Tech Trends In the Music Biz with Eric Mayron, Media Technologist

This week on the Tech Cat Show:

Intro: Welcome to the Tech Cat show with host Lori H. Schwartz. Each week we hear from established leaders in the technology and consumer industry. Finding out the scoop should never be this much fun. Now, here is your host, Lori H. Schwartz.

Lori Schwartz: Hi, everybody, and welcome back to the Tech Cat show. And this week I’m really excited because is my studio is my guest today. And my guest is the fabulous Eric Mayron, who is a media technologist. Let’s hear it for Eric.

Eric Mayron: Whoo. We’re already having a good time, aren’t we?

Lori Schwartz: So Eric is actually in the music business and Eric uses a lot of technology in what he does. And so we thought it would be fun on a show that really focuses on tech trends and tech trends in business to really spin it around and look at the music industry and how the music industry is, you know, ebbing and flowing with all this new tech. And Eric also was a parent in my elementary school. And we would always get into these technology conversations. So I really wanted to dig in deeper with him. He has a long history in the music business. So, Eric, tell us all about you and your connection to the music business.

Eric Mayron: I was born on a hot summer day. No. Let’s see. How do I really start this? I guess I was always a musician. I started out as a musician. In fact, as I made the transition into what I do now, that was a big advantage for me because I wasn’t just a sales guy or a tech guying going, oh, you got to have one of these, you got to have one of these. There was really an application. I understood the application of what we were doing. But then, also, when I was in high school I started, you know, I kind of forgot about this until recently that there was one of the teachers from the high school that was, he would, you know, what do teachers do in three months they’re off of school? Trying to have some kind of business.

Lori Schwartz: Still have a band.

Eric Mayron: And he was teaching programming, BASIC programming. BASIC was a programming language, it was a very early programming language. You had to literally like numbers between each line so that the computer would know what order to run the program in. But I remember at the time he said, well you can learn on an Apple II or an Atari 2600, which was an old video game console. And I said, let’s learn on the Atari because I figured, hey, the more fun it could be.

So that was kind of an early interest in that, and then I-

Lori Schwartz: Became a musician?

Eric Mayron: I always was a musician.

Lori Schwartz: So were you making a living playing?

Eric Mayron: Not when I was 16. And I went to a very-

Lori Schwartz: We can get closer up to how old you are now.

Eric Mayron: Well, this is kind of part of the story that I went to a very conservatory-oriented music school at a very high tech university. I went to UC Irvine at the time when the transition at Apple was going from you know, the Apple II to the Mac. And that we were what they called an Apple seed university. And yes, they really did call it that. And there three Apple offices at the time. One was in New York, one was in Newport Beach, and one was in Cupertino.

And UC Irvine is in like the Newport Beach tip, tip, tip of Irvine. And so we were there, so we got all the great technology. We had a Mac computer lab before people were really into it. And through that, I started getting into that community and actually did my first studio integration there when they made an electronic music studio at UC Irvine, which that particular studio still exists and it’s expanded.

You know, and fast forward many years. In a band and not, you know, not making great money, but in those years, who makes money in a band? But my day job was in technology because being part of that early Apple/Mac community really hooked me up with a lot of great people and I was writing-

Lori Schwartz: Code?

Eric Mayron: Yes. I was coding on kind of a high end database. The high end databases have coding languages with them. And I was working in a program called 4th Dimension and at the time when it was a cool thing just to hook a couple computers together, I was on a 125 node, what they call LAN star network. It was like an early, it was like a pre-ethernet thing. And we were doing really high end stuff.

Fast forward years later, you know, I was a freelance programmer and I did that for a while and people would hire me to make these custom inventory invoicing databases for them. And at some point, I applied for a job being the product specialist at a place called Westlake Audio. Westlake Audio is what I call a hub studio. It’s a big recording studio that when you work there, you kind of realize how big that whole world is because there’s artists who … Oh, it’s the tech cat.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, it’s the tech cat. We have a mascot here and she’s an actual cat. She’s an actual technology cat-alyst.

Eric Mayron: That’s very funny. And at the studio you realized that there’s many artists. And I guess our litmus test was Michael Jackson’s sales figures at the time. But there are many artists from around the world who outsell Michael Jackson, but we don’t know who they are because we don’t speak that language. A bunch of these would come through. Their Westlake Audio was made by the guy, he makes these very world-renowned studio monitors that go in the wall soffits. And out of that he had a sales group, a manufacturing group. The sales group was to sell these monitors, and the studio group. Things that were recorded at Westlake Audio, Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and Thriller. Really high-end, it’s a wonderful studio, high end studio. Still exists today.

I was hired to work with the sales group to help the non-technical sales people because that, you know, going from selling monitors became from went to selling all kinds of pro audio stuff in an era before the internet when the famous guys didn’t want to go into Guitar Center and subject themselves to that sort of hostile-

Lori Schwartz: Environment. Yeah.

Eric Mayron: Yeah. So I was to help them spec out the early hard disk recording systems. And I was to help the studio group when they had clients who’d come in who would use them to help keep those systems running. The systems, as with everything in the 1995 through ’98, they were hard to keep running. They were expensive. They were about 50 to 100,000 dollars each. So the music budgets were still big. The clientele we had had the wherewithal to purchase those systems and they needed people to keep them running. And I had a unique-

Lori Schwartz: Combination of skills.

