Founded in 2010, Israeli startup JoyTunes has been on a mission to become the Rosetta Stone of music — to help those looking to learn play an instrument do so by turning practice into a mobile game, activated by playing the instrument of their choice. The startup’s first app, a free iPad app called Piano Dust Buster, enables wannabe rockstars to learn and play songs at their own pace, using a piano to play the game through their iPad’s microphone or by using the app’s 3-D virtual keyboard. To date, users have played 25 million songs using the app, with one million songs being played each week.
Today, based on the success of Piano Dust Buster, JoyTunes announced that it has closed a $1.5 million round of Series A financing, led by Genesis Partners. Founder Collective, Kaedan Capital, Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, angel investor Zohar Gilon, Head of Yahoo Creative Innovation Center Eran Shir and former Steinway CEO Dana Messina, among others, also contributed to the startup’s Series A raise. The new round follows the $500K in seed capital the startup raised early last year from a host of angel investors, bringing its total funding to $2 million.
In conjunction with its raise, JoyTunes is also announcing the release of its second piano app, Piano Mania, which builds on the startup’s first app, while offering a deeper practice experience for those who’ve moved beyond entry level. The app aims to help users learn to read sheet music notation and symbols, play melodies in both treble and bass clefs, work on songs while focusing either on the left hand, right hand or both, while saving work to show to their piano teacher.
Like its first app, Piano Mania allows users to collect skill points as they play, progressing through the ranks and leveling up. Users can purchase a subscription to access the app’s entire roster of songs and levels, or play around with the free offerings and pay-as-they go.
While there are a bevy of apps out there that aim to help novices learn to play instruments, like Magic Piano by Smule, for example, JoyTunes co-founder Yuval Kaminka believes that the App Store still fundamentally lacks experiences that help people learn to play their actual instrument while incorporating game dynamics as a serious part of learning, rather than simply as a feature or superficial layer. Sure, apps like WildChords, Jammit and gTar all offer addicting musical experiences, but many of today’s apps focus on guitar.
Piano, as many musicians know, is essential to learning the fundamentals of music and is an important foundation before moving on to other instruments. There are plenty of youngsters out there that want to learn how to play piano and other instruments — wind, or otherwise — that are often overlooked by mobile gaming companies.
So, going forward, JoyTunes will be looking to build out the social elements of its gaming experience to more effectively create a community of aspiring musicians, while bringing its core piano learning experience to other instruments. It’s already begun adding new features, like the ability to record and share songs with music teachers, and Kaminka says that users can expect the startup to beef up this functionality with future releases and carry that experience over to new instruments.
For more, find JoyTunes at home here.