Cohere Bandwidth: Pre-Paradise with Post Paradise

Post Paradise

 

Read all of the Cohere Bandwidth updates here.

I’m continually surprised at how much I learn with each band research field trip. On Wednesday Julie and I trekked out to the industrial area of Fort Collins to examine Post Paradise in pre-paradise practice conditions. Julie and I arrived a smidge early since we didn’t know where we were going. We decided that a band would likely load-in via the back door so drove around the building to the large garage doors. We were a little confused when loud mariachi music was playing out of the unit we were to be visiting. A minute later Nick, Amy, Mark and Chris showed up and quickly realized that their practice space had been double booked.  *big frowny faces*

So, a 6 pack was shared while listening to a Christian mariachi’s practice for about an hour. At 9:30pm Post Paradise rushed in and set up a surprisingly complex system with full light show in about 12 minutes.  Julie and I peppered them with 3 year old style rapid fire questions while they unpacked, plugged in and tuned up:

  • How often does a scheduling mishap happen?
  • Why are you laying out rugs on the floor?
  • How long does this usually take?
  • Why do you set up your full lights for practice?
  • Are you comfortable leaving your equipment here and sharing with a band you don’t know?
  • Do you have insurance?
  • What’s a Direct Support band at a show?
  • Why is your light making that funny sound?
  • Why do you have so many pedals?
  • Where’s the bathroom?
  • How long can you rehearse before diminishing returns set in?

We were able to stay for 2 songs before I had to get back home to the babysitter. The mariachis had also stayed behind to observe, they’re mouths agape at the incredible musicality to which they were being treated.

Julie and I make for an odd band groupie couple as we bury ourselves in our iphones to document our experience. Julie tweets, I take notes, Julie takes a picture, I upload a video to Facebook, Julie and I bow heads together to discuss how easy it would be for a band to file LLC paperwork and so on and so forth.

Julie and I drive back to Cohere and sit in the car while it’s running. It feels a little like the end of a good date. We know we have to part but don’t want to so we stall by talking about the business concerns of baby Cohere Bandwidth by the light of my headlights reflecting off the building. I kind of want to make out with her–like in a I love my friend so much kind of way.

Julie and I have our 222nd date tonight to see Wire Faces, Post Paradise and A Tom Collins at Hodi’s Half Note. Wish me luck at my first intentional live music concert since 3rd grade.

Read all of the Cohere Bandwidth updates here.

Cohere Bandwidth: Briefly Losing Our Way-Except For Ian Who Gave Us the Map We Dropped

weiner dog in a bun

By Angel

Read all the Cohere Bandwidth updates here.

My day to day life in modern housewifery is often painfully boring and filled with tedious hours over a high chair or reading the same 4 books over and over again so when we brainstormed the idea of the “Tune Truck/Breaking Band” portable RV/sound studio I got really excited as a solution for shared rehearsal space in Fort Collins. Too excited it turns out. After a brief marination period, Ian sent Julie and I the following email:
So after our meeting last Friday, I felt inspired and excited about the idea of the Tune Truck.  A few hours later I began feeling like this, in itself, is almost a completely separate business idea and am wondering the following:

  • How much is it going to cost to do this properly? (Alot)
  • How are we going to receive a return on this investment and what parameters are we measuring? Probably not $$, perhaps awareness. Is it worth it?
  • Who is going to operate it and how much will that cost? (Both for a driver and an audio engineer)
  • What musicians are going to actually feel comfortable enough to use it?  I know many musicians prepare for weeks or months before they record, and the likelihood of finding enough people on the street to record on the spot seems fairly slim.  Not to mention, the recording process for many of us is a somewhat private (and revealing) endeavor.
  • Other costs to consider: Insurance, gas, a computer, mics, cables, sound baffling, a power supply that does not create noise, security, instruments, monitors(speakers) or headphones etc…

So I’ll elaborate on what I meant about a separate business idea. If we were to retrofit an RV and turn it into a recording studio, then drive it to peoples houses and charge them to record in it – that would seem like a potentially “sound” investment.  Just my humble opinion, but if we were to raise money for something, perhaps that money should go toward the actual space for the following reasons:

  • We know we can charge people
  • All of our research is based off of that idea (not on musician acceptance to on-the-spot-recording/collaboration)
  • We could probably use all of the money we can get.  Although, I doubt we can ask for a grant from the city to start a business… I am sure you two know all about this.