Eric Mayron: And also a unique gift for it. I used to tell people, well, I didn’t really choose this career. It chose me.

Lori Schwartz: Were you actually building the systems? Was it like editorial for music? Was it sound? Like, what was it?

Eric Mayron: Yes, I was building the systems. There were proprietary cards that went in them. And really, we’d sold other brands but mostly what we sold was Pro Tools. And at that time, our tiny little sales group at Westlake Audio was the biggest seller of Pro Tools in the world.

Lori Schwartz: And Pro Tools is the sort of … Is it still the standard sound editorial, mixing, everything, right?

Eric Mayron: Absolutely the standard. The main thing, it’s a tracking program. You can record into it and then, of course, you can mix in there. And of course, editorial which has become a big part of how people make records now.

Lori Schwartz: Right, right.

Eric Mayron: So yeah, people would come there to get this stuff. In 1998 I left and went on my own. And probably 20 years later … Probably five years after that there was a bunch of people who said they could keep things running smoothly and at that point, virtual instruments were coming onto the scene. And because I was a musician, I began to sort of evangelize that work as well.

Lori Schwartz: Right now, do most musicians have to be technology proficient? Is it okay just to be a guitar player and even if you’re going to be professional? Or do you have to understand how all this technology works?

Eric Mayron: That’s interesting because you know, how many people do we know-

Lori Schwartz: I try and be interesting.

Eric Mayron: That’s what I meant to say, Lori. You’re interesting. But it is an odd thing because I mean, don’t we all know people, mostly in our parents’ generation. You know, it’s like, well, I’m not really a technology person. And I’m like, really? You’ve never used an ATM? You’re right. Now computers are everywhere. And there’s some sort of technology-

Lori Schwartz: Interface for everything.

Eric Mayron: Yeah. This sort of technology interface for everything, including guitar pedal boards, you know? That you have them all set up with your different effects and they’ll hook to a computer.

Lori Schwartz: Right now you told me about a few different gigs that you’re doing. So what is your role at those gigs? Are you playing or are you setting up all the technology.

Eric Mayron: That’s interesting. I am still a musician and I play with different groups now. But then I’m still after all this time, I work freelance for some great names.

Lori Schwartz: And you’re setting up their systems?

Eric Mayron: I set up their systems. I keep them running smoothly. And then they go off and they make music. That’s the thing in the early days, it was much more necessary to have me right on tap. My goal has always been to make the artist independent of me. I knew that there was a lot of tech guys out there who’ve talked about how close they were with this guy or that guy. And I thought, geez, if you’re that close with the artist or the producer or the composer, chances are your systems aren’t running that smoothly. That was something that I always told my clients was that my goal is to have you being able to work this independently and make you feel good. Take you from zero to a hundred.

Lori Schwartz: Because we’re going to have to take a break, but I want to get back talking to you about, you know, has the technology democratized to the point now where most musicians can use everything? Because that is a big theme right now across the board in tech and content. I hear this over and over again, that these big studios and networks are terrified because the consumer has access to all the same stuff.

Eric Mayron: Absolutely.

Lori Schwartz: And I have a couple of friends that are musicians and I watch them with the pedals and their little Mac next to them. And they loop and they do all this stuff and they’re by themselves and they sound like a band, you know? All right. We’re going to take a break but we’re going to be back with Eric Mayron who’s basically been, you know, an integrator for music producers, composers, and recording artists for the last-

Eric Mayron: 20 years.

Lori Schwartz: 20 years.

Eric Mayron: For 23 years.

Lori Schwartz: But he looks good. But he’s been leveraging tech in the music business and we’re going to learn more about how this all sorts out around all the technology trends that are happening right now. So we’ll be back in a moment with Eric Mayron, media technologist on the Tech Cat show.

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Lori Schwartz: Hi, everybody and we are back. And we are chatting it up with Eric Mayron who’s a media technologist, specifically in the music business, a real rare combination of both musician and technologist. And we were chatting it up with Erica about how is the audio and music business really become technology oriented. I was kind of asking you, you know, how’s the tech in the music business democratized so that anyone can figure it out. And do you have to be a technologist to be a musician now?

Eric Mayron: I would say that first and foremost you want to be somebody who can do that task because everything has migrated to a computer. No matter what you do, chances are you’re going to be doing it on a computer. And as 32 tracks of discreet digital audio comes native on most computers, you buy them, they’ve got some kind of program on there to do that, that now it really is a thing of do you have the skills to be a producer? Do you have the skills to be an arranger? Or as a recording artist, do you have the skills to put something together that really sounds-

Lori Schwartz: Professional.

Eric Mayron: Professional. And I guess that was the thing. The old school guys, back when this started happening were like, well, geez, now all the kids have a laptop and they can just do their thing. It still requires a person to have some kind of innate talent to do that particular task. However, how it’s changed now is, you know, and the ad business is a great example of that. That now, instead of hiring a composer, and hooking them up with an ad company, whatever and then they write, oh, give us five different examples of what you would do with this. And they have a meeting and they sit down and they talk about it.

Now they’ll issue an edict with the specifics of what they’re looking for. The people who used to be A & R people at the record labels are now independent music supervisors and they put the call out to 30 or 40 different guys and everybody hustles their best thing. And then they, you know, they’ve got 30 or 40 different choices. One person gets paid and half of that goes to the music supervisor. So it has changed to that end.

