“I’ve played with WC handy Award winning vocalists and on a number of CDs, some distributed by Rounder Records; I don’t have a ton of credits but I’ve always made my own music and I’ve always made my way as a hustling musician and produced my own projects.”
“Produced my own projects,” says David Blacker who has produced far more than just his own projects; you see, David is one of the founders of a virtual musician’s hub or shopping mall of sorts called AirGigs.
Conceived in the early part of the millennium and made a reality circa 2012, AirGigs is a place where musicians can find other musicians or music services such as sound engineers, producers, vocalists, beats makers, mastering engineers, album artwork and more; so how did this all come about? Blacker says that it was a combination of things; sort of a perfect symphonic storm with a blend of new age technology and opportunity.
“It was a combination of factions, I was always technical and as a sound engineer I always got into lots of different technical stuff so I was into all of the emerging technologies that were online; just the vehicle of the internet was just sort of blossoming and the connections between music and technology were really growing at that time. As a guitar instructor; let me digress a little bit, there’s a company called TrueFire which I actually released a few score sheets for and they’re a big guitar platform for learning guitar. I started there in the early two thousands, they had a marketplace for audio lessons where anyone could sign up and post a lesson. I like a lot of obscure blues and jazz and I was posting things like old learn to play in the style of T-Bone Walker or someone like that and I would post a little audio segment and people were really digging them and downloading them and I was making royalties off of these downloads and then eventually that company grew a lot over the years and I started doing videos with them. That really opened my eyes in the early two thousands to the possibilities of building products and services as a musical entrepreneur. So I started going more and more in that direction, I got involved in some music based web projects as a producer trying to help another platform and that was the live bookings; that started in the early two thousands and I kind of did a whole study of it as I was helping to bring that project to life and in doing that I connected with a bunch of web developers and technical people. Right around that time the financial crash happened and musicians were out of work, we were seeing technology emerge and we were saying this was a great time for this virtual studio idea so it was kind of all of those things packed into one.”
“I’m a musician and I owned a couple of recording studios in the city (NYC) for years and that’s where I come out of; basically we started Air Gigs because around 2011 gear was becoming a lot more accessible, people were building these great home studios and all my friends and people that I was working with already had Pro Tools and home studio set ups. So we were already working this way but there wasn’t really a vehicle or real verified platform where people could get reviews from clients and set themselves up in a way that was more than just saying, hey I do this; this would be more of a central focal point for it so to speak.”
“There are people from 180 countries on our platform, they create a general profile and then a service package. So if I’m a drummer I might create a service package that includes one full take against your song with a couple of revisions or retakes; that’s an actual package that someone can directly order for a price. Then if they need extra work once the order is in place they can modify it, extend the delivery date; they create service packages and a starting place.”
In today’s COVID-19 climate many a musician who depends on live performances and recordings as well as merchandise sales for their income are suffering great losses but there is always a flip side to that coin as there are many who are using this time away from the stage to create and re-visit recordings of their material. AirGigs is the perfect remedy and creation tool for those adhering to “Stay at home” policies but has it translated into more site traffic yet?
“Well it’s hard to say just yet because this is sort of very new but suddenly people who weren’t interested in remote production are becoming interested in remote production out of necessity,” stated Blacker. “People are adapting very quickly in all these different ways which is fascinating for us to watch because we’ve been focused in this area and have been sort of ignored in some ways because people had been focused on touring and live shows which is great; as a musician that’s awesome but this area has become very much in focus now. So I don’t know, it’s a little too soon to say, the jury is not out but traffic has gone up a lot and business seems to definitely be up but this is a very new situation.”
“There’s a range of people using Air Gigs from companies to film makers to songwriters to music creators, publishing houses and DJs; it kind of ranges from people who are creating songs that they are pitching to other artists or just doing things they’re not releasing. There’s all kinds of creative projects that are going on and it can be on any level; it could be a YouTube creator who is creating for their own series, it could be a television producer, it’s really wide open. Basically we are a bridge that’s providing just some really great talent; there’s some of Nashville’s greatest session musicians on the site and from New York and L.A.; there’s a lot of great talent on this site. So one, it opens that door for music creators who are really looking to launch something that sounds next level because maybe they don’t have access to that kind of talent in their local scene and then other people are using the site in different ways.”
According to Blacker, “There’s Dave Roe who toured with Johnny Cash for the last seven years of his career and Michael Cleveland who just won “Best Bluegrass Album” at the Grammy’s for that in 2020,” as examples of some of the aforementioned talent available. “There’s a lot of well-known industry veterans on the platform; maybe not household names or stars but there are a lot of great players on the site.”
Blacker knows that the current pandemic has affected those who are registered users and the talent that oozes from the site; so he and his associates have devised a plan to try and lessen the economic strife of those who make music their profession; a live stream highlighting their talents which is set to air in the very near future.
“AirGigs is a platform for session musicians, vocalists and engineers,” explained anenthusiastic Blacker. “So if you’re a songwriter and you’re in need of; it’s like a virtual studio. There’s any kind of instrument that you want, all of the members are working from their own studios and they produce tracks that they send to clients all over the world. So that’s the concept of the site but they are all touring and gigging live musicians so a lot has dried up for them. So what we’re trying to do as a kind of give back is launch a live streaming series featuring these great session musicians and vocalists and give them 100 percent of the proceeds from that. So that’s a new initiative that we’re trying to kick-off the ground to try and help anyway that we can at this time.”
“Our business model is connecting songwriters and music creators with session musicians and we receive a commission on each transaction that goes through the platform but the streaming is literally just an initiative that we are kicking off to highlight these great session musicians. Some of them are Grammy Award winners, great talents that are working on our site and we want to help them, act as a bridge by giving 100 percent of the proceeds back to them so we’ve launched this live streaming initiative from our Facebook page.”
” We just spent the last couple of weeks getting through the kinks in the process and we’re hoping to launch it by hopefully this week or maybe next.”
With the live stream coming together and no shortage of hungry musicians ready to participate; in what direction does he see the platform going once life returns to a post pandemic normal?
“The site has been gaining momentum and is kind of coming into its own a bit; its steadily grown over the years and as it grows, more musicians know about it and more keep knowing about it so it has a nice built in organic build happening. So with the extra attention, it has put a little more spotlight on it which is nice and has put it into overdrive at least for the moment. We’re just taking it one day at a time and trying to address the needs of the community. One person wants this feature and one person wants that and there’s an endless list of those things. We’re trying to prioritize those and kick them out as well as trying to do some give back things like the live streaming and other initiatives.”