Employee Interview: Director of Marketing, Mike Barnes
UA's Director of Marketing Mike Barnes
UA's Director of Marketing, Mike Barnes was born and raised in the UK and graduated both Exeter and City Universities with degrees in Music and Information Technology. Having narrowly avoided a career as a computer scientist, Mike found his vocation in product marketing and PR. He seized a career that provided way more excuses for being in the studio with artists, dabbling with otherwise unobtainable musical gear and embracing the concept of a press-sponsored "open-bar."
What do you do at UA?
My official title is Director of Marketing, which encompasses all pursuits from crystal-ball gazing to shark-wrestling! In the trade these are known better as PR, marcom, advertising, tradeshows, Web, product marketing and customer service. Marketing is essentially the bridge between engineering, whom we work closely with to specify the products; and sales, whom we partner with on channel and customer promotions.
How did you arrive at UA?
I started at UA in February 2003, when it was still "boutique" and fairly small, and helped UA bring UAD-1 in-house and build momentum around it and the plug portfolio. I had known Matt
[Ward, UA President] at E-mu Systems Inc. [which is close by in Scotts Valley] and was already using original TC Powercore in all my personal mixes/projects and saw the full promise of the UAD-1. I was instantly impressed with both the plugs and technology, and when I found out that Joe
[Bryan, VP of Technology] was also a synth freak ex of Korg, I knew there was a shared passion/vision and that UA was likely to be a good personal fit for me! The synergy, and uniqueness of UA's dual analog and digital expertise had a great deal of potential, and I think we have rapidly been able to "productize" that and quickly make UA into a global player.
In my early days, Matt and I shared a small office and how we didn't kill each other in that first 18 months I don't know, but we somehow survived that phase! Since then we have roughly tripled in staff and probably quadrupled in building size and revenue!
I hear a slight accent in your voice. Where are you from?
I am originally from the UK, where I grew up, went to university, played in some bad-hair rock bands and started out in the music technology business. College years were spent in various hard rock bands in the UK, such as Dragonfly and Technical Ecstasy, but I somehow came out of that phase relatively unscathed by rumors, photos or the resurfacing of old tapes. (Dom and Bri, I hope the rehab and welfare worked out!)
I moved to the USA in 1996, having been made an offer from E-mu Systems Inc. to join the team and have been here in California ever since!
What were some of your important music- inspiring moments growing up?
The post-punk, new wave era and early synth-pop/electronica in the UK totally hooked me: Kraftwerk, Numan, John Foxx, early Ultravox, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Landscape, Sparks, Telex, New Musik, Visage, Fashion, Japan, Thomas Dolby, the early UK Mute label with Depeche Mode and Fad Gadget, and the fantastic UK Factory label with early OMD and of course all those early Trevor Horn productions. Despite desperately coveting the Moog Prodigy and Sequential Pro-One, my first synth, a Moog Rogue, and a used '78 Stratocaster showed up Xmas 1981 courtesy of my generous mother and One Way Music, Wolverhampton. It was a religous but monophonic epiphany, second only to Kraftwerk's Computer World in 1980 at the Birmingham Odeon and meeting Florian Schneider after the show!
This really planted the seeds for great synthesizer/electronic music in the nineties, such as FSOL, The Orb, Leftfield and Underworld, which is mostly the genre I prefer to this day. These days it's a broad cross section of dance music/electronica scene for me: Trip-Hop (Sneaker Pimps, Portishead, Lamb, Alpha, Massive Attack), Trance (Armin Van Buuren, ATB) and Breaks ( Plump DJ's, DJ Baby Anne), and the chillout/downtempo side of Goldfrapp, Koop, Frou Frou, Mandalay and Husky Rescue.
What was your university experience like?
City University in London was a fantastic melting pot of electro-acoustic composers, audio academia and music technology. I met some great composers there including Alejandro Vinao, Javier Alvarez and Julio D'Escrivan. My tutor was Jim Grant, who along with David Cockerill and Tim Orr, later comprised the Akai sampler development program! I also met Danny and Jankoen there before they formed Audioease [Altiverb etc]. I graduated City with a Master's in Music and Information Technology, an unhealthy interest in ECM label modern jazz, and an ill-advised mortgage-sized loan for a then brand-new Macintosh Plus. It was the beginning of the MIDI and Sampling revolution. The music department had a brand-new DX7, Akai S-900 sampler, a highly coveted 8-bit Fairlight Iix, and a 1MB memory Mac Plus running Performer 1.0, M and Jam Factory, and an Atari 1040ST running Notator and Steinberg Pro-24. A Rodime 20MB SCSI drive cost around $1,500 back then, and you weren't at all considered "pro" unless you had a live tragedy with the Jambox-4 multichannel MIDI interface. Oh, how far we have come!
What did you do after university?
I started young straight our of postgrad at 22 and immediately spent five years at Yamaha R&D in London with Dave Bristow, working on all the Yamaha SY, RY, QY product development and frequently visiting Japan, which was a fantastic experience. We had a million-pound custom development studio in central London equipped with Otari 24-track analog and Mitsubishi Digital 32-track and all the best pro-audio gear, including the first MIDI Grand Pianos and prototype Assisted Acoustic System. This was in the glory years when Yamaha had more money than they knew what to do with and I got to have the kind of hands-on gear experience and product development and manufacturing insight that few pros get.
Post Yamaha, I spent a few years with my own software and consulting company and was heavily involved in sound design in that era, working on a few major movies such as Stargate and Last of the Dogmen with David Arnold, later to become the successor to John Barry for all the Bond movies. You might also have seen my name attached to all the early Macintosh software columns for Sound on Sound and Future Music UK!
