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sww_staffpicture_webCompany: Sonoma Wire Works (SWW)

SWW started out as software developers focusing on music making tools, now you have a suite of smart phone apps. Can you discuss the trend?
When the iPhone was released, it was a complete game changer. For the first time, people carried in their pocket a small yet powerful computer, complete with a gorgeous touch interface. We knew that mobile music production was the future and immediately started work on FourTrack, our multitrack recording app for iPhone and iPod touch. While laptops provide a measure of portability, they are still expensive and can be cumbersome to use. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets give musicians the ultimate freedom to write and record music wherever and whenever inspiration strikes. These relatively inexpensive devices are maturing at an incredibly rate and along with the hardware, so has the software. With FourTrack for the iPhone, StudioTrack for the iPad, and our GuitarJack iOS audio interface, we have kept pace with these amazing developments, and have given musicians powerful tools to push mobile music production forward.

You have partnered/collaborated with guitar companies in developing products and bringing new products to market. Can you talk about how those relationships developed?
Sonoma Wire Works has worked hard to earn a reputation of creating quality music making tools that are not overly complicated. The fantastic folks at Taylor Guitars were already familiar with our award winning RiffWorks software. When the time came for Taylor Guitars to have a presence on iOS, they approached us with some  key requirements: the app had to be easy to use but sound amazing. After a few months of hard work with the Taylor Guitars team, we released TaylorEQ, an equalizer app that brings out the best tone of your Taylor acoustic guitar. The partnership between Taylor Guitars and Sonoma Wire Works was really a no-brainer, both companies are committed to making quality products without any gimmicks or fluff. We have found that staying true to this commitment and maintaining integrity as a brand has attracted the attention of a wide range of esteemed partners, both domestically and internationally.

How can guitar and guitar products companies find synergies with app companies?
First of all, they don’t need to be afraid of technology. A four or five inch touch screen will never replace the pleasure of holding and playing a beautiful guitar. Also, the top selling guitar apps tend to be tablature apps, tuners, and theory apps, software designed to be used with guitars.

Guitar and guitar accessory manufacturers need to be open minded and put the user first. Powerful mobile devices are capable of almost anything, can they be used in some way to improve or augment the users’ experience with your product?

There are virtually no limits to the ways software and hardware products can work together, but manufacturers need to be careful not to create something simply for the sake of creating. As with any good product, it should fulfill a purpose or need.

Your company is in Northern California, the heartland of U.S. tech. Where do you see things going in terms of tech and how will this impact musical instrument firms?
More and more, tech companies are seeing audio as a crucial part of their devices’ success in the market. There’s no other way to say it, music is sexy, and high quality audio can tremendously affect a device’s appeal. It seems like almost every ad for smartphones includes music performance in some way. Audio is becoming as important as graphics in the design stage, and audio apps and accessories are pulling in huge profits. All of this is good news for musicians and musical instrument manufacturers. These devices are not replacing guitars, as some have feared, but are being seen as the ultimate guitar accessory. The trick is figuring out new and interesting ways of using these devices with musical instruments.

In what other ways do you see technology changing the way that people make music?
It’s a really exciting time for music. The hardware and software is getting more and more powerful while costs are going down. Making great sounding tracks is no longer limited to those who can afford expensive studio time or a pricey desktop rig. Now, a kid in his or her bedroom can create a track that rivals the quality of something recorded in a multi-million dollar studio a few years ago. More and more talented artists are able to make quality recordings and share them with a global audience. Additionally, people in more parts of the world are using these devices. We’re hearing incredible music from more parts of the globe all due to powerful mobile devices.

Sonoma Wire Works: Company Overview: Sonoma Wire Works was founded in 2003 by three engineers from music industry engineering backgrounds at companies like Diamond Multimedia, Be, Bias and others. RiffWorks guitar recording software with InstantDrummer and effects was Sonoma’s first product, to which we added online collaboration, the RiffWorld.com song posting community, and more. Starting in 2008, Sonoma branched out into iOS audio app and accessory development by launching FourTrack, which was successful and inspired us to create StudioTrack for iPad, InstantDrummer apps, AudioCopy and AudioPaste technology for iOS and GuitarTone amps and effects for iOS. In 2009, we had the opportunity to purchase highly acclaimed drum recording software and content resources by acquiring the DrumCore plug-in drum instrument brand and product line from Paul Allen’s Submersible Music Inc. and the Discrete Drums brand and product line. We were  often asked for best way to capture guitar recording on iOS, so Sonoma developed the GuitarJack audio interface for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch that features impeccable sound quality thanks to Joe Bryan, known for his work on the UA 2192 by Universal Audio. Most recently, Sonoma developed a low latency audio (LLA) solution for Android that can broaden the device options for mobile music production. We have plans for improving our existing product lines as well as some new products plans, so we are excited for the future!

Rob Sulkow writing on behalf of GAMA.