The stereotypical image of a group of teenagers making noise in a garage is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of amateur musicians, but the reality is that musicians are increasingly collaborating from different sides of the world, writing music together through the internet.
Flat is a French startup that aims to make it easier than ever. Currently in beta, the platform lets users collaborate with others in real time to write music, just as they would work together on a Google document. Users can compose for over 30 instruments, with the start page asking which key signature and time signature to use. They are then taken to the composition page, where they can create and listen back to their work.
Pierre Rannou, co-founder and CEO of Flat, said the platform was originally created for a Masters project, with he and Vincent Giersch, co-founder and CTO, coming up with the idea because they were annoyed with existing sheet music software.
“As a cello player and a drummer, we would never be able to compose together easily. Today music composition is seen as very elitist, mainly due to expensive tools, which are an awful barrier to creation,” Rannou said.
“We aim to remove all the friction and get people on the sheet music in the fastest way. Once you get on your sheet music, the experience is about helping you to stay focused on your creativity.”
He believes that Flat’s ease of use means knowing music theory becomes optional, as it’s not just the classically trained musicians who are able to compose. As well as working note by note directly through the platform, users can compose through electronic instruments like keyboards and guitars by plugging them in. Flat aims to enable this feature for several acoustic instruments as well before the end of the year. Midi integration is also coming soon, with Flat stating that “we give you the opportunity to write music even if you don’t know how to compose it.”
Flat, which has been self funded by the founders, is currently free for its more than 40,000 users. Rannou said that though the platform is aimed at every musician, there is potential for Flat to do well in the B2B market, with a number of music teachers impressed by the simplicity of Flat’s interface and ease of use. Flat will begin monetising the platform by launching a special offer for teachers over the next few months.
Flat isn’t alone in the music composition space, with other players in the market including well known names like Sibelius, Finale, and Noteflight. However, Rannou believes the difference between other platforms and software is Flat’s vision: making music creation – and, more importantly, collaboration – a painless process. While the other platforms allow musicians to share their scores with others, Flat is the only one that allows for collaboration in real time. With even big name musicians admitting that they can create entire albums without ever meeting collaborators in person, Flat could be big.
The startup is working to integrate with Google Apps and Microsoft Office365, and aims to launch out of beta and release its dedicated educational offer by the end of the European summer. Rannou has also set Flat the goal of reaching a million users by the end of 2016.