Tonara – for modern times’ musicians

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)

Sheet Music Publishing was once the largest player in the music industry.

With the invention of the phonograph and advances in recording and distribution technologies, Recording companies became the largest force in this industry since the 20th century.

But the sheet music market isn’t dead and annual sales’ estimates are over USD$2 bi.

Those who had studied music knows that you’ll acquire a considerable number of scores, that will only increase if you pursue a professional career.

The first attempt at ‘modernizing’ this industry presented desktop software solutions for editing and digitally distributing sheet music. But it hasn’t been that easy to take a computer – or even just a screen – to public performances such as those made by an orchestra.

In 2010, the iPad launch brought new life to this attempt with various apps being developed to display scores on the iPad – many using plain PDFs as a way to make it easy to distribute digitized sheet music.

Even so, a centenary problem would still be an inconvenience: turning the page. Be it paper, or a digital one.

Tonara is trying to solve this problem with an app for the iPad released in September, hoping to be a strong ally to musicians during a performance. And sell scores.

The technology implemented in this app follows the music being played and turn the page at the right moment. It doesn’t matter if the player increases or decreases the tempo. As long as – most of – the right notes are hit.

With an initial investment of USD $750k, Tonara has been able to develop a technology that follows a specific instrument even when others are being played simultaneously at the same place. Each iPad could be able then to follow a specific score, based on the instrument they are following. The app (available on the App Store) have a few free scores and access to an online store to increase your collection.

Considering that the Book Publishing market has been changing based on an increasing number of self-publishing authors and On-demand Publishing, Tonara’s store could be an opportunity to expand into a self-publishing platform for independent composers. Given that composers earn today in royalties around 10% of the printed list price, having the right platform and a powerful viewer tool (app) could be a good positioning for this company.

I’ve performed a quick test of the app using one of the available scores and the results were quite good, following me play through various changes of tempo and full stops. At times though the app would seem to be carried away for a few seconds until finding its place again. A few tweaks for what is already a great technology.

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