The release of Apple Computer Inc.’s GarageBand brought the art of music creation to the masses. The consumer-friendly application also opened up business opportunities for new and long-time music loop creators looking to expand their business.
One such business,
Beta Monkey Music, was successfully producing Acidized drum loops for a couple of years before adding the Apple Loop format to its stable of supported formats. The company has since started converting previous libraries, while also adding new releases to the Apple Loop format.
“Business is great – It’s growing every month since we started,” Chris Donlon, Beta Monkey founder, told MacCentral. “The Apple sales are really starting to take off.”
Beta Monkey isn’t the only music loop creator that saw a future in adding the Apple Loops to their supported formats. SonicEmulations created a spin-off business called
to cater to their Apple customers.
“Our sales are doing really well – they are going up every month,” said Scott Shapiro, Bandmateloops.com cofounder. “The barrier to entry was so high in this market 10 years ago, the average person couldn’t do it. I think GarageBand really brings that level of quality to the masses. That’s what really excited us originally and why we started Bandmateloops.”
No amateurs here
When you think of buying third-party music loops, you may have the vision of some guy in his basement recording himself playing the drums or guitar on his computer. However, the Bandmateloops and Beta Monkey founders both have extensive experience in the professional music business.
Chris Donlon has been a drummer in several bands for over 15 years, moving to a studio session drummer after getting married. Donlon said that as a session drummer he would record himself and analyze the tracks later to improve his playing.
A friend of his who was writing some songs asked if he could have some of the tracks and Donlon agreed. His friend burned a CD for another friend and suddenly people were calling asking for more music. That’s when he said he setup the business and started selling music loops for a living.
Scott Shapiro is a 1996 graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Music Performance (piano) with an emphasis in sound recording technology and music production. In addition to work on Broadway, Shapiro’s work also includes music production on the Discovery Channel as well as the audio signature design for CBS, NBC, ESPN and TechTV show packages.
Shapiro also worked with film composer Danny Elfman on Tim Burton’s film “Sleepy Hollow” as synthesizer programmer and technical advisor before forming SonicEmulations, the parent company to Bandmateloops.com.
With their pro backgrounds, it isn’t hard for either Shapiro or Donlon to pick up on the “fake” loops in the market. Some companies say their loops are recorded with live musicians using the instruments, but Donlon says that’s not true on all cases.
“There are so many loops out there that say they are live – when I listen to them I know they aren’t recorded live,” said Donlon. “Real drums have so much more character and are more interesting.”
Shapiro agrees saying that “All of our loops use real musicians – there are no midi loops. We actually go into the studio with the musicians and record.”
Asking people what’s hot in music will get you many different responses depending on their musical tastes. Recognizing the diverse interests of their customers, both companies produce an assortment of loops, spanning many genres.
“We don’t just release stuff that we like; we make loops that we think we be useful – I think that’s really important,” said Shapiro.”
Bandmateloops offers a wide variety of instruments from rock drums and guitars to DJ Scribbles & Scratches and Electric Piano. Shapiro said the most popular tracks for him are in the Rock, hip-hop and electronica genres.
Being a drummer, Beta Monkey’s Chris Donlon focuses his business on producing drum loops for many different genres. Donlon’s packages include Prog/Bluesy Rock, Hard Rock and Country among others. The most popular for Beta Monkey in the last while has been their heavy metal loops, Double Bass Mania, which was
recently released in Apple Loop format.
Expanding into new areas
One of the things that Donlon says separates the loop companies is the lengths they will go to produce top quality recordings. For example, while Donlon plays drums on the loops offered from Beta Monkey’s, he will be hiring some other session musicians in the future to handle some of the other genres.
“At this point I am looking to expand and bring in more session guys that I know,” said Donlon. “I can play Jazz, but I’m not a Jazz player – people can tell that kind of stuff.”
Donlon also said that he likes to keep the loops “real” and not process them too much, leaving a more natural sound. Depending on the genre they are recording, Donlon said they try different rooms in the studio, different drum kits and a variety of mic setups to get the sound right.
“There is a little bit of experimentation there too,” said Donlon. “I’m not trying to follow any trend – I play something that’s inspired by a certain genre and then go with it.”