away and what I could afford to do without having to save up for several years. I had to put it through several design iterations and figure out how to make it a simpler app.
I think that, with Enola Labs help, we achieved that pretty well and that the app found that balance. And I mean that in the best way. I think that because we focused on what we could do well, we ended up with an app that is very good at its core purpose of being a metronome and doesn’t have a lot of other clutter that users don’t need right now. It helped keep the app simple to use and there is almost no learning curve, which is something else that was very important to me. No one wants to read a manual to use his or her metronome.
Agreed. Mobile apps have to be a lot more focused than web or computer software. The app released last week correct?
That’s right, it released last Sunday.
Lots of downloads? Lots of great reviews?
Both. We were actually kind of stunned by how many people have left a great review for Mighty Met in the store. It’s great to see that people like it and find it useful.
There are a lot of metronome apps in the Apple app store. What are some of the features in yours that make it stand out?
The key feature is the timeline I was talking about earlier and the way that you control it. Mighty Met lets you essentially automate an entire song so that it will make all the tempo, time signature and subdivision changes for you in real time. Every other metronome in the store, and really just in general only lets you select one tempo and time signature at a time. You select the one you want and practice until you’re done with that section. Then you stop and change it and keep going. This isn’t how Mighty Met works. Mighty Met makes all of those changes for you.
So if you’re practicing a piece that is constantly switching between 4/4 and 3/4, Mighty Met is right there with you making those changes in real time. You can also store as many of those songs as you want on Mighty Met so when you want to practice a different song it’s already there, ready to be pulled up and used.
A couple of my musician friends who’ve downloaded the app love that feature. What are your marketing plans for the app?
Now we’re focused on getting the word out to as many people as possible. It’s such a new concept that people don’t really know to go looking for it yet. Luckily there are several big conventions coming up that we will be attending. The Texas Music Educators Association convention is coming up in February. It’s the largest convention for music educators in the country and it’s in San Antonio so we’ll be there the whole time. We’ll also be at SXSW and a few other conventions and festivals coming up this summer.
We’re also contacting educators directly across the country to let them know about Mighty Met and contacting various websites to see if they would be interested in featuring it on their site. We were actually featured yesterday on Appadvice.com and Macrumorspro.com. That was a great feeling because they found us so I do think that people are noticing it and finding it useful.
It is a great feeling taking an idea from conception to reality and then having people enjoy using it. Tyler, thanks so much for your time. Is there anything you’d like to add?
It is definitely a great feeling to see it develop from sketches on pieces of paper to a finished product in the App Store. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about Mighty Met.
I don’t have too much to add other than that I really do hope that people find it not just useful but invaluable to their improving and getting better at whatever instrument they choose to play. We also got a review from a dancer that uses Mighty Met for their choreography along with a private message to our website from a speech pathologist that is using it with some of her clients. So, it’s great to see that people are also finding uses for it beyond just strictly practicing music.
Mighty Met is currently available on the App Store for $1.99.