Exactly two years ago on 7th July, I had finally cracked a way to use AppleScript to click through iTunes.
I wanted to move playlists from Spotify to Apple Music, which had been just released. I patiently waited for someone to come up with the solution. No one did, so I hacked one by myself.
Little did I know where it will lead me.
I posted a video showcasing what the “app” can do and tweeted it to ProductHunt guys.
They asked me to post it on PH once I have it ready to download.
I quickly copied some old project’s website, changed texts, added screenshots, etc.
I also added “Buy me a beer” button, which allowed people to send me donations via PayPal. I honestly thought no one would use it.
First day on featured page
Back then you have to be selected to be on the main page by the moderator. The project would appear at the scheduled hour.
In my case, it was 7th July, 14:00 Berlin time when STAMP appeared on Product Hunt.
Articles about S.t.A.M.P had been posted all over the media. It was a hot topic, Apple Music launched a week earlier, and I was first to allow people to copy over their songs.
On the first day, I’ve got more than 13 000 unique users on the site, and 98€ in donations (for beer). I was thinking about open-sourcing STAMP and even committed to it publicly. Fortunately, my brother Mike convinced me just to start selling it.
If people paid for the app and did not have to, imagine how much they could pay if they had to.
The day was ending, and whole craziness was happening while I was still working full-time as iOS Developer.
I’ve realised that STAMP could be a better app if someone put enough work into it.
I knew that I couldn’t handle full-time work and this project fast enough by myself, so I’ve asked my brother Mike and friend Christoph to join.
That would be the official day when commercial STAMP was founded.
First day for STAMP:
- 13 012 unique users
- 1 596 downloads
- 98 € revenue
How to charge for a tiny script
The three of us sat down after work and made a plan of what needs to be done. Fast enough we realised, that we need to allow also Windows user to be able to use our app.
Christoph started working on Windows version immediately (which took few days to finish).
Mike and I focused on building native macOS app. We implemented it in a way that you have to pay to use it. It was around 3 AM when we realised this is utterly stupid, and we have to allow people to try out the app but make it unusable without paying.
Next two hours we had been refactoring code in a way, that user can move ten songs and only after then he has to pay. It allowed us to advertise as “Free App” as we are distributed in a freemium model.
Most importantly it showed a user that STAMP indeed works, and they are only 5€ away from moving all their songs.
The first commercial version of the app (which we numbered 2.0) allowed a user to log-in to Spotify directly, then we fetched the songs and started (still the same) apple script. No more CSV juggling, just one app to do everything.
3 minutes after releasing (around 5 AM, when we were trying to lay down for at least few hours of nap), we got our first payment. To emphasise this, it was a first time someone just paid for something we are selling online. WOW. We went to sleep happy and proud.
Sidenote for all the people saying “you were soo lucky”. Of course, luck played a big part of the success!
Not whole part though…
- we had private stacks for fast development (continuous deployment, Docker hosts, staging/production environments)
- we knew how to use Spotify SDK (which we used for SharkList)
- I could set up a website in 20mins because I borrowed the design from SharkList project
- hackathon experience taught us what to focus on first (not everything has to look perfect, just deliver fast)
- we knew how Braintree works (our first payment provider) and had it working in 30mins
- we’ve NEVER built native macOS app, but that did not stop us, we just learned along the way
- we looked forward what will be in few next months, that’s why we started working on Windows version
- we knew (again, hackathons) that it’s not about the project, it’s about what people say: so we haven’t forgotten about customer support and social media channels
- we had no idea that anyone will pay for this, but we took a risk
What I mean is that luck = opportunity + execution. Everyone could come up with this app, and then not do anything more beside it. We took the risk, betting on STAMP to be a sellable product.
The funny part is that we were all thinking that this project will last a month, maybe three, then everyone will move songs and that would be it. We haven’t bought domain yet, nor logo. It took us three months to start spending money, or to say it better: start investing back into STAMP.
Second day (first day of paid version):
- 20 812 unique website visitors
- 3 300 downloads
- 1 735 € revenue
- 71 754 unique website visitors
- 18 784 downloads
- 15 655 € revenue
Fast forward to today
Next months happened quickly. After first month passed, the sales stabilised at around 1500€/month and we realised that this product still makes money.
Now it was time to invest back. We bought “stampapp.io” domain, got a logo from DesignCrowd, paid for MailChimp, tried Facebook ads, etc.
Obviously, there was competition from day one. After people had sawed the success of our product, they tried to get some part of the cake for themselves. Big thanks here to the free market we operate in, where people can create better services to push others to improve.
After few days of our premiere, we saw a new player on the market: MoveToApple.com. They almost killed us, because they had a superior product. We were on the edge of giving up, and we even said (out loud!) things like “it was a nice ride, we got good money, too bad it ends”.
Fortunately, we did not give up. We improved our product, added (even more) integrations, focused more on SEO, keywords, content (got a blog like everybody else).
What happened to competition? They closed down a few months ago. Prosaic reason: the method they’ve used to move songs, the same one we’ve copied from them (as it was superior), had been blocked by Apple.
That day we had to remove Apple Music from the desktop version, which was a huge deal. That was how we started in the end. We only survived because we diversified, integrating other services, and moving to other platforms. MoveToApple? They never added anything more besides Spotify, AppleMusic and Rdio.
Last month (June):
- 33 500 unique website visitors
- 18 645 installs ( 8 200 iOS / 6 965 Desktop / 3 480 Android )
- 19 431 € revenue
Not everything that shines is gold
Like everyone, we made a crazy shit amount of stupid mistakes and had a lot of problems.
This post just means we fought with them all (or ignored non-important ones) and won.
- Braintree kicked us out: so we’ve spent Friday night and weekend implementing Stripe.
- We’ve spent a lot of time translating app to different languages, but it did not increase sales (at all 😞 )
- We focused at some point on Asia: no major streaming services = no sales
- Had to write app from scratch (ver 3) to support multiple systems
- A lot of bugs and refunds
- Wrong link on Rdio.com to our app, so when they recommended us, it was forwarding to this domain (missed www subdomain redirect)
- Few broken releases, where sales dropped by half ( pretty costly testing haha )
- We lost ~3k€ in taxes due to the bug with Braintree implementation
- We have free product that checks which cloud is the best for your MP3’s (freeyourmusic.com/match)
- Once we’ve bought TV advertisement via NewsWatch… never again… we’ve lost 6k$ on nothing
- The domain FreeYourMusic.com was available for sale for 700$, where one email made it 500$ ^^
- STAMP name comes from “Spotify to Apple Music Parser”, and when I was creating the first domain for it, it would be
stam.hern.as, so to make it the full word, I’ve used
stamp.hern.asand told myself that
Sadly, nothing more with STAMP except ongoing support. We still fix bugs, we still add new services (as our architecture makes it relatively easy) but we do not plan anything big. In our opinion, with this project, we have reached the ceiling, and we focus now on just staying there.
If someone disagrees and is interested in pushing the project further, contact me. I will be happy to talk about possible options (sale, investment, takeover, partnership, we are open to ideas).
I want to say thank you to everyone that had been involved with STAMP.
We got help from countless of people, and it would never succeed without you. ❤️