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Ohio State Marching Band aims to drum up $120K for iPads

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

Two members of the Ohio State marching band have come up with an idea to save $20,000 in paper and printing costs each year by providing iPads for each member of the band.
The idea began as a Facebook post from Charlie King, a fifth-year in computer information and history, to his friend and fellow member of the marching band Ryan Barta, a third-year in operations management and aviation management. The pair said iPads would be a good investment and benefit both the band and university.
King and Barta are hoping to get sponsors to donate money to the project. They will need to purchase about 250 iPads for members, staff and directors, plus weather covers since the band will be using them outside for practice. According to the 2012 Marching Band roster, there are roughly 230 people in the band not including alternates.
Sold at retail price, iPads cost between about $330 and $930 at Best Buy.
Using certain applications available on the iPads, members of the band would be able to read music, send out videos of rehearsals and also read field charts. Normally, only the band director is able to see the bigger picture in motion while the band members look at papers.
“Instead of one person getting to see the bigger picture, now everyone gets to see the actual animation,” Barta said.
King and Barta said they are not aware of any other university band using this type of technology, which they hope will also help them recruit future Buckeyes.
“We are similar to sports teams in terms of recruiting,” King said. “We are trying to get the best high school student musicians to come play our band.”
OSU Marching Band director Jonathan Waters said he is excited about the possibility of adding iPads, not only to change the way the band is able to practice, but also because of the amount of money and paper it will save.
“With our band, we go through over a million pieces of paper yearly, plus the cost of running that paper through a copier,” Waters said. “The saving in just the paper alone will be tremendous.”
Waters said the Sustainability Office on campus has come forward with $25,000 for the project, and the band is still working to get enough money to fund the project.
King said in an email he estimates the band will need to raise $120,000 to cover the costs of the iPads, which he expects will save $20,000 in yearly paper and copier costs.
King said Digital First and the Technology Commercialization Office on campus have been big supporters of the idea and have been helpful with the project. They are looking to find bigger corporate sponsors to help with the funding.
“There’s different ways we can create marketing for these companies through the band,” Barta said. “As far as Ohio State in the fall, besides the football team, there is not much that can match the visibility of the band in Columbus.”
The duo has a plan to keep the iPads paying for themselves as new members come in. Instead of passing down old iPads to new students, the department will use a lease-to-own approach and use that money to purchase new ones. The band students will be given the tablets for free during the Fall Semester and be able to rent them during Spring Semester to use for school. If the members of the band take advantage of the leasing all four years, they will get to keep the iPad.
“Like any project there are up-front costs, but we are going to make money back in the long run,” Barta said. “It is also going to help with sustainability. We promote it but we are not doing a good enough job here within our own walls.”

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