Lori Schwartz: How the music flows and who does what.

Eric Mayron: Who does what and much more is self-contained. I think the first ones to, there used to be a separate producer and engineer and Pro Tools operator. The engineer and Pro Tools operator became one. And then beyond, and now in many cases, the producer does everything. And one of the changes that’s been going on is oh, well everybody does it on a laptop. In fact, one VP of A & R had-

Lori Schwartz: What does A & R stand for?

Eric Mayron: Oh, sorry. Artists and Repertoire. These are the guys at the record labels who sign the recording artists and they oversee the making of the album. They’re the roster guys. They’re responsible for keeping the creative stuff going into the record labels so that ideally, they can put it out. But this one VP and one of my clients who works on a really well-outfitted tower, he said, why don’t you just come on over? We can work on the track in our studio here and that way, we can get it done.

And he’s used to every, all the producers working on a high-powered laptop, which is interesting. And really, now, which was a trend for a while. People were going from towers and like, oh, look, you can do it all on the laptop.

Lori Schwartz: When you say tower, was that a bunch of equipment?

Eric Mayron: No, a tower is a style of computer. A desktop.

Lori Schwartz: Oh, right, right. Okay, desktop, right. Now it’s all on the notebooks.

Eric Mayron: Right.

Lori Schwartz: Is it all Mac too?

Eric Mayron: Not all Mac. But there’s a lot, a lot of the hip-hop guys are using PCs.

Lori Schwartz: Because?

Eric Mayron: I don’t know.

Lori Schwartz: More powerful?

Eric Mayron: Not necessarily.

Lori Schwartz: Or more software options?

Eric Mayron: Not even necessarily. There was something that ran for the hip-hop guys exclusively on PC for years, was FL Studio, which is the descendant of FruityLoops. And they just recently-

Lori Schwartz: Was that some kind of mixer or something?

Eric Mayron: They call it a DAW, although we always joke around that if you really say the word DAW, then that’s very nerdy. That’s very unacceptable. You have to call it the Digital Audio Workstation program. Like Pro Tools. Pro Tools was software and hardware. Within the last 10 years, though, Pro Tools has separated that link so you can use anybody’s external hardware with their software.

Lori Schwartz: Smart. Yeah.

Eric Mayron: And that their software really is wonderful and is capable of keeping people happy on its own.

Lori Schwartz: What fascinates me about something like Pro Tools and what you’re talking about is so a musician creates a soundtrack for a movie, and now in this new world of immersive technology, I’ve been to D-BOX’s studio and D-BOX is one of the companies that makes the chair that moves to the movies and that’s also part of the R experiences. They’re taking, the D-BOX technician is taking the Pro Tools track, importing it, and then adding on to it motion effects in the track of the Pro Tools.

Eric Mayron: I imagine that they send it via MIDI, which is Musical Instrument Digital Interface, to the hardware that shakes and spits out smoke and random stuff.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, and I watched him dropping in shake here, vibrate here, thrust forward here, you know, that kind of thing. You know, this guy was dropping in effects and he was actually artfully creating that feeling which we call haptics, right?

Eric Mayron: Right.

Lori Schwartz: But he was adding haptics into the Pro Tools track in a really artistic way.

Eric Mayron: And I really want to encourage you, if you get a chance to experience a D-BOX movie, it is so much fun. What was the one with the … The Meg?

Lori Schwartz: Oh, yeah, I haven’t seen it yet.

Eric Mayron: We saw it, my daughter and I went and saw the Meg-

Lori Schwartz: And you were in D-BOX chairs?

Eric Mayron: In D-BOX chairs and we didn’t know what to expect. Very fun time. Really cool.

Lori Schwartz: I’m just curious because when you bought the tickets, did you know you were buying D-BOX chairs? Did it say in the experience?

Eric Mayron: Yes. We absolutely knew.

Lori Schwartz: And it told you these will be motion-driven chairs and that sort of thing?

Eric Mayron: Yes. We actually had, there was a movie that we were supposed to see at the Chinese theater and it got canceled or there was something wrong with the movie and so they said, well, come back. So we went back because I love 3-D movies. Technology guy, I love 3-D movies. And the Meg, we wanted to see it in 3-D and this is the only place it was playing and they graciously let us use our regular 3-D tickets for the D-BOX. D-BOX is more expensive but it’s almost like, you know, when you’re on vacation? You know what? You’ll pay $20 for a soda. It’s sort of like that.

Lori Schwartz: But when you think of the lifeline of that Pro Tools original recording, because what D-BOX is also doing is they’re going back into old movies whose Pro Tools files still exist and they’re getting them from the studio and they’re doing their thing so that they’re spitting it out for people who have D-BOX chairs at home. So they’re all about home theaters, too.

Eric Mayron: Nice. And even regardless of whether the Pro Tools file exist, you can create a Pro Tools file.

Lori Schwartz: You can easily?

Eric Mayron: Oh, simply. Yeah, you synchronize it with the time code of the movie and you say this happened. Exactly the same way you saw, only without that soundtrack.

Lori Schwartz: Right, right. So there are standards happening now with music and sound that are following all these different new software protocols.

Eric Mayron: Well, you know, I think what you’re talking about is that it’s really the D-BOX people, that they found a way to fit in to what exists already.

