Cloud storage is a big topic these days but specialized services for musicians are still coming into their own. Last week I spoke with Gobbler CEO and Founder Chris Kantrowitz about his unique cloud storage, syncing and transfer platform for musicians and others who work with digital audio. From his early days as a teen entrepreneur to the launch of Gobbler, his fifth startup, Kantrowitz combines a unique founder's tale with the experience of one who's faced the problems he's now seeking to solve.
Gobbler seems to be in a class of its own. When I spoke with Chris Kantrowitz last week, he maintained that that they have no direct competitors. Certainly there are services that do some of what Gobbler does but I can't find anything with as complete an approach as Gobbler has developed.
Chris Kantrowitz has a rich background in tech entrepreneurship having founded his first company at 14. He had what he describes as a midlife crisis at 30, apparently starting early there as well, and had the opportunity to get into concert design via a friend who was involved with the Grammys.
His work with Madonna's performance led to a gig with Korn and he went on to cofound Frank the Plumber, a concert design and production company that handled a wide range of projects for well-known musicians.
How Gobbler Came to Be
Kantrowitz's activities at Frank The Plumber made use of diverse audio and video media, often working remotely with no room for failure. He directly experienced many of the problems folks in music and film encounter sending large files, backing up data and collaborating remotely.
He knew a musician he described as "very meticulous" losing recordings of an album when a hard drive crashed without a backup.
Kantrowitz's experiences and those of musicians with which he worked led him to develop Gobbler beginning in 2010 as an internal tool at Frank the Plumber. He would also invite artists to check it out and give him feedback.
But Kantrowitz didn't decide to launch Gobbler as a separate company until 2012 after a visit with Earthlink founder Sky Dayton. He was sharing what he was working on when Dayton said he'd invest in the company even though it didn't yet exist. This got Kantrowitz thinking more about the problems he was addressing including the incredible amounts of data music creators generate.
Kantrowitz also shared the fact that as a kid he used to hang out in Frank Zappa's studios and noticed how carefully master recordings were treated. This contrasted sharply with people nowadays tossing a hard drive on a shelf.
He realized that Gobbler could address the multifaceted needs of folks working with audio from musicians to spoken word artists to film composers.
What Gobbler Does
Gobbler is not simply a cloud storage or file syncing service. It combines those elements with additional features focused on the specific needs of musicians and audio workers.
The features list should help give you a sense of how Gobbler addresses the diverse needs of their clientele. Here are some random examples:
"Gobbler avoids interference with recording by pausing during any CPU-intensive tasks."
"Send files to anyone, not just other Gobbler users."
"Files on disconnected hard drives are still tracked when unplugged."
Kantrowitz pointed out that they don't just sync files, they can also sync whole projects. In addition, Gobbler is integrated with a wide range of digital audio workstations, listed on the features pages, with at least 9 more to be announced this year.
You can check out the tutorial videos for more on how Gobbler works.
The Future of Gobbler
Though Gobbler has been covered previously, Kantrowitz says they've mostly kept quiet and focused on methodically building their service. Currently they're also in the final months of raising what he described as a "substantial" round of financing.
Once that's complete, he plans to use the funds to triple their engineering team over the next 12 months. Having focused on developing a solid, reliable core product, he's looking forward to adding additional features.
For example, in addition to the ongoing integration with other systems, they're working on a mobile solution as well.
Preserving Our Digital Heritage
Most of my talk with Chris Kantrowitz focused on Gobbler's origin tale and the support it provides for audio workers. However, near the end of our discussion, Kantrowitz got rather passionate about what one might expect to be a dry technical topic.
As he explained, our current digital heritage is at risk with most storage solutions having only a limited lifespan and much music only a quick disaster away from disappearing.
Kantrowitz convincingly expressed his desire for Gobbler to be a leader in preserving that heritage, a vision that extends much further than I initially anticipated from a discussion of cloud storage and file syncing services.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.