With all the mobile apps out there, the person who can help build something a bit different is you. The idea is this: fund a new handheld instrument now, and you’re rewarded with music, knowledge, and involvement. You get a studio album produced by Mouse on Mars, and watch as the app is finished.

There’s one more twist, too: in a world of fairly disposable apps, everything in this project will be fully open source and shared, from the Pd patch producing sound to project files.

WretchUp is a mobile instrument built by Mouse on Mars, capable of both extreme sound mangling and subtle pitch and delay effects. It’s inspired by analog effect hardware – Mouse on Mars have for years used analog racks and Dictaphones – but this, while retaining the sonic character, is something you can hold in your hand. It’s hard to describe, but the essence of WretchUp as a handheld app is what isn’t there as much as what is. It doesn’t look like a copy of hardware. A beautiful interface designed with Rupert Smyth, which we’re refining, focuses on big gestures. It just gives you a set of controls you can swipe, and so instead, you focus on the sound. I’ve been really inspired spending time with Andi and Jan from Mouse on Mars as they talk about the value of listening. You don’t use this effect; you listen to it – listening is how you make things.

Create Digital Music is working with Mouse on Mars to try a new approach to app development, and I’m excited to get to announce its launch today..

Normally, you would keep your development private – your trade secrets are what you’re selling. We’re trying the opposite. WretchUp sounds as good as it does because of a beautiful Pd patch built by Florian Grote. That Pd patch runs on the iPhone through RjDj Player. But that doesn’t do everything Andi and Jan want when they work in the studio and onstage, and the player app is now defunct.

So, we’re building an app that makes this a truly powerful effect on the iPhone. (We’ll talk more about functionality during the campaign and with our backers as we build it.) And we’re giving away the Pd patch. And I’m helping explain how it works, so you can build your own Pd patch. And we’re giving away the iOS project files. And I’m helping explain how that works, so you can build your own iOS apps. And we’re helping share some of the other open projects (particularly libpd) that use shared code to make better musical instruments.

I’m known for being an advocate of open source, but make no mistake: this is a slightly crazy idea. We need your help to make it work. Here’s how it works for you. Mouse on Mars are in the studio now finishing an entirely new studio album featuring WretchUp sounds. They keep telling me it’s a real album, not just some mixes, and the way to hear it first is to support the app:

$5: Get the app, and credits.
$10: …and two exclusive Mouse on Mars downloads.
$15: …and the whole WretchDubbed album as a download.
$30: …and a nice handmade physical version of that album (limited to 80).

We didn’t want this to be a charity; we tried to actually make these as inexpensive as possible and give as much as possible for each. Being a backer also means that we’ll involve you as we go – you’re a producer, effectively, not just a donor or on a preorder list. I’ll be particularly interested to share our development process with that group and get feedback. (If you do want to go nuts, up to four people can come to Berlin and spend some private time with Mouse on Mars as an Executive Producer. But as far as I’m concerned, every $5 backer is part of our team, too.)

The more we raise, the more we can do. I really want this to run on Android, but starting with the iPhone made sense. If we can get the iPhone version funded, we can also work on an Android version. Also, since RjDj Player is now defunct, we get to build a foundation for other Pd apps running on mobile and embedded devices.

The next 21 days as we finish this campaign will be hectic, but I’m excited. As we work on this process, we’ll be providing updates. But I hope you’ll help us build this.

Or, as Jan would say through WretchUp, reooooowwrrrrwwwow.


Got questions? We’ll be happy to answer them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=699010870 Robert Thomas

    Great project! Really looking forward to it!

  • tWhite

    Looks like a great project and I’ve loved MoM since ’99 but I have to say I don’t understand the need to raise $5k let alone $10k. Maybe I’m ignorant, but I’ve known quite a few people to develop some pretty complicated apps and they did so without funding. I myself am working on an app and not requesting funding, and I’m not sure why I would need to, I can’t think of a single reason. I know it says “The funds go directly to support development.” but what exactly does that mean? I’m not saying I won’t donate, I mean a cd limited to 80 is worth $30 as far as I’m concerned but I’d just like to better understand the funding.

    • RRJ

      To pay the people who wrote the code probably

    • NB

      App development costs money.

    • http://dinside.no Øivind Idsø

      True – and very often that development money is “payed back” when the app goes one sale, not before it goes on sale.

    • NB

      Not always. A great number of apps never recoup the development cost. Sourcing the funding beforehand is an interesting way to bring a project to life. If people pay, it happens. If not, it doesn’t. Saves a lot of people a lot of time and effort, and creates better matches between customers and the people creating products.

    • tWhite

      Ok, Well, I’m developing an App and it’s not costing me money. I was under the impression they were developing it themselves, are they not? Or are you saying their time costs money?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Your time is worth money. And it costs you something to invest that time. I hope that you recoup that investment of time in the app you’re developing – keep us posted. I also hope that some of the work we’re doing helps other developers.

    • tBlack

      $5000 is waaaaay too high and also the same again for the android version? For a pd patch with an interface? Seems a bit like a shake down of fans and readers from here…

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      The cost is from $5, not $5000. We’re trying to build as much into the new, native interface as possible. It’s not a shake down – if you don’t like it, ignore it.

    • tBlack

      It’s just abit annoying that you splash on abit of open source hippy sauce, but then don’t explain the basics as who gets what. Just a basic “A paid developer for 10 days at $500 a day, putting sliders on the interface” would be perfect. You are asking for the money up front here, so these things are totally valid questions…

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      If we were charging you personally, individually $5000, then sure. That’s a funding goal, not a budget. I feel like we set rates that get you more than you’d normally get for, say, $5. I didn’t want to go into details that we then might be unable to deliver. And it’s not open source “hippy sauce” – we’re using a license that allows people to freely reuse the work on this project, and documenting what we’re doing.

