Moonalice Interview: Music Technology and Art With Roger McNamee

Moonalice Interview: Music Technology and Art Discussion with Roger McNamee

Roger

Moonalice continues their 2014 East Coast Tour this week. The band will be performing concerts in Connecticut and New York. I urge you if you are in the vicinity of any of these events to come out and see Moonalice perform live.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014, Fairfield, C.T., StageOne

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014, New York City, N.Y., The Cutting Room

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Thursday July 31, 2014, Norfolk, C.T., Infinity Music Hall

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I had a 75-minute Web discussion with Roger McNamee last week. I am providing “teaser” highlights of the interview that further explains Moonalice’s command of music technology. The next intent is to publish the “entire interview” along with the Moonalice Infinity Music Hall July 31st concert review at the end of the week.

It was my sincere hope that Roger McNamee and I would mesh as music technologists and rock music poster fans. When you read the interview Q&A I’m proud to say that goal was met. Roger is an affable person who openly shared his love for music, people, society and art throughout our conversation.

Question 1: Does Moonalice plan to make recordings available in high-resolution audio for Neil Young‘s PonoMusic?

Roger: It’s a great question. When we did our first album, Moonalice with T Bone Burnett the answer was an emphatic Yes! We recorded it on an optimized audio DVD with the music in high-resolution stereo 24/96 WAV. The expectation was that you had a mega DVD which had images that went by while you were listening to it, etc. As it turned out T Bone Burnett was nominated for a Grammy as Producer of the Year for our album and T Bone Burnett’s recording. His pioneering work with packaging, high-resolution and high-end masters gained him that recognition. (The album was produced using XOΔE (CODE), a high fidelity audio standard and optimization system created by Producer Burnett.)  

We’re very focused on high-definition video, 1080p and we embed the audio into the video so the high-resolution audio is there. When we got started T Bone, Bono and I were working on a project designed to help artists in a very meaningful way. The first album started us on this commitment with what I knew about technology and anything that came along to see what we could do with it. This notion where we can produce live concert videos at 10% of normal cost was really exciting, the math starts to be pretty interesting.

Can I just tip my hat to you? You are the first person to ask me about high-definition audio and its significance in at least five years.

Questions 2: What is the next technological achievement that you seek to achieve with Moonalice?

We’re more likely to do vinyl before we do another experiment in high-resolution audio. Within our fan base there is a really serious market for vinyl. I believe oddly enough a larger percentage of our fans would be interested in ultra high-definition audio if we could figure out how to deliver it. (We discussed Neil Young and PonoMusic at length which I will include in the full Web audio interview.)

Question 3: I wanted to ask if you would give more information about the Haight Street Art Center?

We created the Haight Street Art Center, okay. The reason you can’t find any information about it is because we haven’t said anything. But I’m really happy to talk about it. The original notion is that I am somebody who has always loved studio art. I always loved poster art from the first time I saw it in the sixties. When I moved to San Francisco in the seventies I had no money at all. But posters weren’t expensive in those days you could get one for $15, a first printing was $25, I could afford that.

T Bone told us we should be part of the San Francisco psychedelic roots ethos. I suggested we should be doing rock poster art. I spoke with Chris Shaw, a natural leader with great organizational skills about how can we create posters for the band. Chris then helped us produce a poster for every show, 100 posters a year and we’re up to 735 different posters now. Wow!

We’ve now had 24 posters artists do posters for us, at least half get 50-100% of their income from that poster art. The problem became how do we get their poster art to be appreciated as fine art and put them in a position to make fine art.

What I realized is that we had to move from doing mass volume posters in offset printing to make great screen art and lithographs. What really came together was that we needed a museum, promotional infrastructure and printing capabilities. The Haight Street Art Center becomes that reality. (There is more to this benevolent art story which I will share later this week.)

PonoMusic Progress Update

The PonoMusic Team updated Kickstarter backers (I’m proud to be included in that number) with news about strategic partnerships and product engineering progress.

PonoMusic is making great progress on the development of the new and improved PonoPlayer (the one you pledged for), as well as the on-line store, the content delivery system, and the desktop media center application.

