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Entrepreneurship in Music: ENVELOP

envelop, flypaper

       Entrepreneurship in Music Series: 006       
ENVELOP
Co-Founder, Christopher Willits, with help from Alingo Loh

ENVELOP is both an immersive media space in San Francisco (featuring 28.4 channels of audio, HD video projection and synchronized LED lighting) and a software toolkit that will provide listeners with a next-level experience of music and give artists an accessible production method and location for creating 360-degree sound. When they launch later this year, ENVELOP will host intimate concerts and educational workshops about immersive media and sound. During daylight hours, the space will function as a studio that people can use to create the music of the future. But more than that, ENVELOP is a collective of passionate musicians, DJs, software engineers, entrepreneurs, and audio enthusiasts seeking to change the way we experience live sound.

So, when is ENVELOP set to launch?

We are aiming for fall 2015. Our room is built, walls are being finished, then paint, flooring, and then we begin to install the sound and lighting system.

Can you tell us about 3-dimensional sound?

3D sound is the sound we all experience, all the time, every day, however the music we listen to is not produced in three dimensions.

A bird's eye view of Envelop
A bird’s eye view of Envelop’s space

What is the founding principle, the assumption about the live music listening experience, that ENVELOP is based on?

We have all been listening to stereo music, music designed to come from in front of us, for so many years, but our ears are designed to hear vibrations from all around us. We see a need for an accessible entry point, for both listeners and creators, and ENVELOP is the solution we came up with.

I know Christopher‘s relationship to sound/music, but can you tell us about the rest of the team’s musicality?

Everyone on the team has a love for immersive sound, and we all believe it’s the future of music production. We found each other through that passion and vision of what we know is possible. It’s so much about music production, but it’s also about sound and light and how these vibrations of energy work with our bodies and our imaginations. So everyone on the team loves music, but we also see this as a project that expands into so many areas, like virtual reality and sound therapy research.

I understand now you guys have R&D funding now. Could you talk a bit about the fundraising process for you guys?

Actually there’s no R&D funding. We have had a few generous private donations to buy the sound system and columns to house them. Then we launched a Kickstarter campaign with a funding goal that was the bare minimum we needed to install the system. Gratefully, that Kickstarter campaign was overfunded, 188%, so we have a little buffer for unexpected expenses, which are already coming up. We’re so grateful for all of the support people have give to this project.

How will ENVELOP create opportunities for musicians, or curators, or audience participants?

We are creating a toolkit of open source software that will allow anyone to begin producing immersive audio.

“These tools integrate seamlessly into artists’ existing workflow with a very gentle learning curve. A musician will be able to determine where sound elements within their mix are positioned around the room, as easily as tempo or pitch are controlled. Creative coders may contribute their own code for synthesis, effects, controllers, and content so that the ENVELOP instrument will become richer and more powerful over time.” (taken from the ENVELOP Kickstarter campaign page)

AuraMix, envelop
AuraMix allows any sound sources to become a 3D mix.

From your team’s perspective, do you have any ideas about sustainability and music these days? 

I encourage people to create what they love, diversify what that experience or product is, and enjoy the ride. You really need to be persistent and patient. Don’t expect to make money creating music, but also never sell yourself short. Be creative about how you connect the experience of your sound to the listener.

Here’s another version of the same question! What does the music industry look like from your perspective right now? 

The “music industry” is a swarm of possible solutions related to making money from music. Unfortunately many of those solutions are trying to take advantage of artists and fans alike. Make what you love, get it out to people with an honest and trustworthy voice, continuously hone your craft, and you will create your own industry.

Click here for the full Entrepreneurship in Music series!

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Jeremy Young

Jeremy is a music business guru and loves giving advice to young, emerging bands on how to make their tours more effective. He also plays guitar, publishes audiobooks, runs a record label, and is an artist working in sound media. He has performed and released material throughout Europe, Asia, the US, UK and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.