OK, sorry for the lengthy email but I wanted to express my concerns in order to be transparent. If I am being a wiener about this, please tell me to shut up and I’ll move forward.  I feel that having a “collaborative space” within our rehearsal space building would potentially be both easier and much cheaper but also comes with some concerns.  I know this is my fault because I lit the fuze on this collaborative recording idea, so sorry for the wishywashiness.

To which we replied to him, “thank GAWD we have you and no, you are not a weiner.” It’s nice to know we have a more linear thinker AND a musician on our team who can bring Julie and I back from the clouds–where we often find ourselves due to our tendency to “ideate all over people” and ya know, “store documents and stuff up there.”

During a mini-coworking reunion last night Julie and I met to get the idea pendulum swinging back the other direction and member Kevin suggested we keep the location of Cohere Bandwidth a secret in order to gain maximum security. We thought this was clever so we are keeping that as a feasible idea for when we finally DO get a location–which we don’t have yet–which has been very confusing for people. We DON’T have a location for Cohere Bandwidth yet. Stay tuned, though we might not tell you where it’s located.

 

Cohere Bandwidth: Field Research Notes with Wire Faces

 Field notes

By Julie

So. We met with the musicians. We conducted two focus groups. We consumed approximately 7 pizzas, collectively (and fewer beers than you might imagine in a band session – serious business was afoot). We listened. We wrote on some giant sticky notes. We asked a lot of questions. In the end, it all boiled down to one more question: now what?

Well. Having heard from the musicians about what a successful rehearsal space would look like to them, we did our best to use our imaginations (that was fun!) and dream about what *could* be . But we needed to know more. We needed to SEE what they were dealing with NOW. Angel and I figured there was only one logical next step for us, and so … for the first time since we were teenage first-chair woodwind superstars: we were headed to band practice.

Luckily, our trusty colleague Ian is in a band . We asked him if he would mind if we visited during their next practice – after all, they’re used to the media  being all up in their (Wire) Faces. He said yes.

Wire Faces pic

Now keep in mind that Wire Faces is among the many bands in Fort Collins currently without a permanent rehearsal space to call home. Their story, while a little more blatantly terrible than most (they moved out of their last practice space last winter after having ALL their equipment stolen) is unfortunately not that unusual. They’re currently shuffling their stuff between two makeshift practice spaces: the back of the store where their drummer (Shane) works, and (Menyus) their bass player’s living room.

The store owner had to use his space this particular evening, so we got to experience a living room rehearsal. Angel picked me up (me: “fun, this feels like high school!” her: “I know, I wondered what I should wear, but then I remembered, I’m married – it doesn’t matter.”). When we pulled up to the house we knew which one it was because, well, we could hear the music — a common concern for ALL the musicians who talked to us about home practice spaces. “Sometimes our drummer doesn’t even want to practice at all, because he’s afraid he’ll piss the neighbors off,” one of the focus group musicians told us. Oddly, because Menyus lives on a fairly busy street, the noise level from outside the house is not as bad as it could be – the traffic provides a natural sound buffer for passersby. Still, the band let the neighbors know that they’d be practicing tonight (“no problem”, they were told; but, Shane says, “we don’t do this very often”). When they practice in the back of the store, they use headphones, both for recording purposes and because “there are people around – we don’t want to draw a lot of attention to ourselves.”

What we were treated to, mind you, was super-stripped down Wire Faces, with Ian and Shane using about half their equipment (Shane is minus a floor tom and all his cymbals and has no vocal microphone, or even his regular drum sticks; Ian’s using a little battery powered amp and is missing all his effects pedals. Menyus is fully equipped because it’s his living room and his stuff lives here, too). Still — Angel and I leave the house after an hour or so feeling just a little bit deaf.

