Field Report: Rehearse in Space

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Are we there yet?! Are we there yet?! Shane has been bugging me for MONTHS to visit Space in Austin, Texas. It was hard to say yes given our lack of wheels down here and the distance to get there (a 30 min drive from downtown READ $50 Uber ride each way).

As luck would have it, I arrived in Austin and met a brand new coworking space owner, Shelley, who was willing to give us a ride! Her coworking space is called Orange Coworking and is located in the “Far South Awesome” neighborhood.

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We landed in Space and begged for a spur of the moment tour. They acquiesced despite being wicked busy due to SXSW. Brent showed us around all the Space, which includes THIRTY-ONE rehearsal rooms spread over two floors and a tracking room/recording studio.

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Most of the rehearsal rooms are hourly/shared just like Cohere Bandwidth’s will be be but they offer just the PA, mixer, mic stands and the occasional drum kit. Bands can either bring their own amps/rigs OR rent some from Space. A small number of rooms are reserved full time for a few specific bands.

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I made Shane wail on a drum kit while I stood in the hallway with not 1 but 2 solid doors separating us. I’ve never been more thankful for the sound-lock vestibules our contractors are currently building.

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Summary: we are even MORE excited to bring this awesome concept to Old Town Fort Collins. Join us for our first open house day on April 24th! **we’re waiting on our new address but find us on the Jefferson side of Linden and Jefferson underneath the Downtown Artery.

Ps. Get on our wait list for rehearsal slots

Pps. Rock a Bandwidth hoodie

Ridiculously Productive Meetings

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I bet you never wonder how 3 people with full-time jobs manage to shoe-horn in the creation of a shared rehearsal space for Fort Collins in their “spare” time. If you’ve been following us, you might wonder why I would brag about our ridiculously productive meetings for Cohere Bandwidth when we’ve been at this for almost 2 years. If you must know, most of that 2 years was spent waiting on real estate with very few DONES getting checked off of our TO-DOS. Skip below to the COMPLETION step if you are skimming.

But now that the space is REAL and under construction we spend every Friday going from Oh Fuck! to Hell Yes! Here is our extremely effective meeting process:

  1. AGENDA: Anyone can create or add to the agenda. We do this in a shared google doc that everyone can edit. The doc contains ALL of the agendas with the most recent at the top. The agenda is usually created the night before or the morning of each meeting. We’re agile and quick so it wouldn’t make sense to create an agenda further in advance than that.
  2. SCHEDULE: Meetings are always at 10am on Fridays at Cohere and last 1.5 hours. The person who is late has to get coffee for everyone else.FullSizeRender (1)
  3. AIRING OF GRIEVANCES: At the start of each meeting we get our feelings out. Yep, you read that right. If anyone is frustrated or flabbergasted or just plain giddy, we talk it out BEFORE we task. This step is key. Due to the nature of our structure, we can’t be together or even talk every day so it’s important to make a real connection to one another before we start doling out chores.
  4. ORDER: We go through the agenda in order. Always. We rarely add anything to the agenda during the meeting.
  5. TIME: Never, ever, ever put an estimated time for discussion on an agenda item. This makes no sense.
  6. COMPLETION: We complete any tasks that come up IN THE MEETING. Example, if Julie needs to email someone about a radio interview then Shane and I talk about a graphic design task or similar. This allows everyone to be productive during the entire meeting, which is something I never got to experience in corporate life.
  7. DELEGATE: If any tasks remain, they are completed directly after the meeting ends or get shifted to me (Angel) if possible since I have the most spare time to complete things. Shane will often do heavy duty graphic design tasks outside of the meeting as it’s part of his creative process.

So there. Now you know how we make the most out of our 12 hours/month together.

Does your team have an unconventional meeting process? Tell us all about it so we can steal your tips for our next meeting.

Bandwidth Update: Breathing Into Paper Bags

The problem is: the Sound of Music. No, not the holiday classic film or even the impending Carrie Underwood don’t-call-it-a-remake live production. It’s the cacophony created when rehearsing musicians bring the noise. Not at raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens level. Think doorbells and sleigh bells and wild geese, but at a decibel that inspires a dog bite/bee sting rage in your neighbors. Soundproofing rooms is difficult and expensive, and in this search for rehearsal space, it’s the thing that’s proving to be the most maddening. When I asked Angel if she had any advice re: blog topics for this week, her reply was: “Panic?” As you can see, we’re feeling … von Trapped.

