Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Social media videos might make you believe anything!

Ah yes, we used to ask people, especially children,  if they believed everything they read. Now, perhaps we should ask, do you believe everything you see on FaceBook and youtube?

For instance:

Recently some of my musician friends have been sharing the following video on social media
and getting a bit overexcited about it and hoping to see more.

Meanwhile my take as a composer who, unfortunately, spends far too much time engraving music with Finale, was this;

1) Is there anything more to this so-called "app" than just the little that they show in the video? In other words, is this app capable of doing high powered score layout, transposition, part generation, lyric underlays, score optimization, piano cross-staff notations,  cut-away scores, and a gazillion other complicated things that Finale and Sibelius (I'm not a Sibelius user) can do? If not, it's a cute little gizmo to dork around with a simple little Bach minuet as seen in the video, but not much more, and certainly just a child's toy in the eyes of a  professional composer/arranger.

2) What can I learn by visiting the website the video mentions? Well, I didn't learn anything- there is basically nothing there!

So, especially in regard to #2, I decided this was all a bunch of hype over a cutesy, sophomoric Apple-ish trendy gizmo that may not even really exist (yet?).

So I have basically not shared this video and haven't commented on it- I didn't want to call anyone out for thinking it was way cool. But today I saw the following  item from Philip Rothman's blog debunking the product and video, and the evidence is pretty damning. It just goes to show you that many people looking to get some cheap publicity today blindly substitute social media flash for substance, put the cart before the horse, and as one commenter suggested, failed the market test of "under-promise and over-deliver".

Here is a link to Rothman's entire blog, and below are some excerpts for you: (oh by the way, my first music software program allowed a total of four backward edits, so if you screwed somethting up you often had to start laying out an entire piece over to get what you really wanted!):

Makers of music handwriting app video used Sibelius and GoodReader to create dramatization

by Philip Rothman

The makers of the video, an entity called ThinkMusic Technology, did not mention that the video was a dramatization. In fact, they led excited followers on Twitter to believe the app, as demonstrated, was real:

I am now certain that every single one of the music notation examples shown in the video, were, in fact, simply images exported from Sibelius using settings identical to, or very close to the defaults of the House Style “Standard Opus (Times)” and modified using GoodReader, a widely popular annotation app. No actual handwriting recognition, MIDI input, or other app functions were taking place. Everything shown in the video was a clever simulation, and not at all indicative of any working app.

Several requests for ThinkMusic to comment specifically on whether or not the music examples in the video were a series of images produced using Sibelius, and manipulated using conventional software, went unanswered.

ThinkMusic has not demonstrated that they can develop a working app, but they have succeeded in several areas. First, they have shown an ability to create an impressive marketing campaign and capture people’s interest through social media. Second, they have identified a desire for a successful product that would actually do what they have dramatized in their video. Moreover, they have some genuinely good ideas about how such an app might function. Avid’s Scorch and MakeMusic’s Finale SongBook are read-only apps and are tied into each company’s proprietary file format. MuseScore says that they have an app in development, but it is called “MuseScore Player” and so, it too will presumably be a read-only app. Notation apps such as Symphony Pro and Notion have yet to gain wide acceptance in the market.

Perhaps we will see an app “coming soon” from ThinkMusic or another developer after all. However, a fully functioning app is long way from a product idea (even one as cleverly dramatized by ThinkMusic) — especially if the app is to function with the ease and fluidity demonstrated in the video. If ThinkMusic does produce an app, was their reliance on Sibelius’s output and GoodReader’s drawing mode in marketing the app’s key features (especially without a disclaimer) a forgivable indiscretion? Or does it fundamentally undermine their product? Only the market, and perhaps some lawyers, will decide.

1 comment:

  1. Gee Paul... I was hoping for a "Yes, Virginia" (there is a Santa Claus) moment ... I'm bummed, man.

    Tim Banks