Tag Archives: makemusic

Finale 2014

There are two BIG players in the music notation field. Sibelius and Finale. The future of Sibelius is sort of up in the air as they sacked their great development team due to Avid, the parent company, having issues (they also sold off the M-Audio line of products at the same time). Meanwhile, MakeMusic got bought and the new owners pledged to continue making Finale, but not at it’s regular yearly update cycle.

So we went about 2 years with Finale 2012. It works, but it has issues like all software. Now, they have just released Finale 2014. It is REALLY hard to tell what the new stuff is or why you should update to it. Luckily, Jari Williamsson has an excellent review of what is new. I’ll bullet point what I think are interesting features and list some big reasons NOT to update.

New and Interesting Features:

  • Export To Finale 2012 and new File Format (which shouldn’t change in future versions of Finale)
  • Keyless Scores and Instruments
  • Anchored Hairpins and Measure-attached Smartshapes

Those are basically the new/interesting things in Finale 2014. It’s easy to do a keyless score now, and when you do crescendos and stuff, it will smartly adjust the size of them. Finally. And the stupid program can finally….or Finale…..no no, finally…..save to older versions and future versions of Finale won’t have to convert files to the “new” format every time they are opened.

Yes, there are some other “new” features. Supposedly it’s all Cocoa on the Mac, meaning the UI looks more Mac-like now. Supposedly, didn’t really notice when I was using the demo. New sound engine and playback and more Garritan sounds. Ok……now anyone that uses Finale for playback….really? I mean, it’s NEVER worked well for me, and the playback is Cheezy at best. The Garritan sounds, while very great sounding in 2001, are not really that great sounding now. Plus, Finale isn’t 64bit, so you can’t really load up a huge sample orchestra in Finale and have it play.

Oh, and Notemover is back. What? Don’t remember when Finale had Notemover? They killed it off a few versions ago and replaced it with this “universal selector” thing, which I think was actually the way to go (though it has some issues in how it works). Well, Notemover is back…..

Ok, so, what is the BIG issue with Finale 2014 that will prevent me from upgrading. TGTools does not work with it. What is TGTools? It’s a plugin that allows all sorts of things to be done in Finale, and I find it essential in using Finale. For teaching I use the Add Pitch Names tool ALL THE TIME, and I use various alignment tools, and Custom Chord Styles for doing / chords in Finale (like doing a F7/C chord). I have no clue if the author is going to update it or not, as he never “officially” updated it for any version of Finale past 2010 (2011, 2012 worked with it). MakeMusic also seems to have bought or obtained parts of TGTools and has been including them in Finale for a few versions (2009 or 2008 was the first?). But unless this tool is updated, I will have to stick to Finale 2012.

So, what is the verdict? I still think Finale is better than Sibelius. It has way more flexibility in how it works, and you can get your scores to look however you want. And the company seems to be moving forward and has modernized Finale (on the Apple side). I’m not really sure what “new” notation features can be added that people really would go “oooo, now that is a great idea”. I mean, it is sort of like Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6). They had Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) (or rather Finale 2012). It worked great, had a few issues, but generally worked great. What to do next, lets gut a bunch of it and modernize it. Exactly what Apple did with 10.6. Not a lot of new features, but improvements and forward thinking changes (like a stable file format). It’s not fully 64bit….yet, but it’s moving that direction. It still needs a LOT of improvements in the audio playback department, and MakeMusic needs to start moving it towards more DAW-ish like playback.

So….if you are just getting into the notation game, and have to choose between Sibelius and Finale, it’s really close. It has been for a while. They both basically do the same thing, just Finale gives you 10 ways to do it, and Sibelius gives you 4 ways but really wants you to use what it thinks is best. Until Avid shows some commitment to Sibelius, I would say that it is going to languish. It supposedly has issues on the latest Mac OS X (10.9), as does all of Avid’s stuff. Avid has NEVER been known to be fast/timely/quick/responsive to updating their products. As a former ProTools user who waited 8 months for Avid to “certify” ProTools on a new Mac OS (which came with the Mac, and I had no choice but to use), I know Avid. That being said, I’d run away from Sibelius. What if you get a new Windows 8.1 or MacBook Pro, and Sibelius just stops working? And Avid says “it isn’t certified yet”. End of story until it is “certified”. I’ve never had issues with MakeMusic software not working. Every OS it just runs, even Finale 2008 still runs on my Mac. Amazing.

I’d go Finale. It seems to be moving forward, and it pretty much has all the features you could ever want in a notation package.

