JamShift, a project by Anand Altekar, helps musicians work together online using a Digital Audio Workstation-like interface.

The recently-released Shaadi Ke Side Effects showed how demanding a musician’s life was, especially before his first album. Now imagine an online platform that simplifies the process and helps musicians collaborate and write songs from start to finish. Anand Altekar, the brain behind such a venture, explains what JamShift is all about.

Tell us the story behind JamShift.

When I was working in Mumbai it was difficult to write songs because my band members were in Pune. We used to exchange ideas via e-mail, Dropbox etc. I had no clue what they were doing with my ideas and vice-versa, till I received a mixed file. Apart from the communication gap, we also found it tough to see how our song was coming together at each step. That’s when it hit me. Why couldn’t we have an online jam room where each band member sees and hears exactly the same thing? And that’s how JamShift was born.

How did you set it up?

When I quit my job at The Economic Times, I had no clue how to take my idea further. My parents, with their immense experience in the software and management sector, showed me the way initially. Having successfully run a software company for more than two decades, their guidance was vital and they also decided to invest in my idea.

I had to struggle a lot to get the first few developers. The breakthrough came when Makarand Gadre, a veteran in the industry who has worked with Microsoft for 20 years in Seattle, shifted back to India and showed interest in JamShift. After he joined our team, things started picking up. Today, we are a nine-member team, not counting the part-time developers.

How does Jamshift work?

Every song usually starts with one very simple idea. And then instruments are added or layered to it as the song writing progresses. JamShift takes this process online. One musician creates a JamRoom and records or uploads an idea on it. He/she then invites others to join and adds to the idea. When changes are made and saved to the JamRoom, all the members are notified immediately. It’s important to know that this is not real time, so each musician’s creative space remains intact. A musician can improvise and perfect his or her idea and only then save it. In this way layers are added one after the other, finally giving rise to the song structure. Plus, the chat and markers functions help musicians communicate with each other in a simple yet effective way.

What has been the initial response?

We are still in the development phase and haven’t released the product to the public yet. But we did run a Private Beta, which was tested by more than 50 musicians, all of whom I know personally for their talent and expertise. The Private Beta testing was by invite only and we received an overwhelming response in terms of requests to test the Beta version. However, as I said, the musicians that were allowed to try it were pre-decided.

Any challenges you and your team faced while setting it up?

The biggest challenge for me was putting together a team of developers. Service is the core of the Indian IT industry and product start-ups like JamShift struggle to get hold of good developers.

What is in store, for JamShift and the people who use it, a year from now?

We want to focus on making the JamShift experience as smooth and simple as possible. We hope it will be a helpful tool for all musicians who face problems while collaborating due to physical, geographical or monetary constraints.

Find them at: www.jamshift.com

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