Developing Stagelight Q&A

by | Oct 9, 2015 | Music (general), Open Labs, Stagelight

Matt-and-Chris-Dev-Team-2-300x300On the occasional weekday afternoon in the heart of Austin, Texas you can find Stagelight Product Managers Matt Presley and Chris Brown breaking from their daily development cycle for some much needed fresh air down in the beautiful Barton Creek greenbelt. Inside the office you get what you would expect – a wall of Stagelight sound being tweaked and tested all hours of the day and night. So I thought it would be fun to break these hardworking developers off for a quick Q&A session and expose a bit more about the genius behind the world’s easiest music creation app, Stagelight.

Q: Introduce yourself and explain how you first got involved with managing the development of Stagelight at Open Labs?

Chris: I’m Chris Brown, I’ve been working on this application for 7 years now in one form or another. We are a small company so you have to wear many hats. I have a music and art background so it fell into place that I should be in charge of the UX design. Managing the team was an added responsibility that I was comfortable with as well so I split my time between the two positions.
Matt: I am Matt Presley. My background at Open Labs started in 2003. As Chris mentioned, we’ve all worn many hats here. Over the years I’ve worked in product testing, tech support, sales and marketing, and finally landed in product development around 2008. My official role today is Product Manager. I help with spec’ing out the features and functionality of the app, while listening to user feedback to help shape our roadmap. Fun stuff!

Q: What recent breakthroughs have you achieved in developing Stagelight?
Chris: The latest breakthrough for us was successfully bringing Stagelight to the Android platform. It was a bit of a process, but we couldn’t be happier with the upcoming release and really hope Android fans enjoy making music with it. I must say, working directly with Intel and Google on this port made all the difference.
Matt: We are now seeing some really impressive results with what Google is doing with Marshmallow, and we are excited to bring Stagelight up to speed.

Q: What are some challenges your team has faced in the development process?
Chris: I think our biggest challenge is designing and building an app that is cross platform and not have any deviation from functionality. Our goals is for our users to have the same experience across multiple devices. The challenge is in accommodating for the power and screen real estate of PCs, tablets and mobile phones.

Q: What in Stagelight are you most proud of, something that has worked out particularly well?
Chris: For me, it’s the workflow. We are trying to make music fun, educational as well as add functionality that lends itself to the way people currently make music today – loop recording. LoopBuilder, Key Lock, and all the instruments are all a lot of fun to play with even if you don’t really “know” what you’re doing. The built in lessons are also fun and educational for people just getting started in music.
Matt: We are also very excited about our new in-app lesson engine and have plans on expanding this feature in upcoming releases.

Q: What is the development process look like for your team?
Chris: We work in an Agile development methodology for the most part. So really what that means is we try to break out bits of functionality and get it ready for users quickly with updates and then we re-iterate from there based on user feedback.

What adjustments did your team have to make to port Stagelight to Android from Windows?
Matt: As we open up to more platforms, we needed to bolster our testing utilities. We’ve added a lot of automated testing in the past year as well as increased our bandwidth for public beta testing. We now have a really great group of Stagelight enthusiasts that are giving us useful feedback on the app.
Chris: We’ve also concentrated our time and focus into how things should look and work across multiple platforms and device sizes.

Dev-Team-2Q: What new features can Stagelight creators expect to see in the next big update?

Matt: Our list is long….. Without getting into details, most of the new features planned are ones that have been asked for by our community.
Chris: Yes, we really want to grow the Stagelight community and connect users together through music. We have a lot of social share functionality today, but we want to take that a step further.
Matt: Chris… Shhhh!!!!

Q: How has your process changed since Open Labs has been working with big technology partners like Google, Intel and Lenovo?
Chris: The process hasn’t really changed much, but our opportunities certainly have. We have been extremely fortunate with our many partners and can say that we have built strong relationships with truly great people.
Matt: …it’s a very nice problem to have … so many opportunities.

Q: Can you tell us about the Beta Team for Stagelight?
Chris: Sure, we started a public Beta team for our initial Android release which was only for tablets and devices with Intel architecture. As the app matures, we are opening it up to more Android devices and our beta testers are ready to give us feedback. You can sign up for the team HERE

Q: Is Stagelight ever coming to Apple’s OSX or iOS platforms?
Chris: No comment…wink 😉

Q: How do you guys come up with new ideas for features in Stagelight?

Chris: Austin is a great city to live in where music is a focal point of our everyday lives. There are festivals almost every weekend and every band in the world wants to play here. We see a lot and talk to people and really try to get into solving problems and making music fun.
Matt: We are also lucky enough to have a natural preserve right outside our office where we can go for hikes, have meetings and sometimes even go swimming. Getting out of the office and going for a walk is good for creativity.

Learn more about Stagelight by Open Labs at

Download the Android app at Google Play