MakeMusic’s CEO Karen Van Lith Interviewed at Wall Street Reporter

I’ll admit it…I have a personal interest in MakeMusic, Inc.  I’m not an investor (It’s trading at $4.12 a share on 5/10…I think I should become an investor), but I’m a major end-user with Finale and SmartMusic.

All of the MakeMusic twitter accounts linked to an interview with Karen Van Lith, which can be accessed at:

Some take-aways from the interview:

  1. MakeMusic is very aware of the iPad.  VERY aware.
  2. The first Finale app for the iPad, called Finale Songbook, is due this month (May 2012).  I love that name.
  3. There is going to be a new approach to purchasing music for SmartMusic, which hearkens back to the original days of the company.  When SmartMusic was called Vivace, you purchased each title separately (as a cartridge!).  There was a benefit to that model, whereas the company was paid for each title and paid royalties for each title.  SmartMusic eventually moved to a subscription basis, and royalties are paid for each use of a title.  With the new partnership with Hal Leonard, some (not all) new titles are going to move back to a subscription format.  I think that is potentially a good solution, particularly if there is a way for a school to buy the title for all of its student subscriptions.
  4. I’ve heard rumblings through a number of sources (I live in Minnesota, the home of MakeMusic, and at some level we’re all connected through music education) that the change in leadership has resulted in many changes at Make Music, including in other leadership positions in the company.  MakeMusic is moving rather quickly (two major acquisitions in the past year) and Ms. Van Lith mentions (in the interview) that change can be difficult.  Simply said, “Times, they are a’changin.”
  5. There was a good deal of talk about Ms. Van Lith’s experience, which was based around a number of mergers and acquisitions.  This isn’t surprising as both Recordare and Garritan are now a part of MakeMusic (My guess [and it is my guess]: look for SmartScore to be added to the fold in the future).  MakeMusic has been a buyer, so I don’t see the company merging with Avid (Can you say “Fibelius?”), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see other acquisitions in the future.
  6. Ms. Van Lith stated that SmartMusic is a unique product, and she’s right: it is the only technology option for assessment of music performance, which has potential both for student growth and teacher evaluations (which, she correctly mentions, is a hot topic in education right now).  The program doesn’t have any competitor, and is really the reason why Finale stays safe under the threat of Sibelius and MuseScore.  If you want to custom-create a SmartMusic assignment, you need Finale.  SmartMusic will be the program that drives the company in the future, even though its past was driven by Finale and music notation.  That is a major paradigm shift.

In conclusion, it certainly sounds as if MakeMusic has an energetic, fast-paced leader who is not afraid of change, who keeps an eye on the educational environment, is concerned about performance for stock holders, and is willing to lead the company to new markets and to use the latest emerging technologies.  It’s going to be exciting to see where MakeMusic goes next.


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