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Live Symphonic Brass - NOW AVAILABLE!

Discussion in 'Classes & Discussion' started by Mike Verta, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. #1 Mike Verta, Jan 24, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
    UPDATE: Campaign is live!


    Well, sportsfans, we've been talking about doing Masterclasses which feature live musicians for some time now - chances to witness the entire process of reading down, rehearsing, and recording pieces as well as getting time to ask the players about their instruments and processes, etc.

    I have been fortunate to work in LA with some of the finest musicians in the world - top call players whose names you might not know, but whose work you've cherished. To a one, they've been both interested and supportive of this idea... and wary of any potential union issues with the streaming and selling of the classes.

    Well, I've just gotten off a conference call with the union President, VP and others who are all extremely supportive and interested in seeing this happen, and they're putting together a special contract just to try and make this happen. Numbers are being crunched right now, and I'll provide details soon, but undoubtedly the next series of classes will take our instruction to the next level, and get you guys access to the absolute best of the best, and every gritty detail of what it takes to have our pieces realized the way we envision them. Our plan is basically to have the players there for 3 hour blocks, during which we can organically decide how much time is spent rehearsing, playing, and answering your questions/doing interviews. This way they can stay free-flowing and spontaneous, while ensuring they're as densely packed with information as possible.

    Stay tuned, more to come!

  2. This sounds really great. Thanks for sharing your talent and expertise with us.
  3. This is fantastic news. Thank you Mike! Really looking forward to it :)
  4. I was just wondering what the status on this idea was today and, well, here we go! Looking forward to hearing more about this new format of masterclasses :)
  5. That's fantastic news. Really interested to see what you come up with and to participate in the masterclass.
  6. Okay, so I've gotten the numbers and everything from the union and contractor and here's basically what we'd be looking at:

    Class length - 3 hours with the musicians (everything after that TBD if at all).
    Live Q&A for the duration of the show so it's not just watching a concert, it's exposing the process, choices, techniques, etc. Like every other class, these are about learning practical things and having hands-on tools at the end.
    In addition to the live stream, the score, video recording, and audio recordings will be available after the fact.
    Cost - $60

    Now, the way this will work is we need a minimum of 100 signups to cover the production. I'll still end up fronting some, but that's fine. So my thought is to put it on a Kickstarter as an all-or-nothing. If 100 people sign up, then it's a go; if not, then people didn't want it anyway. The incentive to buy in to the Kickstarter will be that those first 100 people will also get access to the pre-show/setup/and additional interview stuff.

    I'm not going to create tiers of buy-ins, just the $60. After the first 100 people, and the class is a go, people will still be able to sign up for the livestream/recording just like every other class. The only real difference with these is they need a minimum of 100 commitments before it's a go.

    Paul T McGraw and Raphael Badawi like this.
  7. Sounds like a good plan.

    However, people are always motivated by money need to feel like they're getting a bargain, so I don't see how a tier pricing wouldn't kick it into gear even faster.
    I'd like to save 50%. $60 for first 100, and $120 after that will make sure I get in the door early. You could even give 40% off to late comers who sign up before the event, and 30% of to those that missed it!
  8. My classes get a fairly consistent number of people who buy in advance sight-unseen, and then there's all the "after-the-fact" purchases. Those who buy at announcement are usually the ones who want the extra value of being able to participate live and ask personalized questions/get personalized attention. I think that is and will remain the primary draw - everybody likes 1-on-1 attention. So for these, the incentive to buy early is the same, with even more added bonuses, like the pre-show. And perhaps priority in the Q&A queue; that might be a good idea. I mean, any way you cut it, $60 for 3 hours grilling 10 of the finest musicians in the world for information is a fucking bargain.
    Paul T McGraw and Torsten Kamps like this.
  9. Couple of thoughts:

    1. Live Q&A is great and part of the appeal to me, but with 100 buy-ins (even if not everyone shows up to watch it all live)... that's going to be a very cluttered chat and I think there could be a genuine concern that not everyone's questions will be answered. Maybe it would be an idea to have everyone who purchased this class have the option to sent one question in, in advance.

    To avoid losing interactivity, maybe the solution should be: have a time-slot for prepared questions (15mins, 20mins, less? more? depending on how many you get) and keep the rest open for question from chat.

    2. On the same note. Even if only 50 people are watching, there's a real chance chat will be moving fast and you might miss a good and interesting question. Afaik this hasn't been a problem with other masterclasses but, with this number of people, it might become an issue. Perhaps you can consider setting up chat in such a way that questions go in a seperate channel or require some special tag so that you can quickly filter the BS from the questions.

    3. Haven't done a kickstarter before, but I know they have a fee. Indiegogo might be cheaper. I don't know, just letting you know that there are alternatives that (might) charge less of a fee and allow more $$ to go the production.

    4. With audio recordings I assume you mean that the stems will be made available afterward? Because if that's the case, that would truly be great as it could be a valuable asset to try and make various mixes.

