Fingertip Maestro: How a Music-Making App Increased Its Audience by Designing Simply

September 16, 2013

11:01 am

When Mark Okoh set out to design Fingertip Maestro, he initially intended the music-making app to be for musicians. “When the idea for [Fingertip Maestro] was conceived, the market right out of the gate was musicians. But, once we had a working demo, the response was positive from so many different people that we eventually decided to spread our market to everyone,” says Okoh. Although it’s only been a few weeks since the product’s official launch, the guys behind Fingertip Maestro already have plans to expand its features to more specialized markets like people with autism. How have they managed to do this? Simply: create a simple design first, then add features later.

Fingertip Maestro is a music-making app for the iPad that allows people of all ages and abilities – regardless of musical training – to play music convincingly, with the feeling (and sound) of a real musician. While the design of the app can best be compared to a multi-level, rainbow-colored piano of sorts, the guys who created Fingertip Maestro want people to look at the app as a new and unique instrument altogether – a new tool in their music toolbox. For people who are already musicians, the app is a great way to quickly generate chord progressions, riffs, and melodies for new songs.

Okoh and his cofounder, Marcin Teodoru, intentionally designed Fingertip Maestro to be simple and easy to use: a tool to create music quickly and hassle-free. Despite their admission that the company has over 50 different features that they wanted to include (and, for some features, hope to include in the future), the app was released to feature the primary function of Fingertip Maestro: the capacity to create musician-quality compositions without the need for years of musical experience.

“When I first met Mark, he had this clunky-looking demo that he was somehow able to design, but [in terms of design] the product we have now [is reflective of the core elements] in his prototype,” says Teodoru. “Mark put in a lot of research for the app – [taking] music theory classes and piano lessons, in order to really get the app functioning the way it functions now.”

Teodoru hopped onto Okoh’s idea after this first encounter, and helped him clean up the design and quickly create a functional demo – with all the core features – to try in public. It was after demonstrating Fingertip Maestro to people that the two discovered their product’s potential with other audiences.

Okoh and Teodoru recognized that instead of just offering it as an additional tool for professional musicians to use in easing music production, Fingertip Maestro could be used to get other people engaged in music. They discovered that their app could be used to get young and old students engaged in music, as well as the possibility for helping those with autism.

“One of the most important lessons we learned is that getting a core, easy-to-use, fun product is more important than making sure you have all the features you want to include,” says Okoh.

Fingertip Maestro is currently on its fifth iteration. Since stumbling upon these new audiences, Okoh and Teodoru hope to create different versions of the app containing some of the 50-something features they initially had in mind. “We hope to create a [Fingertip] Maestro Junior, which will serve as more of an education tool, incorporating educational features, as well as a [Fingertip] Maestro Pro, which will have [things like] Audiobus and MIDI support.”

Fingertip Maestro presented last week at Tech Cocktail’s LA Mixer & Startup Showcase. You can download their app for your iPad.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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