When Terry Lowry was in a small-town middle school, he was the only kid he knew who practiced music for hours each day. He loved music and wished he could find someone that shared the same passion and discipline to practice with.
“I would have given anything to have met other people like me,” Lowry tells Hypepotamus. “I knew they were out there, just not in my small town.”
Emerging young musicians that aspire to become professionals practice up to eight or ten hours a day in order to get to the level needed for top-tier conservatories. Access to resources like mentors, fellow musicians, and education depends on the student’s location, and in some cases, may be miles away.
While technology like Skype or Facetime come to mind as solutions, for musicians to practice together, the sound needs to be precisely in sync. Even the small latency and lag time in those current solutions make it hard for musicians to sync up.
“If the delay is greater than 25 milliseconds, it’s nearly impossible to play together,” Lowry says.
Lowry became a graduate teaching assistant in the music department at the University of Alabama, where he taught computer science majors how to write music for video games. This experience helped him build on his knowledge of code, and he wanted to use technology to close the distance between emerging musicians.
He co-founded Musical Overture, a networking platform for musicians that allows subscribers to make music for and with each other with virtually no lag.
“Musicians can meet each other, then play for and with each other. They can have a sense of belonging around a shared interest,” says Lowry.
Once the musician creates a profile on the web-based platform, they’re able to upload their own video repository. Each video can be tagged as portfolio, performance video, rehearsal video, or other for schools and recruiters to easily find them.
A machine learning component helps pair musicians with similar expertise, styles and interests, based on their audio recordings, so they can practice together.
The Musical Overture community has grown organically, currently hosting hundreds of students from all over the world. The demographics range from junior high and high school-age flute, clarinet, and trumpet players all the way up to professional concert pianists and conductors.
Non-musician spectators can watch the videos for free on the platform, which resembles a digital symphony hall complete with red curtains. Students have been recruited for top schools like Julliard and Notre Dame.
They’ve even seen a record deal.
Lowry and his team take privacy very seriously. Since releasing the beta, they’ve been controlling the growth and culture of the community by staying on top of monitoring and removing any questionable predators off the site. They have a team of moderators patrolling the platform at all times.
“We’ve been very careful about protecting the young people on the platform so that their parents feel good about them participating in Musical Overture,” says Lowry.
The startup will soon offer a premium version based on a subscription and is self-funded.
“It’s a fantastic learning tool for musicians, but also a great place to have fun sharing your music and listening and participating with other people,” says Lowry.