Launch Equity Acquires MakeMusic

Launch Equity Acquires MakeMusic:

Today, MakeMusic announced that Launch Equity will purchase the company.  You can read MakeMusic’s press release here.   Launch Equity proposed the buyout last July (July 15, 2012), with the intent of taking the company private and then investing money into the company for a new CEO as well as updating software (particularly Finale’s base code).

(Via Technology in Music Education)

This is great news considering Avid is falling off a cliff and the development team of Sibelius was sacked and have started a new project with Steinberg.

However, this did crop up. Seems everyone isn’t happy about this

SmartMusic Updates It’s Pricing

Today, MakeMusic, the makers of SmartMusic, announced new pricing for SmartMusic. I believe they have jacked up the price by $5 a year, BUT they allow you to install it on multiple computers and devices (like iPads for their upcoming iPad version).

So this is actually GOOD news for the average student. But….

If you are a school, it is going to be a lot more expensive. They are charging a per student license of $8 a student, which what I hear is about 7x’s more expensive than it was.

Still, with all it’s quirks, the SmartMusic program is still an excellent tool for practice. The shear amount of band music they have in there is worth it.

Music Notation and Music Education Software News | MakeMusic, Inc.

Music Notation and Music Education Software News | MakeMusic, Inc.:

Minneapolis – November 12, 2012 – MakeMusic, Inc. (NASDAQ: MMUS) today announced the upcoming release of an iPad version of SmartMusic, the interactive practice software, in the spring of 2013. The app will be previewed to the public at the New York State School Music Association Winter Conference, November 29 – December 2, 2012, and The Midwest Clinic Annual Conference, December 19 – 22, 2012.

(Via www.makemusic.com)

MakeMusic should have this out in the Spring of 2012, not 2013. And hopefully it should run on ALL iPads (including the original) since Apple’s Garageband still runs on the original iPad (and it runs quite well actually).

Avid Sells Off Most Of Its Product Lines/MakeMusic in the Tank as well.

So, this was making the rounds a couple of weeks ago.

Avid has agreed to sell its consumer audio and video product lines. The company’s consumer audio products are being sold to inMusic, the parent company of Akai Professional, Alesis and Numark, among others.

Basically, Avid is in trouble. It hasn’t made any headway in the consumer or prosumer markets. Why? Look at the ridiculous prices it charges for upgrades or for a first time ProTools. $699 for a first time purchase, $299 for users of ProTools 9, and previous versions of ProTools it’s $399. Logic 9 is $199. Does what ProTools does. M-Audio hardware also, for years, suffered stupid limitations. For years they had a Pro-Tools M-Powered that would only run on M-Audio hardware, but the LE version would run on Digidesign hardware, but if you had both hardware, you had to have two versions of ProTools to use them, and you couldn’t use them together. Companies like MOTU didn’t have this problem, you could use many of their interfaces together in Digital Performer. No problem. MOTU still makes interfaces that consistently win awards. M-Audio or Avid? No so much.

Avid should have dropped the price for ProTools to $299 for new purchases of ProTools 10. Sure, make the HD version a little more expensive, but not much more. But $699? Digital Performer is $499. Maybe that would be a better comparison for entry price. Avid made some steps forward by NOT requiring ProTools to have to use certain hardware, but the price seems to be the barrier right now. I know more guys using Logic 9 now than ProTools simply because you can get it for $199 in the App Store and it just works. Simple, cheap, and produces stuff that sounds great.

Avid is also supposedly gutting the whole Sibelius team as well. I hear rumors that the London offices are being closed. Sibelius is a property that Avid is keeping, not selling. Not sure what this means for the future of Sibelius. They used to be a company that was just up the street in Walnut Creek California. Now…..who knows.

AND……now MakeMusic (makers of Finale and SmartMusic) is having issues. Someone wants to buy them out. There is a good article about possible reasons and stuff here.

For me, I think MakeMusic needs to do two things right now. It needs an iPad version of SmartMusic. And it needs to allow printing of music from SmartMusic. The first point is self explanatory. Let me elaborate on the second.

