News from MakeMusic about SmartMusic

This afternoon, Karen VanDerBosch, CEO/CFO of MakeMusic, sent a letter out to SmartMusic Educators regarding the upcoming price changes for SmartMusic this summer.  You can find the complete letter here.

In summary, MakeMusic had announced a new $8 per student subscription to SmartMusic for the next school year–and a number of schools contacted their MakeMusic Sales Representatives (as well as MakeMusic directly) and voiced that their programs would not be able to handle that financial load.

MakeMusic heard those comments.  And they have acted on them.

As of next year, the idea of an “unlimited” SmartMusic subscription will remain at the cost of $44 per authorized computer or iPad.

I’d like to show the difference from my perspective as a teacher with just over 140 students in my program. Ignore for the moment that I’m a choir director and that I create a majority of my SmartMusic resources via Finale, and that I don’t tap into many of the existing, licensed SmartMusic repertoire (nor is there a great deal of repertoire for choir).

I receive $1000 a year from my school’s operating budget for the purchase of music and music supplies.  With (just over) 140 students in my program, that means that I have roughly $7.14 to buy new music for each student for the year.  At $1.95 per piece of music, that means I can buy 3 new pieces for students throughout the year.  As my students are in four choirs, that means about 12 total pieces.

At $8 per student for SmartMusic, I would have needed $1,120 to buy SmartMusic.  My plan was to ask students to consider buying individual subscriptions at $40 a piece, or fundraise (or bring in) $8 to use a student subscription–because the cost of SmartMusic would have been more than our entire music budget.  And don’t forget…this doesn’t include my subscription, the band director’s subscription, or band students!  Granted, $1,120 was a worst-case scenario, as some students would have bought the personal subscription…but let’s just run with that number.  We could add my teacher subscription, too ($140), for a total of $1,260.

SmartMusic is important enough that I would have found a way to fund it, even at that cost.

It’s all a moot point with today’s announcement.  So let’s look at my current situation versus next year.

As of this year, our district (curriculum and instruction) has picked up the costs of SmartMusic, which at our school has included 2 music educator subscriptions in our site, as well as 10 practice room computers.  That used to cost: (2x$140)+(10*36), or $640…and all the music students could use those computers.  Under the new plan, SmartMusic will cost: (2x$140)+(10*44), or $720.  Either way, that’s quite a bit less than the worst case scenario of $1,260.  I just hope there is enough income in the $44 practice room subscription to cover the cost of licensing and development on MakeMusic’s side of the equation.

The other thing that I want to highlight from this announcement is that MakeMusic will allow an iPad to be used as a school subscription.  This is fantastic for two reasons.  First, I really do think the iPad will offer a better overall experience with SmartMusic. Why?  All iPad hardware is standardized and the microphone is internal.  I’m always fighting with our computers not because of SmartMusic but with our existing hardware.  It isn’t fun.  Second, a music program could choose to send an iPad home with a student overnight so they could do their SmartMusic assignment at home, provided that they had Internet access at home.  For the student who is too busy to come and do SmartMusic immediately before school, at lunch, or after school (we try not to pull them out of classes), they could easily finish it at home–and still be using the school equipment/subscription.  Of course, a document authorizing that kind of equipment use will have to be created for these situations, and I may have to turn off access to Safari…but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.  You would never consider sending home one of the desktop computers that we currently use in our school for SmartMusic.

So…MakeMusic makes a change that will be good for many schools, and it is a bargain (and I thought the $8 price was still worth it!).


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