Wire Faces video rehearsal

The band was gracious enough to allow us to observe, and live tweet (#coherebw) and blog from their practice and take photos and shoot video and they still managed to keep some semblance of normalcy, from what we can tell.

What we learned (or had reinforced):

  • Musicians are incredibly adaptable. Shane, for example, kept pausing between songs to fortify a “drumstick” he had fashioned out of packing tape, for sound dampening purposes
  • Coworking (with freelancers) and – as a friend called it – “coplaying” (with musicians) share some striking similarities. Intervals of introspection interspersed with conversation within the group are evident in their work process. A moment was taken to stop and nerd out a little about software (in this case, the benefits of Logic  vs. Pro Tools). And a fiercely independent sensibility – how you can learn to make something on your own and figure things out and iterate and create and try again over and over, because you’re a little obsessed about it? Reeealll familiar territory.
  • Sound and all its nuances: super important. Power – also important. Security and accessibility? Yes, please. Trust remains the watchword as we continue down this path with the bands.

So, still: now what? We think we’d like to observe a few more band practices in different spaces as nothing really beats getting a window into how musicians work and what they need (also: about halfway through, Angel realized an added benefit – we were essentially at a VIP private concert; Menyus even offered us snacks!) We’re going to continue the process of putting the people before the place[js8] . And we’re going to allow things to unfold a little more, because Angel says this feels just like what happened with the creation of Cohere. Sometimes you have to get comfortable in the fog. Because, counter-intuitive as it is, everybody knows that when you get scared and turn the brights on, you only impair your visibility.

One final note from Julie: I tried to write this in a fairly objective and clinical way because, hey, we’re analyzing. But I can say that watching these guys just cope with conditions is both profoundly inspiring and rather distressing. The band says – and I’m sure it’s true – that the constraints motivate them to get creative. I felt a little like I was bearing witness to the unbouncing of Tigger. Ugh. That feeling makes me want to work even harder to make something awesome, though, so … perhaps they have a point.

Image Credit

Cohere Bandwidth: What’s Trust Got to Do With it?

Trust

I asked Ian to write us a blog post on trust this week because we feel the topic is critical to our process/progress with Cohere Bandwidth and the larger Fort Collins music community. Nothing frustrates me more than a newb bursting on to the scene and then wondering why no one wants to hang out in their “awesome new thing.” Trust has been abused so often by theft in all its forms that we’re finding it takes awhile to gain a musician’s trust and when we do we’ll guard it closely—much like we will your equipment when we finally get our space!

By Ian Haygood

Song: Truth by Alexander Ebert

“You Can’t Shake Hands With A Clenched Fist”

So said the late Indira Gandhi, third Prime Minister of India.   Her words resonate for me specifically because of my experiences as a musician.  Typically, trust is not at the forefront of a musician’s mind during the preliminary stages of creative collaboration.  Instead, the quest to concoct a unique, compelling mix of creativity and talent acts as a catalyst for progress.  Subsequently, many of us get burned.  More often than not, young musicians are very trusting, even naïve at times; especially when it comes to things like contracts or parking the van on the wrong street.   This mindset can act as a “blinder” from a variety of threats: both internal and external.  On the other hand, more experienced, touring musicians have had enough negative experiences to fuel a sense of distrust.  Many of us have been ripped off by a club owner, some of us have been robbed by even our closest friends or bandmates, and don’t get me started on what I like to call interband copulation.

 

So why do we keep putting ourselves in these potentially vulnerable situations? I am sure it is partially due to our innate love of “the ride”, but mostly we are searching for truth.  That is why I have chosen Truth by Alexander to accompany this post.  It is very difficult to shake our past experiences, for they have become an integral part of our personalities.  Although this is somewhat inevitable, we continue to search for truth in each other, in words, in the past, present and future. Music, to some of us, is the only truth.  Which is why we feel we’ve found it while we are creating it.   At this point everything else becomes secondary or tertiary. However, trust is the foundation of relationships and therefore the foundation of a band’s success (not everyone can get by with a Pete Doherty in the band).  Moreover, a band’s success is dependent on the support of said band’s local community.  If you don’t think so, I am afraid you may be mistaken.  Even the Beatles needed it.  As the great Cesar Chavez once said, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

