The Strategy of MakeMusic (Opinion)

In the past months, MakeMusic, the developer of Finale and SmartMusic, has acquired both Recordare (MusicXML) and Garritan (high-quality audio sounds).  Products from both companies have been a part of Finale for years, so why is MakeMusic acquiring these companies now?

1) If I were MakeMusic, and Recordare and Garritian products were part of my flagship program, I’d simply want to be able to control those companies.  In the long run, licensing fees might be more over time than simply acquiring the company.

2) Additionally, both Recordare and Garritan were used by Sibelius in the past.  Owning these companies gives MakeMusic a competitive edge, even if, for example, the MusicXML Dolet is now free to Sibelius users (and Sibelius 7 both reads and writes MusicXML files).

3) Sibelius is owned by Avid, which has been acquiring companies over the past years, including both the hardware (M-Audio) and software side of the equation.  If MakeMusic doesn’t purchase the programs, perhaps Avid does–creating yet another competitive edge for Sibelius.

4) There is new competition of the open-source variety in MuseScore.  Prior organizations which once bought site licenses might no longer do so, if a working alternative is available.  Granted, MuseScore isn’t Finale (or Sibelius), but what more does an educational institution need for students in music theory classes?  Granted, the most advanced students might need Finale or Sibelius at some point, but MuseScore can export files as MusicXML files, which can be read by those “major” programs.  By acquiring Recordare and Garritan, MakeMusic can offer features that MuseScore does not offer as part of its “core” application, hopefully making Finale more attractive than MuseScore to potential customers.

5) Better sounds for SmartMusic.  Enough said.

6) Future growth.  As computing moves to the format of the tablet, having in-house access to top-notch developers can bring immediate impact to new projects by MakeMusic, including tablet apps.

What’s the next company that might be acquired by MakeMusic?  I’d look for Musitek/SmartScore to be acquired, as SmartScore hasn’t even seen an update (even with the release of Mac OS X Lion) since July of 2010!  Furthermore, SmartScore Lite has been bundled with Finale for years…and it would make sense for SmartScore to simply become part of Finale (I’d also like SmartScore’s ability to highlight incorrect measures [e.g. too many notes] to be incorporated into Finale).

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