Christmas cheer has been sprinkled on top of Soundwave HQ today for one big reason – we have been awarded the Best Innovation in Music app for 2013 by Apple in over 15 countries worldwide!
This latest award from Apple comes off the back of our most recent award ‘Designed for iOS7’ which we received in October ‘13.
Massive shout out to our developers and the Soundwave fans for all the help since launch in June ’13. It’s been a phenomenal year and we cannot wait to kick-start 2014!
Check us out here; http://AppStore.com/BestOf2013
Have a fantastic Christmas!
The Soundwave Team
A few weeks back we had a great post outlining why artists should be on Soundwave. Our most recent update this week shows how we are constantly making it easier for artists to get real value out of being on the Soundwave app. Now you can see who is listening to your songs on YouTube and where your fans are around the world!
Like a lot of people, I’ve got some friends who are aspiring musicians so I think it’s fair to say the general consensus is that a lot of them deserve to be getting more recognition for their work, that is something we are trying to achieve at Soundwave and I think our latest update shows that. We want to create an equal-playing field where nothing else matters except for the music and the fans. You can’t ‘fake’ it on Soundwave people! You can say that the National is your favourite band but it will become pretty obvious that they’re not when all that’s appearing on your Soundwave profile is Earth, Wind and Fire (which is fine by the way, we don’t judge here!)
We talk to musicians a lot and one thing we consistently hear coming back is that many of you feel that you have to be on a streaming service to make some sort of ripple, but how many great artists have been discovered on YouTube?! We had a lot of great bands and singers who were very interested in Soundwave but because their music was only on the likes of YouTube, Bandcamp and Soundcloud they wouldn’t have been able to see people listening to their stuff on Soundwave. This is why we are so delighted with our most recent update which introduces YouTube integration!
Now users have the option to connect their YouTube account and all the music they listen to will be synced to their Soundwave profile! Notice how I said music? Our tech team have once again done an amazing job and managed to build this feature in such a way that only music videos will be tracked.
To give you an example, this song called ‘cat in the window' will be tracked:
But this video of an actual cat in a window won’t:
I think we’re all in agreement that that’s a good thing!
So how exactly does Soundwave’s YouTube integration benefit artists?
Up to now artists have been able to view a ‘song history’ for any of their music that was tracked by Soundwave (iTunes, native music players, Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, 8tracks). YouTube integration means that now every time someone listens to one of your songs on YouTube, this will also be tracked, making for more accurate and interesting data!
Orla Gartland is a perfect example of an artist who would benefit greatly from this new update. Orla is getting really popular right now and her music recently became available on streaming services but she started out as a YouTube success story. Her YouTube channel has over 80,000 subscribers and 10 million views in total! Going forward all these fans and listens will also be tracked once they download Soundwave:
What existing artists on Soundwave have to say:
We have had some great artists and bands on the app since day one, who are seeing first-hand how each update is improving the app. Hear what Ruairi Lynch from Bantum has to say:
How did you hear about Soundwave?
I read about Soundwave online and in The Irish Times tech section which sparked a bit of curiosity. I noticed a bit of buzz about the app on Twitter which led me to start asking around about it and Roisin was kind enough to give me an introduction to the app before release. Needless to say I’ve been an advocate ever since!
How do you see Soundwave’s new update, which allows YouTube songs to now also ‘count’, as an advantage to artists?
I think it’s hugely beneficial for artists as YouTube is arguably the main music discovery tool for younger listeners these days. There is also a bit more variety on YouTube than say Spotify, as you’re more likely to find unreleased remixes/bootlegs/demos on YouTube then on other players.
Tell us about Bantum:
Bantum was started as a solo electronic project by myself in Dublin nearly 4 years ago, and is now moving towards becoming a band with Eimear O Donovan (ex. KVX) Ger Mangan of Ten Past Seven and Mark King (ex Friend?) respectively. The sound has evolved over 4 EPs, 1 album and a Remix album to incorporate low end hip hop and dance beats with a signature guitar sounds, samples and synth melodies achieving widespread acclaim both in Ireland and abroad. Expect a number remixes, videos, singles and a bigger live visual show in 2014!
