Session Masters (Reprise)

Source: Sing. Play. Produce. « Session Masters

Tom Glagow of Popstop mentioned Larry Carlton’s latest album effort in his great radioshow “Jazz & More”. What caught my attention was him – Tom – elaborating on the fact that not only do you get to purchase Larry Carlton’s latest – and excellent! – CD, but there’s much more to it: Sufficiently “stacked” wallet/credit card provided, you also get to acquire the entire recording session and the master files from it as a package! Yes. You saw this right: You get to purchase the master files from Larry Carlton’s recording of this CD along with single instrument tracks, a reference mix by Csaba Petocz, videos being shot from 10 different angles, sheet music hard drives to hold all this information along with required connection cables to directly hook this up to your own music recording environment and load the entire recording sessions directly into ProTools, Logic 8 or DAW of your choice (so long as it can use and process at least files recorded at a sample rate of 48k; the raw files come at 96k sample rates, some conversion may apply in certain cases).

However: Let’s put the technical aspects aside for a minute, shall we? (because they are not the most important thing IMHO as I type this up; in a nutshell: If your home recording equipment is at least half way up to speed with today’s recording gear, you will get to work with the materials provided). Everyone I mentioned this to so far, they all get caught up in the specs and technical or monetary considerations right away. But in my view, there is something else standing out – and standing out with flying colors: For the first time in music history that I’m aware of – correct me, if I’m wrong on this – you get to purchase your favorite artist’s master files, as in: M.A.S.T.E.R.S.! And – they didn’t stop there, no Sir. You also get to do with those master files whatever you please and whereever the muse – as in: your creative sources – will take you! In other words and at normal breathing ratio: Larry Carlton et al. let you purchase the master files of recorded tracks along with an unlimited license (!) as to how you’re going to use these recordings! That’s right! So long as you do something with them – add your own instrumental/vocal parts, remix, dissect, reassemble, send through your own equipment, have it come out your way and in your particular style, you – drum roll – get to publish the results under your name! (I guess the fine print will say that you are required to always mention the original writers/musicians/producer, but heck – who wouldn’t in this case?!)

What I’m getting at is this: As far as I know and in my understanding this creates an all time first situation in the music industry. A paradigm shift, if you will. Never before have I heard of a situation, where a single legal entity, a private person to be exact, got to purchase an artist’s master files and use them as a framework for their own creative endeavours. Again – if you know more, I almost beg you to prove me wrong. Until then, I will say that this foray into uncharted waters by Carlton & Co. is a bold move that does exactly what their marketing claim says: It puts you in the composer’s/producer’s seat along with the super-accomplished cats performing on the album, each of whom have the most magnificient credentials you could dream of, not to mention decades of a professional career under their belt (at least that’s true for Larry Carlton, a.k.a. “Mr. 335”).

The catch? Well… the purchasing price is somewhere in the range of a used quality brand car and beyond. On the other hand: If you actually thought about collecting the money to book these musicians/producers for your own effort, the required budget would be somewhere at five times this figure, potentially more if you factor in transportation, accommodation, rental costs for particular (vintage) gear etc. etc.

I really think Mr. Carlton’s team have opened an entirely new chapter in the music industry with this. As I hate to listen to the reverberation of my own musings, I’d really love to have your take on this from the perspective of a musician | composer | producer or knowledgable, inclined and dedicated fan/music lover/music industry professional. Paradigm shift – yes or no?


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