It used to be that high setup costs and low unit costs meant that a widget for sale had to appeal to a lot of people in order to generate enough sales to make a profit. In recent years, technology has allowed the manufacture of small quantities of widgets even one-offs, at pretty reasonable prices. As a result, Japanese marketing of toys has shifted considerably. Anime and Manga (cartoons and comic books) are no longer all developed and marketed in such a way as to appeal to the widest possible audience. Instead, more and more unique and oddball characters and situations are developed aimed at creating a small, but rabid fan base that feels compelled to buy absolutely anything having to do with their three or four favorite characters.
Now, instead of trying to sell lots of cheap things (CD’s) to millions of people, most of whom couldn’t care less what a 335 is, Larry Carlton (Mr. 335) is selling a few expensive things to a small, foamy-mouthed fan base. This reflects the same radical shift in marketing, made possible by new technology, that has led to recent massive success in the Japanese character-related toy market.
Could this really be a viable new way in which a recording session could pay off???
The Thing-For-Sale is pretty impressive, even at the price of $3,000 plus shipping, and provides some heretofore impossible-to-get opportunities to the customer/fan/musician/producer, under the wide-flung areas of listening, recording, and marketing.
I’ve known only a few Larry Carlton fans, but they’ve been WAAAAY into it. I could tell stories. I think they actually hung out with him. So go along with me now. If you aren’t a big Larry Carlton fan, please just imagine that you could get this from some artist who you totally love:
1. “Watch One”
First, for listening, experimenting, learning, enjoying, and nerding out:
From the website (http://sessionmasters.com):
You get all of the masters, which were recorded in HD at a sample rate of 96 and 48k and are compatible with virtually any recording and editing software including Pro Tools, Digital Performer, and Logic 8.
A 10-camera, multi-angle video library of the actual sessions steps you through the rundown with the musicians; the recording session itself; and Larry and Csaba’s creative and production commentary for all ten tunes.
2. “Do One”
Then, suppos’n’ all this listining gives you the itch for performing, producing, and creating–you’re encouraged to dive in and make the music your own–literally:
Sheet music for all parts across 10 tunes is also included
Record your own solos or jump into the rhythm section and comp for Larry and Jeff’s solos. Write lyrics and add a vocal part to any of the ten tunes. Add strings, percussion, horn parts or compose entirely new melodies over the rhythm sections – you’re in the producer’s seat!
Everything you create with Session Masters tracks is YOUR music. Record a song or produce an entire album (your credits will be quite impressive).
3. Sell One”
And as if that weren’t enough, the third thing is this: you get to make moneyoff the darn thing, too–and they’re gonna show you how!
Promote and sell your music online, at gigs, in stores, wherever and however you wish. Do it for the bragging rights and experience, or go for the Grammy!
Your Session Masters includes expert instruction to help you through every step. We’ll teach you how to license the publishing, master your music, duplicate, package, distribute online, promote to radio and market your finished project.
Now it’s been suggested that this doesn’t address the customer’s artistic intent. “What,” suggests the critic, “if the customer has a different groove in mind, and there’s nothing on the Session Masters album that fits it?” He’s got a point, but I think I have an answer. In this day and age of cutting and pasting, of composite art and stacked creativity, building your track on top of tracks made by your favorite artist is something that people choose to do all the time. And I think it’s no more likely to turn out badly than, say, buying a new keyboard with patches that might or might not be what you had in mind, rather than designing your own patches.
I’d conclude by pointing out that it’s fitting that such an idea would come from a session superstar like Larry Carlton.
First, maybe his fistfull of deep fans would be so into it that they’ve hung out with him. Maybe he’s selling these units to people who are more his friends than customers. I say, fine. It fits. Isn’t that the life of a studio musician, after all? Make friends, find out what projects they’re doing, collaberate. There’s something about it that feels kind of warm, actually.
Second, listen to his tune, “Room 335,” and then the Steely Dan tune, “Peg,” on which he played. (Well…it’s the only track on Steely Dan’s “Aja” that he isn’t credited for…let’s assume he had something to do with it). I can’t think of a more appropriate person to be promoting, with full sense of dignity, the idea of customers replacing a few tracks and selling the tune as something new.
I think the man is on to something.