To wrap up I would like to say a huge thanks to all the artists, bands and musicians that have supported us from the start and it’s so great to see new ones joining every day. Any questions please drop me an email and say hello, that’s what I’m here for! firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Soundwave at www.soundwave.com
Brian here, I’m the Lead iOS Developer on Team Soundwave. You may have heard whisperings of a product update that we just released here at Soundwave HQ. We’ve decided to give all of you tech enthusiasts a little taste of the behind the scenes work that the other developers and I have been working on over the past couple of weeks to bring Google+ and YouTube to the users of Soundwave.
It all started with our users. We listened to every piece of customer feedback over the past few months and quickly realised that our users were screaming for Google+ sharing and YouTube syncing. After weeks of coding, testing and refining we are delighted to bring you this latest update.
So what does this all mean? It’s simple.
- You can now log in to Soundwave with your Google+ details (Android & iOS)
- You can share songs and/or your Soundwave profile with your Google+ account
- You can sync your YouTube music across any device
- You can sync your Google Play All Access (Android) account
For those of you that fancy more of the nitty gritty detail then here it is. We have used a YouTube API to get a user’s watch history from YouTube. From that we run some clever algorithms that can distinguish between a music video and a regular video, meaning no weird cat videos will appear on your feed or profile. For iOS users we used the Google+ iOS SDK to enable users to login in with their YouTube account. We also use their SDK to enable interactive posts to Google+. The custom share UI that is included with the SDK makes implementing Google+ sharing a breeze, cheers Google+! For Android we used the built-in Google authorisation features to allow logging in with Google and linking your YouTube account to capture videos. We also use the new interactive posts of Google+, which is very nicely integrated on Android.
All that remains for you to do is update to the latest version of the app.
The Soundwave Dev Team
If you have any questions please send us a quick email email@example.com
Soundwave HQ is buzzing this week with the announcement that both new and existing users can now connect their YouTube music with Soundwave.
What does this mean? It’s simple. Soundwave has unlocked a wave of new music for users to discover, listen to and share with friends both locally and globally.
We here at Soundwave HQ believe this is a significant enhancement to the Android and iOS app for three main reasons;
1. This integration allows new and existing users the option to track, share and catalogue the music they listen to on YouTube (across any device) on their Soundwave profiles.
2. It gives unsigned artists (that are not on streaming apps) an instant world-wide platform for users to discover and share their music.
3. For those that use YouTube as their one stop shop for music consumption (i.e. the younger folk!) this update gives these users a platform for sharing their listening habits with friends.
So join the YouTube madness on Soundwave this week by connecting your YouTube account and start playing some solid tunes!
If you would like any further information send us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Soundwave Team
Yes, we realise that is possibly one of our cheesiest titles ever but it does perfectly explain the concept of this post! Our Roadies were split into teams last week and given total freedom to make a Soundwave image based on their own unique concept. Team 1 (who prefer being referred to as Team Awesome) made this really nice infographic image. The team’s members are located all over the world and they took advantage of this, taking shots of street art from London, Dublin and New York. The image shows how the music map is reflecting trends and styles in areas much the same way as street art does, pretty cool!
Thinking about applying to be a Soundwave Brand Ambassador but would like to know more? Hear what it’s all about from one of our very first Roadies!
My name is Brendan Grehan and I am the official representative for Soundwave in Sweden! I’m originally from Ballinasloe, Co.Galway but have been living in Sweden since 2011. Joining the Roadie programme couldn’t have happened at a better time for me. Music has played an
important role in my life and I have always had a huge interest in it, so much so that I decided to make a career in the music industry. After studying Music Technology for 3 years in Dublin (2 of which were at BCFE in Ballyfermot) I began working as a stage technician straight after my graduation. The following year I was working in Australia where I got great experience and worked on many major productions.
In 2011 I moved to Stockholm to live with my girlfriend Sara
and began working in T.V as a stage tech. I also started my own sound
design and media production company, Infrasound Media. It was at this point I was considering exploring other career prospects in the music business and delving deeper in to the tech side. When I heard about Soundwave I was immediately interested. I loved the app from day one and when I found out about the Roadie programme I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this new wave of music app technology. The future looked bright for this young Irish start up and I wanted to be a part of their journey.
Since joining the Roadie programme I have enjoyed
every moment. The Community Manager Roisin and all the team have made us feel right at home. I found myself making instant friends and contacts with my fellow roadies from around the world. Through the tasks we are given every week I feel I have an outlet to focus my creativity and social networking skills on. The app has now been downloaded in almost every country in the world and has been downloaded well over half a million times since its launch in June 2013, I feel proud to have played a small part in that :)
To anybody with a passion for music and that wants to make great contacts and friends while having fun and being a part of a great group of people I would highly recommend applying to be a roadie at Soundwave. I feel like we have only begun to scratch the surface of possibilities this roadie programme has to offer.
