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December 6, 2010

Andrew Belle & Windows Make Beautiful Music Together

You may have noticed our “To the Cloud” ads airing on TV highlighting Windows 7 + Windows Live to create, connect, and share things like photos, videos and documents to the cloud from your PC. If not, you can check them out here. We also did something fun with an up-and-coming indie artist named Andrew Belle. We followed Andrew around as he created and produced a new song called “Sky’s Still Blue”. Andrew used Windows 7 and Windows Live to help in the production of the song and you can see exactly how in the video below!

Backstory: We were interested in showcasing an artist or band using Windows to make a song. We approached director Keith Rivers with this idea as he works a lot with musicians. Keith had already heard some of Andrew’s music through mutual friends, liked what he heard, and thought he was perfect for this idea so Keith approached Andrew’s management. “They were excited about this opportunity with Microsoft and open to working with the new products from Windows,” Keith told us. Keith added that it’s “rare that you can find an artist so prolific and honest about his music” regarding Andrew and that “he’s got an intuitive sense on his emotions and knows how to tap into his creative right brain in a moment’s notice”. So we got everything worked out and Andrew got to work on the song.

The making of the actual song took place from September 10th through the 24th. While making “Sky’s Still Blue”, Andrew collaborated with friends and other musicians using Windows Live and used a variety of PCs running Windows 7. He used Windows Live Messenger to chat with vocalists Allen Stone and OK Sweetheart who you saw singing for Andrew in the video. Allen and OK Sweetheart were using a teal Sony VAIO Y. With Windows Live Mesh, Andrew would share audio files with Allen and OK Sweetheart so they could practice harmonizing and then they could send audio files back to Andrew while he was on the road. Andrew, Thomas (Andrew’s producer) and the guitarist used a HP Pavilion dv4-1547sb Small Business Edition. You saw the guitarist shoot some video while on the road in Michigan and used Windows Live Movie Maker to edit the video and then upload it to YouTube. He used a Sanyo Xacti SH1 video camera to shoot the video. Sarah, the session cellist, shared her cello notes with Andrew using Office Web Apps and was using a Dell Studio XPS 16. At the end – Andrew and everyone were chilling in the “green room” and his producer came in to show them the final version of the song. He played the song to an Onkyo TX-NR808 receiver using Play To in Windows 7 so the whole room could listen. Here is what Andrew told us about his experience:

Using the products and technology, we were able to do things we never would have given the tight schedule and busy tour: have friends contribute to the recording from afar, hear multiple versions of the song my producer Thomas cooked up while I kept touring, and watch edits of the video in real time. It was incredible, and opened my eyes to new possibilities making music on the road.

In 10 days and on the road using Windows 7, Windows Live and devices that carry the Compatible with Windows 7 logo, Andrew was able to put together an amazing song. And you can download it for free (song no longer available as a free download as of 1/26) from the Zune Marketplace!