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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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In Music

In Music

Burst Collective makes it big without leaving home


You'd never guess it's there, but the Burst Collective's state-of-the-art recording facility is in the heart of downtown Wauwatosa and it is home to a consortium of composers, songwriters and musicians that collaborate on three businesses.

Burst Media focuses on commercial music production while Burst Records releases original music created by the collective. They do their work in Burst HQ, that aforementioned production facility.

The trio of businesses grew from Daniel Holter's Sprocket Media, which launched in 1996 as a custom music house supplying music to radio and television, where there is a lot of money to be made, if you can get through the door. A year later, Holter launched the Gravity Music Library and out of those businesses came the Burst idea.

"The Burst Collective attracted a network of composers and performers, and the Velocity music library hit the market in 2000, with distribution by Zomba, recently acquired by BMG," says the collective's Eric Geer. "Sprocket Media has become Burst Media, and we produce over 20 CDs each year for our product lines, which are well represented by thousands of ASCAP cues in use all over the world on radio, television and film.

"Burst HQ -- the studio complex and offices for the Burst Collective -- was born out of a desire to grow, and to foster a creative, collaborative environment, free from the restrictions of facility availability, hourly rate and watching the clock. We purchased the original Wauwatosa Post Office in the fall of 2001, then began a complete overhaul of the interior, with the studio build-out finished in the spring of 2002."

You can see photos of the building's amazing transformation at www.burstcollective.com. But what this all really means is that a lot of the music you hear on your TV is conceived, composed and committed to tape (or converted to zeroes and ones) right here in Milwaukee.

Burst's clients include St. Pauli Girl, Baymont Inns & Suites, Buell, BMW, NFL Films, Gatorade, Midwest Express, Toys 'R' Us, Hyundai, Mazda, JC Penney and others you're likely to know.

Two of the collective's writers, Holter and Mike Standal, also won the "Best Song of the Month" contest at SongwriterUniverse.com with "Here We Are," which features the vocals of Milwaukee native Connie de Bie, a Chicago-based model.

While it's often very difficult for aspiring bands and musicians to get themselves noticed by the industry, unless they leave Milwaukee for New York or L.A., Geer says that's not an issue for Burst.

"There are certainly advantages to being based in New York. or L.A., but being based in Milwaukee doesn't necessarily hinder our ability to promote our work -- it merely presents a challenge. With digital communication and distribution breaking down geographic boundaries, good work tends to get heard.

"Daniel spent some of the '90's in L.A., and he has maintained his relationships with the music community there. International distribution of our product lines is still handled by companies in L.A. and Dallas -- in fact, we continue to tap session talent there, and in Nashville and New York. At the same time, we have also flown some of those same players to Milwaukee for tracking sessions here at Burst HQ."

Geer says that the Burst Collective remains dedicated to Milwaukee and to the city's pool of talented musicians.

"We ... continue to interface our efforts here in Milwaukee with the music industry in the music Meccas. Milwaukee has a lot of talent, a lot of creative energy, a lot of new ideas and we're all about discovering it, developing it and standing it shoulder-to-shoulder with anything else out there at the national and international level."

The Burst Collective is currently promoting the first release from Eggshell (Holter and Standal), "Life is What You Take It" and is gearing up to issue the debut disc from singer/songwriter John McCarty. And, Geer says, they're always looking for new talent.

"We just brought on a full-time engineer, so as Burst Media is gearing up to expand the commercial music production business, we'll be keeping our eyes and ears open for composers whose particular talents and stylistic signatures we can call on for specific projects. And in addition to Eggshell and John McCarty's forthcoming CDs, Burst Records is actively looking for artists to develop. As a matter of fact, we're auditioning a handful of demos right now."

Visit www.burstcollective.com for more on the label, the production company and the studio.

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