    5. The piece to be recorded was Tears Of A Jedi, correct? If I recall correctly it's a strings only piece so I'm guessing that means that the players are also just strings? ($60x100 for a full LA orchestra seems way too cheap so I'm pretty sure it's just a string band).

    6. More of an aside but I've been thinking about the possibility, at one point, to pool some resources and purchase a joint session with Redbanned members for demo recordings (we all want a good demo, right?). This doesn't necessarily have to go through you, but you seem to have all the connections that you could perhaps facilitate such a thing in the future. I can't afford and don't need a 3 hour LA session, and I think there's many of us in the same boat who'd gladly pay the premium for a real solid demo w/o breaking the bank completely on a 3 hour session. It's just a thought of course but if this venture is a success, then perhaps some kind of future joint-session could also be feasible.
  10. The first show will be brass - 10 players (3tpt, 3tbn, 3hrn, tuba most likely, or 3,2,4,1). I wouldn't be running the chat or the show control - other people would. The chat runner could filter but I agree 100 could become a cluster.

    I think you may have something with the idea that part of the sign-up incentive would be a set number of guaranteed question slots or similar. So the crowdfunders get the pre-show, and guaranteed question slots. That's not bad.
    George Streicher likes this.
  11. I'd be happy to cough up a bit more to keep the numbers down.
    Not sure if it's factored into your plan, but I'd love to hear what the musicians love doing with their instrument, but never get the chance to. Esoteric articulations or something like that. Something that musicians get a real kick out of when they see it in a score.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  12. That's great news!

    I really like the Kickstarter idea and the fact that you bring value by offering a pre-show.

    For the Q&A part, you could dedicate the whole 3-hour session to specific questions for the players, and then, maybe take an hour to answer questions that are more aimed towards you and your process as a composer/orchestrator. This could help a little bit with the chat cluster.

    I like the idea of the guaranteed questions but I feel like it's gonna take away the spontaneous feel the classes have.

    Brass sounds good for the first one! Are you gonna write a new piece or use a pre-existing one?
  13. I don't feel a guaranteed questions system would be necesary, given the courtesy climate of the classes. I however agree with Claude: it's relevant to organize in such a way the questions to the players and the questions to the composer are correctly routed. No need to cut the class in two, we can just agree upfront to simple capital letters signals in a "XX question" format like: "MV question" for questions to the composer, PL for questions to polish players, PLAY for questions to normal players, TRPT for questions to trumpetists, HN for questions to hornists, and so on.
  14. This is a great deal for anyone interested in learning music. I'm not sure something like this is available anywhere online. That said, a bit of promo could get you a long way (being on Kickstarter is a good way to advertise as well) and this could blow up even more and draw more people to your classes (but I'm sure you already know that).

    I've watched most of the Unleashed 4 live and ~100 people in the chat were decently active given that we were all only listening to you critiquing pieces. It got really noisy at times when you were answering questions. I can't imagine how it's going to be for a 3hr session with Hollywood's best brass players. Even if each of 100 people asked only one question and reading it and answering it took exactly 1 minute, that's still over half the session. 100 questions is still a lot, and I'm sure a lot would cover what most people had in mind. In that case there's also "If someone else is gonna ask my questions, why buy in early?"

    I'm just throwing stuff at the wall here. Streamers on Twitch have an option to enable Sub mode - only people who subscribed are allowed to post in chat, which is very useful when multiple thousands are watching. If you have 20 messages every second, interacting becomes a nightmare.

    Maybe you could do a "Front row" tier with 50 tickets for the standard price. Then another "Second row" for 10% higher price or something like that. Along all that there's an infinite option to buy the class and attend live for -15% standard price without access to chat (until you enable it for the post class talk or something like that). That still gives people incentive to attend live (discount) and help support the campaign allowing you to get the funds upfront. This is all assuming the whole thing blows up, because I really don't know of anything else like this online, and there are plenty of music courses - meaning there's demand. If you post this to the right places you can get a whole lot of attention. Various music forums, colleges, etc.

    Also, if it blows up, there might be enough of a push that you'll have to repeat the course. Do the whole series live once a year or something like that. Maybe get yourself a nice classroom a year or two down the line.

    If it flops.. well, I'll be sad, that's for sure. But I'm 100% sure that there would be a huge demand for something like this if people knew it existed. I mean, the HZ Masterclass was a well shot $90 documentary and it still has ads on Youtube with the trailer sitting at 11 fucking million views. Imagine that only 10% care about composition instead of production and sound design; if that's not demand, I don't know what is.
  15. For sure I'd be promoting this much more widely than I usually do. Normally, I deliberately don't push the classes or do a lot of advertising. But the union wants to push it, too, to help drive home the LA brand. If the bottom line is: are there people on the planet who'd spend $60-$100 for a goldmine of info on working with 10 top-call brass players? Yes. Yes there are. It's just about getting to them. I like this Front Row concept of yours. Perhaps it breaks down something like:

    Tier 1 - $100 - Box Seat (25 Tickets): Access to the pre-show and prep (composer/conductor and principal discussions, etc.), Access to the livestream show, Direct Chat to ask 1-on-1 questions during the session, a copy of the score, audio recording, and download of the full broadcast after the fact.

