Two Virginia Tech students, Dennis Lysenko, TJ ’13, (left) and Andriy Katkov, TJ ‘13, (right) along with a Virginia Tech grad, Drew Meeks, have created a powerful platform with an intuitive user interface that allows musicians to create “music messages” for posting as video clips on social networks. Using Riff Digital’s Riff for Artists app, an artist who has no knowledge of video editing can create and post his or her own “music message” – a clip of a song with a picture attached – in less than three minutes, reaching thousands of listeners and potential new fans.
For artists who are already posting promotional song clips to social media, Riff offers a quality product that is easier and faster than whatever they’re using currently. And for those artists who aren’t posting because they lack the time, the video-editing know-how, or both, the app allows them to post high-quality, eye-catching promotional clips for the first time, providing them with a completely new way to build their fan base. Riff, which is integrated directly into Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, is also more engaging and more customizable than current music app options. Linking to the music app Soundcloud in a Facebook or Twitter post displays only a song title and a “play” button; in contrast, a Riff video auto-plays silently on user’s newsfeeds as they scroll down, catching user’s eyes immediately. To hear a clip, the user need only click/tap on the video. In addition, where Soundcloud’s default is to play all songs from the beginning, Riff allows artists to choose the best clip for each audience.
The founders’ initial concept was to create a social media platform for music sharing, a sort of “Snapchat for music.” When they realized that they could get more traction using existing social media platforms than by creating their own, they decided to work first with those who needed their product most, the artists themselves. They are soliciting feedback from artists to better tailor the app to their needs, but one exciting idea already under consideration is to shape Riff into a two-way artist/fan interaction platform. The team eventually plans to re-release the app more broadly so that anyone can use it to send music messages of their favorite artists to their friends.
Riff was hatched two years ago when Dennis and Andriy met Drew at a demonstration of the virtual-reality headset Oculus Rift, hosted by a campus entrepreneurship group. Drew, who handles the company’s finance side and most of the professional networking, has a business background. Andriy and Dennis are the company’s programmers. Even though Dennis had no app development experience prior to launching Riff, he credits the “fantastic computer science program at TJ” with contributing significantly to the development of “relevant skills” he has relied on in school and, in particular, in launching his start-up. At the same time he stresses that there’s no substitute for the real world when it comes to app development. “A college Android or iOS class wouldn’t even come close to teaching us what we have learned from working on Riff,” Dennis said.
If interested in learning more about how you or musicians in your network can use Riff to reach listeners, contact Dennis.
TJ Musical Notes
Kyle Gatesman, TJ ’18, Composer
TJ sophomore Kyle Gatesman received an Award of Excellence in the 2015 National PTA Reflections Arts program for his music composition, “The Joy of Music.” Kyle’s piece was chosen from thousands of entries relating to this year’s Reflections theme: “The World Would Be a Better Place If….”
Kyle and the other national award winners — in the categories of dance choreography, film production, literature, photography, and visual arts, in addition to music composition — were honored in a special ceremony at the US Department of Education in Washington, DC, in January, where he also performed his award-winning composition.
Kyle has been composing music for the annual PTA Reflections Arts competitions since first grade.
Eric Lin, TJ ’18, Pianist
At fifteen, sophomore Eric Lin is one of the nation’s top young pianists. In February, Eric won first place in a national competition held at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (read about Eric’s performance here), weeks after being named as an alternate at the Music Teachers’ National Association (MTNA) Eastern Division competition.
Eric, who has been studying piano for ten years, has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as orchestras in Chicago and New York State.