Meet Ian Chamings. He recently braved the Dragons’ Den on BBC2 to get some cash for his rather excellent DJ software. The idea, which came to him whilst he worked as a DJ in Uni, involves an algorithm to automatically mix one piece of music into another at the correct moment without any clashing of beats. The software will automatically detect beats and adjust the pitch / volume etc to mix correctly into the next track. His idea is to launch a website called mixalbum.com to the waiting masses. People will be able to choose from a large range of dance tunes and then have them mixed together correctly in any order they choose. End result? An individually mixed album you can download to your iPod or generic music player.
It’s a great idea and I nodded along as Ian demo’d his software to the “business angels”. It’s probably a good idea to give you a quick overview of the programme. Basically it involves people presenting their idea, product or service to a group of successful business brains. All of the business people featured on the show are highly skilled in their field and have become wealthy through knowing a good service or product when they see one, then having the training and know-how to develop and market it. If the pitcher can convince one or more of the “Dragons” to give them the amount they need then they walk away with the cash. Sometimes the “Dragons” will offer the cash with certain clauses, such as grabbing 25% of their business etc. These business-folk don’t invest money easily – literally hundreds of ideas are rubbished and told to leave.
In this particular case Ian did well and managed to get two business brains to invest 75,000 each into his project. He walked away with 150,000 and two people with the skill to develop his business. All was going well, and Ian also managed to grab himself some invaluable free advertising. The mention of mixalbum.com on this show at peak time would be worth several thousands if it were a commercial. So, with my laptop next to me I checked the site. This is what I saw..
A launch just an hour after the show had finished ? Excellent! Sure, he could’ve launched at 9pm but for some reason it was 10. Either way, I wanted to give it a try. This was a service I would definitely be interested in trying. I logged on at 10pm but it looked like there were serious problems. The site, hosted by Internetters seemed to be performing well but nothing seemed to work. A lot of the links went no-where and, although designed well (by enginecreative.co.uk) not many of the options would operate, giving SQL errors or “unable to load” errors when I chose to preview a mix. It seemed that nobody had tested the possible loading on the server. Things just didn’t work.
This morning things looked worse. The whole site had been replaced with a rather worrying message that seemed to suggest that it wasn’t a launch at all, rather a “beta site” and that it wasn’t even finished… oh… oooppss….
It’s now been replaced with a much better “put your email address here and we’ll let you know when it’s back up” page, which is a much better idea and will help to grab the huge amount of people hitting the site following last nights’ TV show.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not criticising this site – it’s a fantastic idea and I can’t wait until it’s up so that I can use it, however it’s such a shame that the launch failed in this way – especially with all the media attention to it around the web and beyond.