A guitarist strums alone. Across town, a drummer keeps time, while across the country, a singer hums. They are not lonely soloists. It’s a band, and it’s a recording session.
A new web application called Nebula allows musicians to collaboratively record and mix their own tracks, all online, simultaneously, for free. “It’s never been done before,” says Robert Kotcher, co-founder and CEO of Nebulus Audio. Kotcher, a string player and graduate student in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, gathered four musician friends and founded the company in March 2014. With the help of startup accelerator AlphaLab, they launched the cloud app Nebulus at the end of August.
Nebulus users upload audio files or record new ones through their computer’s microphone and overlay them with other artists. You don’t have a group? “We are building a social platform to help musicians find other people to collaborate with,” says Kotcher.
“It could be a game-changer,” says Lance LaDuke, music business lecturer and special and creative projects coordinator at CMU School of Music. During an initial software demo, LaDuke found that while Nebulus lacks some features of existing music software, it lowers the barrier to entry for new musicians. “I’m super excited about this for myself,” says LaDuke, an accomplished brass player.
LaDuke judges a monthly Nebulus contest. Artists producing the best 30-second songs with the app earn money: the more collaborators, the higher the price. “We want to get people interested not only in registering themselves, but also their groups,” Kotcher said.
At one week old, and with only word of mouth, Nebulus already has dozens of users. While Nebulus can connect musicians from all over the world, Kotcher believes he was born in the right place: “Pittsburgh has so many talented people in music and technology, we feel like we have a lot of talent. ‘opportunities here.