In my previous post about iPad apps, I mentioned the SingFit app. My take was that I was a bit disappointedto not be able to fully explore the app due to the $13/month subscription cost. After that, I was contacted by Rachel Francine, co-founder of Musical Health Technologies, the company that produces the app. She wanted to offer some explanations as to why the cost is what it is. Here’s what she had to say.
Hi Music Therapy Guy, I’m very sorry that you find the price of SingFit too high. Pricing the app is something we’ve had to put a lot of time and thought into and we know we don’t have it quite right for every potential purchaser, but I’d like to let you in our thinking about the current pricing of SingFit and how it’s evolving.
While we do understand that $12.99 a month is not an impulse purchase, we know, as do you, the therapeutic value singing can bring into people’s lives. From helping to “re-wire” damaged portions of the brain after a traumatic injury (as Gabrielle Giffords demonstrates) to easing pain and anxiety in cancer patients, singing can be used for therapeutic benefit with a wide variety of populations and conditions. (For people who don’t know about the therapeutic benefits of singing, we cover the latest research on our blog. http://www.musicalhealthtech.com/category/blog/)
Our goal with SingFit is to create a tool that make it easy for all types of healthcare practitioners and patients themselves to enable successful singing experiences so more people can access the therapeutic benefits of singing.
So while I can see that for a music therapist, $12.99 a month for something you can do yourself with a guitar might seem expensive, for a speech therapist, home health aid or an unpaid caregiver without musical training, being able to bring the healing power of song to client can be priceless.
When we were testing the app we found that one of the most engaging thing about the SingFit is users could go from one song to the next, keeping them involved in a health enhancing activity. One tester, a fifteen year old on the autism spectrum, would come in each week and try every single new song we had added to the catalog (and then go back and re-sing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”). We felt from a therapeutic point of view it was very important not to limit the songs that people can access. So we knew there had to be a subscription option. We would have liked, at launch in December, to feature a pay per download option, but that was not possible in our budget at the time. We are in the processes of adding it now and should will be available in the next few months.
That said, even if we charge $1.99 a song (I’ll explain why would need to be more then a .99 cent download in a moment) that means as a therapist, you’d be able to download six and half songs a month instead of having access to more then 90 songs (and growing) for that same $12.99. Six and a half songs don’t cover much ground with clients who have a variety of musical tastes and abilities.
You are right, there are music publishing licensing costs that get taken out of every sale. At the same time, the legal costs to obtain deals with four major music publishers (Emi, Sony, Universal and Warner) in order to be able to offer huge songs like “Lean on Me”, “It’s My Life” and “Summer Wind” were considerable. There are also costs associated with creation of the background music tracks.
In addition to the publishing costs, Apple takes a thirty percent cut of every sale for providing distribution. Unlike other subscription based services like Netflix or an internet radio station, we are not simply re-distributing content that in already in the can. We created SingFit to be a therapeutic tool and for this reason all of our songs get chosen and created under a strict therapeutic protocol implemented by certified music therapists and undergo several processes before going live in the app. A little bit about this process:
Only about 1 in 15 songs has the lyrical spacing required to become a SingFit song. The music therapists on our staff reviewed more than 2.000 songs to find the 90 songs in our launch catalog. Many songs that have the lyrical spacing are rejected for reasons like difficult vocal ranges, lack of an even tempo and other factors that would make the songs hard for people to sing.
After songs receive initial approval by our therapy staff, they need to be ok’d for use by the writer and publisher. The background track needs then to be developed and the Lyric Cuing and Guide Vocal tracks recorded. Songs are then reviewed by music therapists for clarity and timing of Lyric Curing and other factors that might inhibit a fully engaged singing experience. With all of this, you can see how it would difficult for us to charge the same .99 cent price as a standard karaoke download.
I hope that provides a little insight into our pricing decisions and the cost of the app.
All of that said, we are looking for ways to make SingFit more affordable to more people. We made SingFit free to download and are committed to always offering free songs so that as many people as possible can sing for their health. Keep an eye out for our free Valentine’s Day songs to send to sing, record and share with the ones you (or your clients) love.
Thanks to Rachel for taking the time to put all of that together. It brings to light several issues that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of. I look at things as a music therapist, and I sometimes forget that there are other professionals that can benefit from music. It’s also interesting to find out the process of putting together the app. If you want to find out more, be sure to check out isingfit.com. Thanks for reading!