eSession.com — a modern way to produce music

Just before the new year I learned about eSession.com, a very well designed portal for hiring session musicians and producing music.  Gina Fant-Saez has done a fantastic job engaging world-class studio musicians, engineers, and producers (who have a minimum of 15 major album credits) and creating an environment where requests can be made, tracks can be played, and talent can be paid.

I hope to meet with CEO Gina Fant-Saez on my next trip to Austin and discuss with her how the great work her team has done could possibly meet the infrastructure requirements of Manifold Recording and provide a commercial engine for The Miraverse.  It is exciting to see so many good potential frameworks for launching a new generation of creative and commercial approaches to 21st century music production.

The Track Shack opens its doors

From their press release:

SACRAMENTO, CA — January 1, 2008—TheTrackShack.com today launched a brand new marketplace for musicians and fans to buy & sell CDs, Songs, and Tracks. Featuring the first ever CD mastered to offer production-level tracks, Bumped Up To First Class, the new site allows musicians to upload songs, including individual tracks, mix minus ones, videos, lyrics, and sheet music.

Why didn’t I think of that? 😉

Actually, there seems to be much more to it than just that, including a section for studios to list themselves and their services, artists to do the same, etc. Very much a one-stop-shop. I hope it becomes a viable means to unlock and refactor creativity and commerce in the music industry.

Sound familiar? A recording experience opens in Nashville

While looking at how Parlor Productions are put together, I came across a link for a creative workshop for event planners:

The event involves Hit Songwriters from Nashville who gather together in small groups with the attendees, and write a short song or jingle about the company. Then the separate groups come back together in the studio, and surrounded by lots of laughter, record their individual masterpieces.

The highlight of the evening comes at the end, when the hit songwriters do a performance of their biggest hits in the intimate setting of the studio.

What a great opportunity for people to see how their own create works draw, consciously or unconsciously, from the culture that surrounds them.  And what a great opportunity for professionals to raise their game through this collaborative experience.
I wish Parlor Productions and their clients much success!

Philly Through My Ear

The things I learn by talking with just a few people who know a lot!

I just learned about Philly Through My Ear, a creative, collaborative effort to bring together great jazz musicians, honor them, pay them, record what is still <em>great</em> music, and then give them a lottery ticket in the form of a CD that they are free to sell whereever and hoever they wish. Why, that sounds just like the fair share model I’m trying to promote in The Miraverse!

According to the wealth survey of the Wall Street Journal, there are now more than 10,000,000 millionaires in the world and 3.2 million living in the US alone. Why are they spending so much on mere stuff that’s polluting the environment and not much on transcendent experiences that can be made in carbon-neutral ways? I don’t know, but I do know that Will Smith Sr. (father of Will Smith Jr.) has his priorities in order, and his generosity expands far beyond just the support of his favorite living artists: it actually enriches the arts.

So a shout out to Will Smith Sr., and an invitation to those who are trying to decide how they might allocate their assets between things (that need space) and experiences (which can be carried always). And a prayer that my favorite living artists will have the creative and legal freedoms to create more musical descendents to fill us all their their genius.

Audio Clips of Rough Mixes

How cool is this?  A bunch of recording engineers sharing their works in progress so that they can learn and improve their craft.  (And maybe show off a little, too.)  This is one example of an organic version of what I hope to do when permission to share is granted.  As I explain in the thread:

While the Manifold Recording will certainly cater to high-end folks that want to lock it out and keep all the mixes and masters to themselves (until they release commercially), I’m also hoping that there are artists, engineers, and co-producers who are as interested in really developing not just an understanding of equipment and techniques, but creating works that are interesting and rewarding to others who try their hands at mixing and production. I detail that somewhat here the PROGRAMS section of the Manifold Recording website.

One particular technical challenge I have to address is the best way to tag all the data so that equipment chains can be easily annotated in the recording process and can be easily searched in a large (100TB) online archive.  As you can see from the thread, there are no standards as to the level of detail or the integrity of the data of these community-led efforts.  One idea is to use RFID to tag basically every piece of gear that can move (plus those that cannot) and then scan the chain from source to console and then attach each signal chain’s scan data to the respective track.  This will ensure that every device is scanned according to its canonical identifier.

Will this catch on?  I certainly hope so!

Kid Pan Alley in North Carolina

My daughter is eight years old, and one of her favorite CDs is the Kid Pan Alley Nashville CD. She knows all the lyrics, all the melodies, and uses it as inspiration for her own flights of poetic fancy. Which is wonderful when you consider the mission statement of Kid Pan Alley: inspiring kids to be creators, not just consumers of popular culture.

I first heard about Kid Pan Alley while listening to an episode of NPR‘s Morning Edition on my local radio station, WUNC. Their motivation and my own seemed so aligned, at least when it came to introducing children to music in a cultural context. I loved the idea of soliciting song and story ideas from the children, and then as much as possible using the material provided by the children to create popular songs. I must admit that despite owning more than 1,000 CDs, at most a handful have that “Nashville Sound”. But I like Kid Pan Alley!

I’m looking into bringing them (back) to North Carolina and doing a CD with a creative commons license. Are you as excited as I am? Are you interested in co-sponsoring their visit? If so, send me an email and/or indicate +1 in your comment on my blog.

An Open Business Plan

What makes more sense: writing down a business plan that is limited to what you know, or writing down a business plan that asks the world answers to questions you don’t know? In my opinion the answer is “Both!”.

There are a bunch of questions about the business of Manifold Recording that I really have the data to answer: how much is the lease? How much can I afford to spend on gear? What should I charge as a daily rate? But there are some other questions that I am too biased to answer: what should be the first 10 projects we attempt? What is going to be the most popular use of the studio space? What is the fastest and surest path to self-sustaining profit? Then it struck me: why not use this blog to attempt to inform answers to these and other questions?  After all, my biggest risk is not whether somebody will steal my ideas, but whether I will be able to execute them at all!

I’ve created a new tag: +1/-1. The idea is based on the email shorthand of +1 for ideas that people support and -1 for ideas they thing are not so great.  If you want to see the questions that are out there, you can search for articles that have this tag, and you can add your +1 or -1 comments as you see fit.  Over time, I hope that this develops into a “wisdom of crowds” that can help me make the right choices in an unknowably large range of possibilities.  We’ll see!