1. Desktop Media Software

JRiver (www.jriver.com) will provide a Pono-branded version of their world-class desktop media center software. This software will be similar to the iTunes® desktop app in that it will allow you to manage your music, create playlists, sync your music to your PonoPlayer, access the PonoMusic store, buy & download music to your desktop, do player firmware updates, etc.

2. PonoMusic Store

PonoMusic will partner with CloudCraze (www.cloudcraze.com), an eCommerce platform that runs natively on the salesforce1® platform. The PonoMusic Store will be hosted through a partnership with SalesForce.com. PonoMusic will establish a world-class social music store. PonoMusic expects to have their PonoPlayer pre-order store (for post-Kickstarter pre-orders of PonoPlayers and some accessories) up and running in mid-to-late June. Kickstarter supporters will receive notification of automatically created user accounts at that time.

3. Content Delivery

PonoMusic is days away from finalizing a partnership with a world-class content delivery partner who has great expertise in the content management and quality management issues.

Work has also begun the initiative with major music labels to have the PonoMusic store on-line with a very large, relevant and interesting content catalog by October.

Bruce Botnick has joined the PonoMusic leadership team. He is a legendary audio engineer and record producer known for his work with the Doors, Love, Buffalo Springfield, the Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, and many other artists. Bruce is responsible for establishing the PonoMusic content strategy and ensuring that they will provide the highest quality version of each recording sold in their music store.

Bruce’s graphic below captures the state of modern recording today and depicts his motivation for joining Pono to help us save music from the lossy formats such as MP3.

4. Headphones,

The PonoMusic Team is working on several offerings that they are very excited about. Their goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to experience the flawless sound from Pono soundtracks, and do so at an affordable price. They also will be testing headphones from many of the major manufacturers and posting their recommendations on their site in a few months.

 
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PonoMusic Quality Spectrum

English: Portrait of Fred Barnard ((1846-1896)
English: Portrait of Fred Barnard ((1846-1896) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“People often say ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ I believe the original quote was actually ‘A picture is worth ten thousand words’ as stated by Fred R. Barnard, of Printers’ Ink, 10 March 1927

PonoMusic is heads and heels above what we are currently listening to today. See the PonoMusic Quality Spectrum graph below.

I can’t wait for “Launch” Day in October 2014.

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Harvest Moon Awaits

I have thought about Neil Young the inventor today. Pono Music is entering the product engineering stage of validating first phase requirements. Today is the first day of Spring. So the robins are out and the green grass will follow. Later this year after Harvest Moon time comes October when people like myself and others will be listening to their Pono Music players as they flow the bountiful high-resolution audio cornucopia. Good things come to those who wait 😉

So let’s dance into the night happily savoring those we love in the music of our heart, Goodnight Rosemary.

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I’m An Active Member Of The PonoMusic Trusted 10,000

Pono translates from Hawaiian to mean righteous, and the intent is to honor recorded music and get it into the hands of fans without compromising the sound.

I am proud to be involved as a PonoMusic player early adopter. In quick fashion (7+ days) the PonoMusic player has reached the first project milestone of 10,000 units sold. Now to some people that amount is construed as minor in the Internet of Things which will encompass a trillion connected devices and appliances by 2040.

Quite the contrary, Pono is a major achievement in music industry circles. I see a direct correlation between how Microsoft has cultivated a trusted set of 10,000 beta testers to test their products and how the initial Pono community of 10,000 quality music lovers are will feel, share and give feedback.

I now have an active participant role as an early adopter of Pono. I am in the vanguard of perpetual change helping to influence how music will be embraced and felt in the soul of the new machine.

Let Neil Young the inventor of Pono explain why he wants you to truly hear music.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2014/03/19/291130878/neil-young-wants-you-to-truly-hear-music

We are liberated from the entrapment of lossy MP3. Bye bye 5% of the sound, hello 100% high-resolution audio direct from the artists master recording to the expressway of your soul. When it comes to Pono Music we are truly Rockin In The Free World!

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