StartupRadius interviewed guys from Jams On Toast, which is an app (music player) created for those who are into albums and music organization. Learn how they reinvented music listening on iPhone, how a built-in Apple Music player made inspired them to make something better, how to build a monetization based on tips, and how a one-man-company can launch a quite competitive product. Enjoy!
Can you tell us about what you are working on? What is Jams On Toast?
Jams On Toast is a delightful music player, handcrafted for those of us who are obsessed with music. It is the only app that lets you rearrange your music in any way you’d like. If you are the kind of person who listens to albums cover to cover, or you would prefer to organize your music in a way that’s meaningful to you instead of scrolling through an endless alphabetized list, Jams On Toast is the perfect music player for you.
Why are you building this? Was there a particular source of inspiration or a money-making idea?
The primary motivation was a personal need. I was very unsatisfied with Apple’s default Music app, and I had a decent idea of what I wanted my ideal music app to look like. There are some useful features for those of us who listen to full albums. One of my favorites is the ‘Read My Mind’ feature, which can be used instead of a playback queue. Instead of pressing buttons and organizing what’s next, you can just simply scroll to the album you want to play next. Once the current album ends playing, the album you are looking at will begin playing. It’s a super zen experience in practice.
The Apple app has also become a little convoluted lately, because they are trying to push their Apple Music streaming service, their artist social network, radio etc. all under one roof. I fear that if they continue down this path their iOS app is also going to become as much of a mess as iTunes.
Time for bragging! How big you are – traffic, users, anything else?
This journey is just getting started. For an unknown developer, with no staff or budget, the numbers are small but not too shabby. I think what’s more interesting than metrics is the in-app Tip Jar. I have built this functionality via in-app purchases, where users can voluntarily leave a ‘tip’ for a couple dollars if they are enjoying using the app. The tip doesn’t do anything, but there are already a few people tipping, and some even tipping multiple times!
Who are your main competitors, and how good/bad they are?
I would imagine the main competitor is the default music player that comes on every phone. Outside of that, I am not aware of any app that has this unique blend of (arguably niche) features and UX.
Who uses Jams On Toast? What is your perfect user persona?
I think anybody who truly cares about music, who would go beyond the Top 40 singles etc. would be delighted with using this app. It reminds you of the record collections of yore, where you would take great care in organizing and managing your collection, and get great joy in listening to an album from beginning to end.
It is also very helpful for DJs, as a way to intuitively sort through their digital library.
Were there any early ‘growth hacks’ or tactics that have contributed to your current success?
Nothing particular to note at the moment. Jams On Toast targets a hyper-specific niche – and a user is unlikely to change their music listening habits just because they check out this app. The few people who would enjoy using this app immediately ‘get it’. So I’ve been posting around on forums/subreddits where such people might find this. It’s a lot of work, but I also think users acquired this mostly organic way are worth a lot more in the long run. Besides, I have a $0 marketing budget, so it’s not like I have much of a choice.
What were some of the biggest challenges while building Jams On Toast early on and how did you solve them?
If you check out the app, it doesn’t really look like most other iPhone apps. This is because it uses a lot of hyper-specialized user interface components. As a self-taught coder, it was definitely hard to do this instead of just going an easier route. But I had a very precise vision of what I wanted the app to feel like, and determination and grit can certainly take you far!
If you could give a marketing advice to other companies, what could it be based on your experience?
I think at this point it’s best that I receive marketing advice rather than give! 🙂
Which marketing channels you prefer and why?
At the moment I am experimenting with how far I can get with a $0 marketing budget, so I essentially have content marketing and social media available to me in my toolbox. In a previous life I’ve had plenty of experience with Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, YouTube advertising, Twitter ads, and several mobile ad networks. If you are looking for a high impact and high ROI way to acquire users without too much of a headache, you can’t go wrong with a Facebook Ads / AdWords combo. As a bonus, it’s now become super easy to advertise on YouTube within your AdWords campaign.
Are you monetized? Why did you choose the current monetization method?
Users who enjoy using the app may leave a voluntary tip in the ‘Tip Jar’ in the app. This works via the In-App Purchase mechanism on the backend. I chose to do this because I think it would be unlikely that users pay for (what is currently) ‘just a music player.’ As the project evolves, I will certainly consider other approaches to monetization.
What are the top 5-10 products/services you use in your company (marketing, development, business) and why do you like them?
- Pen and paper: A little low-tech, but hands down my most important tool for design, brainstorming, notes, code experiments and a lot more
- Xcode: There are alternatives but I think Apple’s native tool works best for development
- Reminders: The built-in Reminders app on macOS/iOS is my combined to-do list, feature ideas list, and bug tracker. Of course, there are many specialized alternatives for all of these, but I prefer this workflow because I like seeing all these things in one place, plus it’s free, pre-installed, and has iCloud syncing. I guess it’s one of the luxuries of being an independent developer.
- Google Analytics: If you don’t know why this is useful, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.
- Mailchimp: Can’t go wrong with the monkey!