Lori Schwartz: Right, right. And is any of that stuff coming your way in what you do with musicians? Are they looking at this stuff?

Eric Mayron: Not yet because that’s, you know, it’s almost like everything’s on a computer and just because you know how to work a computer doesn’t mean you know how to do all the tasks for the job. Likewise, you know, some musicians, some people who can create great-sounding stuff and well-composed stuff aren’t really great at editing or moving it or even placing it in the film.

Lori Schwartz: So do you have to, then? I mean, I kind of asked you this before, but I’m fascinated. Do you have to have computer skills to be a good musician right now?

Eric Mayron: A good musician can be just somebody who performs. And I guess if you learn the parts, you can play the parts wherever you are. However, if you’re recording, that’s how it’s done now.

Lori Schwartz: And you have to know that stuff.

Eric Mayron: You have to know that stuff. And that you have to … You can’t separate yourself from healthy data-safety protocols. You have to familiarize. You say, oh, I don’t know anything about that. My hard drive is all filled up with all these different sessions. No, you’ve got to get organized and you have to-

Lori Schwartz: Protect your IP and all that kind of stuff.

Eric Mayron: Not so much even about that. The data protection, not so much that somebody’s going to come on your computer and steal your stuff. I don’t know, you know, most of the people who I know are really paranoid about that stuff. I’m like, what, you got an FBI file on you? Who are you? Are you somebody bigger than I realize?

Lori Schwartz: Well, they don’t want original music to be stolen, I guess.

Eric Mayron: I guess that’s right. There’s a certain amount of healthy paranoia. But it’s a lot of work on a MAC and even on a PC now to get in through somebody else’s network, without their permission, and be able to grab something from that. And even then, to be able to say that it’s your own because you’ve got creation dates on all the files. So it really, not so much that. But to make your data safe in that you’ve got a backup in an appropriate place of the files you worked on yesterday in case something happens to that hard drive, which, as dependable as hard drives are, hard drives-

Lori Schwartz: Can fail because they’re hard drives.

Eric Mayron: They fail. They are volatile hardware and that’s it.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, they’re like women, right? If you don’t treat them well.

Eric Mayron: That’s so funny. I always tell people, you know, people make a big habit out of yelling at their computers and I say, never talk to your computer that way. On some level, they know, they know we’re talking to them that way.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, I have a friend who whenever I was having trouble, he was an IT guy and whenever I was having trouble with my machine, he would just walk by and wave his hand and it would work. Like he had that juju.

Eric Mayron: Yeah, there is a thing. People will call me up and they’ll say, jeez, it was doing this, Eric, but now that I’m on the phone with you, it’s not doing it anymore.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, you have that magical skillset. So if you were to advise someone who wanted to go into the music industry, would you tell them to take computer classes? What would you advise them?

Eric Mayron: First, if they’re younger, they’ve already been raised with it. It’s not like there’s a learning curve for them. It’s just learning how to do something else on the computer.

Lori Schwartz: Right. My Mac comes with Garage, whatever.

Eric Mayron: Garage Band is outstanding. Seal uses that for his demos. The guys in Oasis use that for their demos. A lot of people do that. And because a quality of a microphone that you can just get and plug in USB, what you get from that, a lot of what was done on the demo, can make it to the final.

Lori Schwartz: Right. It’s good enough. So like our blue Fin here is good enough for-

Eric Mayron: Right. And this a great mic. Large capsule. Captures the depth.

Lori Schwartz: And you can change whether it’s cardioid or uni-directional or any other thing.

Eric Mayron: Right. I love that stuff. You know, when you asked about are most people working on PC? Well, I said FruityLoops, which by the way, just came out. FL Studio just came out with-

Lori Schwartz: Cocoa Puffs?

Eric Mayron: Yeah. Isn’t that funny? It’s like you have to change the name to FL Studio.

Lori Schwartz: Is it Loop because you’re looping music?

Eric Mayron: Yes. That’s what they were calling it because coming up in hip-hop and DJ music, a lot of the stuff was loop-based. But there’s a program called Logic which started out on an Atari computer and went to PCs and Macs and I think must have been 10 or 15 years that Apple bought Logic and made it their music program. And the first thing they did was they discontinued PC support for it.

Lori Schwartz: Right. They used strategery.

Eric Mayron: And then what they did is they kept lowering the price. And as soon as-

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, we have to take a break and because Eric is in the studio with me, he actually sees the messages about taking a break, which is nice because I always have to usually wind down my speaker.

Eric Mayron: But there’s no winding me down.

Lori Schwartz: There’s no winding him down. All right. So we’re going to be back in a moment with Eric Mayron, who is dropping some insights on how the music industry is moving forward right now, what you need as an artist and just how all this new tech and programs and the democratization of those programs is impacting the industry. So we’ll be back on the Tech Cat show with Eric Mayron who is wearing around his neck a pick. Then that makes him a musician. All right. We’ll be back in a moment.

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Lori Schwartz: Hi everyone. And we are back on the fabulous Tech Cat show. We’ve been talking to Eric Mayron, who is a technologist in the music industry and has come up in the business as much a musician and a technologist. And sharing some insights on where the business is going. So I know you have a bunch of gigs you were telling me about. So when you go to a gig like that, what do you do at it? Are you working the tech at the live gig? Are you setting them all up so they can do what they do?