    Tier 2 -$60 - Orchestra Seat (25 Tickets): Access to the pre-show and prep (composer/conductor and principal discussions, etc.), Access to the livestream show, access to the group chat, copy of the score, audio recording, and download of the full broadcast after the fact.

    Tier 3 -$45 - Patron Seat (75 Tickets): Access to the livestream, copy of the score, audio recording, and download of the full broadcast after the fact.

    After all tickets have been sold, people can sign up for the livestream/recording as usual through my site for $50.

    Something like that?
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  16. I'd join in.

    I definitely am one who wants to hear what the musicians have to say/play, and not the audience.

    It seems to me, just being on forums for X many years/ or asking those who sign up beforehand, common questions these could be
    addressed more effectively in an interview like fashion.

    If the draw is "These are the best brass players in the world" then use the time to show what they can do that is unique and extraordinary.
    I personally would be a little bummed to hear them answering questions any University student of the instrument could answer.

    Of course, I am would not be joining just to hear the players. When I worked at the NY Philharmonic I was lucky to learn a lot form world class players too.
    The spirit of the endeavor is great.

    Do you need Kickstarter ? Don't you loose about 10%.

    Anyhow I wish you the best with this and count me in. Heck I would even pay $300 if an option was you going to your storage facility and getting the Batman Simulator ride score out.
    Paul T McGraw and Mike Verta like this.
  17. These guys are going to sight-read and deliver that classic Hollywood sound almost instantly - that alone is extraordinary. And I plan on leading the questions, with leading questions - I know what to ask these guys, and what most people want to know, but I also intend on freeze-framing the process as we go and talking about all the various things that are going on and how we deal with them/what they mean. It's this area of intangibles that simply can't be learned anywhere else or in any other way. You gotta put stuff on the stands, turn on the red light, and deal.
  18. #18 Sam Miller, Jan 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
    I'm down for Tier 1. One question I'd love to hear the answer to is, "What's something you love to play on your instrument that normally aren't allowed to/isn't scored?"
  19. #19 Aaron Venture, Jan 27, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
    Yes, that sounds pretty much like what I had in mind. I think the whole thing now seems a bit bigger than this community and people said they don't mind paying slightly more. In the end, you deserve to make a penny or two off of it for all the effort. And since the top 25 early birds will get a top notch personalized experience, if the word gets around enough, there could be a demand for a yearly series. Or however you plan to do it. Some of the better classes people recommend go for $70-$100. I'm guessing this will be at least 6-7 hours of video with the pre + session + post and even for a patron seat for $45, that's barely minimum wage to be an audience to top notch musicians + everything else that comes with it.

    I'd still do an unlimited number of Kickstarter Patron seats just for the clear reference demand numbers and the upfront funding since the price is discounted compared to standard (I'm sure some would buy in even if they can't attend but would've bought anyway - it's still money upfront) which you can use to up the production value even more, setting up a standard for further generations, but that's just me. I feel like this is a fair approach in this situation since it won't be just you doing this class.

    I really think you're onto something here (especially since you've now said that you have the union rep in on it; you could be THE Online Hollywood Composition teacher - and you're a already a fantastic teacher), and don't know a person in this world who calls themselves a composer and wouldn't JUMP at the opportunity to at least view it all for the price of a medium-sized lunch for two.

    A bit more business-oriented approach, but in the end you get some well deserved pocket change, more people hear about it and learn good stuff and are baffled that they paid peanuts for it, they write better music, and overall it's a better tomorrow. Everybody wins.

    While I'm sure that Kickstarter charges a fee for a funded project, the very fact that you're on the platform lends you some legitimacy/credibility in the eyes of people who've only just heard about you. I've never done a crowdfunding campaign but you might also want to look into Indiegogo. I think both have ~5% fees, but Indiegogo supports Paypal while KS does not.

    Just my 2 cents, based on the info that you've posted.
  20. I really appreciate your input here. I certainly feel that life rewards me plenty for what I do, and there is no successful business model for top-of-the-line-product for bottom-of-the-barrel prices except for the one I've come up with for the classes: don't expect it to make money. My primary goal is and always will be to provide resources for people who can't otherwise afford them, but who deserve them. It is hard enough being an artist without having access to skills and training being prohibitively expensive. I was fortunate to have Warner Bros. paying for my private education, funding opportunities that were absolutely transformative, and I want to try and bring as much of that to others as I can.

    I suppose if we go over the funding goal, we can just put it towards the next one, but I am planning to do a lot more than one of these a year. At least every couple months I want to go through each section, and I would love it to ultimately culminate in a large, full-orchestra session replete with all the recording aspects. But it must always remain an expose-the-process thing. It's not a concert. It's a behind-the-scenes, nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts expose of the process, and you can absolutely count on me to keep it real - to keep it real about the dynamics in the room, reading the players, managing the politics. It will not be a mere observation of the process; it will be a dissection, in realtime.

    In any case, I think we're close to setting this officially in motion.

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