What is your role at Stingray?
I mostly work on UX. I’m a User Experience (UX) director with a background in graphic design. I work mostly with user interface (UI) artists and coders. Over the years I’ve learnt to work with them, and not feel like that guy who goes to the mechanic and doesn’t understand a word of what he is being told. It is sometimes hard to justify that even a feature which is not functionally necessary is worth creating. The UX should look and feel nice, and it’s not something you can always put data value on directly. It’s more subjective.
What do you do at work on a day-to-day basis?
My work consists of creating prototypes, which is cool. The less cool aspect of my job is working on the flow charts of all the edge cases. Then I look at what happens when the user wants to log in, or what happens when there’s an error... It’s the less glamorous part of my work, but it’s very important because getting a user to use an app is the most difficult part. In the app itself, the UX is usually more intuitive and easier to navigate.
What is it like to work in the music industry?
Actually, I am a bit of a musician myself. Back in the day I used to be in a band, and music has always been part of my life. Before I joined Stingray, I had been working with our CTO, Mario Dubois, who told me about Stingray back when it was a startup. I was working in the mobile gaming industry at the time, where I was doing more management than I liked doing.
So, what did you play in the band?
I played the bass, mostly, and some guitar. And two out of the four of us were sharing the singing part.
How long have you been part of Stingray?
It’s been 12 years now. I really like the people I work with. What I particularly like about my job is mainly the people I work with. Throughout my time at Stingray, it’s hard to think of a person I’ve had a hard time working with. I think the way they hire people here is good because the working environment is pleasant.
What is the atmosphere like at Stingray?
I’m closer to the developer side. Working there is different from working at a place where you only develop databases for something super technical, and only work with people who are rational and down-to-earth. Since we work on music products, even the people who work on asset management or other very technical aspects, have a different groove. The environment of the music industry is less rigid, and it shows.
Do you miss working at the office?
It’s a yes and no for me. I enjoy working from home, but I really miss the place and the people. I miss how easy it is to interact and exchange ideas.
Do you have any projects that you specifically enjoyed working on?
The first products we made for TV platforms, Stingray Music for Mediaroom. Back then TV apps were just becoming a thing. The UI felt super clunky, and the technology was very limited, but I think we managed to create something that was decent. It still is a published platform with certain providers. I think it’s still a decent product today. It was exciting because it was new to me and most of the people who were involved in the project. I also really enjoyed working with the music programmer’s team to add music filters in order to multiply the number of available channels in the app.
Has working at Stingray influenced your music taste?
Yeah! It’s a funny story. At some point in my life I took Spanish lessons, and we listened to Spanish music – and every time I heard it, it always sounded the same to me, and I didn’t enjoy it that much. Around that time, I was working on a way to tag the music assets in our catalog to make them more easily available to users. For example, if someone wanted to find 1980s music for a Friday dinner with friends, they could find it. I decided to hunt for Spanish music with different tags, and it opened a whole new musical horizon to me. There were new artists I had never heard about, and I probably would have never gone there if it weren’t for this project. I still listen to these channels today.
What is your favorite album or artist at the moment?
It’s music that’s not very new, but I discovered it recently: a Mexican band called Hello Seahorse. It sounds a bit like 1980s indie music. It’s almost weird that young people like these are playing such music today.