      There are a substantial number of hours that have already gone into this project that either were already paid or, in most cases, for whom no one was paid.

      So, the simple reality is, sure, what you’re saying is fair. The problem is, we probably can’t even add up the number of hours that are going into it. So, what we can do is to try to set the backer rates and incentives at something that people will find valuable.

      If you don’t find it valuable, then you shouldn’t give. No hurt feelings.

    • tBlack

      I do find it valuable, it’s a cool app. But also I think that your looking for way too much money for the project. It looks like something that a good programmer could do in a few days and also considering people have been making complex things for love in their spare time for years, PD itself even…it then just seems like it’s been setup to make a profit from the a new funding website rather than to cover *actual* development expenses. Correct me if I’m misunderstanding the purpose of indygogo….

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      The funding goes to support development time. Without funding, we just would have shelved this idea, and this would have been a think Mouse on Mars used and anyone else would basically be on their own.

      I don’t really think of it as asking for funding for the app – for precisely the reason you suggest. Asking for funding would be, “give us $5 and we’ll be really grateful.” We’re trying to say, give us $5 or $10 and we’ll give you some music, and the app, and some documentation, and get you involved as we develop the app, and share all the code we’re building. We’re not asking for donations; we’re asking for investors. And we’re not asking for charity; we’re trying to give a number of things that have value and assign to that value an amount of money we think people would want to spend — like your CD example. So, in that sense, it’s not really fundamentally different from pricing anything.

      And with pricing anything, you’re not going to please everyone. You just have to please enough people.

      I thought about going into more explanation here, but my feeling was, well, people are either going to think this is worthwhile and give, or they aren’t. And that’s the same as pricing anything else.

      I would hope if it works, developers wouldn’t always have to put up their time and wind up losing time and money just to realize an idea.

  • ben

    Just wondering – how does distribution of the source match what Apple permits in their developer agreement?

    I can imagine that much of the source is independent of the specific iOS APIs, but do you anticipate any problems with the iOS-specific bits?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      This is explained a bit on the indiegogo site, but:

      Source is developed under a BSD license.

      Because Xcode includes all the relevant iOS bits, you don’t have to redistribute those – thus, that isn’t an issue.

      Patches are developed under a GPLv3 license, which is compatible with the excellent rjlib library. This doesn’t conflict with the app store, because patches and abstractions can run independently of the rest of the code.

      My hope is that this is the foundation of player code, though, that can eventually run independently of only iOS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rutmul Rutger Muller

    Looking forward!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rutmul Rutger Muller

    Looking forward. I wonder how you will tackle latency and mic-speaker feedback in live situations.

  • http://sxp23.net Ted Kusio

    Any Android plans or hope?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      We can’t really guarantee low-latency performance on Android, but we do want to do a port if we can fund development.

  • tWhite

    I still don’t get it. I’ll probably still donate because I am a fan. I was under the impression they and Peter were developing it themselves, and if that’s the case you could certainly argue their time costs money. Again, doing it myself, and have had a number of friends do it as well, with little to no cost. I guess I am asking where exactly does the money go? How many people are involved in its development? If it’s for development, it goes to the developers, yes? So are MoM and Peter the only developers? It’s not as if you need to put quarters in your laptop to keep it running. So, it’s profit, yes? Again, I’m a fan and I think the money they’re asking is very reasonable, I’m just wondering where exactly does that money go?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      The money goes to support development time. It was simple – without funding, we simply weren’t going to do it.

      But we tried to make this be something other than a donation. We’re effectively giving you more back — in terms of the music and app — than you would get if you bought them independently.

      And we’re going beyond the app to try to document the process, to give away the code, and to begin to build some of this out for the Pd community more generally.

      Basically, if you think what we’re doing is worth something, then you should get involved. If you think the music, the documentation, open source code, and the app are *all* worthless, then you shouldn’t.

  • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

    Hey, keep the comments coming. Basically, it seems the people who feel like they like the idea went off and became backers and skipped the comment section. But for those people who aren’t certain, feel free to ask questions here.

  • lala

    good luck

  • rüdiger hund

    being self employed doesn’t mean you don’t count your working hours. from what i can see there are at least 4 people involved in the development of that app. it’s already out there on one iphone but to have it available for everyone makes the whole thing an unproportionally bigger project. and honestly 5000$ is not that much. i hope they make far more than that and continue throwing weird projects onto the world. as barry white put it: creativity comes first but business is necessary to protect creativity. i’d subscribe to this artist’s point of view.

  • tWhite

    Your explanation makes it clearer to me, Peter. I think pointing out that you are asking for $5 and not $5000, makes the point quite well.

  • Neiche

    I totally would chip in some moeny if i could be sure it would be ported to android.

    When Jan said they’d leak this instrument I first thought: cool, leak the code and let the community develop it. – but doesn’t look like it :)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Something will definitely be possible on Android – partly because the Rj Player is there as part of libpd. I think we’ll cross the finish line on iOS, so then it’s a matter of porting the additional work we do on that version to Android directly.

      Don’t fret – we’re working on it. This campaign buys us (the team working with Mouse on Mars) additional time to put in additional time. But some version of the app should absolutely be ready to run on Android.

      I think at this point it’s just a question of whether we have the resources to do some quality control on an Android release. But we’ll certainly be able to set something free that Android users can use.

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  • Aaron

    What’s the status on the app’s release? I’m interested to give it a go 😀