Lucas Klein: Developing Apps for Music Enthusiasts

Lucas Klein.jpg

by Mateo Rispoli

Come December, Spotify, the global leader in the music streaming business, gifts each of its users a year in review summary of their listening habits aptly titled “Wrapped.” Listeners have a chance to dig into their most listened to artists and songs, from jams that fueled their summer to emotional bandaids that softened the air of quieter moments. It’s a digital festival filled with your favorite artists, and the organizers exclusively admit Spotify users. Music enthusiasts subscribed to global runner-up but domestic leader Apple Music bang on the walls of a cruel and indifferent mega-corporation with far more pressing issues than a niche feature that only has utility come year’s end. Lucas Klein, a sophomore computer science major at Indiana University and iOS developer, answers their cries and then some with snd.wave.

Snd.wave is Klein’s independently developed listening history analysis application, born of this streaming service envy. “I've always been a big Apple guy,” remarked Klein in an interview with WECB. “My friends were all Spotify, so they were always rubbing the stat thing in my face, and I said ‘y'know what I’m just gonna make it.’” Not one for inaction, Klein got to work as a junior in high school and had an initial version of the app running that same year.

Snd.wave is a listener’s dream, allowing them to study their habits in an intimate way. The app tracks the user’s play counts and days, hours, and minutes listened to any given artist, album, or song in their library. It even tracks the number of songs by a particular artist as they accumulate in the user’s library over time, offering a line-graph history of the user’s relationship with their catalog.

“There's a lot of stuff I got access to generously, and it's been really nice. On top of that, on top of the data that Apple has access to that I obtained, snd.wave also records its own data,” responded Klein when asked about how snd.wave calculates the user’s history. The app interfaces with Apple Music and keeps a “separate ledger, if you will, of some different data and telemetry,” however all of this data is encrypted and safe. Even with the implementation of a full-on competitive and comparative listening-time leaderboard function, snd.wave only gathers the data it needs and it keeps it safe. In an era where apps are constantly monitoring and mining, he takes this as a point of pride. 

At the time of writing and over a year past its initial launch, snd.wave has over a quarter million users, an undeniably minuscule .04% of the total 60 million strong Apple Music user base (as reported in June of 2019), yet a dedicated bunch they remain. “It seems to be people under 30 that are really into music,” said Klein on his main demographic. “It's been awesome because they’re super dedicated users and they always have good ideas and suggestions.”

His efforts have not gone unnoticed by Apple either. “Basically, they just thought it was a really cool project and have been letting me run with it.” While Klein’s contact with Apple has been limited, they asked for a wishlist of Klein’s most desired features for Apple Music; undoubtedly a sign of respect for the work he’s done with snd.wave. “I’ve actually been constructing the innards of the app is such a way that it would be very easy to, and I can't say for sure, but I’ve designed it in a way where it would be pretty easy to plug it into another app,” answered Klein when asked about possible implementation into Apple Music.

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