Farewell, Figure & Allihoopa 😢

Allihoopa — a collaborative music-making community — is shutting down in 2 weeks. Its brilliant companion app Figure will likely disappear from the App Store soon after.

Figure

Figure was released around the time I got my first iPhone and it’s been on every iOS device I’ve owned ever since.

To me, Figure feels like more than just another DAW/sequencing app. It’s a fully fledged musical instrument, born in the age of mobile multitouch screens and networked devices, embracing them to wonderful effect. It’s fun to jam on Figure.

It’s simple. In less time than it takes to learn Happy Birthday on a xylophone, you have a looping tune that kind of sounds like it was made by someone who knows what they’re doing.

And it’s social. WIST and Ableton Link support lets you jam with friends (or play on multiple devices at once).

A musical instrument wiped off the face of the earth

Imagine your favourite instrument — for argument’s sake, let’s say the guitar — suddenly ceased to exist.

We still have recordings of the music played on guitars. We still have the sheet music. There are even still a few real guitars around that can be played, though the number shrinks rapidly over time as the owners upgrade their phones.

There will never be a new guitar made. For the most part, nobody will ever have the chance to play music on a guitar again.

That’s what’s happening to Figure and it makes me genuinely sad.

Allihoopa

Allihoopa is cool. Like SoundCloud or Vimeo, it’s a place for sharing your creative output with other creators, but it goes beyond one-way, passive consumption. Like GitHub, collaboration and remixing is built into the platform, the community and even the terms:

You understand that the Content uploaded by you may be used freely by other users, as well as included in the music, songs and Content of other users

Any song you drop (upload) to Allihoopa can be picked up by another user to remix & extend. When you pick up a piece, you’re not just downloading exported MP3s; you’re getting the project source (in Figure’s case, an XML file). That’s super powerful.

I don’t know what Allihoopa’s business model was. It’s an audacious idea, maybe too audacious for 2018 — a creative, supportive community of musicians; a well-thought-out, reliable technical platform that integrated with the best music-making apps; all free (as in free beer) with no obvious advertising or data-mining motivation. 🤷‍♀️

Allihoopa have said the decision to shut down is final. There won’t be any last-ditch effort to monetise with subscriptions. The company isn’t for sale. Nothing will be open sourced. It’s all just going away.

I’ll miss it.

The end of a community

Did you ever listen to the 99% Invisible about the end of an online world?

The reaction to the announcement has been a bit like that. People are sharing stories of how Figure and Allihoopa helped them through hard times or started careers. Musicians who only knew each other by username are swapping details to keep in touch. There are some frantic efforts underway to shift the community across to other platforms like BandLab.

Allihoopa was the only way to back up Figure songs

You can’t transfer Figure songs from one device to another. You can’t import the XML source files into the app. The only way to get an existing Figure song into an existing Figure installation is to pick it up from Allihoopa.

When Allihoopa shuts down, every Figure installation in existence loses the ability to pick up and remix existing songs.

I still have the XML .figure source files — everything Figure needs to let me open, play, remix and jam on an existing song — but no way to import them into the app without Allihoopa.

Enjoy the last 2 weeks

I wish I had a neater way to wrap this post up. If you’ve never tried Figure, get it while you can!

Go explore, pick up and remix some of the awesome Figure pieces on Allihoopa. Remix my songs!

Try come up with a way to keep our Figure source files usable when the app disappears from the App Store.

I’ll see you on BandLab.