Best of luck with your application!
For full information on the Soundwave Brand Ambassador programme, head over to the website: http://roadies.soundwave.com/
Back in August we opened the Soundwave Brand Ambassador program for the first time to great response. Our first 15 Roadies were chosen and for the past 3 months they have been doing a brilliant job as official representatives for the app all over the world.
We are delighted to announce that we are now re-opening the program to applications and will be filling new Roadie spots next week! While we are accepting applications from all countries, we are actively looking for Roadies in:
Head over to the Roadie website for full information on the program and to download your application pack: http://roadies.soundwave.com/
Spots are limited so apply today! If you have any questions on the Roadie programme please feel free to drop our Head Roadie an email: email@example.com.
Best of luck :)
The Soundwave Team
Check out this baby! Our Android developers are jumping for joy this morning and we’ll be delivering cake straight to their desks because this week we have received a massive 1,000 5 Star reviews in the Google Play Store.
Our Android users seem to be lovin’ the app and we couldn’t be happier!
This celebration doesn’t mean that our Android developers get to go home and nap for the rest of the day, oh no! They are working through the night, well almost, to bring you the next big release in time for Christmas.
For now you can have some fun with the new playlists feature added to both the Android and iOS apps. It’s now easier to catalogue all the new tunes you discover by using this feature. Create as many playlists as you like.
Keep an eye out on upcoming releases over the next couple of weeks but in the meantime we’re off for some tea and cake. Well done to George and Andrew! Hats off to you guys!
Our Community Manager extraordinaire Roisin has been busy playing Santa this week at Soundwave HQ. Not only has she kicked off the festive season to a flying start by getting the secret Santa wheels in motion but she is also busy preparing some early Christmas packages. These packages will be landing on the doorsteps of each of our fabulous Soundwave Roadies next week. The Roadies are Soundwave’s official brand ambassadors. They are dotted all over the world and spend their time spreading the Soundwave joy - we cannot wait to give them an early Christmas gift!
Here’s Roisin and our iOS developer Brian preparing the Roadie packages;
What is the Roadie programme?
The Roadie programme allows some of our best and brightest users to work directly with the Soundwave team to spread the word about the app and have a lot of fun at the same time! Roisin and the Roadies are the fierce leaders of the Soundwave Community, doing everything from providing you with interesting and entertaining content, providing feedback, testing new features, promoting the app and signing up awesome new users all over the world!
We currently have 15 Roadies in the program located across Russia, Italy, The Netherlands, the UK , Spain, Ireland, Sweden, India and the USA! (If you would like to meet the Roadies, check out Soundwave’s Suggested Users list this Friday where we will be showcasing each of their profiles)
I want in! How do I become a Roadie?
Funny you should ask because right now Roisin is putting the wheels in motion to re-open the programme next week. If you are pretty much nuts about Soundwave and think you would make a great Roadie then get your application ready today. We have a few more coveted spots to fill and we want to hear from you! Head over to the Roadie website to download the application form and find out more about the program: http://roadies.soundwave.com/
That’s it from us.
May the Roadie force be with you!
The Soundwave Team
Is there anything the Soundwave app can’t do?! Apparently not, as this week our London Roadie extraordinaire, and artist manager, James Richardson, is kindly sharing his knowledge and insights on how it’s pretty much a no-brainer for artists to be on the Soundwave App. Our users are crying out for new music so get a profile set up today and show us your tunes! :)
Hello! I’m James and I’m currently one of two Roadies who represent Soundwave in London.
I wanted to highlight a few of the many opportunities that Soundwave holds for artists. There have been lots of ways I’ve utilised the app myself as an artist manager; the results of which have significantly increased the awareness and fanbase of the artists that I work with.
Soundwave are featuring a growing number of artists as Suggested users on the app. For new users this is one of the first things they see, so everyone who downloads and opens the app will see your band here (existing users can find this part under the ‘Find People’ tab) The list of Suggested Users are updated weekly, so if you’re a band that’s utilising the platform well and have some great tunes, what’s to say you couldn’t be the next featured artist here?
