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Announcing discchord Developer Services

I'm known for my honest critical reviews, but I agonize over giving apps a "Pass" or a "Meh" rating. I'm sure developers don't like that either, so let's work together for the benefit of the community; to prevent bad apps! I'm proud to offer new Developer Services!

Let's make great apps together!

Recently a developer was lamenting the state of beta testing on iOS. You can find lots of people interested, but few who show much commitment. Of those that actually submit beta reviews, they just tell him what he wants to hear. What good is that?

With me you know you'll have an expert user who can string sentences together and won't pull any punches. Let me poke holes in your app before iTunes reviewers do!

I'm offering a month of specialized music app testing, for the price you'd pay per day to keep a salaried Quality Assurance Tester.

I would also like to highlight that I am available for hire to do both written and video tutorials. With over a year's worth of experience, I have both the knowledge to compose a helpful tutorial, along with the skills and equipment for recording and editing.

This is something I know your users wish you would do, because they are always asking me to do a new one for some new app!

Lastly, I'd like to do a giveaway! Occasionally I'll do promo-code giveaways for users, but this is a giveaway for developers! The site has become very popular, but no one is buying that last ad slot on the menu. That placeholder is bugging me. I've upgraded all Menu Badges to 140x140, making them 400 pixels bigger, and moved things around to make them more prominent. Now I want to give that spot away for 1 month to a developer who actually reads this site! The first developer to post in the comments here gets it for 1 month, with no obligations. I think you'll want to keep it though, when you see the traffic you get; I had 75,000 views last month!

Reader Comments (19)

To really beta test an app,well at least one that has a ton of bugs,takes lots of time and hard work. The last app I really beta tested took so much of my time to right up and communicate to the developer. If an app is golden and ready for the store then the beta phase is cake but get those apps that have 5 or more revisions a day and soon you find yourself only doing one thing,testing,testing,reporting,explaining,ect. It really does take a lot of time and dedication to do what Discchord is offering. I think most of the time beta users just want to get in on the fun early and,well,free. For those that take iOS music apps seriously and want to produce the finest user experience then going with a "pay to play" beta program would be a wise choice for developers looking to really up their game when it comes to the life and death of their hard work and time spent on building a iOS music app. Someone that knows exactly what users expect,what features users need could be the balance between an app on the top charts (free apple advertising there) and an app that gets lost in the pile. I hope you get some offers for your services. I have stopped "applying" for beta jobs myself as I couldn't dedicate the time I personally felt required to devote to make any difference in the app testing process. Later-GB. freesoul

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfreesoul

I think this is great, and that you're the man for the job. Hopefully some of the devs will take you up on your offer.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClif

I'd like to have that free ad spot :)

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonatan Liljedahl

You've got it, Jonatan! I'll email you the template.

September 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterTim Webb

Good luck Tim. I hope you don't end up working for minimum wage, or less -)

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDuke

Being somewhat of an iOS music app junkie....I wanna make sure that when I buy my fix, I'm getting the good stuff. Discchord's site is my first port of call, for a thorough, no nonsense, honest review. The tutorials are awesome too. Great site!

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpookyZoo

Tim, you've pretty much insulted the rest of us who beta test free as an offering of gratitude to developers. Some of us do a thorough job and actually the developers should in all actuality be able to do a large chunk of testing themselves as they made the app and know it better than anyone else.

Thus you've put yourself on a pedestal and are looking down on us lesser mortals!

So one developer complains, just who is he and what teenager did he ask to beta test?

Do what you want but just don't go highlighting yourself as the alpha omega of the iOS industry, just because you got a few extra hits due to your Moog hack and some decent exposure for a few weeks doesn't mean that you can guarantee bigger sales for developers.

Finally, I'd like to ask, just how many of those hits were by the same people- REPEATEDLY, and just how many we're from fellow bloggers?

