Lee Martin
I develop websites for rock 'n' roll bands and get paid in sex and drugs. Previously Silva Artist Management, SoundCloud, and Songkick. Currently: Available

Introducing the Instagram Music Patch

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This is Part 3 of a series of posts about building Instagram Spark AR filters for artists in the music business. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 as well. 🤘🏻

Up until this point, any audio integrated into an Instagram Spark AR filter would need to be manually added to the effect as an M4A file. Enter the Instagram Music Patch. This patch allows users of your filter to select any track from the Instagram Music library to use in your effect. The patch can also be connected to the Audio Analyzer or Energy Meter patches to power dynamic visuals in the effect using the real-time audio levels of the selected track. …


Featuring Foo Fighters and AC/DC

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This is Part 2 of a series of posts about building Instagram Spark AR filters for artists in the music business. Check out Part 1 and Part 3 as well. 🤘🏻

Earlier this year I wrote a post with tips on how to integrate music into Instagram Spark AR effects. Since then, I’ve developed many filters for artists and attempted to stay up to date with any major changes to the platform which may be interesting to the music business. One of these new features I’ve been meaning to talk about is the Audio Analyzer patch. …


Working Prototype Within

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For the last week, I’ve been taking a break from client work to build an idea I had following the Future Islands project. That idea was a Spotify powered player where users could leave timed comments on a waveform. No doubt you’ve seen this UX on other streaming services and within other music creation software. A waveform is generated using the track’s audio and users may leave comments along the timeline, giving context to their messages. I experimented with timed comments (and other forms of timed content) while I was at SoundCloud. Heck, I even built a video game once.

From my understanding, Spotify has never had commenting as part of their offering. While this makes their products perfectly simple content consumption devices, it forgoes any opportunity to foster community amongst their users. Spotify users are instead encouraged to share and comment on music externally from the service. …


Controlling Premium Users’ Playback

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Spotify provides two ways for developers to stream music from a web app: the Web Playback SDK and the Connect Web API. The Web Playback SDK simply streams full tracks through your web app to an authenticated premium Spotify user. The Connect Web API acts more like a remote control, interacting with a copy of Spotify open on one the authenticated user’s devices. Of the two, I find myself using the Web Playback SDK most often in client projects because it is simple for a user to understand: login to stream. …


Using the Spotify Platform’s Audio Analysis Endpoint

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One of the key features of my recent Future Islands project was pre-rendering waveforms so that we had a cool visual which would accompany audio playback. It’s a topic I haven’t thought about since I worked at SoundCloud many years ago. Since we didn’t stream the audio from Spotify on that project, I ended up extracting the waveform data using Meyda. (See the case study for more info.) However, when I finished up the project, I started to think about how I might actually be able to create waveform images from Spotify tracks. Spotify doesn’t really grant access to the full length audio files (for good reason) which would be required to extract this data. …


Building a Global Album Premiere for Future Islands

As Long As You Are
As Long As You Are
As Long As You Are Listening, Together

Nine years ago, I launched a web app for Blink-182 in support of their then newly released record Neighborhoods which allowed you to listen to the album and chat with fans in your neighborhood. I was reminded of this project when Future Islands approached me about developing a similar sort of concept for their new album, As Long As You Are. We would again be placing fans in location specific listening parties but with a catch: each location stream must be unlocked by meeting a certain amount of visits. (Nothing makes me feel more nostalgic than a classic “unlock” campaign.) Instead of neighborhoods, we decided to place fans into regions (states, provinces, and prefectures.) …


Building an Apple Music and Spotify Powered Stress Test

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I realize it is a bit ironic to be building a stress test web app during a pandemic but somehow that’s where I found myself last month for the band I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (iDKHOW.) iDKHOW describes themselves as “…a band out of time. One who faded away into obscurity after struggling to find success in the late 70’s and early 80's.” Prevalent in the band’s visuals is a big brother like entity called TELLEXX, which is part of a conspiracy mythos which pervades everything they do. While I don’t know much about TELLEXX myself, I thought it might make sense that they would be conducting some sort of psychological experiments in the past. …


How much Faith do you have in Hurts?

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Attempting to understand a fan’s loyalty to an artist and then rank that fan among others is one of those core problems I’ve been asked about over the years. Lots of artists want to gamify fan devotion to encourage more streaming, awareness, and sales. While there are many products which have come and gone (and still exist) which attempt to fill this gap, I ventured to build something simple using publicly available Spotify data for Hurts and their aptly named new record, Faith. All that is required of the user is that they login with their Spotify account. We then detect their affinity for a particular artist based on their top recently streamed tracks and encourage further streaming to affect the score. …


WebRTC finally comes to the iOS home screen

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Both iOS and Android OS allow users to add websites to their home screen like bookmarks. If these websites were built as Progressive Web Apps (PWA) they could also really feel native. I was aware of this but never really pursued it because iOS home screen apps were lacking support for WebRTC (access to the camera and microphone.) Well, you can just about imagine my surprise when I found out that support was added in a recent update to iOS. I quickly revisited and rebuilt my “CAMERA” app from 2018 and was very happy with the results.

In this blog, I’d like to share my approach for building the simplest PWA camera and hopefully it will serve as a base for your own experiments. Be sure to check out and fork the companion CodePen so you can build your own camera. …


Easily Create Video Ads for Your Records

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Two years ago, I launched the web app Turn which takes a sound file and an image file and then turns it into a music video which includes a rotating visual of your image. Thousands of artists, producers, beat makers, voice actors, and more use Turn to market their sounds on Instagram and anywhere that supports video uploading. It’s free and easy to use.

I wanted to talk a little bit about marketing records using Turn. As I discussed in my original launch blog, Turn was created with the round audio format in mind. To me, there is no more mesmerizing visual of music than a simple spinning circle. Maybe it’s due to my career choice but I see a lot of ads marketing vinyl records while browsing Instagram. …

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