Eric Mayron: Sometimes I do that, but I still play. I’m doing a thing-

Lori Schwartz: Next week. This weekend, downtown L.A.

Eric Mayron: That’s right. Part of the L.A CoMotion.

Lori Schwartz: Right. We talked about L.A CoMotion a couple of weeks ago because we had a guy named John du Pre Gauntt, who runs this podcast called the Augmented City podcast. And he’s a big speaker at this event because he’s all about smart cities and the connected city. And so you’re actually playing a gig at that event?

Eric Mayron: On Saturday night, yeah.

Lori Schwartz: Just a total wacky coincidence, but what are you doing at the gig?

Eric Mayron: Well, I play keyboards in this particular band regularly. And I do this just for fun you know, because I’m not trying to make it big in the business as an artist anymore.

Lori Schwartz: By the way, he made muscles when he said making it big.

Eric Mayron: As an artist. It’s like Steven whatever from Arrested Development. But I play in a jam-oriented funk band or a funk-oriented jam band that is the side band of Norwood Fisher from Fishbone. And it’s called Trulio Disgracias and we get a bunch of really well known players to play with us and it’s a super fun and cool thing. And one of the most fun things about it is that nobody in the band, except for a couple of the backup singers thinks that we’re going to make it big.

But through this, one of the guys who I met in this band is a sax player named Scott Paige who played with Pink Floyd for many, many years at the end. And he put together this celebrity Pink Floyd tribute band with the purposes of doing special events and charity events and corporate gigs, so that we’re not just kind of slumming it out in the clubs. So we’re doing, we had our first big thing about six months ago at the Peppermint Club and we played Dark Side of the Moon cover to cover and then a couple of songs after that. And then Trulio Disgracias played. It was a really great night. Sold out.

This weekend, we are doing, it’s something called the Whiz Dome where the company who’s sponsoring it called the Experience Company and so it’s going to be … The band is called Think Floyd, T-H-I-N-K.

Lori Schwartz: My God, that’s crazy.

Eric Mayron: And this will be the Think Floyd Experience. And it’s this dome, it’s this geodesic dome.

Lori Schwartz: Right. So in a geodesic dome, we’ve talked about them on the show many times before is what a lot of VR companies are doing where they can put the VR on the inside of the dome and you can have a 360 video experience, but inside the dome.

Eric Mayron: And that’s what they’re going to be doing. They’re going to be projecting stuff. Apparently people will sit on-

Lori Schwartz: Chairs.

Eric Mayron: Chairs.

Lori Schwartz: But sort of loungey chairs, right?

Eric Mayron: Yes. Sort of low to the ground type chairs.

Lori Schwartz: Right. So they can have the 360 experience.  And by the way, some of those are putting D-BOX chairs inside of those.

Eric Mayron: That’s really cool. That would be a great cross-promotion for this thing. The Experience people are really wonderful. But playing in this band is myself, Scott Paige from Pink Floyd, Norwood Fisher from Fishbone, Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction, Kenny Olson from Kid Rock.

Lori Schwartz: That’s so cool. Are they all wearing multiple earrings like you are? Because that makes you a musician too?

Eric Mayron: I don’t know anymore. Or a hairdresser, one of the two. Now that I’m an old guy, I guess I’m looking to pivot somewhere.

Lori Schwartz: But you don’t have long hair.

Eric Mayron: It’s long in places, I guess. I still have long hair, but it’s all on my chest now.

Lori Schwartz: Too much sharing.

Eric Mayron: Too much sharing? But there’s a guy, John Stancorp, who’s going to be playing. He’s one of the guitar players, he does a full time Pink Floyd cover band and he’s going to be singing all the vocals because our singer, Robbie Wyckoff, whose name I know because my daughter and I are big Phineas and Ferb fans, he’s on the road singing with Pablo Cruise. But Roberta Freeman, who actually toured with Pink Floyd is singing with us. It’s going to be a great show.

Lori Schwartz: So are you going to, in that case, you’re not responsible for the tech, right?

Eric Mayron: No. But in my case, and I was one of the first people in the world to be doing this, when I said I made the transition from being a digital audio workstation tech to sort of a virtual instrument evangelist. And that, by the way, when I did that in about 2000 or 2002, that brought a whole new wave of clients my way. That’s how I became associated with Dr. Dre.

Lori Schwartz: So, okay, we have to go back to that, because I’m sure that everyone’s going to want to hear about that. But when you say virtual instrument, do you mean it’s on a computer?

Eric Mayron: It’s on a computer and you’re basically using a hosting program, which is a program that you set up and you put the plugin, essentially, they used to call them extensions, now they’re plugins. And, you know, this one sounds like an electric piano. This one sounds like a synthesizer or a very expensive synthesizer.

Lori Schwartz: Because we have a recorder in there that my daughter’s taking piano and she can change it to be piano-sounding or something else?

Eric Mayron: It’s exactly like this, only these are really high end, well tuned. Like there was a classic synthesizer, the Mini Moog, right? At one point I had about four different virtual Mini Moogs. But also, you can use a sampler program and you can get an extremely real and beautiful-sounding orchestra or horns. You know, on Comfortably Numb I’ve got horns in the left hand and strings in the right. And handed organ up on top, on the top keyboard. You know, it gives you a lot of flexibility.

