This article was published on March 15, 2008 humming and guessing music community humming and guessing music community
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
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Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

Five Questions for Start-upsEvery week we publish an interview with a start-up. We ask five questions, hoping the answers will give you inspiration and new views. Well, actually six questions, since we also ask the start-up to who he or she is passing the mic to.

This week we’re interviewing Raphaël Arbuz from WatZatSong. Our UK WebTipr David Petherick met him during start-upcamp in London. Together with some fellow-students, Arbuz founded this English-with-a-French-accent named service. Users can hum a song of which they forget the artist or the title. The community can then guess which song it is. So you have the quiz-factor and you’re also helping people out. How did they come up with this funny and useful idea?

How did you come up with the idea of WatZatSong?

Question number“Thibault Vanhulle and I were sharing a flat in London while finishing our studies. We were both absolutely crazy about music quizzes and one day, hearing a song that none of us knew, Thibault said “wouldn’t it be great if there was a website where you could hum a tune and the visitors would listen and tell you what it was?”. I loved this idea and, after having been joined by Erez Abittan, a fellow classmate from my French engineering school, then studying at Notre Dame University in the United States, we started developing it straight away.”

What was your biggest challenge during the development process?

Question number“The biggest challenge was to develop the Java applet to record voice online. When we started working on WatZatSong at the end of 2005, there was no open source Flash server able to do that for free. It took a few weeks and after this step, we knew WatZatSong could be live in one day!”

Can you describe French start-up culture compared to Silicon Valley?

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Question number“We can sense these days that there are loads of things going on in Paris about the Web: loads of new ideas (especially in the music and video areas), many events. This is probably thanks to the French engineering culture. On the other hand, and probably especially because of the language, it is not so easy for French startups to be international quickly and market themselves worldwide.”

What will be the influence of your start-up on the next web?

Question number

“WatZatSong will probably be an example of how you can make great things using the power of the crowds against algorithms.”

You can make up this question yourself!

Question number“Can a community really name what people can hum?”

My answer is “yes!”: 90% of the songs are guessed by the WatZatSong community (45% of them within 5 minutes).

Who’s next?

I think you should to talk to the guys from: and both French startups with interesting ideas and trying to be international ;)

Note from the editor: When we were in Paris during The Next Web Open Office Roadtrip, we met Raphael Labbe from U-lik. Read the post here.

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