Recently one of my artists, Hello Bear, were very kindly featured. We found that every time we checked on their profile their followers had increased by a good 100 people each time. (Tip - Be sure to add your Facebook/Twitter usernames into your account’s bio)
Once you’re signed up, it couldn’t be easier to keep your profile looking up to date. Make sure that whatever player or streaming service you use to listen to your music is linked up with Soundwave and bam! All of your plays will automatically start filtering through just by listening to music as you would normally, you can’t say that for many other social networking sites! (don’t worry if your music platform isn’t listed here yet, as they’re always adding new ones)
The Music Map
This has to be the most useful part of the app for me - the Music Map is a great indicator for seeing what people are listening to in other countries. In case you’re not already familiar with this feature, you can draw a circle around any region in the world and all of the Soundwave plays in that area show up. The plays can then be viewed in a chart format, and you can even look at individual plays in specific locations.
To give you an example, there has been talk of a potential tour across Germany with one of the bands I work with. Using the Music Map we can look at the plays in the individual German cities to see which could be the most receptive of their style of music.
The data which the Music Map generates is useful for lots of reasons:
- The plays can be filtered so that the most recent ones appear first.
- Trends can be identified using the chart section (i.e. what the most played tracks are)
- Using the preview button, we could potentially discover similar sounding local bands which users could have been listening to; this could end up in a gig swap/contact
All of these location-based plays make for a very interesting insight into who’s playing what music and where. Soundwave are currently working on shaping this data into something more actionable for artists. For instance when you have a new track ready to premiere, using Soundwave you could see the very first person on the app to listen to your brand new single, and then watch how quickly it spreads across cities worldwide.
Discovering music instantly
It’s always interesting to see what music people are playing globally, especially the users I’ve chosen to follow. The new visually appealing iOS7 upgrade adds to the incentive to spend even longer discovering new music on the app.
One of the users I follow has very similar music taste to me, and I recently discovered a band called ‘Lost in the Trees’ thanks to them. I ended up buying the track straight away from the iTunes quick link (no need to manually switch between apps which is handy!)
Just to sign off, I honestly think that Soundwave is a great way of discovering new music, and with an ever-growing user base it means that there are hundreds of thousands of music fans from all over the globe just waiting to discover their new favourite band.
The world is more connected than ever so go & make the most of it!
If you are a band/artist and would like to get set up on the app, you can check out and download the app for free from either the Google Play Store or the App Store. Once you’re registered drop our Community Manager Roisin an email and say hi to get a chance to be featured as a suggested user firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot off the press is this week’s guest blog from our super user and downright super Dublin Roadie, Noel McGrath. Noel talks about the common problem that we all face; trying to decide on a venue (that plays good tunes) to visit when meeting up with your mates on a Friday or Saturday night. Check out why Noel thinks being a Soundwave user helps him solve this problem :)
'So where do you want to go for a drink?' is a question often asked when friends decide to head out. It’s a simple question but the answer on the other hand is one that generally involves a lot of debate and frustration, especially in a city like Dublin where the choice is endless. The one thing that helps to make a decision is knowing what venues are playing good tunes. So how do you find out the music a venue is spinning before heading there? Whether you’re looking to see what the local has on their sound system or want to discover a new watering hole, Soundwave is the answer!
Take for instance Slatterys of Beggars Bush, Dublin (pictured below). This is a bar I had passed by so many times and thought of visiting, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Well that was until I came across their profile on Soundwave (they were featured as a suggested user) and saw what tracks they were playing and now I’m a frequent visitor. It was almost like they had some psychic link with my iTunes library and they never seem to play a dud track. In fact, my library (as well as my credit card bill) has expanded as a result of the new tunes I’ve discovered through the Slatterys Soundwave profile page.
From a venue’s point of view, having a Soundwave profile is an excellent opportunity to promote itself through its music. Most venues use computers with streaming apps and/or native music players which can be seamlessly linked up with Soundwave. There’s no complicated set up or maintenance, once it’s up and running that’s it, all you have to do is to continue to play music like you always did!
I’ve seen a lot of bars tweeting about their music selection lately. Why bother having to stop serving customers to announce a song you’re playing when Soundwave will do that for you? You could also let followers and patrons suggest what tunes should be played next by using the ‘share’ function, who needs one DJ when you can have a whole pub full of them?!
