Alexander Parij (SingAndStudy) – Interview (Part 1)

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on April 29, 2010

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexander Parij, the founder of SingAndStudy, the service for learning languages through music that I reviewed here, and that I really liked.
The interview is broken down in two parts; the first one is below, and the second part is here.

SingAndStudy

Full Name: Alexander Parij
Age: 30
Startup: SingAndStudy
Position: Founder

PART I

THE STARTUP

Q:Tell us a little about your startup. How was it conceived? What are its most distinctive features in your opinion?

A: I was taking French courses and to improve listening comprehension skills and just to give us a fun break, the teachers used to direct us to Youtube or some small websites with music videos, giving us a worksheet with lyrics to fill in the words. It was a really fun experience since I think French sounds beautiful, specially when sung. So I started doing the same on my own, searching for videos on Youtube and saving lyrics in plain text file. And then I said I can do something better for myself, programmed it and after using it for a bit, I posted it for download, thinking others might also find it useful. Got some response, added some features doing it as a small side project and eventually when I felt I had something substantial I decided to release it as a paid application. The main drive to create this application was the freedom to choose the songs that I wanted.
There are many websites that try to incorporate songs in education but they are all controlled by editors or they are to complex for the users to submit new material. Learning in a browser is also distracting, it’s so easy to click away, you are bombarded by dieting women on your left side and guys with six pack on you right side. SingAndStudy gives a more private and focused learning experience. And it’s certainly more fun than grammar rules and verb tables!

Q:What was the original launch date?

A: The very basic beta version was launched in February 2009, and in January 2010 I launched version 1.0, which is a paid application.

Q:What has been the response so far? In which countries has it been more successful?

A:The feedback I’m receiving is very exciting. Curiously, some of it comes from people I originally thought they would have no use of SingAndStudy, like parents of small children or teachers. To generalize I would say that SingAndStudy is more popular among small European countries and nations whose people specially like to travel abroad, like Australia or New-Zealand. At least this is consistent with my experience traveling in South America and seeing where most of backpackers came from!

Q:What features can we expect to see implemented in future revisions?

A:I have a huge list of features, but the next most important is to create a better lyrics search. Right now we find mostly English, French and Italian lyrics and I feel we can increase the number of lyrics available in other languages.

Q:There is a certain tendency to demonize the Internet in the music industry. I think it is all a matter of perspective – it all depends on the uses it is put to. What is your opinion? In which areas has the Internet left an unquestionably positive mark?

A: Before the internet, music was largely a local phenomena and only the big bands were actually known outside their home countries, but now the public has a direct access to the artists. This gives the possibility of a great relationship between musicians and their fans and the obvious losers are the big corporations that were the middle man and are losing this role. As a consequence, they spend billions of dollars to attack any new ideas that are born out of the internet volcano. Just looking at what SingAndStudy does, besides introducing a new culture and a new country to students who are learning a new language, it makes them grow up enjoying certain artists and eventually they will buy their music. In pre-Internet era it was simply impossible.

Q: What advice could you give to anybody who is launching a music-related startup in the future? What are the obvious mistakes that should be avoided?

A: Music on internet is basically a minefield. As the future is so uncertain, any advice I could give would be irrelevant. It will take years until we have stable laws and procedures. So just enjoy the process and only do it if you are having fun.

Check out the second part of the interview, “Music & You”.

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Alexander Parij (SingAndStudy) – Interview (Part 2) | MusicKO
April 30, 2010 at 7:50 am

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