Two weeks ago, following my visit to the Illinois Music Education Conference, I was shocked to see that MakeMusic did not have a booth in the vendor area, even though they did have a presentation at the conference. I was already concerned about the company after its move to Colorado and loss of 100 employees during the move, as well as the major changes in company leadership down to manager levels over the past two years (with some positions having changed twice in that time period). As I am likely to do, I wrote a blog post about my concerns.
Since that post, I have had the opportunity to talk to several employees at the company. They felt that my blog post did not accurately represent what was going on at MakeMusic. No one asked me to redact my previous blog post (nor should they, as this isn't a MakeMusic blog), but several messages were sent that I feel they would like expressed:
- There is no denying that a lot of former MakeMusic employees are no longer with the company; however, the people put into leadership positions (particularly at the product level) have been with the company for many years and are familiar (experts) with the product.
- The decision to attend or not attend various conventions with a booth is a result of foot traffice from past conventions. Even if MakeMusic is not providing a booth, they are often sponsoring clinics with paid clinicians and sponsoring other events (such as the TI:ME rooms at OMEA). There are MakeMusic employees who are advocating for participation at as many events as possible.
- They want to make it clear that Peaksware, the “mother company” of MakeMusic, is NOT a health fitness company, but a health training company. They feel the skill set of health training (discipline, focus, and committment) lends itself nicely to the world of music education.
- While SmartMusic continues to be important in the company and a huge arena for growth, they want people to know that Finale has NOT been forgotten or left behind.
- One employee wished to communicate that MakeMusic, before going private, was in a tough position as decisions were often made to please share holders and to increase stock value rather than to do what was always best for the product. This person wanted to communicate that the clear direction of the company and its finally “settled” focus have led to a better company, even with all the changes the company has endured over the last months. There was sadness expressed at the loss of colleagues, but an understanding that the show must go on.
I certainly hold no ill will towards MakeMusic, but I still find myself sad that the company is no longer in Minnesota, and I am sad for the many former MakeMusic employees that loved that company and either were not asked to go or could not move to Colorado. That said, if you did not know anyone at MakeMusic and you were a Finale or SmartMusic user, you would have never known about the changes at the company, as Finale 2014 continued development with an update, and SmartMusic kept working without a hitch this fall.
My position, as an outsider, remains the same as my last post: the company has gone through a lot of changes, and other companies have struggled under similar situations. I think it is fair to be on the outside and to worry. I have been told that there is nothing to worry about. My hope is that the company will flourish (they reassure me that the company has already weathered all of the changes) and that we will see exciting new products, features, and pricing as this school year draws to a close.