Posted on 29-05-2012
Filed Under (announcements) by Jon Stinson

I got into the iPhone app business right around the same time as one of my closest and longtime friends, Austin. Austin and I have always been quite full of imagination, forging directly into the heart of the wonder of the world. We both have a taste for the colorful adventure our individual creative muses take us on, and the indescribable feeling of elation one gets when we’ve produced something that creates meaning in the world.

And Austin’s first iPhone app, Mustache Bash, certainly created meaning. Mustache Bash currently has over 200,000 downloads and counting. That means if you gathered everyone who downloaded the app together, they would fill up almost four football fields. I can’t completely wrap my mind around that…

Well Austin is not stopping there. He’s already got his next app planned, an app called Make Me Ugly.

Make Me Ugly will be an entertainment app for the iPhone, and continues Austin’s theme of creating funny pictures fast (the catch phrase from Mustache Bash).

In order to pull it off, Austin needs the help of the community, and has put together a Kickstarter campaign with some not only hilarious, but awesome rewards packages. Take a look:

Click here to join Austin on his adventure, helping 1 million people around the world smile :)

//Jon

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When I first made the decision to start a business creating iPhone apps, it really came down to three key lessons I learned that completely shifted my way of thinking, pushing my mind past the typical objections that usually surface, and cause people to talk themselves out of getting started.

Here’s what I learned:

1) You can make an iPhone app for WAY less than $30,000

I first began entertaining the idea of making iPhone apps in 2007 when I was producing and managing a few rock bands. My idea then was to come up with a way to market the artists I was working with in an innovative and interactive way. iPhone apps seemed like the perfect tool for this.

But all my friends and contacts that worked in this field (or other artist managers who had an app built for their artists) told me that I would need a budget of at least $30,000 to pull this off.

One of the most exciting discoveries for me was late last year when I met some developers who had never spent anywhere close to $30,000 to make any of the apps they had created. Some of their apps they even spent as little as a few hundred dollars to make!

2) You don’t need to know anything about actually writing code in order to create an app.

This discovery was quite possibly the single most exciting, not to mention empowering, discovery I learned when getting started with iPhone apps. Again, when I first began thinking about creating apps to market the artists I was working with in 2007, I thought the only way for me to keep the cost down was to learn how to write code and program an app on my own.

But I didn’t know the first thing about writing code, and didn’t have a single minute of my time to devote to learning how to do this. I was already producing and managing several artists, as well as trying to build a digital media and marketing company!

Then around August of 2011 I learned from the very same developers that were making their high-quality apps on a bare-bones budget, that they didn’t know how to write any code at all; they were outsourcing all of this work to freelancers who were doing all the coding and design work for them.

At this point, I was ready to make the jump. Once I learned that you can have a high quality app created for about the same cost as a day in the recording studio, I couldn’t wait any longer to get started. I had to jump into this industry while the timing was right.

3) If there are already a bunch of apps on the App Store that are similar to the one you want to create, that’s all the more reason to get started making the app.

Once I made the decision to get in, my next biggest struggle was figuring out what type of app to make. I spent a lot of time thinking about different apps, what kinds of apps I personally would like to have, and what kinds of apps my friends and colleagues would like to have.

I spent several days with pen and paper drawing up outlines, and jotting down ideas. When I came up with something I thought was interesting, I would search the App Store only to find out that there were 10, 20, and sometimes even 100′s of apps just like the one I wanted to create already out there.

That’s when I learned the final key lesson that served as a huge mental shift, giving me strong since of empowerment. Lots of similar apps only means lots of demand for a particular type of app.

The thing is, most apps end up falling into obscurity. This is the reason that you can have a successful app like Hipstamatic, and then a short time later Instagram comes out enjoying success as well.

Most people who make apps either get the design of the app wrong, the marketing of the app wrong, or both. Therefore, even if there are 100 apps just like the one you want to create already on the App Store, you should still move forward with your idea.

I learned a lot about making iPhone apps in a very short amount of time. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I had not taken a course that was taught by one of the top app developers out there. At this early stage in my iPhone app business, there aren’t too many discoveries I’ve made entirely on my own, but rather were things I’ve been taught. Had I not taken a course like this, I would probably still be hung up on the notion that I had to learn how to write code in order to crate an app on a budget.