I moved to the U.S. in 1996 to work for E-mu, and then I wanted to investigate Silicon Valley and consumer audio so I worked for Creative Labs Inc. on their pioneering early MP3 players (designed by E-mu engineers) and Nomadworld.com
. We provided early music content in association with pioneers such as Epitonic.com and E-music way before iTunes was thought of, but at the time Creative in their wisdom saw "no business" in content ! So we moved on to co-found LAVA.com, the 3-D music-video application, with two MIT engineers from the E-mu/Creative Advanced Research Center, Alan Peevers and Alan Seefeldt, and developed multiple cool applications for Creative such as MP3J with real-time beat-synchyronous x-fades and FX, which Creative again failed to release!
Are you still active musically?
Although UA keeps me extremely busy from a business and professional point of view, I see staying in touch with music and recording as a key part of what I bring to UA. I am one of the fortunate people that can honestly say that without delineation it is both my professional life and my passionate hobby.
I have a pretty extensive studio based around Logic and of course UAD-1s. These days, I work almost exclusively with female vocalists in electronica genres, though I have been working on a more "rocktronica" Evanescence meets Garbage-type project recently!
The last electronica release was very much influenced by the UK sound of Portishead, Alpha, Broadcast. Lamb, Goldfrapp, Morcheeba, Mandalay and Frou Frou ...feel free to audition it
, you might even like it and help support my synth habit!
Upcoming Events. . .
119th AES Convention
The 119th AES convention
will convene October 7-10, 2005, at the Javitz Convention Center
in New York City. UA will unveil a few surprises, including a great new plug-in for the UAD-1 DSP card.
Will Lee of Letterman's Late Show to Host 21st Annual TEC Awards
Music Industry's Premier Session Bassist to Emcee Charity Gala:
The Mix Foundation for Excellence in Audio has announced that Will Lee
, longtime bassist on The Late Show with David Letterman, will host the 21st Annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards. The TEC Awards, to be held on Saturday, October 8 at the New York Marriott Marquis, is the world's foremost awards event recognizing the achievements of recording and sound professionals.
UA Nominated for TEC Award
The Universal Audio LA-610
is nominated for a 2005 TEC Award in the Mic Preamplifier Technology category. This is the fourth year in a row UA has been honored with TEC Award nominations and/or wins. Previous nominees are the 2-610 Dual Channel Tube Microphone & Instrument Preamplifier
(2002) and the 2192 Master Audio Interface
(2003). Previous TEC Award winners are the 6176 Channel Strip
(2003) and the 2-1176 Twin Vintage Limiting Amplifier
Please refer to the ballot included in the August issue of Mix magazine (subscriber issues only) and vote for UA! Award winners will be announced at the 21st Annual TEC Awards, which will be held the following night, October 8, at the New York Marriott Marquis.
TECnology Hall of Fame Champagne Reception October 7, 2005
The Mix Foundation for Excellence in Audio
, which sponsors the TEC Awards, has announced the 2005 inductees to the TECnology Hall of Fame. Established in 2004, the Hall of Fame recognizes products and innovations that have made a significant, lasting contribution to the advancement of audio technology.
The 15 innovations and products that will be inducted for 2005 will be honored at a champagne reception on Friday evening, October 7, in New York City at TEC Award-winning studio, Right Track Recording.
Broadjam 6-Pack Contest
Universal Audio is a proud sponsor of the Broadjam 6-Pack songwriting contest
. Contestants submit original songs on any of six different themes: Love Shout, Open to Interpretation, Jokeland, Hell Gig, Christmas, and Broadjam Tag. Enter in one or all of the categories to accumulate points. The artist with the most points wins a package of fabulous prizes, including a UAD-1 Project PAK and a trip to the 2006 Winter NAMM show.
Producer/Artist Gossip. . .
Hurricane Katrina Help
All of our hearts go out to those who have suffered and lost as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Universal Audio has made a dontation to the Red Cross
and will donate a portion of sales of our new Solo mic preamps to Habitat for Humanity
to aid in the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast and we encourage all of you to give what you can. See News & Shmooze
below for ways you can help musicians in need.
Among those who have been displaced by the disaster is Grammy-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow)
. She was forced to flee her home in New Orleans with her baby, Waylon. She's been staying in Alabama, and she knows from satellite photos that her home was flooded. The studio was on the second floor, so...She should be able to return and discover the state of her belongings and home sometime soon.
UAD-1 user Jeff Rona
performed with Dead Can Dance
(Lead singer Lisa Gerrard is another UAD-1 user) at the Hollywood Bowl on September 25. Jeff arranged and conducted a full orchestra to accompany Dead Can Dance at the Hollywood Bowl performance and at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Jeff also recently completed the soundtrack for a film called The Quiet and scored a new Showtime series called The Brotherhood.
AC/DC goes UAD-1
. Each of the Young brothers
of AC/DC, Angus and Malcolm
, purchased one of new Digital X Bus X.200 recording consoles for his personal studio. The facilities are located in the Netherlands and London, respectively, and the Youngs have loaded them up with UAD-1 cards.
Tech Talk. . .
UAD-1 Version 4.0
(check the home page
for imminent arrival) has been significantly enhanced to maximize performance and stability on multiprocessor/multicore Intel and AMD CPU
systems, and when using Firewire and USB audio interfaces. The new "Turbo DMA" (Direct Memory Access) engine minimizes system loading while boosting performance to allow smoother operation and increased reliability. In addition, customers with a Firewire or USB audio interface can expect more plug-in instantiations as well as increased reliability. Read more about this in Support Report
UAD-1 version 4.0 will also includes Tempo Sync
. Read more about this in Plug-In Power
News & Shmooze. . .