Co-Productions

Music co-production is a new approach to creating and commercializing recorded content. Sixty years ago the recording process went from one (or sometimes two) microphones straight to the mastering media, and the producer had only one decision to make: "print it" or "toss it". The advent and evolution of multitrack recording gave the recording engineer the ability to capture the artist's sound in different ways at different times and then assemble them into a new whole. Now the question of "print it" or "toss it" turned on an entirely new question: what was "it"? As the number of tracks multipled, coupled with the ability to cut, copy, paste, loop, sample, and trigger audio data, the combinatorial possibilities exploded, but in the conventional world of music production the role of the producer remained fixed on producing a single "it."

Today, consumers have unprecedented choice within a universe of mass-produced goods: computers can be built to order, cosmetics can be formulated on an individual (digitally-informed) basis, and even the Ford Motor Company offers a variety of models in colors other than black. We believe there are technical and creative reasons why people who are passionate about music would want to take a more active role in defining the music they want. Technology now makes it feasible to do this on a scalable basis, to achieve extraordinary results, and to do either or both in a way that fairly compensates all involved: artists, engineers, and co-producers.

Planning A Co-production

"Now that we can do anything, what shall we do?"

— Bruce Mau, Massive Change

The size of the studio lends itself to a wide range of uses and configurations. At one extreme, there could be one recording engineer tracking a 36-person gospel choir. At another extreme, a single virtuoso instrumentalist could be making a DVD (2 camera operators, one recording engineer) in front of a 50 member studio audience who are encouraged to engage and ask questions. At a third extreme, 36 co-producers can be tracking and planning the eventual personalized mix of their favorite bluegrass band based on their authentic experiences of the performance determined that moment. Whatever the format, the dynamics of a recording session are a function of the environment and the people. More people can add more energy to the mix, but more people can also add more complexity, which may in turn require more energy than it's worth. It is vital to know how many people are enough, how many people are too many, and it all depends on what one is trying to achieve.

The design and layout of the studio (and our own experience) provides some guidelines:

The Control Room can easily hold 16 co-producers plus the engineer and other support staff.

The Music Room can be split into two program areas, one for the artists and one for the co-producers. 36 co-producers can be seated using only three rows of its total space. Artists can enjoy ample space for themselves and their gear, not to mention the acoustic benefit of the room's 32,000 cu ft volume (which is perhaps one of the 50 largest purpose-built recording spaces operating in the world today).

Booths A & B can be used as ISO booths or classroom space for master classes.

For video-intensive productions, the Studio Annex can be brought into play. With 430 sq ft of floor space, the Studio Annex easily accommodates 12 co-producers plus two engineers (one managing the 3-monitor video control console, the other the 96-channel Harrison Trion digital film console).

n.b.: These numbers are maximum functional guidelines, not legal limits.

Sometimes less (or fewer) is more: fewer people in each room, fewer rooms being used at the same time, etc. Sometimes more is more: more people, more things happening at once, more entropy to break through convention and blast into to new territory. As a co-producer, you are part of the process.

Education and Co-Production

When time is at a premium, sometimes the only education we can offer is "watch this!".

— Found on the internet

The more one knows about music, artistry, acoustics, recording, mixing, mastering, and all the other disciplines that inform music production, the more efficiently and effectively one can work. But not everybody has the time or the desire to learn every aspect of the process in order to exert or enjoy a little creative control. We therefore offer integrated education/co-production sessions ranging from "watch this!" to intensive 10-day workshops covering all aspects of the craft. Even if you miss the finer points the first time, or the second, or the third, our co-production platform enables you to come back, learn more, and keep working until you are satisfied with your understanding and the results that that understanding can produce.

Remember, the co-production model encourages a life-long relationship with the content and other co-producers. Capture as much as possible as richly as possible, and see how that experience evolves over time, for you and for all those you choose to share it with.