gui­tar tab com­pa­nies try­ing to strike chord on­line

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY -

FANS of band-sim­u­la­tion games such as Gui­tar Hero and Rock Band have few ex­cuses not to seek out le­git­i­mate sheet mu­sic these days if they hope to grad­u­ate to play­ing real gui­tars.

A grow­ing num­ber of web­sites may help re­verse a de­cline in sheet mu­sic sales last year. Trade mag­a­zine Mu­sic Trades, which com­piles sales data, showed it was the first drop in eight years.

The most pop­u­lar site is Ul­ti­mate-Gui­tar.com, which was founded by a Rus­sian stu­dent in 1998. It of­fers gui­tar tab­la­tures for pop­u­lar songs — short­hands for ex­plain­ing where your fin­gers go on a fret board, as tran­scribed by the site’s users.

The site be­came a pariah of mu­sic pub­lish­ers, which claimed the site had no per­mis­sion to post tran­scrip­tions to their song­writ­ers’ mu­sic, even though some were in­ac­cu­rate.

Even in­ac­cu­rate tran­scrip­tions re­quire li­cences, an eas­ily mis­un­der­stood con­cept that may have slowed Ul­ti­mate Gui­tar’s path to le­git­i­macy, said Jonathan Kehl, who han­dles li­cens­ing and busi­ness devel­op­ment for the com­pany.

In re­cent years, the site has ob­tained nu­mer­ous li­cences from mu­sic pub­lish­ers, in­clud­ing Sony/ ATV, EMI and Al­fred Mu­sic Pub­lish­ing.

The site lets vis­i­tors, mostly amateurs, sub­mit gui­tar tabs. These are then ranked and some­times im­proved upon by other users. The site is free and shows ads to its more than 10 mil­lion vis­i­tors per month world­wide.

The site, based in San Fran­cisco, shares ad rev­enue with pub­lish­ers to en­sure that song­writ­ers get paid, al­though Kehl didn’t say how much.

“We’re wear­ing the white cow­boy hats now,” Kehl said.

Other sites of­fer pro­fes­sion­ally pro­duced tran­scrip­tions for down­load for 99 cents to more than US$5 (RM3.20 to more than RM16). Among them are Mu­sicNotes.com, GuitarIn­struc­tor.com and SheetMu­sicDirect.com.

Unit­edWeTab.com, which launched in April, has put nearly 40 mu­si­cians to work tran­scrib­ing songs, check­ing their ac­cu­racy with mu­sic pub­lish­ers and mak­ing videos.

The tabs sell for at least 99 cents (RM3.20) each. The site’s cat­a­logue has grown 15% since its launch and now boasts 14,000 songs, in­clud­ing ones tran­scribed by mu­sic pub­lisher Hal Leonard Corp.

It takes two or three mu­si­cians about five days to get each new song right. Unit­edWeTab’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Todd Gil­man, said that makes the price of pro­fes­sional con­tent worth it.

“We’re giv­ing peo­ple no ex­cuse,” he said. “You can ac­tu­ally get the songs you want, it’s ex­tremely ac­cu­rate, and more im­por­tantly, es­pe­cially for some of our younger users, it’s cheap.” — AP

no SheeT: Fans of band-sim­u­la­tion games such as Rock­Band or Gui­tar Hero have few ex­cuses not to seek out sheet mu­sic if they hope to grad­u­ate to be­com­ing real mu­si­cians. — AFP

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