CoachGuitar teaches you guitar and lets us look under the hood
|Richard Harris in Apps Wednesday, September 6, 2017|
Guitar teaching app CoachGuitar talks to App Developer Magazine about how it built the app.
We sat down with Charlie Kraus of Limelight and Antoine Mercier of CoachGuitar to learn about how CoachGuitar and Limelight are working together to provide guitar lessons to users everywhere.
ADM: Tell us a little about CoachGuitar, when was the app launched and how was it conceived?
Mercier: CoachGuitar is the only application on the market that effectively teaches users how to play the guitar through a color-based method. Offering high-definition videos that are synchronized with guitar-handle animations, CoachGuitar is easily accessible and understandable for anyone - no matter how novice or experienced the student is. Today, our visual guitar teaching app reaches millions of students across the globe.
The idea for this application actually came from a trip I had taken to Senegal. During my stay, I became friends with a tour guide and we got to talking about computers and programming. He was really interested in the topic so I bought him a book called, "Learning Windows in Pictures" - I was amazed by how much and how fast he learned solely by looking at visuals provided in this book. Based on this, I came up with the idea to create a visual learning platform for something I'm passionate about - the guitar.
We know that 85% of kids who take guitar lessons quit by the age of 15, only to regret it when they grow up. By creating a medium that makes learning easier and more fun through a gamified application, we hope to help kids and whoever else might be interested in the guitar to stick with it. The CoachGuitar application launched five years ago, and today has hit 6 million downloads across 140 countries.
ADM: When developing the app, what were some of the key technical components / features that the CoachGuitar team prioritized to ensure its app would be high-performing?
Mercier: Given that this platform is wholly based on an interactive, visual learning method, we knew the application would require a lot of bandwidth. With various dynamic features and content, we needed to consider how we could "lighten the load" for our users by bolstering our application with smarter delivery technologies that ensure a seamless learning experience. As part of this, we needed to prioritize a storage strategy that could handle and serve a massive library of tutorials.
Another key aspect to making the CoachGuitar application successful was ensuring we could reach a global audience. We're based in France, but we wanted to ensure the platform was available to users across the world. As such, we needed to take into account not just optimizing content for different audiences and languages, but also ensuring this content could quickly and efficiently reach any user, anywhere, anytime.
ADM: What were the biggest challenges faced when initially launching the app?
Mercier: The biggest concern for anyone launching a new application is the fear of the unknown. There are a lot of question marks that app developers need to prepare for - in terms of managing traffic and providing a high-quality learning experience for users. While we weren't aware of how popular the application would ultimately become, having a strong content delivery strategy in place ensured we were ready for anything.
Additionally, we expected that users would start to see the benefits of using our color-based method once they actually tried it with one of their favorite songs. Therefore, it was critical for us to build a strong user experience that allowed users to efficiently onboard with the application. We prioritized designing a fluid UI and ensured a fast delivery of our content so users could focus on testing the method, and, ultimately, so they could see how much they could actually improve within a short period of time.
ADM: How many active users does CoachGuitar have today and how does it support / manage heavy traffic through the app?
Mercier: While most young app developers dream of earning the title, "Best App" on Apple's App Store, CoachGuitar reached this achievement in a short period of time, fueling a massive growth and pushing the platform into the hands of about six million users across 140 countries today. On average, we see about 2,000-3,000 downloads per day - but we've even hit 40,000 downloads in a day. With a strong delivery strategy in place, we're able to scale and handle tremendous spikes in traffic, ensuring our application has the elastic bandwidth needed to stay up-and-running for users.
ADM: Why did you decide to use a content delivery network (CDN)?
Mercier: When we were first preparing to launch CoachGuitar, we knew partnering with a CDN would be critical to effectively accomplishing our short and long-term growth strategies. Not only does this technology provide the strong backbone needed to ensure our video is delivered at the highest quality and fastest speeds, but it allows our application and content to efficiently reach audiences all over the world.
Limelight's CDN helped us reach and enter new markets - especially in UK and APC regions, which were both extremely important to our global expansion plans.
Kraus: At Limelight, we provide one of the world's fastest and largest private networks that ensures exceptional online experiences for any business and its end-users. In the end, this results in big cost-benefits (and savings) for the business themselves. Working with CoachGuitar, we were able to help them pinpoint the key challenges that their app and its users might face - and in turn offer critical solutions that optimized their content for global audiences.
ADM: How has using Limelight's CDN improved the CoachGuitar app?
Mercier: Limelight truly takes the worrying out of delivering the best experience possible to our users - allowing us to focus on new ways to improve the application and new features that will make CoachGuitar even more interactive and appealing for our audience. Because of Limelight's CDN, our customer base is continuing to grow in size and loyalty.
ADM: Which specific aspects / components of CoachGuitar does Limelight currently support? Can you highlight any notable impacts have you seen in terms app performance based on the use of a CDN?
Kraus: There are many moving parts to delivering high-quality video content - to be a strong technology partner for CoachGuitar and therefore help them reach their expansion goals, we knew that it was critical to provide a dense network that offers the best storage and delivery capabilities that ultimately create a high-performing application. Our CDN currently supports the delivery process for CoachGuitar, from soup to nuts - this includes scaling the application during massive traffic spikes, storing its 550+ tutorial videos, and supporting high-performing streaming experiences to users globally.
ADM: How is CoachGuitar planning to grow / expand over the next 3-5 years (new offerings, technical updates, etc.)?
Mercier: We are currently working on exciting new features that will bring our community together around video, and we're always looking for ways to continue providing our subscribers with a diversified offering of courses. This includes new song tutorials and guitar best practices. And of course, we'd love to bring to the community of musicians new ways of learning, focused on the effectiveness of visual teaching.
About Charlie Kraus
Charlie Kraus is Sr. Manager Product Marketing at Limelight Networks, a Content Delivery Network provider, focusing on Video and Security. In this role, he focuses on educating companies on the business benefits of video and how to deliver the highest quality experience to their customers. Charlie has extensive experience working in the data networking and storage networking space, and has played key roles product marketing and product management.
About Antoine Mercier
Antoine Mercier is Product & Design Director at CoachGuitar, a mobile app dedicated to guitar learning that reached 6 million downloads over the world. Previously, he was a Product Manager & Designer at Kewego / Kit Digital (now Piksel), a B2B video platform for media and corporates, where he worked over 7 years on UX design on a video CMS Backoffice as well as customer websites, mobile applications, and digital signage. Antoine loved developing different projects as a Freelance Art Director, focusing on motion design, filmmaking and web design with his own customers. He has directed interviews, corporate videos and realized many websites.
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