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August 20, 2014

DEVELOPER SPEAK: Music industry professional Brian Mulligan helps Jamestown Revival fans connect via universal Windows app built with App Studio

The Agency Group is a global talent agency that services top talent from numerous industries, including music. Brian Mulligan, assistant to the senior vice president, manages bands’ tours, and their show schedules. In the course of his work, he became concerned about the fragmentation of his bands’ identity across the myriad social media properties fans visit today. To solve the problem and encourage interaction with fans, Mulligan built a Windows and Windows Phone app for the group Jamestown Revival. He developed the app himself using Windows App Studio Beta, and now, he talks about his inspiration for and experience building his app.

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Jamestown Revival app

What led you to develop an app for the Jamestown Revival?
“I developed this app to create a dedicated channel for the band and its fans.”

The fans of Jamestown Revival are a diverse group. They run the gamut, demographically speaking, but they share common interests, like a love of outdoor adventures. We needed a place where fans could connect with the band and each other. We were using—and continue to use—a variety of Web sites and social media to help the band stay connected with its audience, but we know that when fans visit our Facebook page or read our Twitter feed, there are all kinds of other content sources competing for their attention in those places. We wanted to create a new space where we could engage our target audience in a non-intrusive and meaningful way. A dedicated app was the logical solution.

The app provides tour dates, photos, videos, music, and news about the band’s recent activities. We’re currently adding incentives for app users to check in regularly and making the app more interactive for fans. We eventually want to use the app to showcase more in-depth, behind-the-scenes content.

Audiences have moved from the TV to the phone, and when they do watch TV, people still use apps or play games on their mobile devices. I developed this app to create a dedicated channel for the band and its fans. Given our diverse audience, though, we know they use a variety of devices, so we wanted to be sure to develop a solution that would run on any device our fans own; with that in mind, we knew that Windows’ universal apps were going to be a big part of our solution.

 Why did you decide to develop the app using App Studio?
 “The App Studio toolkit contains built-in options to help us scale.”

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We weren’t sure how successful our app would be, so we wanted to minimize the time and money we invested in the idea. The band and the team behind Jamestown appreciate anything handcrafted and organic, so if we can build it ourselves, we will.

With a background in the music business and agriculture, when I first considered building an app myself, the prospect was daunting: I’d have to learn a programming language, comply with standards, and take steps to ensure compatibility. But then I found Windows App Studio, and I discovered the tool could take care of most of that for me–a compelling fit because even without any coding experience, I could still develop my app myself. After a couple days of playing with it, App Studio was a breeze to use, and the team at Microsoft assisting me have been friendly and helpful. I uploaded our artwork and chose a color scheme, and then everything pretty much fell into place. Once I had my mobile application, I used App Studio’s distribution tools to make it available immediately.

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Jamestown Revival app – Instagram feed

And now as we build more advanced features into our new releases, Windows App Studio generates the source code, which we can edit and extend. We can also easily add sections connecting to Bing, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, and other popular content providers. So the App Studio toolkit contains built-in options to help us scale. Most importantly, though, the universality of Windows apps means that users can access our app on any phone, tablet, or PC running Windows 8.1.

What is your advice to others thinking about building a mobile app to showcase their content?
 “There has never been an easier way to build apps other than on Windows App Studio Beta.”

 If you are thinking about publishing content to a mobile app, take the jump—do it! Anyone can build an app, even my grandma. There has never been a better time to publish apps, and there has never been an easier way to build apps other than on Windows App Studio Beta.

To build your app in 4 simple steps, visit the Windows App Studio Beta site today!