Music to Go

Apr 27, 2010 3:42 PM, By Tom Kenny



Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

Zach Bair heads up Abbey Road Live, an independent division of EMI U.S.

Zach Bair heads up Abbey Road Live, an independent division of EMI U.S.

“We fulfill a need,” adds Bair, “for instant gratification, for quality content and for new revenue for the artist. Our instant products create a very personal connection. Many of our releases are limited-edition, numbered CD/DVD units, making them much more of a memento than a live album released for mass distribution. Though we can do that, too. I’m definitely a believer in the digital frontier, with things like USB devices and mobile applications—we deployed a Pixies mobile app prior to this spring’s tour and have almost 25,000 downloads from the iTunes store. But I think the core, sexy product is a physical device that you can play on the spot. It’s like saving your ticket stub, or as Forbes put it: ‘It’s better than a T-shirt!’”

There’s been a lot of press lately over new business models for artists, new ways to connect to the core fan base in the wake of declining CD sales. While the more traditional model of album release/tour/merchandise is hanging by a thread, innovative acts are looking for new ways to connect, most of it involving variations on Facebook/Twitter and all forms of social networking. But artists and labels are also banking on the fact that those connections bring in new revenue. This is new money, both companies emphasize, without any upfront costs to the artist or label. And while each company has a standardized business model, they each customize their involvement based on an artist’s goals.

“We’re doing innovative business deals all the time,” says Bair, whose company, Immediatek/DiscLive, offered the first iPod downloads and the first DVD same-day product. “We don’t ask the artist for publishing or anything like that. They own the masters and we have an exclusive copyright for ‘x’ amount of time to sell our product. Typically we do a 50-50 net split with the artist off the back end once the costs come off the top. Very clean, very simple, very transparent accounting.”

The Aderra USB wristband operation in mass-copy mode. Note the scalable, modular flight packs.

The Aderra USB wristband operation in mass-copy mode. Note the scalable, modular flight packs.

“We take on every project, no matter the artist or genre, and work to customize it,” adds Donnelly. “There are a lot of common links, but we build each and every project from the ground up, a great live recording being the foundation. Now, that recording might involve anything from a full 48-channel truck rolled up to the venue to a couple of mics in the air going through some high-quality preamps. It all depends on the artist and the venue—what will best re-create the magic of that live experience.”

Bair prides himself on quality, emphasizing that he employs the core team from DiscLive that has been doing this for the longest time. Following the purchase of DiscLive, his company, Immediatek, purchased Moving Records, which had a reputation for quality multitrack recordings. He noticed a boost in quality right away, and they began splitting digitally direct from the snake, doing a full mix on their own console, with their own, experienced engineers. Today, Abbey Road Live also offers any package an artist might want, with full redundant systems built into the flight packs or mobile vehicles if the client wants to spring for the more controlled atmosphere.

Still, the question remains: Why is this not the norm? Why not every night, at every show?

“There’s a few factors that play into that,” says Donnelly. “The first is the fan perspective. Once fans become accustomed to attending a performance with the knowledge that they can walk away with the show, that wall will come down. And we’ve already seen that happen in towns that we’ve revisited with artists.

“The second part is that there is a lot of disruption in the music industry right now, and we are part of that disruption,” he continues. “Any time you talk about digital content and digital distribution, nobody has come up with a clear direction. Sometimes we are wholeheartedly embraced by the artist, management and label, and sometimes an act just wants to dip their toe in the water and see how things work out. Once we show them that this is a viable way for people to not just deliver music directly to fans, but that they can continue the conversation, this will become much more mainstream.”

“Much of the acceptance is simply education,” adds Bair. “When we first started this with DiscLive, most labels were reluctant, perceiving us as competition to a studio release or their own efforts. But now they’re seeing us as part of the overall pool. When you buy a ticket to a concert and can just click a box to add a CD or USB of that night’s performance, then we will be more integrated into the industry stream and the quicker it will spread.”

“In terms of how people wrap their heads around Internet file sharing, the change from 2006 to 2010 is remarkably different,” Donnelly concludes. “When I first began going out to speak to artists and managers, one of their big concerns was DRM and piracy. What’s going to happen when these kids get home and put it on the Internet? Those are questions we rarely hear anymore. If we sit down in front of an artist today, they ask a couple of questions right away. The first one is what does it sound like. But the real question is: In this landscape, what can you do for fans that is cool, that they will participate in. I think we offer a great solution for that.” 

Tom Kenny is the editor of Mix.

Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95



Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.