When I decided to leave the certainty of multiple steady paychecks to start a new company, everybody I briefed thought there was no possible way it could succeed, and that gave me the confidence that I’d have no competition. The rest, as they say is history. But since that time, I have also come to appreciate that sometimes it is more valuable to have at least some competition proving that the business idea has at least some merit. Some percentage of a provable market is worth more than 100% of a market that simply does not exist. Enter GrooveBox Studios.
GrooveBox Studios was born of a frustration that is nearly universal among all artists I’ve encountered: bands spend too much of their own money on projects and tours that generally enrich everybody else before the band earns a dollar. Which is not sustainable. The founders of GrooveBox Studios hit the business reset button and came up with a model that is really quite analogous to what we, too derived: the co-production model. For starters, both GrooveBox and The Miraverse® promote the idea that instead of being an up-front cost that the artist must bear, the recording process is something that delivers cash and profit directly to the artist, up-front. (more…)
I came across Jerry Tubb’s website TerraNovaMastering.com, which not only lists an impressive number of 5.1 surround credits, but also an encouraging statement against the Loudness Wars, quoting the full text of Joe Gross’s Everything Louder than Everything Else.
Here’s the excerpt that explains the phenomenon (for those not yet familiar with the term):
Wendell Berry has become one of my heroes. His writings and ideas are among the most penetrating I have encountered in any living author, and he has a wonderful and luminous presence. He was featured on the Diane Rehm show earlier this year, and that conversation was selected for re-broadcast on New Year’s Eve, a fitting editorial choice about what we Americans should be thinking about as we compost the years 2000-2009 and decide what seeds we will plant in the coming decade (with what little fertile soil is left).
As I was driving around town and thinking about the extraordinary costs going into both the construction of Manifold Recording (not to mention the equipment budget), I was struck by these comments (at 17:16 into the one hour program):
Useful criticism always begins with an appropriate standard. And consumerism—the flourishing of consumerism—is not an adequate standard, just as economic feasibility is not an adequate standard for human behavior.
What might this mean?
Weathervane Music is a non-profit, community supported production company, making music and video to support and advance the careers of amazing independent musicians. Unlike traditional for-profit production or record companies, the vast majority of proceeds from the recordings of this music go straight to the artists, which Weathervane Music selects. I first heard about them when Brian McTear made this announcement in June, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it ever since:
Long time no speak! I’ve been really busy putting together a new non-profit organization called Weathervane Music. In a nutshell we’re experimenting with a new model for how to fund and promote the work of great independent musicians.
Our main focus to start is something we’re calling the Weathervane Music Project Series. It’s a curated music and music-related video series produced for the web in which selected artists come into the studio (at no cost to them, of course) and record a song. The whole thing is artfully captured in hi-definition video, providing great exposure for the artist, some interesting material for gear enthusiasts, and a general primer for Weathervane’s mission.
Now NPR‘s All Things Considered has beat me to it, six months later as part of The Decade in Music: ’00s. NPR’s extraordinary instinct of going beyond the death and destruction of virtually all the major recording studios in New York City (Recording Studios Face an Uncertain Future) paid off by looking at the dynamics of low-rent Philadelphia (where commercial studios are also struggling), and discovering the diamond-in-the-rough story of an environment providing free recording services to a handful of deserving artists. But the reporting could have gone much further…
A new blog posting For the fans, by the fans… is yet another validation of the Miraverse business model. For those keeping track, this adds to Peter Gabriel’s validation, George Massenburg’s validation, and others.
If others are doing this, or thinking about doing this, please get in touch! The biggest business buzz kill is not competition–it’s lack of experience and poor execution. Let’s get it right together, and then make it big.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Youth Radio on NPR, but What’s is the new What? has taken that affection to a whole new level. The story Dissonance is the new Harmony prompted me to set a bookmark that day and commit to blog it when I had the chance. Now I have the chance…
Wow! I sure got a lot of feedback on my first set of sketches. Here’s my second attempt at configuring a 48 channel Legacy Plus with integrated patchbays and options section into the control room of Manifold Recording. The major change is that now we have the master section and 16 faders to the left of the acoustic center and we have 32 faders and 6 echo returns to the right. This puts 32 inline channels (64 faders!) within the immediate reach of the engineer, while keeping the master section and most of the remaining channels in reasonable reach without moving from the sweet spot.
For higher-resolution renderings, click on the following links:
There are a growing number   of stories lately about music studios opening up to a new way of doing things, namely the total integration of performance and experience that I call co-production. Here’s another story from the Music Producer’s Institute and their upcoming session with Radney Foster.
“Whether you are studying recording in school or on your own, let MPI show you the producer’s side of recording’s creative process, from start to finish: from pre-production to mastering. Founded by Grammy-winning producer Steve Fishell, MPI teaches you producing techniques that apply to all musical genres, from popular to fringe, indie to mainstream.
“Hear and see a real-world, master-level recording session as we track with world-class singers, musicians and engineers. Gain first-hand experience watching Grammy-winning industry pros at work at the Sound Emporium Studios, Nashville, TN.
“Hear daily special guest lecturers share their studio know-how, insights, tips and wisdom gained from decades of experience. Foster contacts with music industry pros and insiders.”
I think they’ve got an absolutely wonderful idea here…
David Rose tipped me off to this story titled Peter Gabriel Considers Allowing Fans Into Recording Studio. The source for that story reports:
“The Incredible String Band wrote to their fans on their website and sold admission to their recordings… and that gave them the budget to purchase the studio time. They created a mini-economy based on 120 people.”
Props to Peter Gabriel for being able to manage the crush of 120 people in his studio (or at least be game to do so)!
Actually, I think this could be a significant turning point for the recording industry…
George Massenburg is a legend in the recording industry. His innovations include the introduction of the parametric equalizer in 1972, and his work on preamplifier design, dynamic range controllers, and other engineering equipment has also led the field for years. His contributions to audio engineering go beyond mere tools: as recording engineer, mixing engineer, and as a producer, his name is on some of the most important records ever made. And he has the Grammy Awards to prove it.
A new discussion thread on the gearslutz.com bulletin board tells us that George is continuing to work well outside the box, by capturing a live studio performance as a performance. What’s most exciting to me is that it sounds very much like what I’ve been writing about co-production at The Miraverse…