Stepping into the future at LeWeb

At the end of 2014, we were lucky enough to spend three days at LeWeb, one of the world’s leading tech conferences. Most of our time was spent at our stand, demoing our product – but we also had a chance to explore some of the other technology on show. And wandering these three vast halls in the suburbs of Paris felt like stepping into the future.

The conference had everything, from virtual reality to futuristic art installations. Here are a few of the best things we stumbled on.

The Oculus Rift

Until you’ve tried on the Rift, it’s tempting to think the gasps of amazement you see in the promo videos are the result of bad actors reading from bad scripts. But there’s no acting involved – it’s impossible to come away from your first experience with the Rift in anything other than a state of blind disbelief.

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The simulation we tried was a theme park ride that has you strapped to a seat that’s spun through 360 degrees above a small town. And it’s genuinely disconcerting. On more than one occasion I had to be grabbed to stop me from falling to the floor – it’s surprisingly hard to stay upright when your senses are screaming to you that you’re hanging upside down.

But, more than anything, you come away with the sense that this is only the beginning. Everyone’s talking about the potential of the Rift for gaming – but what about all the other applications? Imagine watching a gig at Madison Square Garden from the comfort of your living room, or seeing your favourite sports team as if you were right there in the stadium, or watching the next blockbuster with the action unfolding around you.

Seriously – the Rift is going to change everything.

3D Photos

Ok, so this is no virtual reality – but it’s pretty fun. You step into a booth, about 100 cameras go off at once, and you get a 3D photo of you sent straight to your phone. Needless frivolity? Perhaps. But who knows – it could be a good way of getting versions of the people you know into that virtual reality world the Rift is going to bring about.



Drones are so a part of the zeitgeist that they had their own slot on the main stage – and we can see why. The speed at which these things have become (a) usable and (b) affordable is insane. We don’t have one yet, but it’s high on the list of planned purchases for the Jukedeck office.

The one thing we’d say is that they’re surprisingly loud. So if you’re making a #dronie and you need some music to drown out the noise of a thousand angry bees, you know where to head.

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We won the LeWeb Startup Competition

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I’m really pleased to announce that we won the LeWeb 2014 Startup Competition!

After a hard-fought semi-final against some really great startups, we made it to the final three, which meant pitching on the main stage on the final day of the conference.

The panel was made up of some giants of the tech world, including LeWeb organiser Loïc Le Meur, co-founder Brent Hoberman and French Minister of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire. They posed some pretty demanding but very interesting questions, our favourite being ‘What Is The Future Of Art?’ We’ll have 3000 words for them by Monday morning.

The other two finalists were both great ideas and are well worth a mention. EasySize makes it easy for shops to decrease their return rate by using an algorithm to make sure customers are ordering the size that’s right for them; and NaturalCycles is a smart fertility monitor that lets you naturally plan or prevent pregnancy using just your daily temperature. We’re sure they’re both going to go on to great things.

In the end we won, which is a massive honour. You can check out the entire pitch below – there may be a rap involved.

What is Jukedeck? (and other FAQs)

We’re gearing up for launch, so we thought we’d take a moment to let you know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

What is Jukedeck?

A tool that allows you to create unique music at the touch of a button.

How does it work?

You come to our site, choose a style of music and a mood, and are instantly given a completely unique soundtrack. If it’s not quite right, you can tweak it or go for something completely new. You can even choose how long the soundtrack should be, so that it’s just the right length for your video – and we’ve got loads more features coming soon that are going to make it easier than ever to get the perfect soundtrack.

Who is it for?

Anyone who needs music, but specifically video creators.

What sets it apart?

If you’re a video producer, an advertiser or a games developer, the process of sourcing and editing music is broken. Searching through stock audio libraries is time-consuming, and it’s difficult to convey exactly what you want (“In-your-face”? “Mesmerising”? “Sort-of-like-that-but-a-bit-different”?).

We want to make this process quicker and easier. We want to give video producers a tool that lets them make the music they want really quickly, and then lets them go back and edit it as much as they like. We want to put that power in their hands.

Our mission is to give every video on the web the perfect soundtrack, because we believe music is more meaningful when it’s personalised.

What about copyright and royalties?

With our music, you don’t have to worry about copyright, because Jukedeck is based on state-of-the-art music-writing software that will write a unique piece of music just for you. In short, you’re free to use the music for commercial and non-commercial purposes. And we’re offering all our music completely royalty-free.

Are you trying to replace human composers?

Not at all – composers are the bedrock of the musical world (we’d know – we’re composers ourselves!). We just know that not everyone has access to a composer – and that’s where we come in. We want to build cool, useful stuff, that hopefully makes people’s lives easier.

So who’s behind it?

We’re a team of professional composers and producers, busy making sure every track is of the highest musical standard.

What if I can’t wait for the first product?

Email for early access!

We’re hiring!

We’re building the team over the next few months, and the first person to get in place is the CTO. There’s a description of the role below – if you think it might be for you, get in touch!

Having secured our seed funding we are looking to hire a talented CTO to guide our technology to commercialisation. This is a great opportunity for an outstanding engineer to join one of London’s most talked about startups to further develop this genuinely unique technology. The CTO will oversee all aspects of product development, from developing new algorithms to putting in place product rollout systems. The system is built in C++ and currently runs on iOS and on the web, but, as we increase the number of platforms, experience in a wide range of languages and platforms is highly desirable. An interest in music and music production is a big plus.

As the senior engineer joining early in the company’s history, the job will involve building the tech team, and offers excellent share options.