The guy that taught me everything learned quite a few things himself from a developer named Chad Mureta. Chad has put together a free video series in which he shares his knowledge on how to build a business out of making iPhone apps. The videos will be running for a limited period of time, so if you’re at all interested in this stuff, spend a few minutes watching the videos now.

//Jon

[In full disclosure I want to be upfront and tell you the posted link is an affiliate link, and if you click it, I do stand to make some money. But I would NEVER endorse a product or service that I didn't fully believe had legitimate value.]

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Posted on 27-05-2012
Filed Under (Sunday Shoegaze) by Jon Stinson

I have to give credit to Mother/Father for this one. Back when I was producing and managing them, they turned me on to Violens, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

“Truly genius” is pretty much the only way to describe a band like Violens. The three piece band based out of Brooklyn authentically blend shoegaze, jazz, funk, 60s vocal pop, hard rock, psychedelic, and alternative all into one “super-genre” as if they invented a whole new type of music altogether.

And when I say the blend the styles together, I don’t mean that one track might be a shoegaze song, while another track might be a jazz song… I mean they write music that has all of these elements infused into each song in a tasteful, and artistically sophisticated way.

Violens released their new album, True earlier this month, along with the single and video for “All Night Low” shortly thereafter.

“All Night Low” is like the modern shoegaze juggarnaught, and the video perfectly reinforces that power.

True was released earlier this month on Sumberland Records, and is available now via Slumberland Records, iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic

Violens have been blowing my mind ever since the first day I heard them. Definitely one of my favorites.

//Jon
Website: jonstinson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stnsn
Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 25-05-2012
Filed Under (links and resources) by Jon Stinson

Well, it’s official… I’ve started making iPhone apps, and I’m loving it!

Last week I posted about my new iPhone game, Syntax!, and that I was really excited to have released my very first game ever on the App Store.

This week I’ve been doing some promotions for Syntax!, and it’s been such an exciting learning experience to see how this industry really works from the inside. It’s a pretty cool thrill ride to watch your app climb the charts on an hour-by-hour basis, and it’s pretty much got me addicted to this business.

As I mentioned in my post last week, making iPhone apps is something I’ve been interested in for quite a while, but hesitated to actually get into for 3 or 4 years. At the time I was pretty focused on building an artist marketing and management company, so naturally, I was very interested in iPhone apps that could promote recording artists in innovative ways.

At the time, there were several artists who were experimenting with this idea, and it looked like they were on to something pretty exciting and innovative. Seeing these artists release apps fired my mind up with seemingly endless ideas and possibilities for how music could be distributed in an innovative and interactive way, engaging fans, and growing a fanbase that any of us indie artists would not only be completely elated to have, but also a fanbase that would be ultra-engaged – the key ingredient to indie success.

The only problem (for me, at least), was that all my developer friends and contacts who were already working professionally in the iPhone app space were telling me how complex and expensive it is to build an iPhone app. I quickly found out that I was going to need to hire around a dozen people and have a budget of no less than $30,000. Deflated, I put all my app ideas on the back-burner in hopes to one day have the budget to be able to create an app.

That all changed when I accompanied a good friend of mine to San Diego last summer to attend a marketing seminar. My buddy had an extra seat available to the seminar, and invited me out. All I had to do was buy a plane ticket to get out there. And since I’ve got a huge passion for digital marketing, I jumped at the chance to go.

Attending the seminar in San Diego, set into motion a couple key thought processes, and suddenly I found myself inspired; I was thinking about iPhone apps all over again.

By late August of 2011 I was in. The guy who organized the seminar in San Diego put out a course on making iPhone apps. I signed up, and quickly began learning tons of information – stuff that it seemed like all my developer friends weren’t aware of. My perspective had completely changed. Now I was learning how it’s possible to make an iPhone app for substantially less than $30,000. My hope had finally come true. I could afford to make an app.

I made the decision to not talk about my app business side-project for a while, as I wanted to get a solid footing before I began posting thoughts and information about this on Producer Notes. But now that I’ve released my first app, I’m going to spend some time sharing thoughts and ideas about the iPhone app industry on this blog from time-to-time. I still intend to keep Producer Notes primarily about music recording and production, but I think it’s also valuable to occasionally share ideas about making apps. I’m currently building a website for my app company, and once it’s built I’ll be posting a lot more of this type of content there. I’ll make and announcement here when it goes live, and if this type of stuff interests you at all, you can check it out at that time.

