What do you get when you take an old idea and add some new technology? If you’re Joe Carroll, you make beautiful music in a much more efficient way. Carroll launched the Manhattan Producers Alliance in August as a co-op for composers working in the entertainment industry.
Basically, he convinced several New York indie sound studios to come together in one location and serve as a high-tech, connected hub. Members and their clients can access the shared studio from anywhere at any time via on-line video and audio connections. Being able to share software and upload to common FTP sites means collaboration between studios is much easier because everyone is working on the same page.
The concept was born while Carroll, whose company Manic Moose Music specializes in kids projects, was working on the tunes for direct-to-video Kermit’s Swamp Years for Columbia TriStar. With most of the other production work happening in L.A., Carroll and the director began fooling around with webcams and found that they could easily coordinate everything on-line.
‘It’s not the technology that’s really innovative; it’s more our approach and our business model,’ says Carroll. ‘Clients will pop up on the screen when you’ve been working on something and say, ‘That was good; can you do that again?’ It works really seamlessly.’ And his clients seem to like the set-up. Carroll has been busy in the kids realm lately, working on both Share a Story and his seventh season of Zoom (as music director) for PBS, as well as a new Sesame Workshop series called Sesame Stories.
Thus far, the collective consists of two other main partners – Noize Factory owner Wade Tonken, who has done several projects with Nickelodeon; and Joy Productions head Kevin Joy, who specializes in commercial work.
When Tonken was hired to score music for the recently rebranded Nick Jr. block, the MPA’s connected hub attracted new collaborators such as Red Dog Music’s Stuart Kollmorgan (whose credits include Disney’s Stanley and Jo Jo’s Circus). Kollmorgan was brought into the process virtually, without ever having to leave his studio. And since Tonken chose to use a unique set of sounds for the job – mimicking instruments with his voice – it was very important that everyone working on the music be able to access the same sound palette. ‘What’s important here is that the people at Nick got to use several different companies without the headache of figuring out how to fit all the pieces together,’ says Tonken.
The kidcaster is already on-board to repeat the experience. At press time before the holidays, Tonken was finishing up some Christmas music for U-Pick Live, as well as working on a song series about the election process that will air on Nick as interstitials this spring.