Having a Soundwave profile also offers plenty of opportunities for customer involvement such as setting up quizzes and competitions based on their Soundwave plays. And for after hours when the staff are cleaning up and singing along to ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, then there’s always the ‘guilty pleasures’ feature! (Although judging from the selection below it seems Slattery’s have nothing to hide)
Looking to the future and other spaces that could use Soundwave, record stores would be a perfect fit. The whole ritual of going to a record store could be enhanced by following your favourite shop on Soundwave. You could see what they’re playing and request new music from them through the share function on the app. Record stores, in turn could show off new songs and albums they’ve just gotten in stock through their Soundwave profile. Albums and singles on special offer can be promoted through their humdinger choice. The options are endless.
The joy of an app like Soundwave is that it has the potential to be so much more than just music discovery through people and I for one cannot wait to see where the team take it.
Set up your Soundwave profile today and find your favourite venues. Their carefully selected tunes will finally get the appreciation they deserve! www.soundwave.com
If you’re a venue or would like to encourage your local venue to get on board
simply drop our Community Manager Roisin an email (email@example.com) and we’ll get you all set up!
This week’s guest blog post is from London Roadie, Evelyn Higgins. This is a must read for all Soundwave users, there’s some seriously nice gems and tips in here, enjoy!
Up until recently I have always been more of a social media spectator rather than participator. I set up my first twitter account about 3 years ago but up until the end of the summer you could count my tweets on one hand. My job as a Soundwave Roadie is to help spread the word about the great things the guys at Soundwave are doing. It’s all well and good tweeting, liking and tumblring about the place but if you don’t have an audience it’s not going to be much good.
In order to be the best Roadie I can be I have taken an interest in learning how to build a social media following and found most tips can be applied to any social media setting. I thought I would share a few things I have learned along the way to help you build your Soundwave following.
Soundwave is a social app and being one of the new kids on the block the audience is a little smaller than other social sites but they are also much more willing to listen to you. You might struggle to ever make it to 1000 followers on twitter but I promise you won’t have too much trouble amassing 1000’s of followers on Soundwave if you follow a few simple tips (or remember 4 random song titles!) – However, I can’t promise you’ll keep them if you keep listening to wrecking ball!
Have You Seen Me Lately? – (Counting Crows)
Soundwave users are obviously smart people – they did download the app! Smart people are not going to start following anyone who hasn’t racked up any song plays or shares even if your profile picture is of a kitten. This is a music discovery app. How are we meant to discover your great taste in music if you’re not sharing it with us? There is a time and a place to turn on guilty pleasures but not all day every day. Westlife cannot have that many albums.
People like us – (Kelly Clarkson)
I know that any person who has my favourite song on repeat is a person I want filling up my activity feed. Did you know that if you click on any song in Soundwave you can see a history of who else has been playing it? How about following a couple of those cool kids? You might find that you have a pretty similar taste and may even unearth a few new tunes and followers who can guide you in the direction of your next great musical discovery.
Follow you follow me – (Genesis)
As well as being smart the folks on Soundwave can be pretty generous. From my experience if you follow someone they usually follow back, especially if they see something you have in common on your profile. If you do grab someone’s attention make sure you give them something good to look at in return for dropping by your profile. It always helps to have a cover photo, a sweet humdinger and profile picture (No duck faces please!). Soundwave is as much about getting your song of the day out there as it is about finding your song of the day for tomorrow. Don’t go following every man and his dog in the hope they will follow you back. You want your activity feed to be filled with songs you end up liking more than disliking.
Come Together – (The Beatles)
You don’t have Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, MySpace and Spotify so you can live 5 different lives. Get everyone to join the party – the more the merrier. That is what the little ‘tell me a bit about yourself’s’ are for. I bet you have worked hard for those 100 twitter followers? Why not make them your first easy 100 Soundwave followers? If you have an android phone you can invite your twitter followers to Soundwave and if not; why not pop your twitter/Tumblr/MySpace handle in your Soundwave bio.
Now go forth and build your social empires! I’ll be seeing you on Soundwave!
By Craig Watson
The Romans would have built phenomenal technology companies. Why? Because they knew how to expand and scale internationally.
They understood that in order to grow their empire and promote their way of life globally, they needed to live in harmony in the countries that they inhabited. To do this they spent time speaking the local dialects and learning about different cultures — adapting and evolving as required. They played the long game so that they could literally reap what they sowed and live off the land as they ventured further and further from the motherland.