Jukedeck at Google Launchpad – Diary


This week we’ve been at Google Launchpad, a week-long incubator run out of Google Campus here in London. It’s been a week of talks and one-on-one mentoring on everything from User Research to Product to Tech, with some excellent lunches thrown in from some of the capital’s finest up-and-coming eateries.

Here’s our diary of the week, to let you know what we’ve been up to, what we’ve learned, and, while we’re about it, what we’ve eaten.

Day 1 – Idea Validation / Product Definition

The week kicked off with all the startups introducing themselves and getting some initial feedback on their ideas from Amir Shevat and David Katz. David followed that up with a great talk about the lessons he’s learned from the three companies he’s started, and the afternoon was spent in mentorship sessions with the two of them. In our session with Amir, he set us a challenge: to make it easier to upload videos directly to YouTube once you’ve made a soundtrack on our site. Challenge accepted.

Lunch: poncho8 – Burritos at their finest. So good that I had one for dinner too. I think that’s the first time I’ve consumed two burritos in a single day.

Day 2 – UI/UX

Tuesday morning brought with it presentations on both User Experience and User Research, which kept us focused on the user all morning; and in the afternoon we broke off for one-on-one sessions with various experts. We were paired up with Andrew Muir Wood, who talked us through the best way to conduct an interview without asking leading questions – always hard when you know what answers you what to hear.

Of course, interspersed with all of this was our first foray into what would be needed for our upload-to-Youtube button. More on this on Wednesday.

Lunch: Hummus Bros – A pot of hummus, falafel, toppings and sides. Why did no one tell me hummus could be the central asset of a meal? World shaken.

Day 3 – Tech

Wednesday was tech day, and a slew of developers descended on Campus to impart their wisdom. Amir got things going with a talk about analytics and understanding users, after which the room coagulated into pools of different programming languages, from web technologies to back-end coding to Android, with each startup seeking out the developer with the skillset they needed.

We managed to collar Jack Franklin, a Google Developer Expert who has somehow managed to write a book about programming before finishing University. We’d figured out, by this time, that we needed to do three things to get our upload button working:

  1. Upload the user’s video to our servers (since beforehand it was stored locally in the browser)
  2. On our servers, combine the user’s video and our generated soundtrack into one composite video
  3. Upload the completed video to YouTube

Luckily Jack came through for us – he managed to get videos being uploaded to our servers without breaking a sweat. Then, as an afterthought, he found an open source gem that would take care of most of the YouTube API stuff for us. This put Sean, our developer, in a great position to focus on the audio/video amalgamation.

Lunch: Mother Clucker – Fried chicken. In a burger. Enough said.

Day 4 – Pitching / Advanced UI/UX

On Thursday we met Donna Abraham, who took us through how to present the perfect pitch. Unsurprisingly for an expert in pitching, this was perhaps the single best presentation anyone had ever seen. Since Friday would be pitch day, we then went away to work on our pitches, with Donna meeting people one-on-one throughout the afternoon to give some company-specific advice.

The team of UI/UX mentors were back, so we took the opportunity to link up with Andrew again and carry on where we left off discussing User Research. Over the course of an hour, we sketched out Jukedeck’s User Research plan, which we’re embarking on over the next few weeks. I’m pretty confident our research will be immeasurably better having gone over the key methods with Andrew.

To cap off the day, Sean got everything together for our upload-to-YouTube button, which is now functional! It’s not live on our site, as we’ve got some design work to do on it, but it’s great to have the functionality there.

Lunch: Street Food – I can’t find these guys online (a lesson in naming in the Google age). Delicious salmon and asparagus salad, though, if you ever do find them.

Day 5 – Marketing / Demo Day

We’d been selected to pitch at the end-of-week gathering in the afternoon, so most of the morning of the last day was spent preparing for this. But we also managed to fit in a great session talking about marketing with Philipp Beer, discussing everything from launch to user acquisition.

At lunch we headed downstairs for the pitches. After a quick go with Google Glass (which we can confirm is going to change the world), a bunch of us took to the stage one by one to present our startups to a room full of investors, Google employees and anyone else who was interested. Amid some stiff competition from universally excellent pitches, we managed to clinch the trophy, a golden Campus rocket that will be taking pride of place on our mantelpiece.

And that was it – Launchpad was over. Having said that, we hope to stay in touch with Google, the outstanding mentors, and all the startups we met during the week. And we got a great selfie to remember everyone by.

Lunch: Street Food again. We approve.

Jukedeck featured in WIRED


Jukedeck was featured in the January 2014 issue of WIRED (UK).

Ready for the robo-Rachmaninoff? “I’ve been trying to codify the process you go through as a composer,” says Ed Rex, founder of Jukedeck, software that writes music by itself, note by note. After each note, it makes a decision: based on what’s come before, what should come next? “That’s where probability comes in – it’s a way for the software to choose different avenues,” the 26-year-old says. “You code it in: so, it’s likely that the phrase will be this long and go to this nearby note, and more likely to move to this chord than that. If it were a case of just choosing between different numbers, the music would be random and wouldn’t sound like music.”

Where Jukedeck differs from other generative software is in its emphasis on catchy tunes. Rex, whose company is based at Google Campus in London, says the system breaks music down to its parts – chord sequences, drum beats, and so on. Using the “building blocks”, it’s easy to swap genres: “You use the same foundation, but put in different probabilities and instruments.”

Jukedeck is available now, and Rex, who studied music at Cambridge University, is also planning a mobile app. “With iPhones and Google Glass, you have hardware that is aware of its environment. So you can have music that is written for you directly, that can react – it can take inputs in real time,” Rex says. “It would be like everyone having a composer following them around, writing them a soundtrack.”