 

Unfortunately, we cannot predict if someone is untrustworthy, we can only surmise a group or individual’s intentions based on shared experience, hearsay or “gut feel”.   This process is done on an individual level.  So you tell us. How do you know you can trust someone?  How can you know someone is trustworthy until you trust him or her first?  How do we progress as individuals and as a community without trust?

image credit

Cohere Bandwidth: Survey Results for Shared Rehearsal Space

Will Work For Bandwidth

Read all of the past Cohere Bandwidth updates here.

The survey is closed and we had a great response from the community. I’m going to channel my inner grad-student and go all scholarly on you. Hang on to your vintage hats.

ONE BILLION people were asked to complete a survey about their current conditions and preferences for potential shared rehearsal space in Fort Collins, Colorado. Responses were requested via email, Facebook and Twitter. We requested that respondents be “in a band” or “a musician” in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The goal of the survey was to find out the current reality for musicians and their rehearsal spaces including satisfaction and cost. We also wanted to gather preliminary data on importance of common rehearsal space amenities, location and to find people to participate in focus groups.

63 musicians completed the online survey. Click on any of the graphs to see larger images.

The average age of those who took the survey was 32 years. The youngest was 18, the oldest; 52.

Surprisingly, the majority of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied (32 total) with their current rehearsal space. Based on our initial talks with band members, we assumed that there would be FAR more unsatisfied rehearse-ers. 20 respondents were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current space.

How Satisfied

We also really need to know how much people are paying for their rehearsal space. The vast majority pay NOTHING. We assume that this means they are rehearsing at home. <—-this sounds familiar. Freelancers, anyone? A shortcoming of our research is that we can’t correlate satisfaction with how much they pay. Right now we assume that those who pay the most are the most satisfied but this is an excellent focus group topic to find out more.

Per month fee for space
We never want to assume that people want to share. Especially when thousands of dollars of band equipment is in the equation. So we asked. To our delight, 78% of the musicians we surveyed are willing to share. Sharing FTW.

Would you share
It’s often not terribly important to get hung up on physical amenities this early in the process BUT with the recent thefts of band equipment we knew we needed to at least ask about security. We also heard that many people rehearse without a bathroom (yikes), heat (brrrr) or soundproofing (sorry neighbors). We researched a bunch of other shared rehearsal spaces online and tossed in some of their common amenities (vending machines) just to see what would happen.

Security, clean electrical, cost and locked storage won. Vending machines failed miserably as did discounts to business services and having an included PA in the space. We’ll dig more in to these things in the focus groups.
Amenities

It was important to communicate how different the price of real estate is in different parts of our town. We indicated this in our survey by using dollar signs. The Mulberry/Industrial area is the most affordable and this got the majority of responses followed by the Old Town as the most expensive area. This leads me to believe that we might have two very different groups of musicians in our group. It will be important to delve further in to this topic at the focus groups.

Location

 

Conclusion: we are stoked. The focus groups are set up and Ian is taking RSVPs from those survey respondents who expressed interest. BTW, 60% of people who took the survey gave us their email addresses which we think is very, very neat.

Read all of the Cohere Bandwidth updates here.

And another shout out to our awesome and generous focus group pizza sponsors. Visit their websites today. Did I mention that they are all Independent business owners in our town? Yeah. They’re cool like that. Oh, they are ALL either current or alumni members of Cohere. How fucking sweet is that?!

Amanda Miller, The Place Setting Company

Molly Hoff, The Freelance Bean Counter

Carson Block, Consultant and Edgewater Juke

image credits: Angel Kwiatkowski

 

 

Cohere Bandwidth: Shared Rehearsal Space for Musicians–Or Not

Cohere-Bandwidth

I’m not even sure where to begin with this post. So I’ll just dive right in and hope that you can hang on to me as I plummet in to the depths of this announcement.