I want to share a video with you from Chad Mureta. Chad is kinda the guy who started it all (in my newly formed group of developer friends), as I learned everything I know about making iPhone apps from the guy who learned from Chad. I recently bought Chad’s book, and have already picked up some things that I can’t wait to put into action.

If you’re interested at all in the iPhone app business, and would like to know how to get started building a business from making apps, then take a few minutes to watch this video. You might pick up a few key pieces of information like I did, that will completely remove the barrier that’s keeping you from getting started.

Now I gotta get back to that app promotion, and check in on how it’s doing!

//Jon

[In full disclosure I want to be upfront and tell you the posted link is an affiliate link, and if you click it, I do stand to make some money. But I would NEVER endorse a product or service that I didn't fully believe in, and as I've gone through a course just like this one in order to learn how to start an app business, I know first hand how incredibly valuable something like this is. I'm literally watching my iPhone game climb the charts on the App Store as I type this blog post.]

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Posted on 18-05-2012
Filed Under (announcements) by Jon Stinson

A few weeks ago, I released my first ever app for the iPhone. It’s a match-3 style puzzle game called Syntax!, and you can download it from the App Store here:

The main concept of Syntax! is based off the extremely popular game, Bejeweled. If you have never played Bejeweled, no worries, match-3 games are super easy and fun to pick up (all you do is match-3 symbols in a row).

Developing apps for the iPhone is something I’ve had my eye on for the last 3 or 4 years, but because it never felt like the timing was right for me in terms of resources, cost, and concept, I never jumped in.

Well, last August I finally decided that the timing was right, and made the leap. It’s been an awesome adventure so far, as I’ve learned a ton (and continue to learn) about the rapidly growing mobile industry.

Yeah, the mobile app industry certainly is a crowded space. And it’s pretty astonishing how quickly things change in this space (it pretty much really is on a daily basis). But I’ve been lucky enough to hook up with and learn from some of the best. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that making mobile apps is like anything else – you’re not gonna make waves overnite. It’s a slow build over time.

I’m excited and happy to share Syntax! with you today. I couldn’t be more proud of what I conceptualized, and the small team of coders and designers I put together brought into reality.

I think you’re really gonna love Syntax!, as I’ve incorporated more surprises and more action into the game than you typically find in a match-3 style game. The split-screen multiplayer mode is probably the best example of this, as you can directly challenge your friends, and see the moves they are making in real time!

Download Syntax! on the App Store now!

Here’s to the first of many. I’ve got big ideas for more apps and games, and look forward to developing more very soon!

//Jon

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Posted on 14-05-2012
Filed Under (recording) by Jon Stinson

The most expensive microphone I own cost me $700. I’ve recorded a lot of things with it – lead vocals, drums, guitars, piano, saxophone, accordion – tons of things. At Nashville Studio Live, a recording studio in Nashville that regularly hires me for sessions, this is the exact same microphone we use to track vocals on every session we do. It’s a great mic, and I’ve captured a countless amount of fantastic sounding recordings with it.

However, this particular $700 microphone is probably not the one I use the most. When I’m tracking a full band, I’ll use a whole bunch of different microphones, and the bulk of them are actually relatively cheap mics. Quite often, I’ll end up using a $100 mic to record a killer sounding lead vocal.

Now, I’ve certainly recorded with microphones that are very expensive-mics that cost $2,000, and sometimes even as expensive as $8,000. But I don’t own any mics that are this expensive. If I feel that a recording could benefit from using one of these super expensive mics, I either borrow it from a friend or rent it.

So here’s the point: it’s not necessary, and many times not even ideal to use really expensive microphones to record. So before you convince yourself that you “just have to drop $2,000 on the best microphone ever,” spend some time investigating whether or not that mic really is as necessary as you think it is.

At a certain point you might find that it is in fact a huge need to own a super expensive mic, and you will justifiably need to make that purchase. But I know personally that I’m not ever going to make this kind of high end purchase a day sooner than I have to-when my business begins to suffer because of an inadequacy of the gear I own (which has only happened a couple of times in the last 10 years). As a matter of fact, this rationale goes for all the other gear out there too.

//Jon
Website: jonstinson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stnsn
Twitter: @stsn

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