"This can drastically change the way sheet music is sold. This is the way the future of sheet music is going to go." - Paul Holland, vice president of H.B. Imaging Inc.
Sheet music lining store walls could soon be replaced by a single touch-screen kiosk, if an Orem company has its way.The kiosk, marketed under the name "Music Source," is designed to provide instant access to hundreds of thousands of pieces of sheet music, all stored within a single unit at music stores.
"This can drastically change the way sheet music is sold," said Paul Holland, vice president of H.B. Imaging Inc., which manufactures the product.
All a customer has to do when looking for a particular piece of music is touch the screen of the kiosk to find a title or publisher. A computerized interpretation of the piece is played and a print of it is made.
The machines are projected to have internal libraries and access to a national music library. However, H.B. Imaging is still involved in negotiations to work out distribution agreements with companies like Columbia Pictures.
"This is the way the future of the sheet music is going to go," Holland said. That future, however, will not materialize within the next few months. But Holland said he hopes the machine will be in stores within a year.
H.B. Imaging is hoping to get a jump on any competition by showcasing the concept at the National Association of Music Merchants convention beginning Friday in Anaheim, Calif.
The company's association with sheet music began with music engraving software, the Engraver, which makes music ready for publishing. Holland said H.B. Imaging posted approximately $250,000 in sales in 1988.
He said the product will not revolutionize the sheet music market overnight. For one thing, a single unit will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 when it becomes available.
"It's an intimidating concept," he said. "This isn't geared for the store that sells three sheets of music a month."
One advantage of the product is that popular music could become available within hours rather than within months, Holland said. By using the national library, a publisher can enter a piece of music that will be made available to a customer hours after a song is released. Of course, that would have to be part of an agreement with publishers.
The idea itself is intimidating, said Holland, but the machine is not. "This is an extremely user-friendly interface," he said. "The program relies heavily on graphics."
Another advantage is the amount of music that would be made available. Few stores can handle hundreds of thousands of pieces of sheet music, but that much music would be available on a single compact disc.
Lesser known publishers would have instant access to international markets with the H.B. Imaging product. Because all publishers would pay a fee to be included on the system, a seemingly obscure publisher would have the same access to the market as an industry giant.
"You don't have to be enormous to get international accessibility," Holland said.
According to Leslie Bonsteel, head of technical support and customer relations, H.B. Imaging's Engraver is a hot item in Europe and Japan.
Universities have also been customers of the engraver, which allows students and faculty members to compose music with the aid of technology.
She said universities could benefit from the Music Source, because it makes available more pieces of obscure music and would make them easier to find.