Dear Squeak and Blat,

I am a classical pianist turned multimedia courseware developer. I live in an out-of-the-way place (Australia). The target audience for the products that I am developing would be college-aged music students, music professionals, serious aficionados and libraries. Do you have any suggestions as to how to go about informing interested parties about the things that I am developing? In other words, (given that the product is of high quality), what avenues does a fledgeling CAI music courseware developer have to give his/her product an adequate world-wide exposure.




Dear GFR:

Australia's not so out of the way! I went there two summers ago and felt right at home, except of course for the 14 hours or so in the airplane! Actually, that's one of the great things about technology these days--geography matters a lot less than it once did.

That leads me to one of my answers: the web. One way to get the word out about your products is to establish a web site with demos of your software products. With the web becoming more and more multimedia friendly with Java, RealAudio, Voyager CD Plug-ins, and MIDI plug-ins, a whole new way to show off your work is emerging. Secure internet site software is now developing so that you can even market your products this way and let people pay by credit card.

You can list your software in the ATMI Courseware Directory (send email to Barbara Murphy the editor) as a place to start as well. All this info is on the ATMI web page.

Another idea is to contact a company that sells music software in various countries and entice them to act as your distributor. For instance in the United States, Musicware in Seattle, Washington might be interested.

Keep the faith mate and keep Squeak and Blat informed about your progress. We need developers who are musicians!


GFR, so you want to go into the music software business. If you haven't done this before, you might want to start with the shareware approach. You know, the if-you-like-it-pay-me approach! This lets you get your music software out there for people to try and gives you lots of feedback on improving the product.

Take it from my own experience trying to market a virtual clarinet reed to parents who have kids taking beginning clarinet player lessons, they will find things wrong that you never dreamed of. The kids actually had trouble lining up the ligature with these virtual reeds, would you believe!

Seriously, to create a commercial product takes tremendous effort to get the last 10 percent of the bugs and features working correctly. With the shareware approach people don't have that expectation and it helps you build a loyal following of fellow musicians who help you improve and develop the product.

And as Blat suggested, the Internet and the Web is the best place to promote your shareware product. There are other variations of shareware as well. Freeware if you just want to give it away for people to tryout and enjoy. I call some of my software "Researchware" and ask people to make a donation to my computer program at school in return for using the software. Postcardware. Just ask people to send you a postcard from their hometown. You can pin these up over your computer and enjoy knowing that you have all these friends around the world. Then there's Beerware. Don't need to tell an Aussie about what that is do I!

Good luck.

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Last modified on Thursday, 12/12/2013

Peter R. Webster and David B. Williams

Peter R. Webster (a.k.a “Blat”) and David Brian Williams (a.k.a. “Squeak”) have presented workshops and other presentations together for CMS/ATMI conferences and workshops for more than 20 years.  Their collaboration has led to publications and presentations internationally on music technology as well as the co-authorship of the textbook Experiencing Music Technology (Cengage Learning/Schirmer Books, 3rd edition Update, 2009), a widely adopted and highly acclaimed music technology textbook for high school and college students. Dr. Webster is emeritus professor of music education at Northwestern University and Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Southern California; Dr. Williams is emeritus professor of music and arts technology at Illinois State University, a freelance consultant, composer and musician, and immediate past president of The College Music Society.

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