They did this by appointing ‘Governors’ (bosses) who were elected officials that carried out the rule of law remotely from Rome, from as far east as Babylon to as far west as Britannia. At its height, the Roman empire encompassed 6,500,000 km² with nearly 90M inhabitants. The Romans achieved all this at a time when their biggest technical achievement was arguably a pipeline that could supply water over long distances. Impressive right? The Romans did more than just come, see and conquer. They stuck around and localized like a boss. Vini, Vidi, Velcro.
In contrast, we live in an age where there are no real physical boundaries. Globalization in short means that every product has a global audience. It has never been easier to sell a product or a service in a location that is physically on the other side of the world. The Agrarian economy was largely subsistence based. The Industrial economy was limited by the modes of transport available to fuel the engines of growth. On the other hand, the Information Age has no geographical limitations.
Surely that means that all tech companies, which pride themselves on selling information in one form or another, are destined to become empire builders too?
The majority of technology companies only pay lip-service to the idea of localization.They’re more like a bunch of Vikings Raiders that are trying to force their own way of life on a remote island nation. The Viking land grab approach was effective but not sustainable. Taking the short-term view meant that even at the height of their existence, the Vikings were generally only able to settle narrow coastal pockets in Europe.
Just like their Viking counterparts, most tech companies are happy to seize opportunities that arise and then retreat to their longships with the goods in hand. If you’re not prepared to learn local customs and languages, no amount of brute force will overcome the slow and steady settlement approach.
Current trends in App development illustrate the same differences between adopting the Roman or Viking approach towards localization. At a time when it’s cheaper than ever to use translation services, it is still amazing how many apps remain in one language only. They expect to just blitz in and win market-share in locations where they have spent no time getting to know the user-base there. The apps that succeed internationally are the ones that take the time to understand foreign markets and who then optimize their product for that user-base.
Be a Roman Boss, not a Viking Raider.
In a study carried out by Distimo — it was found that applications increased their download volumes on the iPhone by more than 128% in the week following the addition of the native language.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. Nelson MandelaDistimo
So how do you localize like a Roman Boss?
At Soundwave, we’re building a music discovery app that allows you to see what music your friends, family and favorites are listening to in real-time around the world. As music is the universal language, we wanted our app to be available to as wide a market as possible. I’d be the first person to admit that our plans for global domination are far from complete. In fact, we’ve made a load of mistakes but thankfully we’ve managed to get more things right then wrong. Based on our experience in expanding and scaling the app internationally, here is a list of things that have helped us.
1. Prioritize the Languages
Work out what languages give you the most reach. Localizing is a serious commitment so it makes sense to work out where you will get the most return on the time invested. We used an Irish company calledTethras which provide helpful guidance on the penetration of each language (and the differences for iOS, Android and Windows).
Did you know that you can cover nearly 80% of the globe by translating your app into 6 languages? Neither did we — so work out what markets you want to approach, how much you can spend on this and how quickly you need it done. Tethras have provided a helpful list of what languages provide the most reach by market here.
Bonus Tip: Beware of legacy issues. Whatever languages you do choose to go with at the start will require constant upkeep. That means every product update. Every messaging campaign. They all require updated strings and translations. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The guys at another great Irish company, Reverbeo, that provide a cutting edge localization service for websites, were kind enough to take the time to explain this to us before we launched.
2. Leave Plenty of Time
Typically, localization will be an after thought once a product is ready to ship. In our case, we were so focused on getting the last minute bugs fixed that we underestimated the turn-around time it would take to get the translations done. Translators are only human and need to spend time ensuring that the translations are accurate. You can get things done quickly or correctly. Not both. It’s better to err on the side of caution and get your translations submitted well in advance. If we had to do it all again, we’d give ourselves a month (not the 10 days we had) to go native!
Bonus Tip: Find out in advance how long the translations are going to take and add on 20%. Human error will always come to the fore and you’re more than likely to have some last minute changes anyway.
3. Use Your Networks
Don’t underestimate the power of your networks to help with translations. We were pleasantly surprised to find out how many bilingual friends we had that were more than happy to help out. We were lucky to have friends in Sandbox which is an amazing group of young achievers from all over the world. When we were up against it and needed some initial translations, the Sandbox group went above and beyond and the only reason we made our deadline was thanks to their concerted efforts.
You’d be amazed how many languages a small team’s extended network can cover. There’s obviously a balance between getting a two sentence app description translated and 1200 strings translated. Keep the technical stuff for the pros but don’t be afraid to use your contacts to help with the smaller stuff (and to keep the costs down).