The best way to support developers is to increase awareness that the apps can now facilitate the making of pro music, because the sales of most apps do not afford a developer to pay for beta testing services or advertising- go ask them for sales statistics, they will tell you, and it's nowhere near a big market as many think, with the exception of a few apps such as animoog, GarageBand, dm1 .. Most don't even make it into the top ten

Promote the music made by apps, so that the public will see that the apps work, or should I say HEAR that the apps work, because the vast majority or people feel apps are toys and are not capable of pro production.

Several times I've shown people who have owned iPhones and and iPads what the apps can do, and I'm talking about producers and djs, they are gobsmacked and usually are not aware in the first place that such apps exist.

So for the most part we are all preaching to the already converted- it's high time we expanded the horizon a little, and in this way developers will sell far more apps and thus be able to afford to pay for services such as beta tastings, banner ads etc,,,

For now, I think it a con to go asking for money for promotional services, despite claims of reasonable hits

Believe it or not,people do visit and review in the app store:)

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZaxis

It is genuinely not my intention to insult anyone, but I can see how you could take offense to the way I've framed this. In the "Developer Services" page I tried to include language that "most" and not "all" beta testers were lesser mortals. I failed to include a similar sense of that here. I don't think everyone else is shit, but the time commitment involved can be way more than developers can rightfully expect of most people.

As to the value of my service...
You and I have had different opinions on the quality of the same app before. You are extremely sympathetic to developers, the people working very hard to make awesome things for us. I'm sympathetic to the users because they are the people I interact with the most. If I recommend an app and they have a bad time with it, then I feel bad and will try to help them out. You will overlook flaws and try to take a step back to appreciate the developer's effort. I will point them out if I think they will interfere with the enjoyment of users.

This has been the case since my second review, Addictive, when I gave it glowing praise. It is worthy of the praise, but there was an obscure bug related to the way iOS handles the mute switch; if the switch has been reassigned to lock screen orientation instead. When a viewer commented that he bought it on my recommendation, but couldn't get any sound out of it, I felt hugely responsible. This was before I had a LinkShare account, so I made no money off the sale, but I still felt responsible to this guy. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the bug and was ultimately able help him. That one experience shaped my style more than anything else in the last year. You call me obnoxious, among other things, but looking out for the users is all I'm doing here.

Some developers appreciate my criticism. It gives them a direction to focus their development, hopefully to the benefit of their users and potentially earn new ones. This is a service I have been providing privately for months now. I know I can provide value to developers while helping them avoid pitfalls for their users.

September 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterTim Webb

Well, you missed a few vital points..anyway..

Developers who know what they are doing will sort out most bugs before release...and it is usually the case that some will be found after release after many people put it through its paces during the normal course of workflow

I mean, even beatmaker2 stuff has bugs, so does alchemy even and these have been around awhile

Many apps will be a constant work in progress, hence the name developer..and continuous updates of apps with bug fixes..

How many times did Peter have to update arctic? An app you yourself condone?

Yes, we may differ on what constitutes a decent app, you like rhythm studio which to be honest is a cheap imitation and sounds horrid with very clumsy synths and the UI sucks, but yet you don't like GarageBand if I remember right but that app has outsold all other music apps combined? Why? Because its stable, because it sounds great!

I mean, people were whining about PPG being unstable on ipad1! Not true, likely peeps were forgetting to disable multitask apps... I've tried 1.0 and Wolfgang sent me the update with acp and it is super stable on my ipad1

So what is going on here?

It's clearly a matter of relativity...

I don't think it's right for any of us iOS bloggers to outrightly say wether an app is crap or not, if I don't like the app, zaxism.com will not feature it, I don't want to be responsible just like you don't. So why don't you just focus on the apps you yourself would use instead of posting about every damned noisemaker?

What is the point Tim? Someone can send a code, try the app, if it sux, don't post about it, that simple, that's what I do and it works

It's it's pro and works well, ok, and bare minimum is that if I have assurance from developer that acp will be added IMMINENTLY and critical bigs fixed then ok..

Do you get my point?

It's a marketplace, and there are so many apps, how many will release bad synths after we have sampled magellan, PPG and Cassini?

