It's good to be Chris Folmer, better known as Kris Krunk, rapper and owner of the award-winning Space City Records. His latest project promises to be a real game changer for the broke independent musician. Last week Folmer launched Real Studio Magic http://www.realstudiomagic.com, a user-friendly site that allows you to upload your MP3 or WAV file to be expertly mastered within 48 hours for the low fee of $20.
Many bands believe that mastering your songs once they've been recorded is superfluous. As both a musician and a reporter who tries real hard to get our hands on every local release we can, let us assure you that it is not. DIYers can take advantage of the skills that made Space City Records the pick for Best Label last year for one-tenth of the cost of going into a mastering house.
We sat down with Folmer to talk a bit about the project.
Rocks Off: What inspired this? Chris Folmer: My inspiration for this came from a 10 year idea to provide cheap yet amazing sound engineering. The idea for the website itself came when I was watching A&E one night and a bio on Sam Walton and Mark Zuckenburg came on back to back. Being the computer nerd I am, I thought I need to come up with the next best website.
I thought of what I could do that related to music, since I have dedicated a large part of my life to it. I thought of a social network for musicians, but Reverbnation already existed and took way too much startup cost. I then thought, "What do musicians and people who love to make music actually spend money on?" The answer I came up with was equipment and recording. Guitar Center has the musical products market pinned down, so I went with what I had studied for over 10 years, audio engineering.
Sam Walton came in, telling me in my mind that I need to provide something affordable and of the best quality possible, along with hard work as the backbone. Wal-Mart nowadays does not relate to me, I refer more to the early years when Wal-Mart actually changed lives. With that thought in my head, I decided to take my $100/song mastering technique, create a formula with presets for different genres and fidelity levels, and create a streamlined mastering process. I decided to break the barrier and charge only $20 a song and $10 a song for people who want more than 1 done at once.
RO: Do you think it could change the way people release records? CF: I think it could change the way people create records. Many artists now record songs at their home studios, with equipment they bought at Guitar Center, because they are on limited budgets and can't afford $75+/hr for recording/mixing and $100+ a song for mastering.
After it's all said and done, a band can spend $2000 for a 5 song EP, and that doesn't include getting it pressed on CDs with jewel cases. Even if they sell it for $5, they are only making a few bucks per CD sold. They would need to sell 1000 CDs to break even with an EP. It's not easy to sell 1000 CDs for a band starting off.
What I am offering, is an opportunity for bands or artists to record at their home studio, or a small studio for cheap, and have a professional sound for less than a tenth of the price. A lot of artists feel they can perform better at home, so I think that better music will be created because of this, and with my service, the songs will be reached to their full potential.
This will mean a lot more artists will have good quality songs, making competition stronger, but it will also challenge bands to perform better on tape When a song is brought to commercial sound status, it sounds good but also brings out everything, even off key singers and sloppy playing. I hope this can reality check people who hide behind bad recordings.
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RO: Do you have any plans to expand? CF: I would love to expand. I plan on hiring more engineers as I expand to meet with demand. I currently have only one engineer on payroll besides myself. People who work for me will sign a contract saying they will not leak my formula, it's my golden secret. Besides expanding engineers, I plan on upgrading the website as traffic gets higher. I will have a login so that returning customers can have an account and we can streamline even more.
RO: Is this separate from Space City Records? CF: Yes it is separate from Space City Records. I don't mind that people know the head of Space City Records is running this website, but because it will expand all over the world quickly, I leave that fact out of the website for my own security. I don't trust people. But I guess I can't hide forever.
RO: Is it more important for a musician to control their work or seek label assistance? CF: I think any kind of assistance is always better than doing it yourself. Whether it is a label or not, having a 3rd party give opinions help because essentially you are creatingan album for a 3rd party, so why not get that opinion before you release it to the world? Friends with deep pockets can help an artist too, just because that's how it is.
RO: Who locally would you like to take advantage of this? CF: I am not seeking out for the big guns in town to use my service, they have studios they use and work with and that's fine. I'm after the artists that have kids, that bought a $300 Tascam soundcard and a $100 MXL microphone, and that might even live with their mom still. These are the people that don't need to spend their entire check on recording studio and instead need to feed their kids. Now they can record at home and save a ton of money.