Bonus Tip: Use search tools on social network to ‘remind’ yourself how multicultural your friends actually are and what languages they can speak. Facebook Graph Search, LinkedIn and Twitter can help a lot with this.
4. Localize ALL the Assets
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying — “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing it well”. This applies to localization too. Make sure to work out every touch point with your international user base and ensure that it is covered. Examples of some touch points that we focused on atSoundwave included:-
- Strings in the app itself
- App Store Descriptions
- App Store Images
- Product Update Descriptions
- Press Releases
As mentioned above, this takes up a lot of time. The biggest time sink for us was actually localizing the app store images themselves. We spent countless hours changing the language on our handsets, changing the name of the user profile and then taking the relevant screenshots for that location.
An example below is for our app store description for Brazil. Now those of you with a keen eye might notice that our Brazilian user in the picture looks a lot like Brendan, (our CEO who is from Dublin, Ireland and definitely not from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil). We wanted to make sure that our Brazilian users weren’t put off by some name that they didn’t recognize or by some location that they had never heard of.Soundwave Brazilian App Store Image
The same applied to our Dutch speaking user-base so we localized that asset too. Again Brendan and Willem look incredibly similar ;-)Soundwave Dutch App Store Image
If a user makes it as far as the app description in the App Store, you don’t want them walking out the door of the shop because they don’t understand the product description. Make it easy for them to download the app!
Bonus Tip: Go the extra mile and make it super relevant for your user base in each specific market. We found out what the number one songs were in each location and made sure to include that song in the activity feed image that we used. An example below is the Activity Feed image for our Japanese App Store Description. We’re all now big fans of J-pop in the office!
Did going the extra mile make any difference?
Absolutely. On the back of our Japanese localization, we managed to secure an unbelievable feature (front and centre) on the Japanese App Store that led to thousands of daily downloads — thank you Apple! This would not have been possible without putting in the hard yards and localizing all the assets.Japanese App Store
5. Google Translate is Your Friend
Also if you need a quick solution, there are a suite of free translation services that are good enough for 80% of most use cases. Our Community Manager extrordinare Roisin (who is now almost fluent in Russian and Standard Japanese ;-) has managed to engage with our user base in hundreds of different countries thanks to Google Translate. Ok — sometimes the grammar will be slightly off or a word will be out of context but it’s better to make the effort than it is to ignore customer feedback altogether.
Other services like One Hour Translation are fairly cost effective and are quite quick. If you’re in a bind, this service has served us well.
Bonus Tip: Make a dedicated help section and translate this into as many languages as possible before you launch. You can then redirect your users to this help centre which will hopefully sort any issues that they’re having and will reduce the amount of questions that need to be answered.
6. Mobilize your Troops
We recently introduced a program for Soundwave power users who were keen to act as brand ambassadors in their own countries. We put out an open call to all ‘Roadies’ who were interested in helping to spread the word about our app in the countries where they lived. We even built a microsite to highlight what the benefits would be for any successful Roadie and to give them more information about the team in general.
The response to date has been phenomenal and we filled our first batch of Roadies within 24 hours. Just like the Romans realized two centuries ago, you just can’t beat local knowledge. What would have taken the team weeks to work out can be solved by one of our Roadie experts in a fraction of the time. Not sure what the best social networks are in Russia, our Russian ambassador will fill us in. Need help in getting a press release translated into Italian — we’ve got a linguistic maestro on hand to help us.
In return, we are glad to provide some unique benefits to our Roadies like limited edition swag, early access to new builds and the chance to host events and build out their professional networks. Our modern day Governors are a wealth of information and we can’t thank them enough for their help to date. We’re really looking forward to extending our Roadie program in the coming weeks and months.
Bonus Tip: Investing in people always trumps investing money. Finding, educating and nurturing our loyal group of international ambassadors has proven 100x more enjoyable and beneficial then any amount of money that we could throw at the problem. There are no short cuts here — spend the time getting to know your international users and cherish anyone who is willing to give up their free time to help you with your goals.
7. Get Some Skin in the Game
Although the Romans managed to govern remotely for the most part, the odd Roman Emperor still needed to leave Rome and visit areas under his control. Have you ever heard of Hadrian’s wall? This 80 mile wall which runs across the north of Britain was named after Emperor Hadrian after his visit to Britannia in 122AD.
