The Business of Mashups and Remixing — with Ithaca Audio’s Chris Evans-Roberts

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Many people know I’m a huge fan of Mashups and Remixes from an entertainment perspective, but an innovative company called Ithaca Audio from Brighton, UK kept popping up on my radar as the one to watch on the business side of Digital Media because of their creative and entertaining video Mashups. You can read my email interview with the Director of Ithaca Audio, Chris Evans-Roberts below:

 

John:  Chris, how long have you been working  in Pro-Audio and Sound Design and why did you start Ithaca Audio?

Chris: I’ve been composing and producing music and dabbling in sound design for around 10 years now. Around 4 years ago I made the decision to start my own company and spent the next year researching the market and getting funds to enable this to happen. Initially Ithaca Audio was going to be called Ithaca Music and deal purely with music composition for advertising and short films. While we do undertake a degree of this kind of work I felt that restricting the company at the outset would be a bad idea and as it turned out the company mainly takes on audio visual remix work and consulting for interactive audio based projects. Last year Andy came on board as a producer and we may be expanding further this year.

John: There are a lot of great Mashup and Remix artists out there, but you’ve really raised the bar high by including captivating visuals that correspond to the audio tracks, innovative backgrounds to frame the videos as with “The Mixtape”, and what I think is a small but important touch psychologically, including a frame of you triggering the tracks in Ableton Live etc. While you’re innovating and growing, a lot of other studios are closing down. Can you talk about using Mashups and Viral Video as a tool to showcase your talent and generate new business for Ithaca Audio?

Chris: I think for many years there has been a lack of visual feedback in electronic music. Audiences find it hard to see what goes into creating and performing a piece of electronic music. I think it is really important to try and show the elements of a performance as much as possible. This is a philosophy we take into all the live audio visual remix work that we do.

I think it’s a tough time for businesses but there are still a huge amount of opportunities out there. Being a small flexible studio is really key to our current success. We took the decision to offer a very diverse range of services at start-up to see what worked and put a lot of effort into creating viral promotional material for the company. The high profile this gave us and the varied service offering allowed us to pick up work from around the world from an incredible range of organization types and produce very different work for each. Slowly we have become a company that people go to for a different take on the audio process.

A key point to success in the difficult business climate today is realizing where your market lies. While even 10 years ago an audio composition/production studio, based where we are in the UK would probably be dealing with clients on a local and national level and could probably get a reasonable turnover from that alone. These days, with the proliferation of high quality home studios the supply has far overtaken the demand in the composition business. For every ad agency or production company there are hundreds of composers and producers with home studios capable of producing excellent music for them.  On the flip side, the advantage of doing business in 2013 is high speed internet access. You suddenly have access to far more clients internationally. While there is also more competition internationally, if a studio specializes as we have in a few different areas and is able to generate enough exposure, then clients wanting that specific kind of audio work will always come to them first.

While 10 years ago the key to a successful studio might have been doing a bit of everything for their clients, these days clients can find and use the best in the business where ever they are in the world. So rather than using one jack-of-all-trades, they have fast access to the kings of each. The key is to be one of the best at a nice selection of services and you will quickly gain a reputation. It’s surprising in an international market how many potential clients there are in some very specific areas, such as audio visual remixing.

John: If you could go back in time and give yourself business advice when you were just starting out in Pro-Audio and Sound Design what’s the #1 thing you would say?

Chris: I think it would be to focus on what a new company could do differently from other existing companies rather than to try to emulate other studios and play catch up with the industry. Also really understanding how the internet works these days will stand you in great stead for the future. Understanding how to market a company online, develop a social following and communicate with potential clients and the general public will all help raise a company’s profile. The higher your profile the more clients you can attract and it makes the whole marketing/sales cycle so much easier too. If you contact a potential client and they already know your work you’re half way there.

John: What are you currently working on and what are your plans for Ithaca Audio over the next few years?

Chris: We have a really diverse range of projects on the go at the moment. We have teamed up with an exciting new events company in the US and will be rolling out a series of pieces for live events over the next year across the states. We are working on two audio visual installations, one for a major fashion brand another for UEFA who we have worked with quite a bit over the past year. We are also working on an innovative remix style sound track for a series of short films for TV here in the UK. Add to that, we have just finished our latest live audio visual set and will be taking that out live to gig across Europe and the US throughout the Summer and to the end of 2013.

John: If someone wants to hire you for Sound Design, Remix, Mashup, Composition or other Audio work, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Chris: The best way for anyone to get in touch to chat about projects is to email me chris@ithacaaudio.com or call (+44) 0844 332 1233