Many! Do we have to pay attention to them? No!

If we are bloggers and make music ourselves, we'd best serve our readers and developer friends by just focusing on the very best

We are not the app store

If you can indeed iron out all bugs then do it, but why be so public about it? And why does your developer friend claim the beta testers are useless?

Firsts developers need to approach musicians who use apps, not tinkers who like to fiddle here and there

Even so, we had Alex Matheu beta test arctic, he is a pro musician with a label AND a developer yet even he still didn't find all the bugs AND he has released an app with the ocassionaly bug here and there...

Can you do a better job than he?

The lesson learned here for you should be to keep things private, especially negativity, because you may not be aware of just how that negativity affects the decisions of potential new iOS users.

If someone buys an app and has a bad time, they can write the developer, that should be the standard.

If you go into a store and buy a DVD player and it don't work, take the receipt and demand a refund or get a replacement model that works

Too many people are trying to be middle men for the devs and it's just stupid IMO

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZaxis

Great response, Tim.

I find Zaxis' paranoia and obsession over telling ios bloggers how they should do things to be highly comical. I much prefer a recommendation from an app reviewer who will point out issues and bugs in an app over one who will only give favorable reviews. If one doesn't criticize, then they aren't really a critic.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersonicflux

I'm a small developer, and will have to disagree with Zaxis. I don't make a ton of money off of apps (hooray for having a day job), but it's enough to buy some equipment for making music, tools for app development, a supply of coffee, *and* enough money to cover the advertising costs for a number of iOS related web sites plus some Google AdWords and YouTube promotion. This shouldn't be surprising to any serious developer: you have to spend money to make money. It's called investing in a business.

IMO, Tim and discchord add a lot to the iOS development community and the iOS music making community. Sure, he's foul mouthed and abrasive, but he also has a passion for music, enjoys tinkering with apps, and I find him entertaining. I have confidence that he'll tell it as he sees it -- I might not see everything the same way, but I'd rather have honesty than BS.

As far as him providing beta testing and outside advice -- this is certainly something I'd consider. I worked in the video game industry for a few years; there were producers who's job it was to look at the "big picture," and make suggestions on how to improve the game -- the good ones were worth their weight in gold. The same could be said of music producers; Butch Vig wasn't in Nirvana, but Nirvana would have never been without Butch Vig. I know my apps inside and out, but I'm not trying to sell them to myself -- I need to sell them to people who don't have any idea of how it "should work," or what it does. If outside advice makes the app better, it'll get better reviews and more sales; if the bump in sales pays for the advice, it's a good business decision.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHmmmmm

@Zaxis, I really don't get why you're so worked up. paid beta testing of software is a well established industry, and if Tim takes that up as a profession it doesn't stop you in any way contributing to developers out of the goodness of your heart, or- hey, setting up business too. If Tim is offering something attractive to developers then they'll recognise it, if not- hey that's a pity.

On the subject of negativity, hell yeah I want to know if an app is full of bugs, from someone who will weigh up pros and cons from a point of view I agree with. I wish I had read the Akai synth station review before I bought it. And if there are no one/two star reviews, what's the value of a 5 star? Frankly I become very suspicious of any review source that routinely puts out only 4-5 star reviews with no bad reviews.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRMG

Reasonable men can differ in opinion. In mine, it would be a much worse thing for me to withhold negative reviews. I cannot count how many people I've heard from who've said, "Ah man, I bought app x, it was garbage and I feel burned... wish I waited for your review." Sure for the most part those folks are just out a few bucks, but I think that experience is far more harmful to the health of iOS Music apps.

No one likes to feel like they threw away money, even if it is just $5. They will be very hesitant to make any future purchases down the line.

I don't just say "this is crap" and call it a day. Whenever I review anything negatively I am always sure to include specific details of why I felt the app is subpar. It is this attention to detail that developers can respect. I don't just say, "1 Star LOLOLOLOL LOSER!" Of all the reviews I've done here, only one developer has ever taken a review badly.

