The SoundTracks Story: How Shane Schilling Used His Full Stack Skills to Create a Passion Project With Potential

Shane Schilling is an avid TV binge-watcher and movie buff with a love for music and all things entertainment. With two decades of experience in telecommunications, Shane wanted to update his technological skill set and brush up on coding to keep pace with the ever-evolving industry. 

“There’s continuous development and improvement in this industry,” said Shane. “Technology is always being updated, which is what led me to the boot camp — continuing my education.” 

The Coding Boot Camp at UT Austin gave Shane the ability to enhance the skills he already had, while adding new languages to his lineup. His newfound knowledge allowed him to combine his love for movies, TV, and music with his technical skills to create a unique, useful app for entertainment aficionados like himself. 

Turning a passion into a project 

After 20 years in telecommunications, Shane had moved his way up to a managerial role, using the bootcamp to strengthen his technical skills.

Students complete a handful of projects during the boot camp, some as part of the curriculum and some as passion projects on the side. Any of these projects are presented at Demo Day: a forum to showcase their work and accept feedback from fellow students, instructors, and potential employers. Shane presented a passion project, one that was a natural extension of his interests. 

“I love music and I love going to see live music. It’s a huge part of Austin culture,” he said. “I’m also a big TV binger and I always hear music in TV shows that I want to hear more of. I constantly found myself manually creating playlists by Googling soundtrack details.” 

That’s how Shane got the idea for SoundTracks, an app that automates this search process, searching for  albums, songs, or artists featured in a TV episode or a movie, and generating a curated playlist on Apple Music.

“I created SoundTracks purely with the full stack we covered in class — JavaScript, Node back end, React front end,” he said. “I developed it throughout the duration of the boot camp, adding on features as I learned new skills and tinkering with it along the way.”

The biggest challenges he faced involved the front end portion using React, completing state management, and navigating Apple MusicKit. He also struggled to find information that could help him with these challenges. There were very few resources out there to help him accomplish what he was trying to build — probably because most coders who began the process had given up. So, how was he eventually able to do it?

“Persistence and loss of hair,” he said jokingly. “I just kept plugging at it and creating lots of versions to really understand the technology that Apple Music uses.”

Deciding what’s next for SoundTracks

The feedback Shane received from peers and potential employers at Demo Day was largely positive, and despite a few false starts and Zoom difficulties, he found support within his network. 

“It was nice to hear folks I talked to relate to the app,” he said. “I talked to one gentleman who had just watched Intergalactic who said it would’ve come in handy. It struck a chord with me that people would actually use it.”

Currently, SoundTracks is accessible and fully deployed on Heroku, but Shane has been cautious about sharing it with the world because, like many apps in their early stages, he’s web scraping some of its data. If he chooses to take the project further, his next step will involve reaching out to companies like Apple Music and gauging their willingness to work with him. 

Ideally, he would like to make it more of a PWA (Progressive Web Application) — and make it available to the public in the App Store. 

For now, he enjoys using the app to find great ‘70s music featured on The Deuce, and music from one of his favorite TV shows of all time: The Wire. With SoundTracks, he can find music that’s not featured in the show’s curated soundtracks, opening up easy access to music from every episode spanning five seasons. 

Despite some challenges, SoundTracks is on its way to becoming a fully functional app. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of the boot camp, Shane’s passion for entertainment, and his dedication to seeing the app come to life.

“The biggest lesson I learned was about sticking with it and not getting discouraged when I couldn’t find documentation,” he said. “Since it was a side project, I didn’t have much help, but I really committed to finishing it. In the end, that’s what made the biggest difference.”

Interested in discovering what you’re capable of — and creating a passion project of your own? Explore UT Austin Boot Camps today.

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