More Than Pretty

A look at Clickarus.

The band Airplane Mode approached us to deliver a musical timekeeping app that could store the tempos of all of their songs and arrange them into that night’s setlist.

Image of Clickarus on an iPhone, surrounded by musical items.

An app that crashes on stage is far more damaging than one that crashes while casually waiting in line at the grocery store, so we knew this app needed to be rock solid. And it needed to be crafted not just to look pleasing, but to solve the difficult challenges of being usable on stage without interfering with stage lighting or other aspects of the performance.

The goal of the app sounded simple enough: keep all four members in perfect locked tempo. With a complicated array of sample triggers adding additional flavor to their music, it was essential that the band perform a particular song at exactly 120 beats per minute, for instance, not 119 or 121. They managed to build a hardware rig themselves with off-the-shelf components, to be able to send the click sound to all four members without annoying the audience. The software, however, was a bigger challenge.

Searching the App Store for a simple metronome app that met the band’s demands proved to be fruitless. There were hundreds of metronomes on the store, but none of them could store all the tempos and make them easy to access live. Fortunately, we were able to help.

Image of Clickarus on an iPad, from the stage, looking out to a crowd of fans.

Working closely with the band and applying knowledge from years spent designing apps for live performance, we were able to create Clickarus, a metronome app with a user interface that is easy to read and easy to control while playing instruments and singing. It also works perfectly in split mode on the iPad, which is essential to the band, using multiple apps during a show. The careful use of darker backgrounds and color also assures the app never interferes with stage lighting conditions. It’s beautiful, elegant, and extremely simple to operate. Which is essential, since the job of a band is to entertain an audience, not get distracted by software.

Solving very specific problems like this takes years of expertise, research, and the ability to listen to and understand the customer’s needs. The band is so happy with the results that they use it at every rehearsal and at every performance. They’ve also released the app for free on the App Store, so other bands could use it if they like. Thus, the app has become a marketing tool for getting the word out about the band, as well as a critical component of their performance.

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