Printing music from SmartMusic. It is something that they haven’t allowed at all. They used to allow printing of public domain or the stuff people generated from SmartMusic. But the last few versions I believe they removed that. SmartMusic is not only a great practice tool, but also a publishing tool. What other thing on the net would allow you to hear, and SEE every part of a piece you wanted to buy for your band? There isn’t. SmartMusic could be enabled to allow the purchase of music and the subsequent printing of the music. So, if the band director wanted his band to play “Childrens March” and have them work on it with SmartMusic, the process would be simple. Band teacher loads up SmartMusic, finds the version of the song he likes, buys it, prints it, done. The printing I think should be UNLIMITED but they should have some sort of tag or code on the page to know who’s printed version this is. Something like a school code or director id or something on every page. Most online printing services, like MusicNotes.com, allow TWO prints per purchase. That is stupid. For a band teacher, you’d need unlimited prints. Kids lose stuff, damage stuff, etc. Plus, SmartMusic could now be a digital LOCKER for the music. Teachers wouldn’t have to store scores anymore.

Heck, you could go even so far as say the director has 20 songs that are in SmartMusic. But they don’t want to repurchase all of them. What should they do? MakeMusic would have a program for say $10 per piece you could send the score and parts BACK to MakeMusic, they would verify you own the piece, then they would give you access to the piece on SmartMusic. And then they would either recycle the paper or send it back. Or maybe they could verify it via purchase orders. I dunno. Something.

The additional angle on this is that somewhere in the future, classrooms are going to be paperless. Or mostly paperless. MakeMusic could tout that they are future proofing music programs. I think this would make a lot of sense, and is do-able in the next year…..depending on the publishers.

Interesting times. I don’t know what the future holds, but MakeMusic and Avid have a lot of work to do to remain viable products.

Finale Songbook

Though this author likes the program, I think MakeMusic has missed the mark again. No transposition, no DropBox or any cloud integration. No annotations. No sale (even though it’s free). Maybe version 2 will correct this, but given how fast (or rather, slow) MakeMusic does updates to Finale and its other programs, I think the competition is going to continue to be way ahead of Finale.

If you want a good music reader for iPad, get ForScore


Finale Songbook:

I am happy to announce that Finale has finally released its first mainstream iPad app, Finale Songbook. Finale Songbook is a free app that allows you to read Finale files on your iPad. I love the name of the app, as it hearkens back to the song books of the jazz standards. The app opens to the main library, in which you can view your selections by playlists, title, composer, or file name. The library also includes a search bar, as well as a number of sample files and instructions on how to use the app.


(Via Technology in Music Education)

Finale Notepad 2012…..FREE……AGAIN

File this under news no one really cares about….

One of the biggest bone head decisions was MakeMusic charging for NotePad, which had been free up until version 2009 (I think). Well, duh…..no one bought it. And the exposure they got for providing a fairly adequate notation program for free evaporated.

Now, at NAMM, they announced that 2012 version of Finale Notepad is going to be free. Now….if they would only maybe follow through? Hello Minnesota….you there?

I dunno exactly what the point is in announcing something then waiting like a month to deliver it. How hard is it to strip out the DRM in it? Seriously, how MakeMusic stays in business is anyone’s guess.

UPDATE 2/15/2012 Seems they, over a month after they announced it, have released Notepad.

MakeMusic Acquires Garritan…..still behind the competition

This was sort of a shock, but I guess it is to be expected.

Minneapolis – December 20, 2011 – MakeMusic, Inc. (NASDAQ: MMUS) today announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Garritan Corporation, the world’s leading provider of software musical instruments. Under the terms of the agreement, Garritan Corporation will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of MakeMusic. Founder Gary Garritan will be joining MakeMusic as director of instrumental sciences. Closing is subject to customary conditions and is expected to occur within the next few weeks.

Garritan was not included in the last release of Sibelius. I have used Garritan sounds in the past, and still use them. However, I think they have been eclipsed by a lot of the new libraries out. Avid includes a wealth of instruments with the latest ProTools, and Logic 9 includes excellent sounds as well. Basically, Garritan wasn’t keeping up with competition, and relying on it’s proprietary Aria player. Heck, on the product page it heralds that it works with Finale 2009/2010 (they are on 2012 now) and Microsoft Songsmith (yeah…..no one knows or cares about that).

I suppose this makes sense for MakeMusic as it has continually added Garritan sounds to each version of Finale for several years now. Now they own it, and can bundle it with Finale for a lesser cost (assuming). And MakeMusic’s other recent acquisition of Recordare, the maker of MusicXML I’m not sure exactly what they are thinking. This is more like a bandage on major wound.

Finale hasn’t lead in the music notation area for several years. I think the last time I’d consider them “leading” was when they introduced Linked Parts in Finale 2006 (I think? Or 2007?) which was much better than Sibelius’s implementation. Since then, they haven’t really broken any ground with new features, nor really improve or fix existing features. They do like to reintroduce things they fix as new features, such as last version (or was it this version) when they had the new note spacing, which was essentially a fixed version of the note spacing they introduced years ago.

