Strum Machine is hiring! (ATTN: designers!)

Since I started working on Strum Machine (seven years ago this past January!) I have basically done everything myself. This served me well in many ways, but lately I have been feeling frustrated by how being a “one-man band” limits Strum Machine’s progress. So I am getting serious about bringing on more help with Strum Machine, so that we might accelerate it’s growth and development as a product!

I am posting this here on the forum because ideally I want to hire someone who already use Strum Machine for their own music practice. All of this work involves understanding and empathizing with the user (and the music community more broadly) in some way, so having personal experience with the product is important.

Before I get into any specifics, here is some general info:

  • I’m currently looking to hire an hourly or project basis, i.e. as a contractor. (If you need full-time employment or a salary/benefits, I’m not able to offer that at this time; I wish you good luck on your search!)
  • Hours are flexible. I’d want to sync up for real-time meetings here and there, but most work and collaboration would be asynchronous. And if you have a full-time job and just want to do a few hours with Strum Machine on the side, that could be an option too!
  • You can be based anywhere in the world.
  • Compensation will be based on skills, experience, etc., but I’m not penny-pinching here – I’m wanting to hire someone because they’re great at what they do, not because they’re cheap.

See bottom of post for how to apply.

If you’re not looking for a “job”, but still want to contribute a bit of your time and expertise in some way to making Strum Machine better, hop on my new email list, the Strum Machine Backstage Pass. I’ll be turning to this list for feedback on early prototypes and ideas, and you can help shape the direction of Strum Machine more closely.

Who I’m looking for first: a co-designer

I’m looking for someone with a design focus to help me craft new features and enhancements (and refine existing UI/UX) in Strum Machine. Primarily, I imagine we would work both separately and together (but mostly asynchronously) on these designs, iterating and collaborating on each other’s ideas, striving toward perfection.

Some of the projects coming up may include:

You might be a good fit if:

  • You have a background in UI/UX or product/app design
  • You like to “go deep” on the craft of design, spending the extra time and effort to take it from “good” to “great”
  • You value elegance, simplicity, and user empathy

This is an exciting role because you could have a big influence in how the next versions of Strum Machine take shape!

What about other roles?
Are you more of a graphic/brand designer? A developer experienced in TypeScript/Svelte? A writer? A community builder?

While I decided to keep this post focused on the UX design element of Strum Machine, I would potentially be interested in hiring for these and other roles in the future. Feel free to drop me a line and put yourself on my radar! :+1:

How to apply

Send an email to jobs (at) strum machine (dot) com, telling me a bit about yourself, your background in the skills relevant to the job, and anything else you’d like to share. I would love to see examples of your work if you’re able to include a link or attachment. I will write back within a couple days to let you know that I received your message and what to expect next.

Thanks for your time and consideration. 2023 is going to be big!


I realize you’re looking for a designer and this suggestion would be more back-end focused, but have you considered pursuing an open-source approach to the platform? For useful tools like this I’ve always been surprised at how willing people are to tackle issues. There are plenty like myself that’d fix a bug if it were troubling them, but it seems like every useful open source project finds one or two contributors who will knock-out features and bugs if only because they enjoy using the tool. There are pros and cons but I will say these days there are a lot of ways to benefit from open source without necessarily blowing a whole project out of the water.

Open source sounds like a nice idea. Only problem is that it leaves Luke with no income. He would need an investor or some kind of corporate backer to compensate for his loss of income. All successful open source projects have alternate sources of income. Often times companies will make a stripped down version available as open source. If you want the full featured version you’ll have to pay for it. I say this as someone who has contributed to various open source projects in the past and used to share a bunch of repositories on Github. I’m retired now, so all I do is play banjo :wink:

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This is great and I hope you find someone to help. But don’t forget, Strum Machine is awesome as is and even if it never gets another update ever it is waaaaay better than anything else out there. Don’t be frustrated!

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@RobertBiggs nailed it. I too love the idea of open-source, and I both use lots of open-source libraries and contribute back to them (with code and donations) when I can. But there’s no way Strum Machine will remain a sustainable product (which is what everyone wants) if it can’t remain a sustainable business. I’m also having a hard time thinking of a modern consumer (non-developer-focused) app that is open-source, maintains a very high quality standard, and not supported by a corporation or non-profit entity.

@Ellie Thanks, I’m a perfectionist but I’m getting a bit better at reminding myself that even if I haven’t achieved my ultimate vision for the product yet, it’s still good enough for the vast majority of my users!

Sorry, I should’ve specified what I meant by, “a lot of ways to benefit without blowing the project out of the water.” I wasn’t suggesting puritan open-source. I know Strummachine constitutes a single developer’s livelihood, and applaud the fact someone has managed to create something as valuable and full-featured by themselves. Monetizing open-source is a thing salient companies have pulled off. An example might be opening a portion of application’s code base to a public repo, managed by Luke, while other facets such as deployed resources or data which constitutes core values of the product remain private. Someone may clone or fork the repos but authentication contexts ensure approved clients can talk to the hosted API, and db connections are private. If someone wanted to shirk the paid service, they’d start with an empty app with none of the songs or social features. The amount of time and effort needed for a knowledgeable person to build their own unpaid version would quickly surpass the modest service fee and a license prohibiting commercial use makes enterprising from it risky.

I’m not saying open source is the best way forward. God knows there’s a hefty weight to partitioning a business into new repositories, refactoring pipelines, authentication, platform management for secrets, and you’d have to look at licensing in a new light, etc. It’s not a panacea. I’m not shocked it’s mostly equity/series funded or big companies doing this. All I’m saying is there might be options worth considering as far as benefiting from a thriving community and managing development tasks.

I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I guess the best response I can give is that while it could be argued that keeping it closed source may hypothetically mean missing an opportunity, the simple fact is that managing an open-source project of this scale is something I’m just not at all interested in. :laughing:

As a retired software developer who worked at Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Netscape, the Federal Reserve Bank, etc., and have a fair idea of how StumMachine is put together, Luke would have a hard time open sourcing much of it since he’s built it on top of other software packages that he doesn’t control, like Meteor.js, FMOD, Adobe Cordova, etc. That said, I think Luke is taking the right steps to get more community involvement from the actual users by hiring and opening up beta and backend insights to users interested. Right now Luke needs to concentrate on finishing up all the pieces that will really make StrumMachine a standout product. So far we only have the guitar strum patterns. There’s lots more to do still.

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