Updated 2:30 pm — Additional information from Beth Sorensen, MakeMusic’s vice president of products, at the end of this post.
MakeMusic, Inc. yesterday announced a reorganization that includes some of the company’s most visible people. Justin Phillips, MakeMusic’s senior product manager and the company’s most outspoken and effective advocate leading up to the launch of the new version of Finale, appears to have been one of among several employees who have been let go from the company.
In a Facebook status update yesterday, Justin said, “It’s been a very tough and sad day, suddenly letting go of something I was devoted to and emotionally invested in for the past 5 1/2 years. Keep in touch MM friends, you all treated me wonderfully and made it a treat to go to work each morning.”
The Twitter handle @Finale_Music, which was the handle of the official Finale account, was changed to the handle @finaleofficial within the last day, although the account is the same. Justin’s Twitter handle, which had been @justin_finale, was changed to @drumjustinp.
In a statement posted last evening to the MakeMusic user forum, Beth Sorensen, vice president of products (formerly vice president of emerging technology) at MakeMusic, said, “You have become aware of changes that we announced this morning at MakeMusic. I thought it was important to respond to the forum and clarify that this is part of a strategic planning process where we have been assessing our needs for the future and that process has resulted in a reorganization at the company. These changes are simply part of that process and are not financially driven.”
Not all of the changes appeared to be layoffs. Michael Good, inventor of the MusicXML music interchange format, whose position at MakeMusic was formerly director of digital sheet music, has been promoted to vice president of research and development, according to updates on LinkedIn and Facebook.
In April of this year, MakeMusic was acquired by, and effectively merged with LaunchEquity Acquisition Partners, a private equity firm.
Coming less than three weeks after the company released Finale 2014, the new version of its flagship product, the timing of the personnel changes is noteworthy and, at least until more is known about the company’s direction and the extent of its reorganization, reminiscent of the corporate changes that took place last year at Avid, where most of the Sibelius team was fired in a corporate restructuring.
However, it may be too early to draw exact parallels between the two instances, especially since MakeMusic currently is seeking candidates for three open job positions: a software developer; a software QA engineer; and a product designer. Moreover, a key part of MakeMusic’s marketing strategy for Finale 2014 is to tout that “while others take music notation software development for granted, Finale is doubling down to provide you and your music a clear path to tomorrow.”
For the moment, at least, that path has become murkier.
Update: Beth Sorensen has provided some clarification on the reorganizations. She said, “Yvonne Grover, formerly MakeMusic QA Manager, is now Notation Product Manager. Erin Vork continues in her role as Notation and Garritan Product Specialist. Those are the people you will most likely see on the forum. We of course have many other people who are communicating with customers regularly, including people in sales, educational services, trade shows, and social media.”
Beth continued, “It is always sad to see our colleagues leave, but the departures from the company are a small part of the overall reorganization. Justin was the only person to depart from the Finale team. We had one departure from the SmartMusic team and two others from corporate positions.”
Beth stressed that “none of these departures involved technology staff. We are currently hiring for two positions in the technology organization and another in the product management organization. We have more hires planned for the future. Finale 2014 has been well received in the marketplace and we are preparing our first maintenance update to address issues.”
This post will be updated with additional information if warranted.
Updated 9:32 am to clarify information about the Twitter accounts of Finale and Justin Phillips.
Updated 9:39 am with more clarification that the @Finale_Music account is, in fact, the official Twitter account of Finale, but its handle has been changed to @finaleofficial.
Updated 2:30 pm with additional information from Beth Sorensen at MakeMusic.
I just now completed a cross grade from Finale to Sibelius. With Finale 2014 being horribly buggy, that it continues to not be able to handle more than three notes at a time from a MIDI keyboard, that it incorrectly handles and horribly plays back music in a compound meter such as 6/8, and for regularly crashing I’d had enough. Sibelius has none of these issues and after a few days with the trial version I made the switch which is something I should have done a very long time ago as it is a much more intuitive and easy to use program.