Jesse Paul Warren
A Designer*
Spektrem Song
Producer + Songwriter + Vocalist

“Shine” was the song that changed my life.

After giving in to pressure from my team to spend less time on songs, I was to starting to learn I shouldn't put one out before it was ready. I had released Corr and Sugar before I felt they were done, and their reception reflected it. It wasn't bad, but none of them succeeded like In a Dream, which I had worked on for 9 months, and which did so well that it launched this whole music thing I was doing.

I worked on Shine for over a year. That was the longest I’d spent on a single song up until then. I was plagued with computer troubles that made it extremely difficult. It was so hard to get right — and honestly, I still never felt like I did. But it got better and better, and the slog turned out to be worth it.

But I didn't think so at first. The release went ok. We got some blog write-ups, Soundcloud plays, and so on. But nothing earth-shattering. Two months passed, and the little bit of buzz around it faded. That was it. “A year of my life working on this stupid song, and that’s all???”

Then, one day, I woke up to find hundreds of new notifications. A relatively new YouTube channel called NoCopyrightSounds had found Shine online and shared it on their channel.

Since then, NoCopyrightSounds has grown to 36 million subscribers, and the song has taken on a life of it's own. For over a decade, it has showed up in thousands of YouTube videos, and developed a loyal base of appreciation that I'm grateful for.


In 2013, Shine was posted by YouTube channel NoCopyrightSounds. Back then, the channel had maybe 100,000 subscribers. Today, it has over 36 million, and Shine remains one of the most popular songs on the channel, with over a hundred million plays.


A friend, Andy Ayers, filmed me for a project he was doing at the time. Here I am while I was working on Shine.

You can pick up on my dismay over the way it was sounding. In fact, even after a year, I felt like I hadn’t gotten it right. I released it with a sense of sadness that I never got it to sound exactly the way I wanted — even though I had pushed myself further than I ever had.


I still have the original demo that became Shine. Back then, I tried to make a new song idea a day. That was probably my favorite part of producing music. Most of those ideas were not good. But sometimes something would stick. If it gripped me for long enough, I'd finish it into a song.

I'd play these ideas for friends who came by the studio. This particular demo always lit them up. Hearing them keep talking about it made it clear it was good enough to finish into a full song.

Looking back, this was a fundamental design principle at work. Sharing those early ideas with my friends to see what they thought was like doing early user testing. This was like the Shine MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It helped determine what was actually worth spending an entire year developing.


Shine spawned many remix, which continue to appear today. I think the best is this one by Gabriel Drew & Bloom, which was also released on NCS.