Digital music platform Chromatik is today launching its web and iPad applications for learning, practicing, recording and collaborating on music with friends, bandmates, teachers, and others. The company has also expanded on its seed round from earlier this year, and now has just over $2 million in funding from Learn Capital, 500 Startups, Kapor Capital, Launchpad LA, MuckerLab, and Bruno Mars, as well as several notable angel investors, many of whom are also in the music industry.
These include Virgin Records Co-Chairman Jeff Ayeroff, Royal Conservancy-Carnegie Hall Foundation’s Dr. Jennifer Snow, Blackboard co-founder Stephano Kim, songwriters/producers Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine, music managers Brandon Creed and Josh Levine, and other undisclosed angel investors.
Chromatik is a tool designed for musicians that allows them to not only maintain their collections of sheet music, lead sheets, and tablature, but also record themselves and share those recordings with others, in order to collaborate on their tracks, or to solicit feedback.
Matt Sandler founded the startup about a year and a half ago. He knows first-hand what musicians want, having toured extensively as a professional sax player, taught in the L.A. Unified School District and at UCLA, and who held A&R roles at KROQ and Capital Records. Chromatik’s co-founder is James Wicker, a former lead computer scientist from Adobe, who sold his last startup Navisware to Adobe in 2005.
While at first glance, you might chalk Chromatik up as just another sheet music app, Sandler insists it’s far more than that. “It’s very much not a sheet music application,” he says.” There are a number of companies that are playing in the sheet music space, and that’s very interesting in a lot of ways,” he adds. “Content ranging from sheet music, tablature, chord changes, method books, textbooks, etc. are a very core component of what we do, but we’re actually a music performance and collaboration company,” he says.
“If you look at the space in learning music, performing music and collaborating around music, it really hasn’t changed since the days of Bach and Beethoven,” Sandler explains. He says that music is inherently social and collaborative, but when musicians go to practice, they sit in a room by themselves with a piece of paper, an instrument and a pencil. There’s no interaction with others, which isn’t ideal. Chromatik changes that.
The company has been running beta tests over the past nine months, even scoring a high-profile tester with American Idol, who has since been using the service on live TV in front of 16 million weekly viewers. We wanted to know what kind of experience was that for such a young company.
“It was pretty scary,” Sandler says with a laugh. “I wouldn’t recommend that to most people, but it was fantastic for us.” Today, more than 300 music organizations across the U.S., including UCLA, LAUSD, The Salvation Army, NYU, and others are using Chromatik.
As a part of today’s public launch, the band Grouplove is offering free access to its sheet music, including the singles “Tongue Tied” and “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” and will choose three recording submissions from other Chromatik users to give personal feedback to.
Currently, the online and iPad app is free, but the future business model will include a marketplace for both music and instruction. You can sign up or download Chromatik from here.