R.A.P. Aside from the mailout, you did this project without any capital investment, right?
Dave: That's the thing. There's virtually no capital needed. Once you have the music system, it's just a matter of being able to spend the time.
R.A.P. Granted, you can produce the music without any capital up front, but the mailout does cost. What was the expense there?
Dave: It was pretty cheap. If you're going to bulk mail something, you're going to pay 16.7 cents per piece. There are 9900 stations in the country, excluding educationals, so when sending a mailout to every station, you're going to spend a couple of thousand on printing, a couple of thousand on the Evatone soundsheet, and a couple of thou¬sand on postage. You can hire someone to stuff all the envelopes for you for a few hundred dollars. So for under ten thousand dollars you can make a contact with every radio station in the country.
R.A.P. Would you say there are a lot of music systems out there that are not being used to their fullest potential; systems someone could hook up with just like you did?
Dave: Sure. That's going to be the next major chunk of music. All these music systems are available, and when people figure out how to use them properly, we're going to see a lot more music from people that, up to now, never had a chance to put out a record. Before, you had to have a band; and the band had to rent studio time and get nice instruments and nice processing equipment to make it sound good enough. Now, in the digital domain, anyone can go out and spend a thousand dollars and get a little synthesizer. You can get a synthesizer with a sequencer for sixteen or seventeen hundred. So many people are going to have the opportunity to make music. These people that have the equipment now, at home, are potential marketers of music; they are potential recording stars. I think a lot of the people you hear in music today, especially in urban contemporary, only had a synthesizer. They were very, very clever. They spent a lot of time on it, they made some stuff, and it sounded good. They got into a record company because they had the ability to make the music to present to the record company. Up to the digital age, that was something that was very expensive, and now, it's very inexpensive.
R.A.P. What about the individual who's not as musically educated as you? Does he need to be a musician to use these systems to make a simple music bed?
Dave: No, but it makes it easier to do. We know a music bed has to be either :29 or :59. Music sort of plays into your hands: A standard musical 8 bar phrase is going to take 10 or 12 seconds. You're going to have a second melody, or a counter melody, and then a repeat of the first melody and wham, you're up to 29 seconds! It can be very easy. Even a novice can manufacture a decent sounding track, but it may take him a little longer. The great thing about electronic music systems is that someone who can't play very well, can sound as though they can. With a sequencer you can program it in; you play it very slowly then you just speed up the tempo.
R.A.P. Describe the studio you're working out of.
Dave: One of our guys has a very nice studio in his house. We have an IBM computer running 4 synthesizers and a digital drum machine. The recording is being done digitally onto the hard disk of the computer. Actually, what's being recorded are the instructions to the synthesizers to perform the music, so each time you play it back, it's not technically a recording but a repeat performance of the music. We have a couple of samplers and some great software for the computer. We use the Voyetra software for the IBM. We also have a Ramsa 12 channel mixing board and a Roland reverb unit.
R.A.P. If you were to put a dollar figure on the studio, what would it be?
Dave: It's really very nice. I'd say about 30,000 dollars.
R.A.P. What other things are you doing in the studio to make money?
Dave: We're producing the standard bank jingles. We do the basic tracks in the electronic studio, then we move the tape to a local studio, and add some real instruments and some vocals. We're small, so we don't own our own full blown studio yet.
R.A.P. You have a great voice. Are you pursuing any voice work as well?
Dave: I've always done voice work. Lately I have not been pursuing any, but I probably will in the future. I've done national spots for lots of companies from Chuck-E-Cheeze Pizza to Rockwell International. Right now, my voice is the computer voice on the Commodore talking computer.
R.A.P. What advice would you give to someone wanting to do their own studio?
Dave: If you're going to pop the bucks for any kind of electronic music stuff, don't buy things that are huge. Buy little things and string them together. Modular thought, when it comes to electronic music studios, is the best, because the technology is changing so fast that if you put all your money into a Fairlight or a Synclavier or something like that, thinking you're buying something phenomenal, in 2 years, you're going to find that you spent way too much money, and you will wish that you would have bought a separate computer and a separate synthesizer. If you pop the money for something big now, you're gonna be sad later. Take the guy that spent $4,000 on an Oberheim 4 years ago: 3 years ago they came out with digital, and the Oberheim dropped in price to about $500. Recognize that what you're dealing with is a technology that's rapidly changing. Protect yourself by not buying things that are going to be too costly and tie you down capital-wise. In the very near future, things are going to change big time.
We wish Dave and Rob the best of luck with Multimusic! The key to the success of any production library is good quality work, and Dave and Rob have that in "Holiday Hot Cuts". Obviously, a career in radio production doesn't have to end in radio production. It's also good to know that a former Production Director is out there producing music for today's Production Directors. He knows what we need.