I’ve been dabbling with the idea of opening another Cohere location for over a year. We started and stopped, almost found what we needed and then my gut told me to bail late last year. It was a painful thing to let go but I knew I should wait for the next great idea to “pop.”

Last December, this POPPED.

Naturally, I would stay awake at night tossing this story around in my head-alternating between the excitement of feeling that I could contribute to the problem (lack of safe shared rehearsal space) and terror (lack of ANY knowledge of the local band scene).

Luckily, one of Cohere’s tenured members and one of my dearest friends Julie Sutter happens to know EVERYTHING about the local band scene and she GETS coworking and ME <

I broke the news to her over a pancake breakfast that I wanted to work on shared rehearsal space. She was instantly on her phone texting her music friends and getting traction for the idea. I hadn’t even swallowed my bite of food.

I’ll stop to interject that Julie has been involved with Spokesbuzz since it started helping local bands get national attention and Spokesbuzz just happens to have their world headquarters at Cohere.

The above announcement is all fine and well. New coworking spaces and their communities get announced like every 2.4 seconds these days. Nothing really fancy there. What IS fancy is that I’m going to tell you EVERYTHING about the process of building a new community AS IT HAPPENS. Yes, Beth and I wrote a couple of coworking ebooks for you about starting coworking communities but that was done AFTER we had gone through it. It’s one thing to remember how you did it and edit it down and make it consumable. It’s another thing to bring you along on the journey in real time where you can really see how complex and often joyous and painful it can be. The number one question people always ask us veterans of the coworking scene is, “how do you create community?” Well, my dear ones, watch for these blog posts to come on Fridays. Not every Friday mind you, I’m not a superhero. I’ll tell you pretty much everything that happened each week or two that will move us closer to or further away from our goal of creating a shared space and community for musicians in Fort Collins.

I say “closer to or further away from our goal” because there are 7 gabillion variables and my gut intuition that will let us know if we’re on the right path or if Cohere Bandwidth will never come to fruition. The fun part is the process. I hope you’ll join us no matter the outcome and learn something along the way.

August 9th is International Coworking Day 2011!

Coworking as a movement, a business solution, and a kick-ass global community is turning 6 years old on August 9th, 2o11.

On this day every year, coworkers and coworking spaces around the world take a moment to celebrate their independence as well as their discovery of all the dreams that can come true when you’ve got a solid community in which to create and collaborate.

Even though our attendance is somewhat unpredictable during the summer months, Cohere’s community is getting into the spirit of things as well! Here are a couple easy ways that you can participate in this worldwide celebration:

1. Come to Cohere’s Coworking Day 2011 Open House: Swing by between 9a-4p for snacks, coffee and high fives. Want to cowork a little to ring in your next year of independence? That’s okay too. Seats are first come first serve! RSVP here.

2. Invite someone to Cohere: What better day than a free open house? Whether you’re hanging out at a coffee shop over the weekend, or talking to a friend that owns a struggling small business, why not mention that there’s a community of independent, creative people hanging out at 215 Jefferson?

3. Show Your Coworking Spirit: It can be hard to strike up conversation with those you don’t know, so if inviting someone in person isn’t possible, think about using your multitude of social media networks. You could,

  • Use your Facebook status as a place to tell people you’re going to Coworking Day and include a link to your favorite Cohere blog post.
  • Tell your Google+ stream why you’re thankful that coworking exists and why they should try it too.
  • Tweet this: @CohereLLC is having a FREE open house on Aug. 9th. All #freelancers and #smallbusiness owners invited! http://ow.ly/5UdsU #coworking

Got other cool ideas about how we could share coworking with the Greater Fort Collins area and beyond? Share them in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – mdanys

How To: Create a Local Meet-up Group for Freelancers

Hello My Name is... by bump on Flickr

Host a local meet-up group--it's easy!

Coworking naturally creates community—it’s the beauty of freelancers and independents working together in a shared office space. No doubt you’ve benefited from this coworking community goodness. But have you ever thought about having a group that is more focused on a niche you’re interested in? Here are 8 easy steps for how to create a local meet-up group for other freelancers and small business owners.

