Music Mastermind has launched software that lets aspiring musicians create their own songs – without ever picking up an instrument.

The Calabasas company announced earlier this month that its music-making software, Zya, is available online on HP computers. Zya, which has the look and feel of music video games such as Activision Blizzard’s “Guitar Hero,” lets users create songs by singing lyrics, turning vocals into instrument sounds, adding premade music hooks and mixing beats.

After a player creates a song, he can share it with friends and compete against other Zya players for a top spot on the software’s virtual music chart.

Zya uses Music Mastermind technology that makes a voice sound like, say, a drum or guitar, allowing a person to compose a song without playing a physical instrument.

Matt Serletic, company co-founder and chief executive, said the software could appeal to everyone from children to accomplished musicians, but the target demographic are people who don’t have a musical background.

“The genesis of the idea was the kid who maybe doesn’t understand how to use a music production tool but is still creative and wants to have a lot of fun,” he said.

Serletic, a music producer and songwriter who won two Grammy Awards in 2000 for his work with guitarist Carlos Santana, co-founded Music Mastermind with Bo Bazylevsky, a former Wall Street bond trader, in 2008.

The 40-person company raised $10.8 million in May from Intel Capital and Liberty Global to help develop Zya and prepare it for launch.

Zya, which will be available for wide release in early 2012, is free to use. Users can choose to buy additional features such as songs and custom avatars.

The software in some ways is similar to other music production tools such as Apple’s Garage Band and features game elements comparable to “Guitar Hero.”

“It really is kind of a hybrid between something that’s fun and addictive to play but also very powerful as a music production tool,” Serletic said. “We wanted to provide a different experience.”

Postcard Pennies

L.A. investors are giving their stamp of approval to the idea of turning digital photos into physical postcards.

Postcard on the Run, an L.A. startup that makes and sends postcards using customers’ mobile phone pictures, has raised $750,000 to expand the business.

The funding round was led by several local investors including Santa Monica firm Crosscut Ventures; former Myspace Chief Executive Mike Jones; PriceGrabber co-founder Kamran Pourzanjani; and MindJolt executives Chris DeWolfe, Aber Whitcomb and Colin Digiaro.

Actress and singer Selena Gomez has also invested in Postcard on the Run. She’s the latest in a string of actors who’ve turned to tech investments. Others include Justin Timberlake, who owns a minority stake in Myspace, and Ashton Kutcher, who has invested in several Silicon Valley startups.

Josh Brooks, Postcard on the Run’s chief executive, said Gomez will play a role in creative development.

“We are honored to have Selena as part of the Postcard on the Run family,” Brooks, the company’s founder, said in a statement. The former Myspace exec praised her “entrepreneurial sense and cultural instincts.”

Postcard on the Run offers a free app for iPhones and Android phones. After people download the app, they can then take a photo with their phone, add a written message and have Postcard on the Run send it as a physical postcard for between 99 cents and $1.69. A customer can also send a scratch-and-sniff postcard with scents such as chocolate, holiday spice and bubble gum for an extra 50 cents.

Hiring Notes

Break Media, an L.A. publisher of digital video content, has hired Mitch Rotter as senior vice president and general manager of editorial properties. Rotter was previously senior vice president of marketing and product development for Universal Music Group in Santa Monica. …Science Inc., a Santa Monica technology studio started by Myspace veteran Mike Jones, has announced that Peter Pham has joined as a partner. Pham is the co-founder and former president of Color, a Palo Alto developer of a photo-sharing application. …Morphlabs, a Manhattan Beach cloud technology company, has hired Lee Thompson as chief technology officer. Thompson was previously a chief technology officer at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto. … Gui Karyo has joined West L.A. game developer Atari as executive vice president of development and operations. He was previously a president at Mindspark Interactive Network Inc. in White Plains, N.Y.

Staff reporter Natalie Jarvey can be reached at or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230.

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