The program that I use is something that is a companion program to Logic Pro called MainStage and it came about because a lot of people were doing this way of using dumb keyboards, you know, just controller is what they call them. There’s no voices, no sounds built into them but they send their signals, MITI, out to the computer an the computer knows which keyboard and what place they’re coming from and outputs either through an audio interface or just directly out of the sound output of the computer.

Lori Schwartz: So when you show up at this event this week, you’re going to be with a computer?

Eric Mayron: I’m always with a computer.

Lori Schwartz: And are you with a keyboard too, that’s connected to a computer?

Eric Mayron: Yes. My setup is that I have a very simple 88 key weighted controller for things like piano sound, things that you would expect that kind of weighted piano, electric piano. And then the one on top, I have it basically industrial Velcroed so that it’s like one very smooth unit. A 61 key kind of soft touch controller that’s more for like playing synthesizer.

Lori Schwartz: And then it’s all connected to a computer so you can manage what the sounds are?

Eric Mayron: Absolutely. And often I’ll have layered sounds or I’ll have what they call splits, which is basically, you know, if you’re playing a piano sound, often what’s at the very bottom of the keyboard or the very top of the keyboard, it’s not really playable. So you can create with this program. People have been able to do this for a long time but using this program makes it very simple and very flexible.

Lori Schwartz: Right.

Eric Mayron: You can have two keys that play one sound. Or an octave that’s in the very low end. You transpose it up so that it’s really easy to, you know, you’re not using this second here so this becomes your little solo on this sound. And same thing with the high end of the keyboard. You get to use things much more effectively.

Lori Schwartz: It really sounds to me like you are a technician but there’s an artistry to it. Because computer science, a lot of people think you’re a data nerd, but you’re really an artist. And what you’re talking about is understanding the tech and what it can do, and using it to create art.

Eric Mayron: Absolutely. There’s people like Stephen Perkins, the drummer from Jane’s Addiction, who’s playing with us. I’ve known Stephen for a long time and he is somebody who would use different kinds of drum kits and different sounds. And he’s somebody who instead of just, okay, now I’m playing the same thing I always play but it’s on a different kit, no, he’s somebody who really interacts with whatever particular piece of equipment he’s using.

I was just talking, the three of us, me and Stephen and his tech were talking about, well, you know, we could create a laptop-type rig for him with other sounds. Okay, now you’re playing electronic sounds.

Lori Schwartz: So build something for him?

Eric Mayron: Yeah.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, that’s cool.

Eric Mayron: So that he can have flexibility of the sounds and control of the sounds. To do this geodesic, the Whiz Dome gig, they want us to be all in-ear monitors, or all headphone monitors with no sound coming from the stage.

Lori Schwartz: Because they want you to hear everything in the headphones?

Eric Mayron: They also want to be able to control the sound out to the room.

Lori Schwartz: Right. Right. And adjust it. So that way, if they manage everything … So someone else is going to be the sound engineer?

Eric Mayron: Right. Andy Kravitz is going to be doing all the hard sound stuff. He’s wonderful, great guy. Lenny’s cousin, and a great drummer too. Outstanding drummer.

Lori Schwartz: It’s just so crazy how many famous people you know. Someone said to me-

Eric Mayron: All the famous people. I don’t know about that.

Lori Schwartz: Besides me, of course. When I watched A Star is Born, the new version of it, somebody whispered to over to me and said, oh, I think they’ve augmented Bradley Cooper’s voice.

Eric Mayron: I want to say this about that. My dear friend, who was, it would not do her justice to say she was the receptionist at Westlake Audio, although she was the receptionist, she is so much more and she’s become a great project coordinator and doing all these great things for a thousand years now since she left Westlake, my friend Lisa Einhorn. But then she was heavily involved in making that, with all the people making that soundtrack.

I think Bradley Cooper is somebody who’s naturally talented and can do that stuff. But, that he took voice lessons, he took guitar playing lessons, every production you hear, even in the days before auto-tune, there was a lot of work that went into making the records sound good. If for no other reason, the limitations of audiotape. So did they do stuff to the vocal? Well, yeah, they mixed it and they did a good job with it. They had him record it as many times as he could or do the performances-

Lori Schwartz: Until they find the right one, yeah.

Eric Mayron: And it was acceptable to him, because he was the director. But I do believe that he’s the type of artist-

Lori Schwartz: That would have pounded away at it.

Eric Mayron: Like Lady Gaga that the live performance and really doing the task is important to them.

Lori Schwartz: Right, right. To me, it came through and I just thought, I don’t even care if it’s not him. It sounded great.

Eric Mayron: Did you see the old one?

Lori Schwartz: I’ve seen all of them.

Eric Mayron: There was more than two?

Lori Schwartz: Oh, yeah, this is the fourth one.

Eric Mayron: Really?

Lori Schwartz: Yes, yes. ’32, ’48, ’76, and now. And they all capture the generation.

Eric Mayron: I just knew about the ’76 one.

Lori Schwartz: No, it’s Streisand, Judy Garland and then, oh my God, I can’t remember her name. First color movie for her.

Eric Mayron: Even when I saw the trailer, before they said it was A Star is Born, they showed Bradley Cooper and he’s doing his best Kris Kristofferson and I was just like, oh my God, they’re going to be redoing A Star is Born, how cool.

Lori Schwartz: It was what’s-his-face’s son, right, and his band that did the music. That was his band.

