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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Virtual studio makes sweet music
Will Henshall and Tim Bran founded Rocket Network in 1995
Henshall and Bran were in 1990s bands
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Alfred Hermida
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online technology staff
A virtual studio is changing the way musicians work, enabling them to work on a song together, regardless of where they are in the world.

The system, called Rocket Network, means artists, producers, engineers and film producers can use this global production system to create, edit, or listen to audio.

"Rocket Network enables audio collaboration from anywhere in the world," explained Rocket Network founder Will Henshall.

"There's a lot of time and money wasted in the audio recording business where tapes are in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.

Music over the net

Rocket Network works as an efficient file-transfer system, creating a virtual studio that can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection.

Two British musicians came up with the idea in the early 90s. At the time, Will Henshall was in Londonbeat and Tim Bran was in Dreadzone.

Sheryl Crow used the Rocket Network
Acts like Sheryl Crow have used the system
They liked to work together but found that they were never in the same place at the same time.

Rocket Network came into being in 1995, after the British musicians met two American software developers, Canton Becker and Matt Moller, who were looking at ways of sending music files over the internet.

To use the system, you need to download a free program from the Rocket Network website. This works with software commonly used to record audio like ProTools and Steinberg Cubase.

"We're painting on the same canvas," Mr Henshall told the BBC programme Go Digital.

"There is a central server that we're logged in to which we can put our sound and media on, and it is shared between the people in that session," he said.

Last minute changes

Anyone can use the public sessions in Rocket Network for free. But to use it as a serious professional tool, you need to buy a subscription fee.

Rocket Network speeds up the process. You could be working right up to the last minute and then send the audio

Tim Bran, Rocket Network founder
Top acts such as Sheryl Crow have used the system. Her Kiss That Girl track for the soundtrack to the hit film Bridget Jones's Diary was mixed via the Rocket Network.

At the time, the track was being mixed in London, Sheryl Crow was in Hawaii and the producer was in Oregon.

But using the Rocket Network, she could ask for last minute changes and have the final product delivered via the internet to both the record label and the film company in time.

"There's no way they could have been in the three locations at the same time," said founder Tim Bran.

"The Network speeds up the process. You could be working right up to the last minute and then send the audio."

The system is mainly used in the creation of audio for films, television, radio, games and websites, but could also find other uses.

"The Rocket Network technology can be used in many other fields where you need to have several people working on the same project at the same time, like a bunch of architects working on a house," said Will Henshall.

See also:

18 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Discord over digital music
12 Mar 02 | New Media
Trouble ahead for music industry
01 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Music's digital future
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