Tunepresto: Using Algorithms to Create Music for Videos

It has never been easier to make your own videos. A decent camera can be picked up for a fraction of the cost of a fully loaded professional camera. Editing can be done for very little additional cost on your desktop with software such as iMovie for the mac or Microsoft’s Windows Live Movie Maker 2011. As minimally functional as they are, they pack enough features to get started and turn out a something worthwhile in a relatively short time..

But when it comes to adding a music soundtrack to your video it can be become a real challenge to find a suitable piece of music. The options for those that are not so musically inclined or are unwilling or unable to pay royalties for material under copyright options can suddenly become very limited.

Even if the payment of a royalty fee is waived seeking permissions and searching through audio libraries can feel like an extreme process to undergo when all you want is a soundtrack for a video that you are going to share with some friends on YouTube or Facebook.

For those with a talent for music there is always the option of creating your own soundtrack but such ability seems not to be distributed equally or fairly amongst the population at large leaving the not so gifted with little hope in the realms of self-composition. So what to do?

Tunepresto is a web-based music maker. It generates original copyright free music to match your video or your slideshow presentation. How it works is really simple from the user’s perspective.

  • You upload your video or enter your YouTube URL and the Tunepresto software analyses the video.
  • The user then selects a style of music from the range of styles that are available on the system.
  • The software then generates a piece of music that exactly fits your video.

If you like it you can then download it and get the combined video and music file.

The idea for Tunepresto came when Siún Ní Raghallaigh, a television producer and her co-founder Justin McCarthy, a video editor, were chatting about what a pain it is to deal with copyright music and wouldn’t it be great to just press a button and have a music track composed for you.

As Siún says, “We were coming from a professional background and we were targeting a professional market. But whilst everybody thought it was a great idea the take up was a slow. So we decided to do some more market research.

“We learned a hard lesson. Our idea was not for the professional market. Our target should really be the consumer market. We refocused and changed the whole way we were approaching Tunepresto, the way we were marketing it and how we were targeting it.

“Part of what we discovered from the market research we did with our existing customers was that while we packed the desktop product with loads of great features all they wanted to do was press the compose button.

“We had put in a timeline, we had put in markers, you could change instruments and loads of different things but the majority of customers would just press compose. So we said, let’s do some of the decision making in the background as to what it produces but still use the same basic composition engine.

“We now have a one click solution, so to speak and we will be market led as to what we make available after that. If we add more features we want it to be what the user wants not what we think they want.”

Tunepresto have developed an algorithm that when presented with a video containing certain elements that it has detected in the video it can then generate a musical composition appropriate to the information presented to it.

Siún explains, “This is not pre-recorded music. This is not music loops. This system is actually making original music. It is generating the music based on the information that it is extracting from the video and the selection the user makes in terms of style of music. It is making new music to suit that particular video.”

MUZU.TV: Official Video Music from the Original Artists

Launched in July 2008, MUZU.TV has one of the largest music video hosting sites on the web. It allows users access to videos, interviews, exclusive footage, music news and more. All the videos on the site are the legal and officially approved versions as MUZU.TV works directly with record companies and artist’s representatives to ensure the authenticity of the material made available. With the strength of YouTube and the proliferation of other music websites, what makes Irish-based MUZU.TV different?

 Ciaran Bollard, CEO and co-founder of MUZU.TV believes, “There are lots of music sites out there and a lot of them are focused on audio. Then there is YouTube which would be our biggest competitor. YouTube has a mixture of user content and content from the music labels. Our service is dedicated to music fans so all the features and functions of the site are tailored to music fans so it offers a very different and unique experience.”

“Just by looking at the service you can see that immediately. It’s only focused on music content. It hasn’t got user-generated content. Clearly fans like that because we’re growing by 20% month on month.”

The MUZU team works with individual record labels and artists to promote the site. Ciaran explains, “you’ll see on most of the major artists’ pages, like Cheryl Cole who has millions of fans, you’ll see posts about MUZU on her page. All the major artists’ pages will post about MUZU because we have this initiative called the ‘Video Fight Club’ where we put an artist up against another artist and they have this competition over who has the best video.”

The site also maintains its competitive edge by launching new initiatives like the ‘Video Fight Club’ on a regular basis. The most recent is ‘MUZU Live and Loud’.

Ciaran explains, as in the first week for instance, “There’s going to be two major artists Jessie J and Ellie Goulding. We’ve two exclusive live sessions and these will be up against each other and Jessie J and Ellie Goulding’s fans will vote as to who’s the best.”

Other recent initiatives include:

  • A ‘best of live’ catalogue.
  • ‘Gig In Your Gaff’ competition where an artist will play live in your living room. It recently featured The Wanted.
  • Live streaming in-studio, recently featuring Rodrigo y Gabriela.

According to Ciaran, the MUZU catalogue currently has approximately 80,000 music related videos. It streams 10 million videos a month, mostly from UK and Ireland viewers. MUZU’ers have the ability to post comments below artists’ videos. With so much content, MUZU.TV is conscious of filtering.

Ciaran says, “We’re filtering comments as much as we can. It’s very difficult to react very quickly to all the comments that happen but the main thing is that the content on the site is not inappropriate content. The actual video content is all appropriate and we also use age filters as well.

“On our site we only focus on professional music-based content. Users cannot upload to the site, apart from uploading to, let’s say The Scripts’ channel. They can upload to the fan TV section and become a fan TV contributor but the band actually approves that content.”

The site generates income from advertising served in and around the music videos. In addition, MUZU.TV has created a partnership with Group M, a leading vendor of online advertising worldwide.

Ciaran explains that, “We’re very careful that we only serve a pre-roll ad (an advert that runs before an online video) for every one-in-three videos. There’s a balance. You’ve got to be able to support the business from a revenue perspective but, at the same time, the user experience is crucial.

“It’s all about offering the best consumer experience that we possibly can. We try to make the advertising very targeted to the age and genre that somebody is watching so it’s relevant advertising.”

MUZU is currently based in Dublin, Waterford and London. It had its beginnings in the DIT Hothouse, an innovation and technology centre located at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Ciaran remains a huge supporter of the programme. He feels it “is a fantastic way of supporting somebody who is in a current corporate job and wants to get out of that but still has a mortgage to pay and bills to pay.”

He says that, “What’s good about Hothouse is:”

  • You can network with other entrepreneurs in the same position.
  • You can get a grant which helps support your income for the first year of starting up your business.
  • It gives mentoring around your business plan.

With MUZU.TV recently expanding into France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Benelux this specialist music website conceived by Irish entrepreneurship and built with Irish technology has carved a niche that seems to be ever-expanding.