Eric Mayron: Bob Dylan’s son?

Lori Schwartz: No, not Bob Dylan’s. You know, pigtails guy.

Eric Mayron: Bob Dylan.

Lori Schwartz: Willie Nelson.

Eric Mayron: Oh, really?

Lori Schwartz: Willie Nelson’s son and I can’t … And he was the band.

Eric Mayron: He did a lot of work with, I believe, Neil Young before doing this.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, yeah. He was Neil Young’s band. Right, exactly. All right. We’re going to take one more break and when we come back, we’re just going to find out how we find Eric, how we dig more into this if you’re interested, if you’re excited about this. Also, you know, the stuff that we’re talking about which is virtual immersive technologies, which are going to be very dependent on sound, and not only regular sound now but sound that can be 360, which is the new way that theaters are going. Like Dolby Sound is all about 360, where you can actually send a singular piece of music, tone, anything, to any speaker.

Eric Mayron: Saw some movie with my daughter last weekend and we just happened to pick the right seats. It was the new Grinch movie. I was like, oh, my God, we are in the right seats to have this sound be perfect. It’s wonderful.

Lori Schwartz: Yeah. They can send it to anywhere. All right. We’re going to take a break. We’ll be back with Eric Mayron, media technologist and also friend to many famous musicians, as we’ve just learned.

Eric Mayron: Oh, my God. Friend to the famous.

Lori Schwartz: Friend to the famous. We’ll be back in a moment.

Break: Voice America Business Network. The bottom line in business.

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Speaker 7: This is the Tech Cat show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show or to leave a comment or question, send an email to That’s

Lori Schwartz: Hi everybody. We are, obviously, we’re chatting. But I have my friend and guest, Eric Mayron here. He’s a media technologist, musician and specializes in doing all of the sound mixing and composing and helping other recording artists with the technology side of the music industry, which we could talk about for many different shows. And also friend to Dr. Dre.

Eric Mayron: I worked for Dre for a long time. In fact, he came in what I would call my second wave.

Lori Schwartz: Not a hair wave, but a wave in your sort of business?

Eric Mayron: But I do have wavy hair. If we are talking about my hair wave, then I have way more than two waves.

Lori Schwartz: Right.

Eric Mayron: But the first wave was spent as a Pro Tools tech who just kept those systems running. And I used to joke around with one other guy on the west coast who could really do what I did. And you know, I said, well I’m just going to brand myself. Any time someone calls I’m going to be, I’m the best Pro Tools in the world. Well, that really translated for a long time. And then five years later, there was a bunch of other guys who’d come up and they said that they were the same thing.

Lori Schwartz: Right. It got democratized. That’s what happened.

Eric Mayron: It got democratized. That’s my buzzword for the day.

Lori Schwartz: But what did you do with Dr. Dre? You were his Pro Tools guy?

Eric Mayron: What happened was through working with a guy who’s still a client and a wonderful family friend is a producer named Matthew Wilder. And I have been with Matthew now for 25 years, something like that. It was through a session for Matthew Wilder that I met a bass player who was on his first session, his first professional bass-playing session. He was just out of high school, a bass player named Mike Elizondo.

And the first time I worked for Mike, he didn’t have a computer at all. He had a particular kind of MITI interface, Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A MITI interface is something with many outputs, so you can go to a bunch of pieces of, how they used to do it before virtual instruments is they had pieces of rack gear or keyboards that you would hook up and then they had this one program that everybody used and now a lot of them use a virtual version of it, but it was an MPC.

Lori Schwartz: And what is an MPC?

Eric Mayron: An Akai MPC is a machine, it’s a freestanding piece of hardware and it’s got a little LCD window in it and you’re making songs in it. You’re basically, you know, you set up an eight bar loop. You can hook a keyboard to it so you can get notes, but it’s also got drum pads on it.

Lori Schwartz: Ah, so it can do everything.

Eric Mayron: Well, it keeps track of the stuff. And the reason why it made sense for people writing pop music is because okay, well, here’s an eight bar section. Well, here’s my verse. I’ve just created my verse. As the loop goes by, now, look, I’m putting drums on it, now I’ve got keyboard bass-

Lori Schwartz: So they could do their mixing right there.

Eric Mayron: Not even mixing. That’s the beginning of programming.

Lori Schwartz: Laying it down.

Eric Mayron: So they’re laying down these notes and it would spin them back and you would say, okay, here, this is my verse. This is my chorus.

Lori Schwartz: I don’t know if you can tell I’m not a musician at all.

Eric Mayron: It’s not even being a musician, Lori.

Lori Schwartz: But the tech is really interesting.

Eric Mayron: It’s about how it came along. He hired me, Mike hired me initially to make it so that he could program stuff on his MPC. And it would be read on channel one of each of the disparate pieces of gear, of sound reproduction gear. And in the years that followed, he became closer with Dr. Dre. He had been working with Dre, and in fact, Mike is probably the really important co-writer on all of the early Eminem stuff. All the really, fun, cool stuff, that’s what I think of the Eminem. Wow, that is old school now. But then after that, an artist named 50 Cent came in and did a song called In Da Club and they had used Mike’s … Mike was one of the first artists that I worked with, who we built his home studio and then I made him a laptop so he could use in the studio the stuff that I had started to use live. And I was kind of evangelizing that way.

