New app Saloote aims to create digital 'musical community'

In an interconnected social media age, one free mobile app is hoping to give musicians access to digital video jam sessions that can take place coast to coast or from around the world. During the 2015 South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, Saloote had its big launch. With access to a catalogue of pre-licensed Sony Music songs, users can collaborate with one another on pop covers like 80s staple “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” to more recent hits like Meghan Trainor’s “All About the Bass.”

For Saloote CEO and Co-Founder Walter Bernacca, inspiration struck after watching talented unknowns gain exposure from playing covers of their favorite tunes on national TV talk shows like “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Bernacca told that he felt there needed to be an easy way for unknowns and experienced musicians alike to collaborate using just their smartphones.

So, how does it work? A user chooses a track of his or her choice, records audio and video of their performance through the app, and then can choose recordings from others who have laid down tracks of the same song, and create a video mashup. Think of it as a do-it-yourself, interactive music video.

Users then can share and post their mashups through social media.

Bernacca and his team have been developing the app for the past three years. The Saloote CEO expects to see the app growing in popularity in the coming years.

“In a couple of years I want this to be the biggest library for new musicians, for new artists,” he said. “I want this to be the IMDB (referring to the popular film site) for a new musician. Look, a couple of years ago, a big artist like Justin Bieber got his start posting covers on YouTube. This is the future, this is how people develop talent. The goal is for this to be a musical community.”

Bernacca has experience nurturing talent. He has experience as a music producer, DJ, as well as a video editor. For him, creating an app that fostered cross-platform collaboration was a natural extension of work he did in the past.

The app had its initial soft launch this past October in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where Bernacca’s startup is based. The company announced that its  music-sharing app would be free for Apple and Android devices at South by Southwest Interactive.

As with most apps, Saloote is still a work in progress. Tech website Engadget recently gave the app a negative review, stating that Saloote is “very buggy and prone to crashing.”

Bernacca said that he and his team are constantly improving and tweaking the app, and he hopes that it will eventually become a default way for musicians to learn from and collaborate with one another.

“Saloote isn’t just for musicians,” Bernacca said. “It’s for music authors, instrumentalists, singers, music lovers. You have Saloote, and you go there to find good people and good music.”