Finland, the country that’s brought not only Nokia but open source endeavors like the Linux operating system and MySQL databases to the world, is now applying the open source philosophy to music production. A fresh Finnish start-up called AudioDraft is building a platform to help musicians write music together even if they’re separated by a physical distance.
AudioDraft is a browser-based application. People who need music—movie producers, ad agencies, businesses looking for a jingle, or other artists—can use AudioDraft to commission a piece from the community using the “Sourcing” interface. The idea is to set up a contest, offer a sum of money the company can decide on, and pick a winner from the suggestions.
The idea of crowd-sourcing music through a contest has been put to action before by a Nashville, Tenn.-based company called MusikPitch, which we covered recetly here. However, where MusikPitch seems to be aimed at having individual artists write pieces on their own, AudioDraft is designed to let artists collaborate on a commission, sharing the financial risk of not winning the deal and sharing the prize money, if they win.
But what really differentiates AudioDraft from the competition is the sketching feature, says co-founder and CEO Teemu Yli-Hollo.
Using the “sketching” interface, one collaborator can put in a drum track, another one can record guitars and bass, a third one can insert a vocal track, and so on. In the Internet age, music is already being done this way, with files being emailed or Dropboxed from one artist to another across the world (like the prolific musician Mike Patton, who created his Peeping Tom project in 2006 with collaborations from Americans Norah Jones and Kool Keith as well as the British duo Massive Attack, sharing tracks over the Internet instead of booking a studio.) AudioDraft is where the individual tracks come together, and it works as a virtual “sketch pad” to build the song.
“In addition to developing an online sequencer for building the tracks, we have integrated some social networking features so artists can comment on the song on the timeline of the track. For instance, they can tag a comment to a point in the sound wave and leave a comment, asking what is this sound peak right here, should we tweak that, and so on,” says Yli-Hollo, who is also a musician and runs his own independent record label in Finland.
When artists are satisfied with the piece they’ve created, the entity that commissioned the piece will review all the suggestions and decide on a winner. The winning group then receives a commission for their work.
AudioDraft has received early stage funding (a sum Yli-Hollo wouldn’t disclose), and the product is now in a private beta. It will enter a public beta in June. The money will be enough to finish the product and cover their expenses. AudioDraft expects to monetize the platform by charging the commissioning party a listing fee and taking a percentage of the prize money, while artists can use the tools for free.
“We are working with independent, unsigned artists who produce quality work. We want to give artists other means to create and find distribution for their music than the old record label way, and to make crowd-sourcing music easier,” Yli-Hollo explains.
Another cool possibility for the software is to give fans access to the actual production of a song. “Imagine if an artist like Madonna would build a song online, giving fans access to hear the song as it is being written, having them comment the track and share the process of writing music,” Yli-Hollo suggests.
AudioDraft is already being used by the international production team of a feature-length film called And White Was The Night to make original music for the film (trailer here). The movie team is a Columbian-Costa Rican-Finnish-Iranian co-production.
AudioDraft, while based in Helsinki, is looking to break into the international market and hit music-making centers like Los Angeles, New York and London with the product.