Sheet Music Direct (www.sheetmusicdirect.us), launched in 1997 as the world’s first ecommerce website for digital sheet music, was always ahead of its time. 1997 was a time when high-speed internet and digital downloads were far from the norm… Amazon.com had just launched in mid-1995 and iTunes was non-existent (it launched in 2001).
Looking again to be a digital pioneer, in 2015 the Sheet Music Direct team set out to create a new type of digital sheet music experience by combining the power of the iPad with world-class play-along content (notation + audio) from the world’s top play-along publishers, Hal Leonard and Music Sales.
Traditional play-along publications include printed sheet music and CDs of pro-quality backing tracks for popular songs from all eras, which musicians of all instruments and levels can use to learn songs and play along with the band. Sheet Music Direct’s goal for developing a play-along iPad app was to take the traditional play-along experience to a whole new level by digitizing and syncing the play-along content along with creating new cutting-edge tools and features.
The Sheet Music Direct team partnered with Rocket Farm Studios to create this state-of-the-art app. “We chose Rocket Farm as our development partner because they fully understood our vision for the app,” said Chris Koszuta, General Manager of Sheet Music Direct. “There are many tools and features our team identified as being extremely valuable for musicians of all levels including tempo control, transposition, annotation, variable note sizes, looping, track isolation, and recording. Rocket Farm assured us that it was possible to build these tools using all that iOS had to offer.”
The ability to record via the Sheet Music Direct PlayAlong app was, in of itself, a huge design and technical challenge, requiring the app to sync users’ performances with the play-along audio via the iPad mic and direct input to the iPad. In essence, the app would function as a mobile recording studio. “The recording features we’ve included in the Sheet Music Direct PlayAlong app basically turn your iPad into a recording studio. With built in effects (reverb and delay) that are available pre- and post-mix, users are able to create quite a nice recording with minimal effort,” said Koszuta. Additionally, the app is built to be used for live performances; simply plug your iPad into a PA system and your gig can begin.
Thinking through the various use cases with Rocket Farm Studios, the design process had to keep ease-of-use in mind since the app was so feature-packed. From the design of the user library, to the music viewer, the designers and developers took every detail into consideration in order to provide the best UI and UX for PlayAlong users. The finished app shows the team’s meticulous attention to detail with an interface that is fun and intuitive. The in-app store is simple to navigate as well, making finding and purchasing new songs a breeze.
The Customer Experience:
“Rocket Farm is first-class,” said Koszuta. ” They have a great combination of tech, business and communication skills which make them exceptional development partners. They were organized, efficient, and always clear about goals and objectives. I can’t say enough good things about them.”
“The app is receiving very positive feedback. Amateur musicians to professionals love the tools and great song selection. Rocket Farm did a great job helping us bring our concept to fruition.”
The Sheet Music Direct app is available on iTunes.