The first impression one gets of the Overtune app after downloading it is just how pristine and professional it looks. It appears at initial glance to be an app in its sixth or seventh build, one that’s been around for years and has enjoyed ample cycles of user feedback and development tweaks. But it isn’t, it’s brand new. It’s refreshing to notice, after 20 minutes playing with the production studio tools, just how easily everything slots into place, and just how good you didn’t know you were at making music.
Such beauty in design and user experience requires a committed passion and, chiefly of all, patience, to build. What better team of developers to wish for than three Icelanders, known for their placid industriousness. Sigurdur Arnason, along with Jason Dadi Gudjonsson and Petur Eggerz Petursson, founded Overtune in 2020 during the pandemic. It was a time when the world population turned to their screens, and it was then that three Icelandic seers spotted a gap in our social media engagement: using our own music. The boys from Reykjavík didn’t hesitate.
So Siggi, you’re partnering with us at whynow, excited or scared witless?
With whynow, especially Gabe, I don’t often meet people at this age with a start-up mindset. It can often take years to accumulate that way of thinking, and you don’t see it as much in Europe compared with the US, but when I met the whynow team it was a breath of fresh air. Here in Iceland it’s only Overtune and a few other companies that have that attitude, but when I spoke to Gabe and the rest of the team, it was just an explosion of ideas. This really fires me up, you know, I like it! I’m a 33-year-old man, so when I meet people like this it’s not a normal investment, it’s a growth investment.
Of course we have big people on board – Charles Huang from the Guitar Hero franchise, Nick Gatfield, former CEO of Sony Music UK, angel investors and VCs, but for a startup to invest in another startup, that’s just another ballgame.
The good will is mutual, Siggi! So, for our readers now: Why does the world need Overtune?
Social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok are audio driven. The video is driven by audio but you always have to settle with using third party music to accompany your videos. This is fine for some users, but really creative people want to control their sound as well as the video.
What’s been happening in the world of video with YouTube and TikTok is amazing, but nobody has done that thing socially, with music. It’s always been beat-making apps or something for amateur musicians or producers and talent-finding platforms, but this is strictly a music content creation machine.
Starting this all during the pandemic must have been tough, what were the most difficult hurdles to surmount throughout the development process?
Raising money throughout the biggest pandemic in our history! We were just a few guys in Iceland who wanted to make an app in the middle of a global virus pandemic. It just so happened that everybody thought everything was going to shit, that there’d be no markets because people would be locked inside. But this meant the biggest obstacle for us disappeared! We didn’t have to fly over to San Fransisco or London. We could just front this from a tiny island in the North Atlantic.
Sometime in the future, could we see a star musician learning the tricks of the trade just with Overtune? By making music and recording themselves on the app then posting it onto their social media?
Definitely. Anybody can become popular on Instagram if they have good photographic content, it just hasn’t been done with music before. That’s where Overtune comes in. It’s a new playing field where everybody can make musical content. The early content creators of YouTube weren’t master filmmakers – they were making silly videos of cats and exploding Diet Coke experiments, then they became professional. It’s a similar deal we’re seeing with music and Overtune.
What are the key takeaways from the early user interaction with the app and what can we expect to see in a year’s time in terms of growth?
The most impressive thing we’re seeing at the moment is that people are spending a lot of time on the app. People have been spending an average of 20 minutes on the app, which is a high engagement time in this world of short attention spans. If we can keep those numbers up then Overtune will be a game changer.