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The learning behind Clubs

Over the next few months we will start rolling out Clubs, online spaces for music communities to hangout, create, publish and listen to music together. If you’re not yet on the waitlist you can sign up here.

In this article we’ll dig into everything we’ve learned over the last few years which has fed into the strategy behind Clubs.

“Clubs” is a synthesis of what we’ve learned from surveys, user tests, interviews, market research, feedback on our Discord server and a lot of data analytics. Generally, we’ve learned a huge amount about the behaviours around making music together online and the problems that people who love to make music experience.

Here are some things we’ve learned

These learnings are driving our design process behind Clubs.

1. The magical experience of Endlesss is creating and sharing something and getting a reply moments later from a human who has heard you and responded to you musically. We know this anecdotally and through data. If you’ve had that experience and particularly if you’ve formed relationships with others based on that experience, you will stick around for a very long time, despite all the shortcomings with the tool and how the community is structured.

2. Data: Most people don’t make it far enough to have that magical experience

3. Data: Unlike social and community features, improvements we’ve made to the creative tool have had no measurable impact on usage metrics.

4. User tests: Most people don’t get along with the retrospective looper and realtime input. They like to use more familiar input methods such as browsing premade loops, piano roll and step sequencing

5. Market research: Looping is niche, retrospective looping is a niche within a niche.

6. User tests: the current UI for layers, rifffs and the history is hard to understand. But when we explain it in terms of making music like live chat, people understand the concept a lot more quickly

7. Data: Improvements to the onboarding have improved the number of people making their first 50 rifffs but hasn’t improved the number of people using social features

8. Data: Improvements we’ve made to social features have doubled the retention rate of people who use them but haven’t increased the overall proportion of new users using them.

9. Data: The community of regular users got established very quickly after we launched. Since then, the number of people making the effort to embed within the existing community has fallen significantly

10. Observation: The community has tended to split off into smaller subgroups rather than behave as a single social network

11. Observation: The ‘one community’ structure is a bad experience for newcomers who are exposed to activity by a group of people they don’t know that feels cliquey

12. Observation: The ‘one community’ structure is a bad experience for experienced users as the public jams get trashed by newcomers, trolls or people they don’t vibe with

13. Observation: The ‘one community’ structure, with the company as the community manager has caused a lot of unnecessary drama and bad outcomes for the community

14. Market research / interviews: Discord use in music communities is on the rise, particularly with the new generation of music-makers

15. Trend observation: People are fed up of big social platforms and want social spaces where they can spend time with a smaller number of people they know, not intermediated by the algorithm

16. Surveys / interviews: People want to create finished tracks and they want them to be heard by people who will listen and care

17. Surveys / interviews: People want better ways to export material from Endlesss

18. Surveys / interviews: People want Endlesss to be more stable (+ lots more stuff we’ve learned from user surveys)

Distilling these learnings, here are the headlines:

- The core experience of collaborative chat-like music-making is a huge opportunity

- The way we’re delivering it today is niche and only exposes us to a tiny fraction of the number of people who could benefit from it

- The social structure needs to be optimised for intimate, user-run groups rather than a wide social graph moderated by the company

- The tool needs to play alongside all the other amazing tools out there rather than be a walled garden. We need to go where others are rather than trying to get them to come to us.

- Overall the tool needs to be more stable, easier to understand and more customisable

Clubs are designed to either directly solve these problems or provide a structure where we can solve these problems in a coherent way, both in terms of the structure of the app and prioritising it by the number of people who need a certain solution. It’s not just about ‘Discord servers for music’ - that’s just the starting point that’s easy to understand.

With Clubs will come (not all at once and not in this order)

- Community moderation tools

- A new UI for rifffs / layers / history that uses in-line chat as an interface paradigm, rather than today’s highly bespoke and hard to understand interface

- This new UI opens up solutions such as rifff favouriting and filtering, batch export, “re-oneing”, threading / branching + lots more

- The ability to record longform two-track audio directly into a channel (jam) - think instant rifffhops and live jam recordings

- The ability to drop longform two-track audio into a channel - eg bounce down from Ableton, drop into the channel

- The ability to drop any file type into a channel for sharing

- A public page to showcase the best music from within the club

- Custom channel types - think chat-only, music-only, audio-only, feeds, charts etc

- Improved sound browsing

- New input types such as pre-made loops, step sequencing, piano roll, toplines (for recording longer phrases)

Go to market strategy

Clubs are an offering for all the existing music communities out there - so rather than trying to introduce complete strangers to people they don’t know, which is how the app works today, we can onboard entire networks at once. To achieve that, we need to provide low-lift value that doesn’t require people to onboard on to a new creative tool first. This is where the file sharing and community management tools come in. We can expose newcomers to the creative tool bit by bit - and as the tool gets better more will use it.

A journey of learning

In the last 3 years, the journey of Endlesss has gone through a number of iterations. We started off as a mobile app with a freemium subscription, then we added a pay-to-own desktop app. We added a marketplace, built a physical arcade machine and now we’re launching Clubs. Our eyes have always been on the goal of transforming music from a product we consume into an activity we do together. These past few years have been a journey of intense experimentation and learning.

The path forward for a mission like ours is to keep on trying new things - to build an experimentation engine that allows us to keep taking swings at the ball. No one has yet cracked the code of what doing music together on the internet means. We believe the solution is out there and we believe it’s a huge opportunity. With our team delivering faster, our technology getting more robust and our understanding of the problems we’re solving getting deeper, we believe we’re getting ever closer to cracking the code.

We’re excited to start rolling out Clubs. Sign up to the waitlist to be the first to know more.


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