1. Choose a topic & purpose.

Who do you want to get together and why? Do you want to get freelance web designers together to talk about the latest Adobe Illustrator shortcuts, or would you rather get people from diverse professional backgrounds together to talk about a specific industry? There are limitless themes around which to organize a meet-up. Make it specific, but allow yourself some creativity! (For example, a meet-up named “Freelance Writers”? Boring. A meet-up named “Freelance Writers Who Care About Going Green”? That’s more like it!)

2. Ask two people to join you.

“Two?! Only two people?!” you shriek. Settle down. Ask two people who would fit the niche meet-up group to help you. For example, two other programmers if it’s for a programming group, or two other freelancers interested in non-profit organizations. Not only will having two other minds make choosing a time and venue easier, it will help diversify and grow the meet-up. And even if it’s just the three of you that end up attending the first meet-up, three people can do a lot of brainstorming and sharing.

3. Choose a time.

Check to ensure that your meet-up idea isn’t already happening somewhere in your area. If a similar group exists—great! Offer to join forces. If not, make sure your meet-up doesn’t conflict with other events in the area. Will the event be weekly, monthly or bimonthly? Will attendees likely have availability before, during or after work hours, or perhaps on the weekend?

4. Choose a venue.

Coffee shops, restaurants with private rooms and local community centers are a great place to find free or low-cost space for your group. But y’know what would be even better? Ask your coworking space if you can use the space during an off-time (evenings or weekends).

Did you know Cohere offers conference facilities in Old Town, Fort Collins?  Reserving a conference room at Cohere is affordable, easy and perhaps best of all—très chic! (No kidding around: there is latent Business Awesomeness and Uber-Creativity floating in the air at Cohere.)

5. Set up an online event.

There are several online tools that allow you to share event description, time and venue with others. Make it simple for potential attendees to find the pertinent who/what/where/when/why info. Some easy-to-use online event tools include:

6. Share the event with your network.

  • Post information about the meetup at your coworking space.
  • Tell your friends on Facebook and your followers on Twitter.
  • Talk about it on your blog.
  • Announce it at other events you attend (but only if it’s relevant!).
  • Share with your professional groups.
  • Send an email to friends, former colleagues and anyone else in your network that seems like a perfect fit for the meet-up (especially if it’s someone that might not use Facebook or Twitter very often).

7. Be prepared.

If the meet-up group is hosted at your coworking space, do you want to provide snacks or refreshments? Or perhaps you’ll need a whiteboard & markers, a giant brainstorming notepad, or a laptop for taking notes and looking up websites. An LCD project and screen? Nametags and markers? Think again about the topic and purpose of the meet-up group, and ensure you have all the materials and “little things” needed to make it a great event.

8. Have fun!

The meet-up group you’ve helped create should be fun, information-rich and valuable for everyone involved. Enjoy it!

Why have a meet-up? Because it builds community. Because you can share resources, tips & tactics. Because you can help someone else by sharing your knowledge and skills. Because it’s awesome to hang out with other awesome people. (That’s awesomeness squared!)

Have you ever started a local meet-up group? What worked and what didn’t? Tell us below in the comments!

Image Credit: Flickr – bump

1985 in Old Town Square

The coworkers love a good theme party.  Naturally, when we found out that the Downtown Business Association was throwing a “Party like it’s 1985” event to celebrate 25 years since the Square was dedicated, we rifled through the backs of our closets for some good outfits.

A few things happened last Friday as a result of reincarnating the 80’s:

  • I found out that my hair goes in to a side ponytail like it prefers to be styled that way
  • Ladies who lived through the 80’s had outfits that were much more “gritty Madonna” style than the
  • Ladies who were born in the 80’s and had outfits that looked modern and in fashion
  • Hot Coral fingernail polish becomes a permanent part of your body if you wear it for more than 2 days

Jeanie & Julie

Suzanne & Megan

Compare and contrast these photos. Can you guess which gals were teens in the 80’s?

What was your favorite part of the 80’s?  If you’ve got photos of the big party, upload them to twitter @coherellc!

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