Community-Based Recording Studios: A Look into the Future
This article provides a description of what would be needed to create a recording studio and provide free recording services to residents in a community. In return, we ask that those produced in this studio be placed in the Public Domain, thereby broadening the base of our precious Public Domain. This article also introduces StudioforRecording.org, an open-source project in a community setting. Aside from the equipment, all software will be open source and available to everyone. Future articles will chronicle the development of a "typical" recording studio, from start to finish.
To assist the reader, here's the breakdown of what are the important pieces of equipment to be included in a community-based recording studio. Cost runs somewhere between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on the quality of the particular items purchased:
12- to 24-channel powered mixer: ~$600-$2000
Stereo compressor: ~$200
Other stereo effects:
Stereo graphic EQ
Digital multi-effect processor
Total cost: ~$200-$1500
Professional monitor speakers, single or multispeaker with crossover: ~$300-$1500
Professional power amp, 200-1000 watts: ~$200-$600
Microphones (1 to as many as you want), Shure or EV: ~$100-$2000
Assorted cables: ~$100-$300
Add your PCs, cheap, middle and high-end, as provided by donors, and you're up and running. Still interested? Well, let's get to it.
Up until recently, the cost of putting a studio together ran way too high to be considered as a potential community-based project. Further, the idea of providing free recording services to musicians and artists was not a widespread ideal for most. Today, though, the need to consider what steps can be taken to mitigate the damage and harm caused by our legislators in Congress and by activities taking place in the United Nations, countries and governments around the world, makes it important that we all think about what the future might hold for us.
Over the last forty-some years, there has been a shift in how our copyright concept, i.e., works of authorship, are handled. Economic theory developed in the 1960s (see Resources) led to a kind of thinking that placed great emphasis on allocating resources to maximize profits for owners of copyrights/patents. The term "efficiency" was a favorite. What we have witnessed is a blurring of the line between a copyright and a patent. In fact, as Neil Weinstock Netanel explains, in his law review article , the Neoclassicist (variation on the term Neoclassic theorists) merges the copyright and patent terms into one term: intellectual property.
The activities of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) exemplifies this "new" thinking. Extending copyright into perpetuity, consolidating ownership rights and maximizing the market opportunities through as few doors as possible can only benefit society, so they say. It costs money, time, effort and is wasteful and inefficient in a world economy to insist that many authors and copyright holders engage in negotiations with customers, suppliers and manufacturers. Better we leave everything in the hands of the fewest number possible, in order to efficiently grow the market place, (you'll recognize this as a description of a monopoly). It's even better if the rights of copyright owners be expressed in terms of physical property characteristics. Now, such a transformation will certainly enhance everyone's ability to grasp the economics of efficiency. Yes, we now can legislate technology and economies and market places with clarity. You're either in compliance or you're illegal. What's left out of the equation, so far, is that Neoclassicists run into trouble when issues such as personal freedoms, free speech and fair use are raised. There's no place for a Public Domain in such a scheme. And, that's where the community-based recording studios come in.
A community-based recording studio is a facility that will provide free recording services for musicians and artists to record their works.
The facility will be created and developed using federal, state and local grant funding opportunities, private-public partnerships and local donors and volunteers.
Residents of a community and surrounding communities will be able to use the facility without charge, in return for placing their works in the Public Domain (sounds a lot like our public libraries).
Collaboration with Lawrence Lessig's Creative Commons Project will enable the musicians and artists to access legal assistance at no cost, limited primarily to licensing and contract issues.
Collaboration with the University of North Carolina's Ibiblio.org Project will establish a central repository of all works placed in the Public Domain.
Within each community, there will be local control over the community-based recording studio. Programs that meet the needs of the local communities will be developed and coordinated with the facility. Such programs might include music-related programs such as music history, music genres and recording basics, but they also could include programs addressing internet and web site development for marketing, as well as distribution strategies used by the musicians and artists.
Not all communities will have the resources to develop a successful community-based recording studio. With that in mind, this model provides a central resource, where funding, training and education, along with legal and professional services, can be provided. Such an approach removes some of the obstacles that otherwise would hinder the success of many community-based recording studios. For example, if a community in the Appalachians wanted to set up a community-based recording studio, but they just didn't have access to the funding resources necessary, Studio For Recording, Inc. would handle that aspect. If, after operations were begun, the community wished to expand its educational programs to include web-site development, but there were no computers available, Studio For Recording, Inc. would assist in locating, preparing and shipping computers donated by companies and individuals, to the community. Most importantly, however, is the establishment of a centralized help support team that can remotely access and support all community-based recording studios, lifting a critical burden on each community to secure competent technical expertise.
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