My iYM2151 review was harsh and painful for me to deliver. I didn't get seriously serious about synthesis until I started poking around at Korg DS-10. Before that I was just an Acid-head, tweaking knobs and having fun without a lot of understanding. Developer Nobuyoshi Sano is more responsible for me being the synthesist I am today than any of the musicians I've idolized. iYM2151 is an amazing synth, but the interface is obtuse and I would not recommend it to anyone besides the most dedicated Chiptuners. That's the bottom line and absolutely nothing else matters. It is this uncompromising, no sacred cows, stick to the details view that I offer developers today.

Edit for clarity: Nobuyoshi was not the developer that took the review poorly. He was a complete gentleman and very understanding of my criticism.

September 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterTim Webb

Paid testers is an absolutely standard practice in software development. There's quite a lot to it if you're good at it and the value returned is worth the cost - ask any professional software development shop. Thing is, most of these apps aren't developed by shops, they are one person shows. So, what do you do when you're working solo? You outsource parts of the process. Maybe you get someone else to design your UI elements, write your docs, do your marketing... Or do your testing. Totally reasonable business and the more Tim does, the better he'll be at it. There's no reason you couldn't offer the same service, zaxis. Competition!

On the subject of 'honest reviews', I like both models. Tim's model of review everything honestly is refreshing. I can also appreciate the 'there is a lot out there and I'm only going to spend my time highlighting the good stuff' is great to. Tapeop has had that philosophy with gear reviews for a decade and I love it.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill

@Zaxis
I usually just ignore you, as you have a long history of making comments that range from ill-informed, to inaccurate hate filled ramblings; now though, I can bite my tongue no longer.

I'll start by saying that I comment here because it's the only place I'm able to comment without having to leave an email address, or to have a blog, or Wordpress (etc.) account, and that freedom of expression is of paramount importance to me.

However, the main reason I visit frequently, is because of the funny, honest and unbiased, well written news, reviews and opinions; there are none of those "I'll give a good review for a promo-code" shenanigans going on here, but we always get the facts from someone who has a lot of knowledge, experience, and integrity; which makes it easier to decide whether or not to make the purchase, or to wait until the app has matured.

I have no idea why you've decided to aim all this vitriol at Tim, but whatever the reason, it is totally unjustified.
Please just concentrate on your own site, and we'll all be happy.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBlebhead

@tim, I hope that you'll continue to do unpaid tutorials due to personal or community interest and I hope you'll continue the trend from the buyer's guide of disclosing whether or not you were paid to write it.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill

Oh yea, ECPM is my baby and nothing is going to stop that. Even though I haven't been able to get people to continue to sponsor it, it is still going strong! I'm really passionate about it.

As for other tutorials, those have always been kind of sporadic, but when I see a need I'm happy to help.

I actually removed from my offerings any explicitly promotional videos. No one ever took me up on that, but I knew how much money Jordan and a few others were making from those, so I was trying to get a piece of the pie! I would obvious have editorial control over which apps I chose to do that for, but now I think it would still present a conflict of interest.

I only recently learned about sites that charge people to review their apps, but when I did I immediately added a disclaimer to the Buyer's Guide that it is invite only and I don't want money to "Expedite Reviews" or some other nonsense. I just don't want to be in that business at all. Admittedly all of this has taken a much more serious role for me over the last few months, and I am even declining some pet sitting/dog walking jobs to devote more time to the site and videos. Fortunately there really are enough good apps out there that I don't feel the need to shill for the bad ones! Or pull punches when big manufactures make exaggerated claims!

September 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterTim Webb

I just have to say as a user I appreciate Tim's site as a breath of honesty and he has a sense of humor and is entertaining. Beta testing takes time and I think Tim will do well for both users and developers alike. Keep up the great work and keep your opinions unfiltered, because we need that in an ever-expanding iOS community.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarlow77

Thanks! And seriously thanks to everyone for all of the support. It really makes it easy to start off every morning digging up new news, when I know I've got such a great community that will appreciate it.

September 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTim Webb
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