Tell us a little bit about OpenLIVE.
OpenLIVE is a Hi-Resolution music platform, offering releases from both established and emerging Artists at the highest available sonic quality. We have developed an end-to-end system that allows artists, who have performed in venues equipped with our MasterBuilder hardware, to harvest mixed, mastered and ready to release recordings from their live show. We achieve this by the artist simply establishing an account and scheduling the recording.
What makes OpenLIVE different to other online music stores?
No one in the world has done what we are currently doing. We do have a retail store that is dedicated to hi-resolution, so there is no MP3 or nothing less than CD quality available. We’re the first in Australia to have a dedicated CD quality download store with licensing from the major record labels. That was our original scheme, to get this store up and running. Parallel to that, we started building MasterBuilder and the components of our artist dashboard.
What is High-Resolution audio, and why do you think it is important to listen to music at the highest available sonic quality?
We nominate CD quality as the minimum benchmark for our audio store. With the recordings we make with MasterBuilder, they are made above CD quality. The founders of this company are audio engineers, so we are fanatical about not enjoying music with sub-par sound quality. MP3 can be convenient, but when you are making a subjective comparison to the studio quality master, there is a gaping difference. Because of the fact that Internet speeds and bandwidth allocation are a lot more generous today than what they were when MP3s were first introduced in the early 2000s, it allows for us to distribute Hi-Res audio. It makes sense to be able to distribute music at a higher resolution so that if you have a decent system, you should be able to enjoy the full breath of the sound quality available.
What is the idea behind MasterBuilder and what equipment is used for the set ups?
MasterBuilder was created as a way to, without compromising any sound quality, remotely record completely unmanned, harvest live recordings from venues. So we essentially plant the hardware in as many venues as we like, and the artists who perform at these venues only need to register their set details online for it to record their performance. It’s as simple as booking a plane ticket. It doesn’t cost them anything at the moment, whilst we are in beta testing. We have developed a platform at the moment though that is working extremely well, and is harvesting hundreds of recordings a week.
What venues is MasterBuilder being rolled out into?
We have been very fortunate that the proprietors of local venues have seen the value in our product. Currently, we have installed quite a few in Melbourne. MasterBuilder is installed at The Evelyn, The Reverence, Northcote Social Club, Shebeen, Max Watt’s and The Corner Hotel. We also have MasterBuilder at Oxford Arts Factory (Sydney), The Triffid (Brisbane) and The Astor Theatre (Perth). We will be pushing out overseas in the next couple of months, with a venue in New York jumping on board, as well as continuing to work on our roll out in the UK.
With technological advancements in recent years resulting in higher storage devices and faster Internet speeds, do you believe that audience’s should be looking for higher quality recordings?
What we have noticed is that musicians are absolutely bent towards sound quality. For anyone that has been in a studio and completed a recording, and have heard just how good it all sounds after you have spent months tweaking and mastering it, its hard to be satisfied with a compressed version. To have is smashed down to a MP3 file is always a kick in the guts as a musician. Whether the average consumer is motivated to go to the extra length to source and find the hi-resolution material is another question. We initially thought that we were venturing into a niche market, and a market that would need a lot of stimulation in order to receive traction on our product. The market research that we have seen however suggests that there is a fairly large group of people out there who care about sound quality. If you look at the 1970s, the hi-fi marketing was all about sound quality. You had big speakers, huge hi-fi components etc. and sound quality was the real selling point. These days, trends have shifted and convenience seems to be a bigger sell factor. Anyone who compares a compressed sound recording with budget headphones to a decent hi-fi recording is going to understand the difference, and go looking for it.
For more information about OpenLIVE, Masterbuilder or some of the releases they’ve put together visit www.openlive.co.