LL Cool J's dream came to fruition Wednesday with the release of his new software, Future Sounds My Connect Studio, a Google Docs-meets-Pro Tools software that allows any two artists in the world to create professional-quality tracks together live.
The rapper said at the software's introductory press conference that he wanted to use the Internet to break down the walls that had previously made recording music difficult. Traditional studios, he said, cost too much time and money, and digital collaboration was limited to unwieldy back-and-forth emails between him and his producer.
"I want to connect musicians everywhere so there's no limitations, there's no barriers to them connecting with each other," LL Cool J said.
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My Connect Studio comes from Boomdizzle, a social media site where musicians can collaborate, rate each other's music, and publish tracks to iTunes, which LL Cool J co-founded in 2008. Sony then integrated My Connect Studio as part of its Vaio E14P laptop. The software also interacts with Facebook, and uses Microsoft Cloud hosting.
Would the rapper have used My Connect Studio as an up-and-coming artist?
"There's no way I would let this opportunity pass me by, you know what I'm saying?" LL Cool J told Metro. "I'd use it for everything it had and try to make the best music I can make, let the chips fall where they may after that."
However, My Connect Studio is not without its limits. Currently, the software is PC-exclusive and only available through Sony’s VAIO laptop, although LL Cool J said that a Mac version of the software was in the making, as well as mobile and tablet forms. Only two artists can collaborate in one session at a time, but LL Cool J said that project engineers were working to enable more people to work together live. The Boomdizzle community mostly comprises hip-hop artists, and My Connect Studio makes sense for musicians in collaborative genres—namely hip-hop and electric dance. How My Connect Studio will try to engage musicians from other genres of music remains to be seen.
LL Cool J also coyly revealed that he's been working on a new album, some of which will be recorded using My Connect Studio.
"I'm gonna do a little bit of the album on the 'Studio' and make sure that it’s official," he said with a smile. "As a matter of fact, I started on my album, too. It's authentic hip-hop. It's the business."
LL Cool J emphasized that My Connect Studio is a supplement, not a replacement, for traditional music studios.
"The same way Facebook ain't gonna stop you from going to the mall with your girlfriends," LL Cool J said, "this isn't gonna stop you from going to a traditional studio. We're friends with all the technology that's out there."
"Everybody's about the future now, everybody's all about technology," LL Cool J said about the event ending up with a live demonstration of My Connect Studio and a DJ set from Grandmaster Flash. "But there's a history to this and a culture to this that we need to respect."
LL Cool J didn't give concrete pricing for My Connect Studio but said that the use of the software would be free in the initial release period, and eventually users would either subscribe or utilize a pay-as-you-go alternative by the hour. Sony calls the 12-month subscription (with 10 hours of recording per month) included in the bundle as a "$75 value" on its website.