|Max Schieble of Pharaohs |
Open. Click. Send. In a matter of seconds, Max Schieble's pre-recorded vocal track from America appears in the e-mail inbox of his bandmate Danny Lentz, who is abroad in Paris. Lentz receives the file, pulls out a violin and plays his part from memory. The file is sent back over to Schieble, who then puts it through the mixing grind of free software programs including Logic, GarageBand, and ProTools (all downloaded in "the glory days of MegaUpload").
Once on iTunes, an upload to SoundCloud and Band Camp -- all free sharing programs that link to social media -- is a token of victory. At a remarkable speed in a "more or less cost-free process," Pharaohs -- a jazz-pop group that Schieble and Lentz co-founded, along with other rotating band members, two years ago -- have created a song.
Enter Converse's Rubber Tracks. The famous Americana shoe manufacturer of Chuck Taylor's opened a free studio in Brooklyn last year in an attempt to brand the DIY movement and bands within it, like Pharaohs. And the company did this by appealing to a cost-sensitive demographic: According to Keith Gulla of Converse in a press release, the company wanted bands to "help overcome one of the biggest hurdles in their career: affording studio time." Converse provides the gear, the audio engineers, and the space to create; all a band has to do is apply and show up.
That's it -- no strings attached or sign-up fees necessary. And as an option, a band can choose to let Converse have publication rights to the produced music in order for them to pump it through their website and social-networking presence.
Like Converse, the once-online, now-in-Brooklyn clothing company Mishka offers their brand name as a free platform for artists soaring in the blogosphere. By releasing mixtapes online with Mishka's name and insignia on them, local New York rap acts like Ninjasonik and Mr. Mutha****in Esquire have gained fame and success without either party shelling out the big bucks.
As with many of today's hopeful recording artists, Pharaohs have circumvented the shackles of money, time and distance by knowing their way around a MacBook. Although Schieble points out this isn't his preferred way of recording (in his opinion, "Pharaohs' music loses its essence a bit" with a lo-fi sound), the DIY process represents the extraordinary synergy that now exists between the Internet and a band. But someone, or something, has been left out of the mix: the presence of a middleman, a/k/a the venerable record label. Long one of the pillars of the music industry, labels are going the way of MySpace: ignored and outdated.More »