On December 31st, the Think Music Group sent out a video via YouTube via Twitter to many music education technology bloggers. My prior post features this video.
At the time, a number of Sibelius users (and Sibelius employees, and former Sibelius employees) began questioning the veracity of the video, as it appeared to use Sibelius’s fonts–and upon further review–Good Reader. The summative blog post about this matter comes directly out of the Sibelius Blog.
I’m not a Sibelius user, but I don’t think that I would be too bothered if Think Music had used Finale output to create their video, either. I’m probably not going to take the time to read the end user agreement, but had Sibelius been used for any other promotional video, I don’t think there would have been an issue–but Think Music’s video shows music notation done in a way that would change how we teach music. In other words, a potential competing product is using a competing product to promote itself. The Sibelius Blog seems to hint that this is going to be a legal matter (i.e. lawsuit — “Only the market, and perhaps some lawyers, will decide.”). I’m certainly not a lawyer, but I don’t think the Think Music video was a hoax or purposely misleading. I think they were trying to demo a finished product with existing tools, before they embark on their campaign. Thomas Bonte, part of the MuseScore team, found that the video originally originated on Kickstarter, and if Think Music plans to fund development of this app via Kickstarter, they are going to need a large support base to do so–and the “marketing campaign” so far might be enough. Does Think Music have to credit Sibelius on their video? It looks like Sibelius really wants them too–but I’m not sure they are required to do so.
I think the Sibelius Blog was spot-on in their assessment of the Think Music “app” in this regard:
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.
That’s where I stand on the matter. This app shows what Think Music is planning to do. If Think Music hasn’t patented the idea/interface, Finale & Sibelius should be racing against the clock to make this app a reality. And if the idea is patented, then this is a rare situation where a company acquisition makes a lot of sense. I see a lot of usefulness in this way to interact with music notation on the iPad, particularly in an era where notation scanning still leaves a lot to be desired. As music teachers, we want students to learn how to be able to write music by hand–but it would be wonderful if they could also easily convert that handwriting to printed parts. As far as I know, nobody else has said, “Instead of a PC-like interface, what if we used the iPad to enter notes by hand?” until Think Music’s video was released. Most of my fellow music educator technology colleagues were as blown away by the concept as I was.
On a side note, I’m also beginning to wonder about the end user agreements that we sign with Sibelius and Finale. Are we prohibited from being able to make a video using those tools without acknowledging that we used that tool to make the video? This is something I’ll have to look into.
As for Think Music, they’ve peaked my interest, and I’ll be watching to see what they come up with. And as a blogger, I’ll be writing about it as they tell us more.
I think that was their goal. Goal achieved.