It was the end of a short era and the start of a new one at Australian internet startup OpenLive when the board fired two of the three founders, Gary Dunn and Andy McIntire in April. The startup had raised $1.5 million late in 2014, much of it from friends, neighbours and associates of Dunn, the former W.A. rep for musical and audio equipment importer CMI. Dunn, McIntyre and Simon Tait worked together for some years at CMI before leaving, with several other staff, in August 2014.
OpenLive Managing Director Simon Tait told CX the next phase for the firm is a custom engineered recording solution known as Master Builder. OpenLive (formerly OpenHD) have applied for a patent over the whole process. The Master Builder box is to be installed in live music venues that have a house PA system. It takes a left/right feed from the house mix, and combines a stereo ambient mic feed to produce a mix recording. The ideas is that any musician performing at the venue can pre order the system to record the show, before they perform.
Tait says he has spent the past eight months ‘locked up in a studio’ developing the unique processing built into the box that takes a raw mix and enhances it for consumption. He insists the results are ‘way beyond a desk tape.’ Another patent application is under consideration he says.
OpenLive will now seek an additional round of funding to manufacture the Master Builder box, which, in prototype form, has been hand assembled. The firm will then offer venues a cut of sales for tracks recorded. Artists have the choice of self release, no release, or release on OpenLive or any other platform including iTunes. They can edit out anything they don’t like, and retain ownership of their recording. OpenLive is joined into any future sales of that recording via a click and agree agreement on the user interface with the artist.
Tait insists the firm is not burning cash too quickly, not at least since April when costs were cut by firing staff. OpenLive started as OpenHD in August 2014, promising an ‘a la carte’ high def download library with the potential of a million tracks online. Licensing challenges quickly arose, then it was also rebranded as OpenLive. Tait says the decision to change direction from online download store to Master Builder was logical. He says the pathway to monetising the start up lies with direct ‘click and record’ licenses via Master Builder rather than numerous one off licenses with labels, which is required for an online download store.
When the online download store went public it was obvious that few licensing deals had eventuated, and at presstime just 47 artists were listed. The focus has changed to embrace the Master Builder box, which the firm now expects to roll out to venues around Australia and eventually the world.
Following our lengthy conversation with Tait, which he recorded with our consent, CX were contacted by lawyers acting for OpenLive who advised us to be careful. The lawyers also warned CX not to talk to anyone associated with the firm.