Pindify: Helping Artist Earn Money

To develop his idea, Christoffer Wallin, Pindify’s founder, reviewed 793 platforms. Making the final blueprint of his service took him over 18 months. Then he analyzed 17 firms to find a perfectly fitting web development team.

Finally, Christoffer picked RubyGarage, and here we are, talking about an already released product aimed to change the way artists earn a living.

What’s Pindify?

Imagine yourself a singer-songwriter. Not a big pop star like Lady Gaga, but a person fairly known in your city. You have a few albums already, but how would you earn money to keep doing what you love most?

You can perform your songs in cafes and organize concerts, sell your music on iTunes and other similar self-publishing services, but usually these approaches do not provide enough income. As a result, you keep self-promoting yourself or work somewhere else instead of doing what your heart tells you, that is writing songs and singing them for an audience.

And what if you're a blogger, a podcast host or another artist with digital content?

This is where Pindify comes in. It helps creators of any sort not just to promote themselves, but to publish, distribute and capitalize their content. The goal of Pindify's founder Christoffer Wallin is to allow creators earn at least $3,000 per month thanks to the support of their fans.

How Pindify works

The basic idea is pretty simple: Pindify allows fans to sponsor their favorite artists by subscribing to the service. 85% of a monthly prescription will go the artists, and what's left goes to Pindify and payment services.

Why wouldn't artists just provide their bank account, you might ask. Well, most fans will pay a certain amount of money only once; when you are subscribed, you pay monthly. Pindify itself provides additional value in exchange for a small subscription; as a fan, you can follow the artists you like and surf other content to find more artists.

Currently the monthly subscription price for US supporters is $11. Up to $9 goes to the artists who invited their fans to subscribe. If such artist finds 330 Pindify subscribers, they will be able to earn $3,000 per month.

However, Pindify is much more than a way of empowering artists. It's a content platform where any user can sign up for free and explore its content, contribute to it and collaborate with its community.

The Pindify Concept Isn’t About Putting Music Into Library

Christoffer Wallin has been a musician since he was 3. He played piano, guitar, joined musical bands, performed on Swedish Idol. This experience helped him realize that 99% of all art created by people nowadays is never shown and barely noticed. We used to pay too much attention to the industry, television and radio, which is very limited in its possibilities to promote alternative music and local cultural trends.

Ten years ago Christoffer realized that soon radio and TV will no longer be available, and that the industry will put everything into catalogues. Then MySpace, SoundCloud, MixCloud, Spotify appeared and confirmed his expectations. This was a new era of content libraries, mostly available for free. But why should content necessarily be put into a library? It should be consumed on a marketplace. A marketplace that will be less complicated to publish, promote and capitalize on, but the same quality for consumers as distribution-services like Spotify or Netflix. This is how the idea of Pindify appeared.

Why Pindify? 'Pindi' means 'to bless Sakshi, the feminine goddess of creativity' in Hindi. For Christoffer, 'Pindify' means doing the same but in a digital sense.

Choosing The Team and The Development Strategy

Christoffer Wallin had a perfect background to start Pindify. Not only did he feel the pain of creators, but also got an economical degree and then learned programming for over 6 years. He also worked for 4 years at BTS, where he had helped over 60 companies to implement innovative development strategies.

So when he finally realized he's ready to start working on Pindify, he treated it more than seriously.

As a developer, he knew that establishing his own team is no longer an option. There's no need to buy ping-pong tables and do high-fives to deliver a working product, a remote Agile team is more than enough for that.

Talking about outsourcing, Pindify's CEO also realized a great team should have not only related experience in the industry, but also a good library of already written code pieces and a strong aspiration and awareness for what they’re doing which could help Christoffer improve the product from the technical and usability side. He also wanted to make sure that he knew what every paid hour was spent on. When we provided the necessary details about our workflow, Christoffer saw that RubyGarage indeed fits his vision perfectly.

However, unlike other clients, Christoffer didn't pick the Lean approach to go to market with his project. He realized that such an ambitious project had to be top quality before going public. Otherwise, it may repeat the fate of, for example, — an anti-ad social network that gained a huge attention among Internet users. When its founders allowed signing up, the user flow was so huge (up to 34K per day), that the servers went offline. When everything was fixed, the momentum was already lost, and this case taught Christoffer to never hit the market with a raw or an unstable product.

That's why we released the first version, which Christoffer calls the “MVPFC” — the Minimum Viable Product For Consumers — in about 8-9 months after we first got to started. However, that first version already has tons of functions.

As of April 2016, the is available for access, and the iPhone app is soon to appear in the iOS App Store.

Addressing the Functionality Challenges

At first sight, Pindify reminds very much of Pinterest, but that's the only thing these two services have in common.