Physically visiting a market that you’re looking to break into (or one which you’ve already localized into) will give you insights into local customs that you would never gain otherwise. Being based in Europe helps as we are naturally closer to a lot of markets that other developers in the US might not be for example. We can hop on a cheap flight to Berlin, Germany and be back in Dublin the same evening. Bundling tech events or other business development meetings with localization R&D trips is a great way to get to know your user base.
Bonus Tip: Using the download and active user metrics for your app is often the easiest way to justify a trip to another location. If you’re second biggest market is reachable and you’ve never made the effort to visit it, you can’t really complain when your users start churning in that location.
8. Find A Partner
Just like the power of your network, the benefits of buddying up with a partner in another location cannot be underestimated. Again, they have a better local knowledge than you will ever have so spend the time sussing out who might be a good fit for a strategic partnership in the markets that you are entering.
To date we’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great partners all over the world. For example, one of the lead BD executives atXiaomi, the behemoth Chinese handset manufacturer, was kind enough to reach out to us after our launch. We had taken the time to have our app translated into simplified Chinese and Xiaomi had come across it in the Google Play Store. They asked if we were interested in uploading our app to their own store and that if so, all we had to was sign an agreement which ported over our descriptions etc from the Play store. If any readers have dealt with the Chinese market before, you’ll know that a Chinese ID is required to do a lot of things so this was a huge win. One week later, we were told by the same BD executive that our app had been downloaded thousands of times in the Xiaomi store (with very little outlay on our part). It pays to have friends on the ground.
Another huge help for us has been the ability to tap into Enterprise Ireland’s extended global diaspora. Enterprise Ireland is the government organization responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. What that effectively means is that if you are looking to break into a new territory, they will know the right people to make this happen. Thanks to Enterprise Ireland, we’ve had introductions to key influencers all over the world including India, China, Japan, Russia and even further afield.
Most national governments will have a similar export orientated support network that could prove invaluable to you as you try and grow your brand internationally. It would definitely be worth sussing this out in advance.
Bonus Tip: As the Romans recognized, there’s always a quid pro quo with any strategic alliance. Often partners in other locations are just as keen to learn about your own country and how they can break into it. Sometimes you have to give to get so don’t be afraid to swap notes and help them get a foothold in your backyard. They’ll repay the favor ten times over if you do.
9. Never Stop Expanding
The day you stop growing and scaling your business is the day that your company starts to contract. There is no ‘settled’ state — you are either expanding or you’re shrinking. Do what you have to do to keep things moving in the right direction.
Recognizing this, we are currently looking to hire a ‘Emerging Markets’ marketeer who will focus solely on building out our app in new and exciting markets. We basically made this role up but this area is so critical to us that we feel it merits a position at the company.
There is a lot of low hanging fruit out there at the moment but you need to spend the time and money picking this fruit. Emerging markets do not come to you — you need to develop a plan of action and execute on this perfectly. Did you know that of a population of 1.2B people, there are still less then 100M smartphones in India?! The expected rate of growth in smart-phones is crazy and so it makes sense to target India now — not after every other app developer has decided to make a play there. We’ve been busy talking with a number of stakeholders in India and look forward to announcing our deals there over the coming weeks and months.
Bonus Tip: Experiment with different strategies. Thanks to the help of a stellar support team in Google Ireland, we were able to test the CPA using Google AdWords both here in Ireland and in Brazil. It was no surprise that Brazil came out on top but it was the margin between the two that did surprise us.
There is nothing better then waking up to find an email from a user on the other side of world telling you how much they love your product.The same sentiment saved Evernote from going under! Spending the time and resources in scaling your app internationally is so important. Don’t expect to win market share if you follow the Viking Raider approach. Users are smart and they will ditch you when they see that you’re not committed to them. Instead, take a leaf out of the best empire builders in history. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!
Thanks for reading
Web Summit 2013 is well and truly under way. As day 2 kicks off, our CEO Brendan took to the Digital Stage to talk about ‘The Future of Music’. He hailed Hozier as the artist to watch and Hudson Taylor as a band that have shown real initiative in their early adoption of new platform methods to market their music. Both of these artists can be checked out on the Soundwave app.
The Soundwave team are busy checking out what people have been listening to. Check out the Soundwave Music map if you are around the event or if you are on the Soundwave Android app we have an exclusive Web Summit chart where you can see what people are listening to in real-time.
Of course the Web Summit doesn’t end at 5pm, the party is just continuing into Meeting House Square where some great DJs take to the stage to keep the Night Summit Closing Night Party rocking.
We’ll see you there.