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Winning the KVR Developer Challenge: An interview with Julijan Nikolic (Youlean)

Winning the KVR Developer Challenge: An interview with Julijan Nikolic (Youlean)

Julijan Nikolic

As the KVR Developer Challenge winds towards the finish line NAMM has stepped up again. They will sponsor the winner at the 2019 NAMM Show January 24-27. The winner will be flown to Los Angeles, California, where they will be able to demonstrate their product(s) in the KVR booth.

We thought it would be interesting to tell the story of Julijan Nikolic, the winner of the KVRDC in 2016. Most people know him by his professional name Youlean, and that is the name of his company. KVR takes pride in the diversity of our community, geographically and culturally, so it was pleasing to discover that Julijan is from Belgrade, Serbia.

Broken Walkman

What is not unusual about Julijan Nikolic is that, like so many in the musical instruments industry, he shares a passion for music and technology. At an early age he remembers listening and singing along with cassette tapes, and taking things apart. His engineering career truly started when he was given a broken Walkman by his neighbor. He took the motor out, created a propeller from various articles and sticky paper, and made a small fan for himself.

At the age of 9, with the support of his father who was also a musician, he began attending music school to learn classical guitar. He went to festivals, won guitar competitions, and became a prominent guitar player in his country at a young age. During one of the music school computer classes the teacher brought Finale to show a software music application to the class. While the teacher was out of the room Julijan, seeing a fruit icon on the desktop, started the program, which turned out to be FL Studio. He made a few beats and was blown away with what he could do with the software.

Juljian competes...

He sold one of the guitars he had received from the competitions and bought a PC. His life became playing guitar and making beats, and he decided to become a famous musician, but like so many of us in MI, things didn't turn out exactly as he planned.

He discovered Patcher, a plug-in within FL Studio that was similar to Native Instruments Reaktor, in that it allowed the user to design their own instruments and effects. He started making Patcher presets and quickly his technical side re-appeared. He became a presence on the FL Studio forum and when problems were posted he would create Patcher presets to solve them. He discovered that with Patcher he could also prototype his own ideas for mixing tools, and utilizing Flowstone, he was able to actually create his own plug-ins.

His product vision was to help people get great sounding mixes even if they didn't have experience and thus his Freq-Balancer was born... When FL Studio removed Flowstone from its installation he decided to make a switch to C++ programming, and that is how his plug-ins are built now.

How did you first hear about KVR?

I was searching Google for plug-ins and KVR came up. I thought it was really nice and I bookmarked it and subscribed to the KVR Newsletter. Later I found out about the Developer Challenge through the KVR Newsletter.

What inspired you to enter the KVR Developer Challenge?

Before I found out about KVR DC coming, I was thinking about how to make a business with my plug-ins. Nobody knew me back then, and that was a big problem. Once I got a developer challenge announcement I thought: "This is it. This is my chance to jump start my company!"

How was the experience of winning?

The day I discovered I had won the Challenge was an amazing day and a reward for years of my work! I can't tell you how happy I was. One of the prizes was a free trip to the NAMM Show. Los Angeles is a long way from my home in Belgrade so it was fantastic. I would have taken my girlfriend, but we both had just finished our Master's degrees and gotten our first jobs, so there was no money.

What advice do you have for the winner of the Challenge this year?

Don't use crappy Yahoo mail, or/and check spam folder. I was waiting for an email from KVR but there was none. I got contacted by NAMM stuff and they arranged my arrival in Los Angeles. It was time to go, but I still was not getting any emails from KVR. I caught my plane, but when I arrived no one knew what I was supposed to do. The next day I finally got the idea to check the spam folder, and to my surprise, there were dozens of emails from KVR. I quickly replied to them and I found out that I needed to do a presentation about my plugin the next day.

Make sure you have the right equipment. I did my presentation in the Software.NAMM booth and I didn't have the right cable to connect my computer to the video display. The other developers were really nice and one gave me the cable, so I could do my presentation.

Bring business cards. Over the days of the show, I met with many top plugin developers and learned a lot. Having them in advance is much easier than searching for FedEx in a foreign country and designing business cards on the go.

How are people using your Loudness Meter now?

TITANIO with Loudness meter

Well, there are many recording studios around the world using my meter. For example, in the TITANIO studio from Argentina, they have put my meter full screen on one display to constantly monitor the loudness. That wouldn't be possible without my resizable plugin interface. People can scale GUI to any size they want. There are many awesome features added since KVR DC release. I can't really pick anything specific, I love them all. :).

What have you been doing since the show?

Loudness Meter

I had many more ideas for Loudness Meter and started working on version 2. Since I had to finish original Loudness Meter quickly my 30,000 lines code were a bit messy. I have been releasing new BETA versions since February of this year. My plan is to release the PRO and free version of the plugin soon. I will actually start a business now so I can support Loudness Meter long into the future and release new plug-ins that I have on my mind, including a new version of my first plugin, Freq-Balancer. I am hoping for the community to support me to continue my journey.

Julijan is continuing his musical adventure, and still teaching guitar. We'll all look forward to the release of his upgraded Loudness Meter, and whatever else he comes up with...

Julijan teaches...




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