Forget promoting, distributing and selling music online. Sometimes you have to stop and make the stuff. Might as well use the internet for that too, right?
In the latest of my ongoing campaign of getting other people to write my posts for me and then passing it off as legitimate blogging, I interviewed Raf Fiol, founder of Kompoz.com.
Kompoz is an online community of musicians who record a track, and submit it for others to collaborate. It’s not a free-for-all, and there’s actually some smart ways of directing the project to include the mix of talents you think it’ll need to turn out the way you want it to.
But I have some niggling questions about the whole thing.
Why would musicians collaborate online?
1. Because it’s possible. Personal computers with high-speed access to the Internet are now a common. High-end sound cards are cheap. Recording software can be obtained for free as open source. And the MP3 audio file format has revolutionized the way people exchange audio files by making them small and easily exchanged over the Internet.
2. There’s is already propensity to work in this way. Instant messaging, IP phones, video conferencing, cellular phones Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they’ve all changed the way individuals and groups communicate. Blogs, wikis, bulletin boards, news groups and social networks have changed the way people discuss everything. The rise of these technologies is affecting the social culture of human communication, and is also affecting the way people collaborate.
Kompoz builds on that by providing the right mix of social networking tools specifically for music collaboration.
3. It’s practical. Online collaboration solves the obvious time and space problems, such as travel time, rehearsal space, and coordination of schedules. And because it’s asynchronous, participation can happen when it’s convenient.
4. Unbelievable Depth. I like to joke with my friends in Ã¢â‚¬Å“offline bandsÃ¢â‚¬Â — My band is bigger than yours!
In the offline world, you’re limited to the creative input of the people in your band. In the online world, you have millions of potential bandmates!
Most of the projects you’ll see underway have multi-national participation. I’m working on a song right now that has people from Australia, France, Brazil, Spain, and Scotland. They all bring fresh ideas to the project. Instead of, or in an addition to meeting, connecting, and creating music with people at a local club or other venues in some neighborhood, you can now find people all around the world.
This really works. Just yesterday, a member on Kompoz posted a Harmonium and Sarangi track to a project. What are the chances of finding that talent in your local offline band?!?!
Think of Kompoz as a Match.com for musicians.
How do you make this work?
We create the tools; ‘the people’ make it work.
We provide all the latest Web 2.0 features, social networking tools, and the platform to help people connect and make music.
We provide individual project workspaces for each project, a member-driven rating system, personal musician profiles, blogs, private messaging, commenting / feedback, project forums, embeddable shareable flash players, unlimited disk space, easy upload and download features, collaboration Ã¢â‚¬Å“friendsÃ¢â‚¬Â lists, and more.
Our members make it work by creating great music! You start with an idea, post it, nurture it, and watch it grow into a completed song.
Most projects start with a single track (a rough guitar track, for example). The project founder will normally post a creative brief describing the direction for the project. Sometimes it’s very specific, other times it is very open-ended. Other members can then preview the work, and download any track.
Anyone can contribute additional tracks (vocals, drums, bass, etc.) and post them to the project. New mixdown tracks are created as the song evolves.
Can musicians jam ‘live’?
No. The technology, mainly bandwidth, is not there yet for the average user. Perhaps someday, but not now.
Kompoz is a remote Ã¢â‚¬Å“asynchronousÃ¢â‚¬Â collaboration tool. It is project-focused. This has many benefits, including the ability to work and develop a song over a longer period of time, without worrying about your collaborators having to leave for dinner!
There’s no meter running on your studio time either.
New ideas can be explored more easily this way without fear of wasting the time of the other participants. This encourages experimentation, exploration, and refinement of the song.
Is this starting to reveal new ways of being ‘in a band’?
What is a band??! Yes, absolutely. Being in a band takes on a whole new meaning on Kompoz. Your band grows dynamically.
Actually, each new project results in a new virtual band. New friends and affinities are created daily. It’s really an amazing thing to experience.
Enjoyable timewaster, or serious working method?
It’s what you make it. Kompoz is a set of tools, and you can do what ever you want with it. All the tools are there to goof around or to create a masterpiece. It’s up to you. We provide the platform to ignite ideas.
Most members are on Kompoz to create real music.
I see sites like SpliceMusic and JamGlue as very enjoyable time-wasters. They are primarily Ã¢â‚¬Å“re-mixÃ¢â‚¬Â sites full of samples, sound effects, and MIDI files.
We don’t believe that an online Flash-based mixing tool (like the ones provided by Splice and JamGlue) can provide the level of control needed for true music production.
Kompoz is a platform and social network for musicians that use off-line software like Pro Tools, Logic, Sonar, and other Digital Audio Workstations. You won’t find online mixers on Kompoz. It’s not a model.
Our direction is to provide integration with the DAW you already use.
Even so, is it mostly just amateurs noodling?
Many of the members on Kompoz are practicing musicians. Many play in bands, or have played in bands at some point in their lives.
We don’t have any formal surveys to back that, but you can see it in their profiles and in the messages they post on the forums. There are also quite a few professionals on Kompoz.
Either way Ã¢â‚¬â€œ amateur or professional Ã¢â‚¬â€œ there’s very little idle noodling. Most are here because they truly want to participate in the creation of real music. They’re here to develop a song that they can share with the world.
Any notable releases yet as a result of the Kompoz platform?
Yes. But first let me first point out that Kompoz is changing the way people think of music as being ‘released’. On Kompoz, a song/project is constantly being refined and perfected on a daily basis.
Songs in the past had to be ‘released’ because of the way they were produced and because of the media format on which they were issued. In the past a ‘band’ would have to record on X day to meet the X date for the CD distribution. That’s just is not true anymore.
Time, location, and delivery are 100% dynamic.
Technically, a song on Kompoz is never Ã¢â‚¬Å“closedÃ¢â‚¬Â and declared as finished. Anyone at anytime is free to continue to develop any song.
Of course, milestone mixdowns are produced periodically and they are published for all to play and download.
So using this terminology, there have been several notable Ã¢â‚¬Å“milestoneÃ¢â‚¬Â releases. We’re in the process now of rolling out Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kompoz RadioÃ¢â‚¬Â and compilation CDs so that the great music produced here reaches new listeners.
Here… have a listen to a few of our recent notable releases:
Nice embedded players. So… how do you make your money?
Our business plan details four primary revenue opportunities. At a high level, they include new music distribution services, premium member services (such as private project workspaces), hosted promotion services, and of course advertising.
It’s the weekend. Go sign up, have a play, start a project, jam on someone’s track, and then pop back here to let me know what you make of the site in the comments. I’d do it myself, but then I’d have to play the guitar — and NOBODY wants that.