He brought it to Dr. Dre. They did a bunch of stuff. There was an early sampler or sample library player program called Unity from a company called Bid Heads that’s not around anymore, that he was using.

Lori Schwartz: Not Unity now that is the 3-D?

Eric Mayron: Different one. They did In Da Club on that. And he said, In Da Club is all Unity being triggered by … And that was the unique thing about doing stuff with Dr. Dre. Instead of it being a computer that was sequencing, capturing the sequence and playing back the sounds, now we just had a host program and the MPC was controlling that stuff and that was very unique at the time.

Lori Schwartz: So things keep coming … New ways to leverage the tech keeps rolling out.

Eric Mayron: Absolutely. Even this was old but that, once they had a big hit with In Da Club, which was all Unity except for the guitar and the vocal, then Dre had to have a piece. So, you know, after I went in I set up Dre’s first machine, you know, and this was very common for me back then. People would point to their wall full of sound making pieces of rack gear in the back and say what do I need all that stuff for now? And that was common. It was very difficult to hook some stuff up like that in those days.

Lori Schwartz: So now you don’t need any of that.

Eric Mayron: No, but some are … Like Beck still enjoys the idea of having the actual old school analog synthesizer.

Lori Schwartz: Because he likes the sounds that come from it?

Eric Mayron: He likes the sound, I think-

Lori Schwartz: Or the experience?

Eric Mayron: That’s a great way to put it. I think Beck likes the experience of interacting with it and the sliders and knowing it’s, you know. However, there’s now things that you can capture, the individual slider positions and the control voltage is what they call and sequence that stuff.

Lori Schwartz: So we’re going to have to end soon, but in that situation and all these situations, are you constantly reading up on what the new tech is? Or does it just show up at your next job? How do you keep up?

Eric Mayron: I’m experiencing it.

Lori Schwartz: So you show up and it’s there? Or is always just like rolling out in the magazines?

Eric Mayron: It’s rolling out online now, the magazines not so much anymore. Or they’ll have a cool YouTube video where some people will be talking about it.

Lori Schwartz: Are you following influencers and that’s how you’re keeping up?

Eric Mayron: Sort of. I have to stay ahead of the influencers and I have a great friend who really, he’s a little bit older than I am, but a guy named Barry Rudolph, who I love very much. I met him when we were teaching together at a couple of different recording schools. But Barry has done some astounding records, you know? He’ll tell me a record he worked on and I’m taken back to being 12 years old and hearing a particular sound that greatly influenced me, you know, a lot of keyboard music. And he’s like oh, yeah, I recorded that when I was a youngster.

So he and I are very much alike, so I always love bouncing stuff off of Barry. And I would say that in his world, Barry’s a real influencer because all the companies send him gear for reviews. So he’s talking about it, plus-

Lori Schwartz: Right. So you have to do, and forgive me for interrupting you, but you have to do a lot of what a lot of our guests do, which is keep up.

Eric Mayron: That’s right.

Lori Schwartz: So you’re online, you’re digging in, you’re figuring out, you’re doing the research so that you know what the next big thing is.

Eric Mayron: That’s right. And certain underground communities, or getting the demo of something and trying it out and seeing how does this make me feel? Is this really as cool? There’s a thing with engineers where they say, oh, you gotta get this thing. Nobody really knows or can quantify how it sounds. But oh, all these guys say it’s true. And I pride myself in knowing that I really know what’s up.

Lori Schwartz: So where can people find you because we’re going to have to wrap?

Eric Mayron: Okay got it. You can call me. (818) 231-5050.

Lori Schwartz: And online Eric Mayron. Do you have a website? Are you tweeting?

Eric Mayron: Facebook. E-R-I-C M-A-Y-R-O-N. I really don’t Twitter that much. When I think about gear and life and very occasionally politics, it’s on my Facebook page and that’s really it.

Lori Schwartz: To get some musical information, to get insights, if they want to book you, go to your Facebook page?

Eric Mayron: Yeah, my music is on SoundCloud, which employs a lot of the technology.

Lori Schwartz: Okay.

Eric Mayron: You know, reach out to me. There’s a lot of great stuff that I can share with you.

Lori Schwartz: Eric Mayron. Friend to celebrity musicians, media technologist.

Eric Mayron: Is that what happened to me, really?

Lori Schwartz: Someone who has been working with producers, composers, and recording artists for many years, coming technology with music artistry. And really going into the future with all this fantastic stuff. Let’s have a big Tech Cat hand, thank you, Eric.

Eric Mayron: You’re welcome.

Lori Schwartz: And we will be back. Thank you Aaron, our fabulous engineer. All right, ladies and gentlemen. We will be back next week, hopefully with someone as fun as Eric has been.

Eric Mayron: Was I?

Lori Schwartz: You were totally fun.

Eric Mayron: Okay. Good. So it wasn’t dead air time.

Lori Schwartz: No, no dead air.

Eric Mayron: Okay, good.

Lori Schwartz: This is great and really interesting to just see how tech trends are impacting all sorts of business categories, including the music industry, so thank you so much.

Eric Mayron: Thank you, Lori.

Speaker 10: Thanks so much for listening to the Tech Cat show. Please join Lori H. Schwartz again for another great program next Wednesday at 4 p.m. Eastern time, 1 p.m. Pacific time on the Voice America Business Channel, and syndicated to the Voice America Women’s Channel.