The Seeds Project – Leveraging the ubiquity of networked sensors and information from the internet to form a new way for musicians to collaborate and compose

Our current music model has been commercialized beyond repair. While the select few are putting on high budget touring shows and still selling records, many musicians and artists have been left to collect less than one dollar royalty checks from online audio content providers. A recent positive threshold event has been the lowering of the barrier of entry into recording with low cost computer based recording setups. We are now able to build upon and move beyond traditional music creation. Current sensor and network technology allow us to open new avenues to create and fundamentally change the concept of music as we know it.

I'm living proof that the current model for independent musicians is unsustainable. I have the stack of less than $1.00 royalty checks from Google to prove it. There now exists a possibility for an entirely new type of collaboration with music that circumvents the traditional walls of pay to play whether it be recording costs, or even access to instruments and instruction. With today's technology there lies an opportunity to create a new way we make music.

First, imagine a lone composer sitting over his music sheet penciling in notes on a staff. While romantic, this notion is almost dead. What if instead composers acted as gardeners of a sonic garden, planting sonic seeds and mixing various streams of both real time and static data written by them. These sonic files could then be shared with other musicians to make the next generation of music, through a platform I'm calling The Seeds Project.

People could collaborate via the Seeds project to create meaningful musical installations that depict a certain place that needs attention, or simply collaborate for a celebration like a wedding. For an installation example, take a section of the amazon rain forest that will disappear soon due to clear cut deforestation. Users of Seeds could string together meaningful pieces of audio and visual data (see my sound layer idea) to educate people about what they may lose if this forest disappears. There could be a live stream of audio from a creek mixed with tone mapped data from the temperature of the area. There could be a close up of a tree trunk, image analyzed and converted into tones that can be manipulated through seeds to make beautiful music streams. All this could be blended into calming ambient sound that plays while a website links shows meaningful statistic about what is about to be lost.

The project would have both a hardware component and a software component. Hardware would be designed that allows certain types of information not traditionally used to make music, such as image, video stream, or other sensor data to be converted into mixable music tracks. Software would then allows composers to weave traditional music tracks with these new tracks and streams into music. Finally a social platform would be created to allow different composers to share and collaborate ideas and tracks of their music.

I'm a musician and an engineer. I want to push the boundaries of musical expression. I've been struggling to find meaning and ownership in music. I feel communities can own their own music much like they own their own gardens, and I propose to create the Seeds project to allow groups of people to create and share their own musical data.

Ultimately, the seeds project would be a platform for musicians, composers, and regular people to create data driven, human written and real-time share able audio streams to start creating a new type music all together.