New Noise Group is a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles who are currently campaigning to open a free recording studio with an extensive educational platform for aspiring artists. The goal is to provide a free space for artists to make a high-quality record while at the same time learning the ins and outs of music production. We sat down with founder Omid Maijdi to chat about the project and what it means to the music industry.
What inspired the idea to start the New Noise Group?
I think there are a lot of small things that led to the inspiration of New Noise Group. I used to play guitar in letlive and it was around the same time that I was getting into recording engineering. I had been recording local bands out of my parent’s house and was getting decently good at it. When letlive were ready to record Speak Like You Talk, we had the great opportunity to record in an environment where there was no budget, unlimited studio time, and just the band and our drive to make an album that was something we would all be proud of.
About two years later I moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music and within my major had to take a Business of Music Production class that was just astoundingly eye-opening and jaw-dropping, in a bad way.
The amount of control that finances have on any given record is truly despicable and in contrast to the recording environment that I had experienced, it just seemed like there had to be a better way – especially since we’re talking about music. This isn’t the stock market or hedge funds, it’s music… and the fact that there is so much money being intertwined with the process is something I can never wrap my head around and be OK with.
So after I graduated Berklee, I began spitballing ideas with Roland Tetenbaum and Matt Clear on how we might be able to open a studio. But not just a traditional studio; because that business model just doesn’t fit with our principles and what we want to achieve. The one thing we were trying to avoid was money all together so naturally the concept of a nonprofit recording studio came up and we took that premise and ran with it.
Why did you think the resources are needed for musicians?
There’s a great line that Jason Butler said when I sat down to talk to him about this idea and it went something like this: “Recording is a strange kind of thing. There are some musical ideas and concepts that you practice as a band and they sound great and when you record them they sound even better. But there are also some things that you practice and they sound great and when you record them they don’t sound as good as you thought they did during rehearsal. Recording and playing back recordings unearths all of the subtle nuances within music and sometimes you hear things that you never noticed before and it’s not for the better.”
It’s because of this that the traditional model of charging hourly rates for recording time is so fundamentally flawed. If you get things the first take that’s great, but there’s a good chance that there are going to need to be changed and re-takes to get things right – to get things the way that they are intended to be by the artist. If you have a finite amount of hours to do so, an artist is going to have to make cut-throat decisions for the sake of time and money, not for the sake of their creative vision.
What sort of classes will you be offering for musicians?
The main focus of our educational programs will be all of our actual recording sessions. We are going to allow students and musicians alike the opportunity to sit-in on our sessions to learn first-hand about the entire record making process. And just like the record making process, the sessions will range from pre-production to tracking, mixing, and mastering.
We’re going to do our best to be able to explain as we go along and teach why we are doing what we are doing as we’re doing it, but naturally we don’t want to slow down the process too much where it becomes to be a burden. But we also don’t want to skip over things and have our students miss out on learning opportunities. So we will be supplementing our sit-in sessions with dedicated classes where we will dive deep into topics and techniques to make sure that we can fully explain all concepts that we may not have enough time to go as in-depth with during our sessions.
Some of the dedicated classes we are going to offer are Introduction to Music Production, Microphone Techniques, Critical Listening & Ear Training, Mixing Techniques, Mastering Techniques, and dedicated classes on industry leading software such as Pro Tools, Reason, and Logic Pro.
Will the studio only cater to unsigned and local musicians? Will there be opportunities for bands internationally to take on these courses/share in the experience?
Largely we want to be able to help artists who may not have the opportunity otherwise to even record at all, whether it be due to financial constraints or otherwise. There’s definitely a focus on the unsigned and local musician aspect, but we’re not going to be exclusionary to any artists.
We’ve outlined some artist eligibility criteria that include some things like the artist needing to be able to prove that they have material to record (recording a rehearsal on their phone, sheet music written, etc.) and the artists must agree to have their sessions be available for students to sit-in.
I don’t think that the international artist community would be excluded by any means, but at least to start it would most likely more feasible for a more local artist or band to record with us.
What will be the benefits be for musicians who attend classes at the studio?
The experience. When I was at Berklee we had some classes where we talked about the processes and techniques, and we had some classes where we used and employed those processes and techniques. The most valuable, most retainable classes were hands down the ones where we were doing rather than being told. I think if you are a musician or a student and called any recording studio to ask if you could sit-in on their next session they would laugh in your face.
You’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to begin the process of building the actual studio – how can people get involved, and what kind of rewards are on offer?
By backing our project and spreading the word to friends and family! By just pledging $1 you’ll receive updates as we build out the studio every step of the way. If you throw in some more we have some pretty cool rewards like headphone splitters, t-shirts, having your name in the studio, getting executive producer credits on albums we record, all the way up to some big-spenders where we will actually invite you to be on our nonprofit’s Board of Directors.
Even if you can’t afford to spend any cash, just posting a link on Facebook or Tweeting about us would be a tremendous help for us to get the word out!
If you reach your $25,000 goal – when would you expect to launch/officially open the studio for business?
The Kickstarter campaign ends at 11:59pm on Thanksgiving! And our target date for our studio grand opening is just a couple of months afterwards on February 1st, 2014. We will also be holding a grand opening party / fundraiser as we launch!
What will happen to the project if you don’t reach your Kickstarter goal? Will you continue trying to find funding opportunities?
Absolutely. If the Kickstarter doesn’t perform as well as we hope it will definitely not be the end. We’re all very invested in this and it is not something that we’re going to give up with fighting for with everything that we have.
It’s important to know that while the $25k that we’re hoping to raise from Kickstarter will be a huge help, it is not the end all of funding for our studio.
We’ve put in place many revenue streams for this studio and the lack of Kickstarter funding would be nothing but a delay in our grand opening as we put together the proper funding from other sources.
Overall, what are you hoping for the project/studio to achieve in the long-term?
The ultimate goal is to create a new kind of recording studio for a new kind of music industry. We hope to change the way that people think about the recording process and about studios in general, particularly when it comes to how artists are thrown in the middle of labels acting as bank loans for recording budgets and studios who are trying to make a living with hourly rates for services that are creative rather than industrial.
We want to create organic music. We want to teach how to create organic music (something about teaching a man to fish). We want to be able to ultimately spread our studio model beyond our initial opening to many more locations across the US and even internationally.
Yeah, these are lofty goals, but dreams are supposed to be big and we don’t have any delusions of being able to achieve them overnight.
Many thanks to Omid for taking the time to chat to us. You can still pledge money to New Noise Group’s campaign via Kickstarter – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/newnoise/free-recording-for-artists-plus-music-education-fo