Q + A with the co-founders of passtheaux
U of G computer science students Matt Hill and Jordon Smith are reimagining the way that music is shared between friends.
They’ve created passtheaux, a music sharing platform where a group of friends can add their own favourite songs to a queue, and vote democratically on the next song that plays. The host phone is the only one connected to the speakers through an aux cord or Bluetooth speaker and plays music through its personal library or Spotify account; everyone else can use their phones to contribute to the playlist.
The Ontarion had the chance to talk to the co-founders of passtheaux soon after its official release on the App Store.
Karen K. Tran: Could you describe what passtheaux is?
Jordon Smith: passtheaux is a social music application. The basic concept behind it is if you’re hanging out with some people — be that on a road trip or at a party — in order to listen to something together, the current experience is very cumbersome. So oftentimes you’ll get people passing around an aux cord — which is where the name comes from — or disconnecting and reconnecting a Bluetooth speaker to other people’s phones just to get everyone’s music in. Other than that, there’s also people who just hog their music and play whatever they want. So basically what we’re trying to do is make it so that there’s one phone that all the music can play from and everyone else can kind of contribute their favourite music that will be played in the playlist, using their own phone.
KT: Why did you find the need to create this app?
Matt Hill: Me and Jordon used to work all the time on school work together and we just found that we were constantly trying to share music together, but the experience kind of sucked. Either he had to hop on my laptop or say, “pause your music, I want to start my song that I want to show you,” and it was just a very cumbersome experience. So we basically developed this application for us. And based off the feedback we got from other people, they’re just like, “This is a really good idea. You guys have to make it into something more.”
KT: Could you tell me about what your experience creating the app was like?
MH: Creating the initial prototype of the application on iOS was mainly done by me as just a side project. And then me and Jordon got to talking about it, seeing where we could take the app. After we developed the prototype and actually had two iPhones working together, contributing music together, we started developing an Android prototype. But we quickly realized that the frameworks and stuff we used on iOS weren’t compatible, so for the last two months we’ve spent re-engineering the application into a version of it that can work across platforms. So right now on iOS and Android you can contribute music and listen to phones.
KT: What do you hope that people get out of using your app?
JS: We want people to be able to share music together, to make it a better experience in general. I think we both share the thought that it would be really nice to have people be able to discover new music through the application by listening to something that they might not have heard of before just by having the input of all their friends and maybe people that aren’t their friends if they’re at a party with people they don’t know. Just getting everyone’s input and being able to hear it and expose people to new types of music that they might not have been before would be a good outcome.
KT: What’s your background with software design, marketing, and all these skills you had to use to put together the app?
JS: The two of us worked on Pass The Aux along with our designer (Chelsea Riepert). She basically gave us pictures of what the app should look like using design mock-up tools.
MH: As far as the social media and marketing goes, that’s sort of been my interim brain child, just trying to think of stuff that might drum up some hype around campus.
KT: How long has the app been available for?
MH: It’s been alive since July, but we kind of put it on the App Store as a prototype to show incubators, “Hey, this is what we think we can do with this technology”. It’s been actually live where we have a version on the App Store that we’re proud of for only about two weeks now. So it’s fairly new — being able to communicate across platforms — and Android is coming within a week or two.
KT: What advice do you have for people who might be trying to come up with their own app?
JS: Just go for it.
MH: I find having someone who is equally as passionate as you in a different way is good. So me and Jordon bring two different skill sets to the table — I’m a very strong developer, I have a lot of industry experience, and Jordon is very passionate about owning his own company and getting it off the ground. I think with our combined skill set, it makes developing this whole thing a lot more fun. Because without him, I would just have done this as a side project and been like, “Oh whatever.” And if Jordon was doing it, he wouldn’t have something that was nearly as comprehensive. So getting someone who complements you in a really good way is probably the best advice I can give.
KT: So don’t do it alone?
MH: Yeah, don’t do it alone, it sucks.
JS: Absolutely not.
passtheaux is available for free on the App Store and is coming soon to the Google Play Store.
Image courtesy of passtheaux