How We Made Content Cards Working Like Charm

When explaining the card approach we implemented in Pindify, Christoffer likes to recall the scene from Matrix, where Neo is presented with a white space suddenly filled with lots of guns appearing out of nowhere, but they are all laying organized on shelves. Pindify's card system offers the similar approach: it allows you to get the desired content in a perfectly organized way.

First, you will want to filter cards by categories (music, texts, films). Then, thanks to the Karma functionality, the more popular and acknowledged the artist is, the higher their cards are in your search results. Yet, these cards are not represented like grid as in other services, they are rather put on a dashboard like baseball cards are put on a table.

Also, the card concept perfectly fits the mobile phone screens. Besides, unlike Pinterest, Pindify provides much wider functionality. You can open a card and read a long blog post, see a full-sized work of art or play a YouTube video in it, and then like it, pin it to your collection or even leave a comment in it. And we're not mentioning here the vast functionality for content creators.

Revising the Front End to Boost the Performance

From the technical point of view, our developers call Pindify 'a thick client', since the most sophisticated part here is its front end. The service's back end wasn't a challenge with Ruby on Rails, and quality cross-platform layouts were delivered by using SASS and Autoprefixer, which allow to refuse from using third-party CSS/HTML frameworks.

But the front-end functionality was implemented using AngularJS. It's really great when it comes to rapid development and flexibility, and Christoffer has indeed had many change requests throughout the project. But in one of our previous blog posts comparing AngularJS and ReactJS we explained that in case of highly-loaded projects AngularJS may cause additional problems. This is what happened here.

The more functionality we added to the cards, the slower the whole application was getting. Partially the problem appeared due to the third-party libraries we used to implement features like music playback built right into the card, social media functionality, etc. We were able to fix some of them, others were replaced with its analogues or pure JavaScript code.

Then we decided to use the Event Dispatcher called PubSubJS instead of the one offered by the AngularJS framework. Finally, where the code allowed, we switched back to conservative one-way data binding to lower the processor loading.

As a result, the site’s interface is now extremely smooth, and even when we add more functionality, it almost doesn't affect the service's performance.

Card system UI: Reinventing Responsiveness

Another interesting moment is Pindify's layout responsiveness. If you try to change the browser window's size, you'll see how cards change their positions on the grid dynamically, while Pinterest's cards do it only at specific moments, which make it seemingly lagging. Such approach also required a few original decisions on the front-end side.

For instance, in Pindify we took advantage of CSS Transform, which is a relatively new CSS property allowing to load a video card instead of a processor when visually manipulating with web elements. And the calculations required to place cards on the grid properly are implemented via the Masonry.js library.

Writing Mobile Site From Scratch

In addition to the web version Christoffer also needed to offer a mobile interface for Pindify. However, since generating content through mobile is not very handy in any possible way, it was decided that the users will primarily only be able to consume its content on their smartphones.

AngularJS was never a good option for implementing mobile interfaces, so we turned to BackBone and Marionette. BackBone is a pretty old framework, but it's very stable and flexible, and Marionette improves the development speed for Backbone applications.

As a result, a single developer at RubyGarage delivered a mobile version for Pindify from scratch within only 2,5 months.

What's next: Proving The Concept and Going Online

Before revealing Pindify to press, Christoffer wants to get a proof of concept for his service. The main idea here is not to show how Pindify can help, but to demonstrate that other distribution services are terrible at paying their content creators. So once a notable singer makes, say, 30X more money after using Pindify, that'll be a solid proof of concept.

Besides, Christoffer expects Pindify to attract not only single creators but also publishers, broadcasts, media-agencies and labels, which allows them to organize, promote, and earn additional income by being represented at Pindify.

However, in order to promote Pindify, Christoffer is going to go offline. In his opinion, everybody's digital today, which is why physical presence gets more and more noticeable today. Moreover, tomorrow we won't need an office, so it makes sense to offer people places where they can go and create or work.

Places, where Pindify will appear offline first, are Stockholm, Dublin, Berlin, Austin and Los Angeles. These are the cities with the biggest ratio of creators vs. tech-savvy people, hence the largest target audience of Pindify. To promote the service, Christoffer is going to establish marketing teams in new cities, open office lounges, organize festivals and market Pindify at local events.

While the initial development was paid mostly from Christoffer's pocket, such large-scale offline promotion and further development apparently require more money, and Christoffer was lucky enough to find investors ready to finance these activities without trying to steer away from the cause and the product development process.

The App That Will Be In Everybody’s Pocket

Although the product is yet to be publicly launched, Christoffer already knows Pindify may indeed change the market. People at Spotify said “Wow” when they saw the service for the first time, and many notable people in the startup industry assume Google may be easily interested in buying such service once it gets up and running.

Christoffer Wallin has big plans for Pindify and is sure: in five years we will no longer pay for the Internet. Instead, we will pay for 5-10 apps we have on our phone because we will value them. By solving a need for the creators while providing a value for their supporters and a clear payrail between them, he does his best to make Pindify one of those apps.

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