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Jamming all over the world with WholeWorldBand

Want to play with Hozier or The Police? Kevin Godley’s app puts you in the band

 

A very unusual fund-raising single was launched earlier this month in aid of the men’s cancer charity Movember.

The record is a cover version of the well-known David Bowie 1971 hit Changes and features artists such as Hozier, Bob Forrest and Josh Klinghoffer of Bicycle Thief, The Haden Triplets and Cleto Escobedo. Music lovers of a slightly older vintage might more readily recognise Stewart Copeland of The Police, Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music, Graham Gouldman of 10cc and Richard Barbieri of Japan, who also joined in the effort.

What makes the record different to any other charity single ever released is the fact that anyone who downloads it can make a unique version of it for themselves or a loved one or even put themselves in a YouTube video of it. People can either sing along with Hozier or even take his place thanks to the award-winning WholeWorldBand app which is behind the single.

WholeWorldBand allows anyone to create their own version of the song by building their own personally selected supergroup at the press of a button – and then add themselves into the video singing or playing along. All they have to do is download the free WholeWorldBand app and press record to take part in the Changes video along with the other stars worldwide.

The app, which won the Irish Times Innovation Award in the creative category earlier this year, was conceived by 10cc member and film producer Kevin Godley, largely developed in Ireland, and is backed by a number of Irish investors including Barry Maloney, Cyril McGuire and IIU.

WholeWorldBand has been described as an entirely new music platform which has created a “global recording studio in the cloud”.

It allows any musician with an internet connection to easily collaborate with others anywhere in the world to make music and videos that can be shared and enjoyed worldwide. A multi-track YouTube is possibly the most accurate description for it.

By opening the app users enter a virtual recording studio where they can pick a video and insert themselves, contributing a vocal, instrumental or anything else they feel like adding.

The ultimate aim is to help shape how music is created, shared and monetised in the digital era.

“It’s been a pretty exciting year,” says WholeWorldBand chief executive Gregory Butler. “We have launched the latest version of the app and all I can say about it is that it’s beautiful. Our goal is to make the whole technical experience invisible. We want people to make music and videos and have fun without realising that they are doing it.”

He sees personal video recording as the new frontier in music creation. “We’re in a place where video is taking over the world,” he says. “Everyone is making them and sharing them. We are in an incredible spot where people can make and interact with video anywhere in the world and share it with anyone else anywhere else in the world. It’s fun and it’s a really great time to live in.”

The beauty of the WholeWorldBand app, he claims, is that it handles all the technical aspects of making and editing the video. “If you go onto YouTube you can find videos demonstrating how you can cut up and edit videos online,” he points out. “These are quite long and complicated but they have lots and lots of views. With WholeWorldBand the app does all of the technical stuff for you and allows you to do the things you want with video and music.”

The Movember charity effort demonstrates the power and capability of the app.

“You would never in a million years have thought that you could get all of these people joining in on a song together – some in the studio together, some remotely by using the app. And everyone else can join in from home as well. You don’t even have to be musical yourself – you can go into it and make a different version of the video which is personalised to your friends.”

While it has possibly reinvented the concept of the charity record the app may also have democratised the music business in a way never thought possible. “People have always wanted to interact with their heroes,” Butler notes. “For the first time, with WholeWorldBand, they can. You can go online, choose videos, put yourself into them and then share them with your friends, saying, ‘here’s me playing with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.’ You can add your music and put yourself in the video – that makes it very exciting.”

The app is completely free to users and this raises natural questions about its future financial viability.

“We are at the stage where we are building a great business but the most important thing at the moment is to let people experience and enjoy the app,” says Butler. “There are many ways for us to monetise it and we are looking at these at the moment. We have the support of a great bunch of shareholders and they want us to build a great business. We have a plan which will see us build the business to a point where we can monetise it, but we aren’t in a position to discuss that at the moment.”