So, how do you solve a problem like cochlea? (OK, OK, I’ll stop, I promise! — when I panic, I burst into hysterical musical puns) We’re not sure. We have found two potentially viable spaces, but those spaces have upstairs neighbors and paper-thin ceilings. We did a band practice test drive a couple weeks ago in one of the buildings, at not-even full volume. The result from upstairs was a crystal-clear concert backed by a bone-rattling bass vibration that would possibly require a trip to the dentist to shore up your fillings after one song. The poor bassist felt compelled to defend himself with a demonstration (see?! It’s only on like a 2, I swear!), and I only cried a little in the car on the way home. It’s so. Frustrating.

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Still, it feels like we’re getting closer. If we can just get this sound thing figured out — pause for nervous laughter — we’ll be in business. But getting there may require an investment in all kinds of crazy stuff (we now know more about things like green glue, double-drywall, drop ceilings, mass loaded vinyl, baffles and diffusors than we ever, ever wanted to). We don’t really have the money for rent AND soundproofing, nor do we think that dumping a bunch of money into a rental is a smart move in terms of sustainability of the space. Etc. Etc. Etc.

However: we do have another glimmer of hope on the horizon this week. But I don’t want to jinx it by telling you too much (the guy we’re attempting to work with on this possibility ended up in the hospital on the day of our initial appointment, so that’s already a bit foreboding thankyouverymuch). The bottom line remains that the musicians themselves have to consider a solution satisfactory, or there’s no point in going down a given path. We’ve been lucky enough to have several band members agree to help us out, taking time away from practice, work, lessons and life to help evaluate options. And we’re not done yet. In the meantime? We’re just taking small steps forward and trying not to hyperventilate every time it feels like two steps back. We still have fa (a long long way to run) to go, you know?


(sorry Ian, you had to see *that* one coming … it was either that or Julie Andrews.)

On Tour: Cohere Bandwidth Field Trip to Denver

For anyone out there who thinks that money changes everything, we’ve got news for you: sometimes, it doesn’t. Don’t get us wrong, we’re thrilled to have successfully raised six months worth of rent money to put toward shared rehearsal space for local bands, but we’ve been feeling a little stuck. And then unstuck. And then stuck again. Progress, that saucy wench, is happening in fits and starts, but we still don’t have a confirmed home (even a temporary lab home) for Cohere Bandwidth. And since it’s been nearly two months since we wrapped up our crowdfunding campaign, we are – not gonna lie – starting to freak out just a little.

So what do you do when you feel an itch to get moving, to explore new ideas, to connect, to stretch and grow, to find inspiration outside your own backyard? If you’re a band, you go on tour. If you’re a merry band of stalled-out rehearsal space catalysts, you TAKE a tour. In this case, to our sister city to the south: Denver.

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This is what goes on in Denver. *gasp!*

Angel, probably growing weary of the emotional roller coaster of YES!/NO!/MAYBE!/GAH, WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE SO HAARRRDD? (sometimes all in the same afternoon) wisely decided to ask for some help, or at least some insight. She reached out to some people who have been there/done that/are still doing it right now, in fact, and arranged for us to meet with Denver rehearsal space owners and managers from RocketSpace, Soundstructure Studios and Francisco Studios. Here’s what we found:

RocketSpace
RocketSpace (2711 Larimer St.) is the result of a ton of hard work, past and present, by owner/operator/guitar-playing-badass Kate Innes (<<she’s the redhead on the left, in your face). RocketSpace rents hourly rehearsal rooms – you can’t store your gear there, but each room is equipped with drums, PA system, microphones, bass rig and guitar cabinets. This means as a musician, you get to show up, practice, and not load too much stuff in and out. Convenient. Yay! It also means, as Kate, that you are in the repair business and the constant scheduling business. Boo! Luckily, she is a real hands-on type and is very much invested in the space, having put her own sweat equity in over and over again (she showed us the closet where she first learned to drywall before building out all the soundproofed RocketSpace rooms). She is also invested in the community, being a currently performing musician herself. Unsurprisingly, Kate’s advice is to own all your own stuff vs. renting a building where you are dumping a bunch of money into improvements that you then have to leave behind with your lease. She was no-holds-barred about how much work it is, but she also seems to genuinely love the process and the people. And RocketSpace is very, very busy, so that doesn’t hurt a bit. Well, maybe it hurts a little, but it’s worth it. That’s what Kate would probably say.

