Songwriting and composing has been at the heart of my life for twenty years. It keeps me motivated and helps me through the darker times, providing an escape from life’s everyday troubles.
One of the avenues I have explored is combining music with computing – putting my passion for music together with the programming skills I have learnt in my professional life.
In 2014, together with my brother Chris, I came up with the idea of using online technology to create songwriting partnerships, bringing musicians and lyricists together.
We designed and developed a website called verse-chorus.com.
The earliest version was a simple list of adverts, where lyricists could post a message asking for musicians to consider collaborating with them. A musician could reply and share contact details. Equally, musicians could post adverts looking for lyricists.
It stayed like this for seven years, slowly ticking over with a trickle of visitors whilst we worked hard building websites for local businesses under our business Arcimedia, as well as pursuing our own artistic hobbies and other project ideas.
Every now and then, I would revisit Verse-Chorus and see that people were still using it. I’d make a few improvements, and then get distracted by some other urgent job that a client needed completing, knowing in the back of my mind I really wanted to put some decent time into VC, as I knew it was a good service for music people like myself to use.
In 2019, I found myself with some extra time. Arcimedia was going through a quiet phase and I decided to make some serious improvements to the Verse-Chorus website, adding a few new features and fixing a whole load of bugs that had accumulated over the years. Without this time, the website would have completely broken down, as it needed issues dealt with.
One of the problems in keeping the website going was the fact it didn’t make any money. Posting and replying to adverts was completely free. The only paid for aspect was the ability to post a premium advert that appeared at the top of the adverts list. You could also upgrade a reply to premium to make sure the advertiser saw it.
Neither proved very popular so I removed them, with a plan to come up with a different way to make it economical.
The following year, in early 2020, I added an internal messaging system so members could communicate with each other directly. This was a great addition to the website and we started getting lots more members joining.
I followed this up by creating a tool called Song Builder, inspired by a message one of our members sent me about the numbers of syllables in a lyric. It allows you to write lyrics to a song in a very intuitive and easy to use editor, made for songwriters. It gives rhyming suggestions, syllable counts, templates and lets you save your songs in a collection.
In Jan 2021, I started working for Verse-Chorus full time. It still wasn’t making any money, but I decided the only way to make it work was to really go for it. I love connecting songwriters together and want to build it into something even bigger.
First I added another new tool called Projects. This allows members to collaborate entirely through the website, sharing music ideas and throughts, uploading music and lyrics and seeing it to completion.
I then developed a subscription format, allowing me to carry on working on it full time and provide an income. It also meant adding some restrictions to members who didn’t go for the subscription plan and stuck with the free plan.
Understandably, some long-standing members weren’t too happy about this. However, it was necessary to keep the website running.
I’m pleased to say the new version of verse-chorus.com is proving very popular, with record numbers of members joining every month and new adverts coming thick and fast.
Connecting songwriters has been a fascinating journey and one I look forward to evolving.