Getting past the beginning is the hardest part of learning a new instrument or starting a new company
Israeli start-up JoyTunes, the application equivalent of an always happy music teacher on your iOS device, just completed a seed round for $1.5M. The round was led by Genesis Partners alongside Founder Collective, Kaedan Capital, Dana Messina – former CEO of Steinway, Eran Shir – head of the Creative Innovation center at Yahoo, Joe Lonsdale – co-founder of Palantir Technologies, Israeli angel investor Zohar Gilon and others.
JoyTunes doubled up on their announcements, using the seed coverage to push the launch of their new iPad app, Piano Mania – a game designed for the slightly more advanced pianist, challenging them at their own level.
JoyTunes is the doted upon little brother of founding brothers Yuval and Yigal Kaminka, along with CTO Roey Izkovsky. Established in 2010, the mission was to use technology to create a bridge for new and first time musicians, helping them cross the inevitable hump that arises when the novelty of a new instrument wears off and the amount of work that lies ahead comes into painful focus.
According to JoyTunes, 85% of people who pick up a new instrument wind up putting it down for good after only a few short but revealing practice sessions. JoyTunes believes their applications can usher both children and adult students, past this breakpoint without them ever noticing it.
Learning to play through play
Ripping a page off Guitar Hero’s sheet music, JoyTunes uses instrumental based games to accustom players into using their given instruments properly. The idea is to get players to stop focusing on when they’ll be able to use their instruments properly, and instead, get them to focus on the lighter and far more fun activity of scoring points and beating levels. Before the players realize what’s happening, they’ve picked up the basic feel and workings of their instruments.
The gaming software uses advanced algorithms to identify and analyze various elements of sound and pitch. Players use their everyday, at home instruments, and the app essentially turns them into joysticks. The games adapt to the notes that are played, thereby guiding users into assimilating their instruments, potentially to the same level that gamers turn their consoles into new appendages. JoyTunes designed their app so that users don’t have to know how to read music or even be especially coordinated, in order to learn how to play. Using the built in benefits of incentivized gaming, JoyTunes claims that most users can overcome these barriers and reach some level of proficiency.
At this juncture, JoyTunes primarily focuses on the piano, offering six different applications for iPhone and iPad users, adapted to two different learning levels: beginner and advanced. Currently, these applications are only available on iOS, but JoyTunes has made it clear that plans are in the works to add additional talent levels, instruments, and supported platforms to the mix.