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“More and more artists and managers are realizing that the more rights they can control, the better position they’re gonna be in, and we provide them with an opportunity for one-stop shopping.”
——Biz Dev Head Tommy Nast

CENTERSTAGING’S BETTER IDEA

At the Complex’s Rehearsals.com, Robotically Controlled HD Cameras and State-of-the-Art Audio Capture the Creative Process on the Fly
By Bud Scoppa

Burbank-based CenterStaging is SoCal’s largest rehearsal facility, boasting 11 studios, a massive equipment warehouse and a hangar-sized soundstage. Along with its five conventional rehearsal rooms, the sprawling complex boasts six spaces that are wired for sound and HD video, so that the creative processes of willing bands and artists can be captured on the fly and edited into documentaries for airing on the company’s year-old site, Rehearsals.com, as well as an ever-growing assortment of other digital platforms. Thus far, more than 100 acts have been given this behind-the-scenes treatment, which Rehearsals.com provides in exchange for the rights to use and derive revenue from the edited footage online and elsewhere.

Head of Business Development Tommy Nast pitches the service to the music biz people he’s interacted with during his 20 years at Album Network. Nast, who more recently spent two years at concert production company AEG, came to CenterStaging in 2006 out of a desire to “hit one out of the park.”

Says Nast: “We have all the infrastructure and equipment to do whatever the client wants. This stuff is the ultimate EPK or B-roll, as well as content for the artist’s website or MySpace page. It would typically cost a label $100 grand a day for the audio and visuals we’re providing.”

A few months back, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich used Rehearsals.com to shoot what are expected to be key scenes in the renowned filmmaker’s feature-length documentary on Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. According to Rehearsals.com Supervising Producer David Plakos: “Bogdonovich was just blown away. He said, ‘This place is Shangri-La—you can do anything here.’ You won’t find another place like this on the planet.”

“I don’t want to say we’re a record company in the traditional sense,” says Nast, “but we can help emerging artists and unsigned bands at every level. More and more artists and managers are realizing that the more rights they can control, the better position they’re gonna be in, and we provide them with an opportunity for one-stop shopping. There’s no telling what you can do with the distribution platforms we can share our content with.”

These platforms now include the iTunes Music Store, for which CenterSaging is the first entity to provide HD videos, radio stations like K-RTH and Indie 103.1 in L.A. and, in the latest strategic alliance, a Rehearsals.com video-on-demand channel that launched in May on Comcast and Cox Cable.

Paul “Schmidi” Schmidman, a veteran in the business side of technology, came over from AOL last fall, taking the post of President and COO. “Our model is very simple,” he says. “We’re not charging anything. All we want from labels and managers are the rights to promote their own acts. We explain to them that we’re their partner, and we are actually going to make money with them and their artists—and as we get more scale with distribution channels and VOD, the story is beginning to get even more big-time.

“In terms of the struggles of the music industry today,” Schmidi continues, “they should look into any new idea that comes along. And you don’t have to be a genius to see that this one is a win-win.”

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