What should they do? They NEED to put Finale in the Mac App store. Get themselves noticed. Lower the price as well. $199 for the full version. Sibelius is not in the App store…….yet. They should at least have Finale Notepad there. Or something. Time is ticking. As soon as Sibelius is in the Mac App store, I’d say it would be game over.

They couldn’t put SmartMusic in there because of Apple’s subscription guidelines for Apps and Subscriptions. Though that would be WAY better than the subscription system they use now for SmartMusic (which sucks ballz). The drum teacher where I teach at has frequent problems with SmartMusic forgetting it’s subscription status.

MakeMusic ALSO needs some sort of iOS app. Again, a version of Notepad for iPad. Or a viewer of Finale files sorta like what Avid Scorch. I’d love to see them do something like Notion…..but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I don’t know. I really wonder about MakeMusic’s future. Sibelius? Not worried. They are owned by Avid. Avid is making a lot of good stuff right now, though they need to lower the upgrade price to ProTools 10 ($499? WTF?). I wonder what happens the day MakeMusic decides to close and my 10,000+ Finale files are in limbo. I really wish Sibelius would just OPEN Finale Files. I’d switch then.

Finale 2010

Not to be outdone by Sibelius, MakeMusic announced Finale 2010. Actually, lets reword that. Failing to incorporate any of the ideas presented in Sibelius 5, and failing to come up with anything new and interesting, MakeMusic announced Finale 2010.

Ok, so, what is new for the $99.95 pre-order price? Not much at all. They finally changed the way chords work in program. I can’t tell you when they last mucked with that, probably 10 years or more. It is not a revolutionary feature, but more of a “duh….it needed to be fixed” feature. Since the inception of the program you could not have chords in an empty measure. Now, Finale 2010 has a new “feature” that can do this. Blah Blah Blah.

What else? Well, you get a new font, more Garritan sounds, perhaps a working Aria player, hopefully fixed Percussion notation, Automatic Rehearsal Marks, and measure number controls. That last one really should be a “feature” but should have been fixed in Finale 2007. It is kind of like the version of Finale where they listed that Copyright symbol as a Feature. Those people from the middle states have humor don’t they?

In all, for $100……..worth it? The last version of Finale I updated to was 2007. It sort works on my 10.5 equipped Macs. Finale 2008 and 2009 TOGETHER had some interesting features I could have used, but not really. 2010 though……I dunno. I suppose two page editing, a better cursor, dynamic placement that is better, and chords that are better are noteworthy features to update to. Though MakeMusic wants $170 to upgrade me. Ha! Looks like Finale 2007 will be getting more use from me.

SmartMusic – FAIL!

If you read the archives here, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with MakeMusic/SmartMusic (same company). Their products have a lot of potential, but I think the corporate environment there is messed up.

The current issue I have with MakeMusic is my SmartMusic renewal. About 2 years ago, you needed to have an Educators subscription to obtain a “code” to allow students to get a subscription for $25 a year. Fair enough. Then they came out with SmartMusic 11 and did away with the “code” thing, and offering educators access to their site to be able to track assignments, grades, send assignments, etc. Sounded good in theory, but it never worked right for me at all. And students never used it. So, why am I paying for it then? I simply want to be able to create some SmartMusic exercises for my students, and take advantage of the huge library they have for sightreading purposes.

So, this year, with money being a concern, I did initially renew my account, which was like $130. This was back in January. I’m pretty sure I gave them all the credit card info and what not. Then, the other week, I get an invoice from them saying that my account is overdue. What? Actually, this is to be expected. They pretty much do this every year I’ve had an account with them. I enter all the billing info and payment info online, and they proceed to lose it or misplace it or something. Upon reflection, I decided I wanted to just have a student subscription. Well, “Chris” from their SmartMusic support says that I do not qualify. What? I could set up a new account and order the software and stuff for $30, but since I had an educators account, they would not move me down to a student account even though I explicitly said I did not need all the “stuff” that the educators account had.

So, I cancelled the account. Stupid guys. You should offer SmartMusic for $30 to everyone, and if an educator wants to take advantage of your “services” (if you want to call it that…..I wouldn’t), then they can add on the extra to be able to track students, send assignments, hear recordings, etc, etc.

I really wish someone would buy MakeMusic, gut the management, and actually force them to start updating their products with more features and better user interfaces. Actually, I’d be happy if they just got rid of the management.

