Success Stories

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I have been talking for some time about the virtues of kickstarter funding for music recording projects.  The indie album Move by Matt Phillips and the Philharmonic could not have been made without kickstarter funding.  But the more I learn about the world of music kickstarters, the more I see there is to learn.

The Set Chopin Free project reached its $75,000 goal scarcely two weeks into its seven week funding schedule.  It is already more than $5,000 above its funding goal, and could well surpass $100,000 by the time its funding window closes.  And the Open Well-Tempered Clavier project (launched by Robert Douglass) has already reached 50% of its $30,000 fundraising goal from more than 450 supporters in its first 5 days!  That kind of strong start virtually guarantees funding success, and leaves us only to wonder whether it will achieve 160% (like Open Goldberg Variations), 200% (like Fractal Journeys and the Twelve Tones of Bach), 350% (like the Well-Tempered Clavier Tour), 600% (like Musopen’s Set Music Free) or more than 1100% (like Amanda Palmer did in her amazing 2012 record).  The possibilities are quite wide open.  But real questions remain: how did this happen?  what does it mean?

A press release today invites the press itself to consider some more pointed questions:

If both Open Goldberg and Musopen succeed with their Kickstarter campaigns, collectively raising over $100,000 for new recordings of standard repertoire, it is probably worth asking “Who is holding classical music in shackles?” and “Why do so many people feel it is so important to set Bach and Chopin free?” Continue reading “Success Stories”

How Long Is This Gonna Take? [TrustMeImAScientist]

How Long Is This Gonna Take? asks and answers one of the most important questions that any artist must consider before embarking on a recording project.  The summary is pretty simple: while recording technology has dramatically lowered the cost of recording audio, there’s a lot more that goes into making a record that just getting bits onto a disk.  In the end, not much has changed in terms of overall time and cost.  What has changed is the many new ways that digital technology allow you to spend your time and your money, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Definitely worth a read!

Competition vs. Validation

 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. Continue reading “Competition vs. Validation”

Glee? Not for me…

Last month after the buzz reached a fever pitch, I finally sat down to watch an episode of Glee.  I have not watched it since, but I have been thinking about why not.  I came across this blog posting, which begins:

The fictional high school chorus at the center of Fox’s Glee has a huge problem — nearly a million dollars in potential legal liability. For a show that regularly tackles thorny issues like teen pregnancy and alcohol abuse, it’s surprising that a million dollars worth of lawbreaking would go unmentioned. But it does, and week after week, those zany Glee kids rack up the potential to pay higher and higher fines.

Indeed.

I’ve watched enough television to know that sometimes a deliberate distortion of reality is part of a show’s appeal.  The Office clearly (and hilariously) offends virtually every HR law on the books, but we’re in on the joke no matter how straight the actors play it.  In its day, Ally McBeal did the same thing with courtroom antics.  On the opposite side of humor, the TV drama 24 created a “hero” who could always be relied upon to use torture as an excuse to continue to protect a regime that condoned such illegal and reprehensible actions.  I never watched 24, but from all the advertising and imagery that surrounded that show, it was pretty clear they knew and the audience knew that the show was stepping over all sorts of legal, ethical, and moral lines, and that was quintessential to the drama.  Glee appears to be entirely tone-deaf when it comes to the subject of copyright:

In one recent episode, the AV Club helps cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester film a near-exact copy of Madonna’s Vogue music video (the real-life fine for copying Madonna’s original? up to $150,000). Just a few episodes later, a video of Sue dancing to Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 hit Physical is posted online (damages for recording the entirety of Physical on Sue’s camcorder: up to $300,000). And let’s not forget the glee club’s many mash-ups — songs created by mixing together two other musical pieces. Each mash-up is a “preparation of a derivative work” of the original two songs’ compositions – an action for which there is no compulsory license available, meaning (in plain English) that if the Glee kids were a real group of teenagers, they could not feasibly ask for — or hope to get — the copyright permissions they would need to make their songs, and their actions, legal under copyright law. Punishment for making each mash-up? Up to another $150,000 — times two.

[…]

It’s hard to imagine glee club coach Will Schuester giving his students a tough speech on how they can’t do mash-ups anymore because of copyright law (but if he did, it might make people rethink the law). Instead, copyright violations are rewarded in Glee — after Sue’s Physical video goes viral, Olivia Newton-John contacts Sue so they can film a new, improved video together.

If Glee decides to bring copyright into its storyline, and treat it as intelligently and as sensitively as it attempts to treat other social issues, then perhaps I’ll watch.  Until then, no Glee for me.

Another sane voice against sheer loudness

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):

Continue reading “Another sane voice against sheer loudness”

The conservative (and generous) economics of Wendell Berry

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?

Continue reading “The conservative (and generous) economics of Wendell Berry”

Jazz Music and Open Source Software

Who knew that Open Standards maven Andrew Updegrove was a jazz fan?  He riffs:

Jazz, of course, is open source all the way — it’s the ultimate freedom machine. Once you’ve grasped the melody line and basic chord structure of any song, you’re on your own, encouraged to take the author’s initial inspiration anywhere you wish. A jazz musician isn’t judged by the faithfulness of his rendition but by what he codes at the musical keys.

Even the legal underpinnings of jazz are different, at least in the trenches. No one who is really serious about jazz goes out and buys, say, an Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis or Mahavishnu John McLaughlin song book, setting down note for note what the great musician played. How could you? They played it different every time.

You can read more of this wonderful entry here.  Me?  I need to go practice more songs from The Real Book.