The NEW SmartMusic
If you haven't been paying attention, MakeMusic is progressing towards a fall 2016 release of a new platform-agnostic (i.e. It will work on all platforms) version of SmartMusic…including running on the Chromebook. MakeMusic has been fully aware of the impact of the Chromebook on education, and it saw the need to get SmartMusic on all devices (all that is required is an Internet connection). The answer was to purchase the software company Weezic, and to bring the best of Weezic to the world of SmartMusic.
An early version of the new SmartMusic was shown at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in December. A week ago, MakeMusic announced pricing at TMEA (and incidentally, MMEA, which is held at the same time). This is public information that was handed out–so I am not breaking any confidentiality agreements.
While you should visit MakeMusic's website for further (and future) details, here is the new pricing in a nutshell:
- Year-long licenses are now sold in packs (or blocks) of 50 students, with up to 5 teachers per pack (or block)
- The first type of pack is called “SmartMusic Teach,” where teachers can assign content from any existing SmartMusic repertoire or content the teacher submits themselves (from MusicXML content). Each block costs $399 for a year (1). Students do not have access to any SmartMusic content other than assignments from the teacher–but students can individually subscribe to all content for $3.99 a month (no need for a yearly subscription) (2).
- The second type of pack is called “SmartMusic Teach Premium” which features everything from the aforementioned “SmartMusic Teach” but students have access to all SmartMusic repertoire as well. Each block costs $999 per year.
Just one other thing to mention: the NEW SmartMusic isn't directly connected to the existing SmartMusic. As a result, in 2016, educators will have to decide whether to pursue the “old” SmartMusic interface or the new SmartMusic–and there is no switching between both. My guess is that since the New SmartMusic will work on nearly every device, most schools should choose the new interface. However, talk to your SmartMusic representative for more details.
It is quite wonderful for SmartMusic to annouce pricing at this time. First of all, the other green-note/red-note programs (specifically MusicProdigy and PracticeFirst) have similar pricing plans, and all work out to roughly the same cost when content is included in the cost. Second, schools are setting budgets NOW, so music teachers can let principals know specific budgetary needs for 2016-2017 as it pertains to SmartMusic. Schools that do not have a music budget (like mine) can determine the cost and fundraise before the fall.
How do I feel about the product and pricing? I'm all for it, and I still may not be able to afford it for my 350 students (3). If you purchase the “entry level” SmartMusic Teach at $399 per set of 50 students, this year's SmartMusic would have cost $2140 for 50 students and 1 teacher. That means the new SmartMusic is less than 20% of the cost of SmartMusic right now. That is amazing pricing. SmartMusic Teach Premium, at $999 for 50 students, is less than 50% of the cost of SmartMusic right now.
Again, the new SmartMusic will work on all devices and cost at least 50% of what SmartMusic costs now (based on 50 students).
That's pretty amazing.
Yes, there will be a band teacher somewhere that has 54 students and then have to pay an extra $399 for 4 students. It will be interesting to see how MakeMusic handles those situations.
I have always thought SmartMusic was an incredible deal, even though I have not been able to afford to have it for my students at my current school. One rehearsal with a pianist and an audition for the Minnesota Opera costs me more than $50. To think that you can buy that rehearsal pianist via SmartMusic for $40 a year is a game-changer. And now you can get it for roughly $8 per year.
There were no details about pricing for individuals, such as home-schooled students.
Again…keep your eye on MakeMusic and SmartMusic…they will have more news and sneak peeks as the fall approaches.
(1) Do you remember a couple of years ago when SmartMusic wanted to change pricing to practice room subscriptions of $8 per year? If you do the math, that is about what the cost of the new SmartMusic for each student (50 students into $399).
(2) Most students won't need that level of access–but those who study privately can purchase access to all repertoire, and those that need SmartMusic to prepare for Solo and Ensemble contest can do so for a few months rather than needing to pay $40 for the whole year.
(3) I fall into a minority of music teachers who create their own resources and use very little of what SmartMusic offers in repertoire. While the $399 is an incredible bargain per set of 50 students, I would have to buy 7 blocks of SmartMusic ($2800) to have my students have SmartMusic for one year. If you are a band director who picks music based on availability in SmartMusic, or SmartMusic becomes the $9.00 methods book replacement–the new SmartMusic is an incredible deal–so is the $999 SmartMusic Teach Premium subscription ($20 per student). For me, what I need is the functionality of SmartMusic without the content. I would love to see a “no content” option that simply covered their server/operating and R&D costs.