MakeMusic CEO Resigns

I came across this today.

Minneapolis – November 24, 2008 – MakeMusic Inc. (Nasdaq: MMUS), a world leader in music notation and education software, today announced that John Paulson has resigned from his positions as co-chief executive officer and director. Mr. Paulson will serve as a consultant for the company for a transitional period. The board of directors would like to thank Mr. Paulson for his service to the company: As the founder of MakeMusic, Mr. Paulson’s commitment, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit were instrumental in helping MakeMusic achieve its status as a leader in its field.

Is this hopefully a good turn for the makers of Finale and SmartMusic? I hope so. Finale has been a mess since Finale 2007. They added Linked Parts, then did nothing. They have been adding fluff to Finale, and focusing on SmartMusic, which is a similar disaster. There is a lot of potential in both products, but there is a disconnect and how they work together (basically……..not really well).

Hopefully 2009 will be the year they get their act together……or someone creates a way for Sibelius to read Finale 2009 and previous version files……without any conversions.

SmartMusic 11 Released

MakeMusic released SmartMusic 11 on Thursday. After nearly 3 hours of downloading at a whopping 10k/sec, I got it. Installed it. And…….well, it looks the same. No interface changes. Can’t really tell what they did to it.

Certainly not worth a 11 release. Maybe a 10.2 or something.

They really need to change the interface, fix the green follow line (STILL lags behind on my iMac 2gigahertz Core 2 Duo on up tempo songs), and all the other things I’ve complained about before.

Oh, and add Grainger’s Children’s March to the Concert Band library………

UPDATE: I also get this message on my Mac:
“Warning: you do not have write access to all files and folders under ‘/Library/Application Support/MakeMusic/SmartMusic Studio’. Certain aspects of SmartMusic may not work, including Impact assignments. To fix this issue, contact your network administrator.”

First thing is that the program installs SmartMusic in the System Library, not the user area. Why? Dunno. And looking at the directory permissions I see: “drwxrwxrwx 7 ericdannewitz admin 238 Sep 13 11:46 SmartMusic Studio”

So……what gives guys?

UPDATE: Oh, found another thing. You can continue to use the program while it downloads new music. That certainly qualifies for a 11 release (tongue in cheek).

MakeMusic To Charge For Finale Notepad 2009 Downgrade

MakeMusic announced today that they are going to be charging for Finale Notepad 2009, which for almost 8 years has been a free product.
“In the next few weeks we plan to release Finale NotePad 2009 with even more features, including an all new Expression Tool and the ability to import/export MusicXML files. It will continue to include free online support. At the same time we will begin charging $9.95 for the NotePad 2009 download.”

Ooo, Online support? XML importing? Wow. Sign me up. NOT.

Meanwhile, get Finale Notepad 2008 while you can. Finale 2009 is a downgrade. Staff Lists limited to 4 (used to be unlimited). Most of TGTools handy utilities do not work (Align/Move, which I use a lot) because of “new” Expression tool. *sigh*. Just avoid it. Unless they are going to be including Garritan sounds with it (hahahaha, yeah, right), $9.95 for their new expression tool and XML importing?

MakeMusic needs to cut down on the number of products it has. It has Finale, Finale Allegro, PrintMusic, Songwriter, Notepad and SmartMusic. Just keep Notepad free, drop Songwriter, drop the price of PrintMusic to $60, and drop Allegro to like $150. Simple.

Finale 2009 – Defining Mediocrity

Continuing it’s yearly practice, MakeMusic announced Finale 2009. Basically, they are not raising the bar at all, again, with this. For $99, you finally get:

  • Engraver Slurs fixed (which really should have been fixed 5 years ago)
  • a Baritone Sax in the included Garritan sounds (plus, vintage electric piano, electric guitar, electric bass, vibraphone, handbells…and other instruments…yawn)
  • Virtual Drum Line……..yeah. Woot!
  • Improved SmartMusic Tools. Finally, TWO versions after they put in support for linked parts, they let SmartMusic support it. But it will probably be like what happened before, where Finale comes out in August, and SmartMusic isn’t updated to support the new file format for 6 months+. Oh, and you STILL are stuck with the 90s video game sounds instead of Garritan sounds.
  • Better Markings…..Something that maybe should have been added in Finale 2008.
  • Two Page Editing. Finally, a new, useful feature. But this really should have been added a long time ago.

Basically, MakeMusic hasn’t done anything new or exciting in this release. No Ideas Hub, like Sibelius has. Nothing really…..at all. Looks like I’m still going to be stuck with 2007……