There’s no end of talk these days about “the cloud” and the promise of being able to securely keep all your files, data, applications and everything else up in the nether regions of the internet. Now there’s a cloud-based service designed specifically for the recording industry: Gobbler, which arrived in 2011. The service is the brainchild of co-founder Chris Kantrowitz, creator of Frank The Plumber, a tour design company that's worked with the likes of Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, The Strokes, Lady Antebellum and Korn, among others. PSN sat down with the habitual entrepreneur to find out how his in-the-sky idea started with someone else’s (hard drive) crash to the ground. What follows are excerpts from an hour-long interview.
"A few years ago, I was out on tour with one of my clients; he had written a bunch of songs that he was supposed to send back to the label, but his hard drive crashed—and it was unrecoverable and worse, the only place that he had those songs. What was strange to me about it was the fact that he didn’t have copies, because he’s one of the most well-known rock stars in the world. He’s got three of his own recording studios, he’s known for his prowess as a producer; he’s someone who’s really comfortable in the studio [Kantrowitz later told the Vancouver Sun it was Lenny Kravitz].
"And I was like, ‘You don’t have a backup?’ and he said, ‘I never thought about that, you know?’ That’s so strange to me, but [it can happen to anyone in the music business], not just people that are big stars like him, but the person who’s just starting out, too—the music means just as much to him.
"I started looking into it and I realized that there’s no tools that have been created specifically for people that create audio. There are certainly [cloud-based] tools, but they don’t really speak to the audio creators themselves. I think that when you’re working in any type of media, whether it’s recording audio or shooting videos or doing photos, as a media creator, you really need the tools to be designed for you because your work flows and technical needs are very specific. That was the inspiration behind Gobbler."
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"I assembled a team of programmers that are friends of mine from L.A. and we started working on it. We focused in on the studio and built something where we’ve thought about all the little nuances of what the recording process is. So Gobbler’s not just about backup—it’s about backup, collaboration and organization.
"We started talking to people and they were saying, ‘Well, backing up is cool, but it’s such a pain for me to send files—can you fix that problem?’ That’s when we realized that since [files are] already backed up in the cloud, we could actually make it much faster to send files. Then the organizing part just came from ‘I want to back all this stuff up, but it’s so hard for me to find everything because it’s scattered on drives everywhere.’ We solved those problems too, but that’s why we’re not a backup solution and we’re not a collaboration solution; we’re really like a system because every piece works together as one."
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Expansion Down The Road
"We’ve architected versions of Gobbler for other media types, because these days, people are more than just one-dimensional—like bands, because they’re doing more on their own, taking videos, photos, all kinds of stuff—so the real expansion out from what we’re going to do is a media manager for all your assets, and we’ll build tools centered around those particular media types. The video set and photo sets will be slightly different because the needs are slightly different.
"What we want to avoid is making Gobbler too ‘Microsoft-y’ and feature-creepy where there’s buttons everywhere. Anytime we add something, we want to make sure that like there’s a real, profound reason for why we’re adding it."
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Listening to Users
"The people in our community have taken an active role in helping us find our problems. It’s a complicated piece of code, but it’s gotten very stable now. There’s a big group of people that are pounding at this thing every day—and they’re global, which is actually kind of neat. Our Google analytic showed us as of last week, we had visitors to our site from 123 countries—some really interesting places. Columbia is our Number 12 most-trafficked place, which you wouldn’t think. Sure, there’s music creators everywhere, but for whatever reason, Columbians love Gobbler."
The thing for us is that this is a really complicated piece of code—there’s a lot of stuff going in here and we’re building out a bigger ecosystem with wireless apps, iPad apps, browser management of your files, and more. We want to be as easy on everyone’s pocket as possible, [but] my goal with this company is not to race to the bottom of pricing.
"You want people to go, ‘Wow, I saved a lot of time’ or ‘My hard drive is still with me because it crashed and that music is there’ or ‘Look at the amount of time I’ve saved because it’s easily organized’ or ‘I didn’t have to go home because I could just send it to my iPhone app’ or whatever. My goal is that we’re always going to innovate, we’re always going to add new features, we’re always going to ask our users ‘What else do you need?’ [We want to see] how can we make it better for them so that as a service, they go, ‘This really helps my life every single day and I see the value of that.’"