St. Paul Pioneer Press

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“Music producers Mike and Scott Bishop are trying to make themselves obsolete.

Over the past decade, the St. Paul brothers have helped many a musician turn raw tracks into polished songs. This partly involved getting on Craigslist to find the contract musicians with the instruments required to help flesh out the full melodies.

They found this to be a pain in the posterior.

Now they are moonlighting as tech entrepreneurs in a bid to remove themselves as the middlemen in this process, at least in some cases. They are building a Web-based service, RecordTogether, which would let two or more musicians do exactly that — record music together, right over the Internet.

The music-composition Web app, not yet publicly available, has a passing resemblance to consumer-based music-authoring software such as Apple’s GarageBand, and pro-level audio-editing applications like Logic, Pro Tools and FL Studio.

RecordTogether, however, lives on the Internet and not on a computer’s hard drive. This, the Bishop brothers argue, is what makes it a good collaborative tool for musicians who are not physically in the same place but want to team up.

RecordTogether also is a social network. Its creators envision a burgeoning community of musicians who can informally interact with each other and, if they find simpatico, launch into projects together.

This would let RecordTogether serve roughly the same role as Craigslist did previously — locating music talent for works in progress, but without geographic boundaries. A composer in St. Paul could, for instance, hire a guitarist in Chicago and a drummer in Denver.

“This way, someone could upload a part of a song, and then crowdsource the best ideas from others,” Mike Bishop said. “In a collaborative space, others can join in and upload their own ideas.”

The brothers are still a long way from making this happen. RecordTogether is in only a partial state of completion, though largely operational, and accessible only to about 50 testers who are giving feedback.

The Bishops want to beef up the number of users before going public. Yet, they are well aware, building the user base is difficult when hardly anyone knows the product exists.

“We know we have a chicken-and-egg issue,” Mike Bishop said.

The startup also needs to get financing in place before the service can be developed to its full potential, he added.

The Roseville natives have themselves played in bands, including one called Live From Heaven, with music they describe as “Nine Inch Nails meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”

At the same time, Mike Bishop has a technical background.

“I have been coding for 20 years,” said Mike, who now serves as RecordTogether’s chief executive as well as chief technical officer, working in White Bear Lake. Scott, the chief operating officer, focuses on community and product development.

As music producers, the Bishops have operated in an industrial-style space near Snelling and University avenues in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood.

That’s where a visiting band helped to spark the RecordTogether idea.

“Their singer came to us with songs he had written over the last 15 years, all by himself,” Mike Bishop said. “They had to go out and form the rest of a band. This took months, and there were strange encounters with musicians off Craigslist.”

That band, said the Bishops, helped solidify the idea for RecordTogether as a national and worldwide community with a deeper pool of talent to speed up musicmaking and the assembling of bands.

The Bishops anticipate offering a basic version of RecordTogether for free but charging a fee for users who want more advanced features.

“It is pretty safe to say we will have some kind of subscription component,” Mike Bishop said.

Users are likely to range from music hobbyists with little or no interest in making money to pros relying on RecordTogether as a critical career tool, he said.

Eric Fawcett, a Minneapolis-based musician, sees potential for RecordTogether, but also pitfalls.

Fawcett, co-founder of the Egg Music production agency, said RecordTogether could be a boon for hobbyists who would find it “super fun” and a terrific way to experiment with raw ideas in tandem with buddies they find online.

But, Fawcett added, RecordTogether might not be a good fit for professional musicians with well-formed music goals and no appetite for a freewheeling crowdsourcing culture.

Besides, Fawcett said, RecordTogether’s capabilities still pale compared with professional music-authoring applications like Logic and Pro Tools. RecordTogether could, however, be useful as the music equivalent of a sketchpad, he added.

As Internet connections get zippier, and Web-app capabilities continue to improve, the sky is the limit for RecordTogether and similar services, he believes.

“The way things are going, walls and barriers are breaking down constantly,” Fawcett said.”

Full article by Julio Ojeda-Zapata: http://www.twincities.com/business/ci_28873263/st-paul-brothers-think-their-web-based-music

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