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Kate dropping some knowledge on us at RocketSpace

Soundstructure Studios
Just adjacent to The Walnut Room, and having been around for 20 years, Soundstructure Studios is the established elder statesman to RocketSpace’s startup sensibilities. Encompassing two different buildings with 25 total studios, Soundstructure offers “lockout” spaces: meaning your band rents a room (which you might decide to share with another band or two), you bring all your gear right on in there, and you set up camp. And if you can manage it: you never, ever leave. Because spaces like this one are pretty much impossible to find. Built from the beginning with the magic of acoustical architecture in mind, these rooms are high-end, rock-solid and designed for silence — or at least to keep the sound contained to your space and out of everyone else’s. Double door systems, rooms with no right angles, some sort of cuts (?) in the floor to mitigate low-frequency noise … Angel and I basically lost track of the details, probably because we were both mentally adding up all the dollar signs that were required as an initial investment. That said: owner (and drummer, of course, like all good sages) John Burr, after a couple of decades of business, was hard-pressed to tell us what the “biggest nightmare” is in terms of managing the space currently. The rooms are constantly booked. No marketing required. An hour or two here and there, mostly in the processing of monthly rents, the occasional bit of wear and tear? John seemed so chill about the whole thing that we started to believe that we could be, too. Someday. But not without some serious upfront stressors (see “mind boggling initial investment”). Then again: maybe money does change everything.

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The unflappable John “Jedi Knight” Burr opens the first of many doors to show us around Soundstructure Studios.

Francisco Studios
Our final stop on our Denver day tour was at Francisco Studios, which apparently is a franchise of sorts, with locations in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Tucson as well. Our intended tour guide kinda forgot he was supposed to meet us (to his credit, when he realized later, he was extremely gracious and utterly mortified), but undaunted, Angel and I asked a freshly arrived musician/space renter if he’d let us in to try and find someone to show us around. Turns out said musician became our tour guide, which was perfect, because we got some insight straight from the source. Francisco Studios is a HUGE building, with 50 rehearsal rooms arranged in an eerily familiar labyrinth that felt so much like a junior high school that we were convinced that’s what it used to be (when Angel finally talked to the space manager, Kreston, he explained that no, the building was built that way on purpose). The overall result — lockout room upon lockout room, stretching down long hallways, with no real sounds or movement. (Other than the sound of musicians practicing inside the rooms, unfortunately — yes, the rooms are soundproofed, but only … sort of. Our new musician friend just shrugged and said, “yeah, you can totally hear other bands practicing, but what’re you gonna do?” John and Kate would tell him in a heartbeat). As for the ambience in the building, Angel flatly declared it “creepy as f*ck” and the musician kid confessed to freaking himself out there sometimes, but then chalked it up to smoking too much weed. Check out our slasher flick, A short stroll through Francisco Studios. Really, though, once inside the rooms, it was way less spooky and pretty basic. And the bottom line: busy. Just like all the other rehearsal spaces.

What We Learned
Hard to say what impact our tour day had on us, other than it gave us hope for the future, and a whole lot of ideas for what to consider when it’s time for permanent space. We connected with perfectly lovely people who are making it work, we visited spaces that are at capacity, that are secure, (mostly) soundproofed, and yes, bathroom-rich. We got to feel like we’re on the right path even though the next step seems like it might require a divining rod. Not a bad day in Denver. Now: back home, to the task at hand.

P.S. Speaking of the task at hand, Ian got to perform his highly serious, patented “clap test” at RocketSpace. A+!

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insert off-color joke about the clap here

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