TortoiseClimbing™ experienced 2 dynamic evolutions from its simple inception in 1992. That was to produce nice recordings for private release.
Were these evolutions serendipitous (or were they destined?) It is a scintillatingly delicious story.
As noted at the end of Original TortoiseClimbing™, in 1998 a major ugrade in goals/mission occurred. While David was working on the Romantic Duets album, David's father died in late 1996. Then in spring 1998, David's mother requested TortoiseClimbing Audio™ record an album of selections from his father's and her favorite traditional hymns and songs. David and his mother jointly selected the hymns and songs to include.
They also collaborated on decisions regarding both desired quality of the recording, and plans for its distribution. Rather than TortoiseClimbing™ contining on the original hobby path of producing:
Another simple, private recording for his mom, with
A limited number of private copies for close friends and relatives;
David's mother wanted TortoiseClimbing™ to take a different path for the Hymns and Songs for Living. Namely, the recording should be:
An exceptional quality recording; and
Copies should be made publically available to anyone interested in acquiring them.
That was a significant upgrade of the initial goals/mission, redefiningTortoiseClimbing's future. It required TortoiseClimbing™ to take on expanded roles from simply making nice, private recordings, to encompass the larger related areas of:
Working with multiple artists to produce a high-quality recording;
Obtaining mechanical licenses for those hymns/songs still under copyright;
Writing and publishing companion histories;
Marketing to let people know the album is available; and
Online store site; and
Physical product as CDs.
Another significant evolution occurred in 2019. Although the product goals/mission did not change, another part of the mission substantially expanded. That was because of the decision to transition from hobby to small business and try making activities self-sufficient, i.e., become a for-profit enterprise.
That meant all actions to market and distribute became critically important to the financial abilities of TortoiseClimbing™. It also opens all sorts of new requirements for recordkeeping and taxes, in addition to the upgraded product considerations.
Relation of Life Experiences
The question of whether TortoiseClimbing™'s evolutions were serendipitous (or destined) is only one part of the question. There is the additional dimension of how David's life's' experiences related to evolutions of TortoiseClimbing™.
The 1st expansion in mission in 1998 meant TortoiseClimbing had to take on significant new functions to accomplish the goal/mission of making an excellent album and making it publically available, including marketing, distribution, Publishing and Website development.
Fortunatley, many of David's previous life's activities complimented new responsibilities TortoiseClimbing™ was taking on. Those experiences gave him a headstart in being able to take on the multiple new roles. His experiences included:
Years of singing from elementary school on;
Being part of making a private record in high school;
Years of studying singing in college and privately afterward;
Previous seven years (1990-1997) slowly making simple recordings for two different private albums;
Formal education including Business and Economics;
Experience working with and teaching Information Systems; and
Experiences working with a variety of desktop software automation tools.
Those experiences provided foundations upon which to build knowledge and skills for performing the new resposibities TortoiseClimbing was undertaking to run:
A record label;
A publishing house; and
An interactive website builder.
Notes. The publishing requirement evolved from the simple initial desire to include stories about the hymns. In 2000 that evolved into what is now the eBook, History Through 26 Hymns and Songs.
The website requirement initially began from the collegiate expectation of giving full credits to all involved in creating the recording. That website functionality grew into an important part of marketing to publicize the albums, publications, podcasts, audiobook, and eBook. The website will include provision of links connecting customers to online vendors where they can order digital downloads of the album, eBook, podcasts, audiobook, and possibly for CDs.
The 2nd expansion to pursue becoming a for-profit company are similarly assisted by David's background experiences. It remains to be seen if this second goal will be achieved.
Identifying and arranging for multiple artists and skills needed, including:
Producers (It turned out 2 were used - one for phase I - Heidi Gerber-Salins, and another for phase II - David Goettee);
Instrumentalists (both Phases I & II);
Accompaning Vocalists (both Phases I & II);
Arrangers (both Phases I & II);
Recording engineers (one for Phase I and another for phase II, and;
Post production processsing of the audio files.
When TortoiseClimbing™ undertook Phase II the beginning of 2019, Ms. Gerber-Salins had become a full-time teaching professor, and was not available as audio engineer and producer for Phase II. Luckily Mr. McElroy was again available as an audio engineer and associate producer at his new Slipped DISC recording studio, which he started in Ashland, Virginia the year Ms. Gerber-Salins left Bias. It is somewhat of a full-circle experience for TortoiseClimbing™ to again be working with Mr. McElroy.
While Ashland, VA is a longer drive in miles, it is only a slightly longer travel time, because of substantially less traffic on U.S. 301 going south from Washington, DC, versus rush-hour traffic driving halfway around Washington, DC's beltway. Further augmenting practicality of working with Slipped Disc™ is the greatly enhanced capability for electronically exchanging music files for collaboration at a distance.
First step for enabling migration to using digital audio technology for Phase II was converting Phase I recordings from analogue multi-track tape technology to digital technology. (That could not preserve automated mixing logic on analogue master tapes, and it had to be recreated);
Arrangers were needed to write:
New acoustic guitar arrangement for the contemporary Christian song "Welcome Home;"
Vocal harmony parts for refrains of "Welcome Home;"
Handbell arrangements to "Amazing Grace" and "Just A Closer Walk with Thee"
Additional vocal harmonies were needed for parts of some hymns (except for descants, those came from the hymnals);
Replacement of the synthesized organ accompaniments with an on location recording of real pipe organ;
Locating credible handbell ringers willing to record the handchime and handbell arrangements during the pandemic. (Local groups in DC area did not return my email inquiries);
Make on location recording of shuttle pipe (baby bagpipe), and post production processing to adjust its pitch to match key of recording;
Obtain recordings of both cello and string bass to augment accompaniments of a few hymns;
Ms. Gerber-Salins made time available assisting post production processing one of the numbers. She intended to provide more, but was injured in a rearend car crash. So, David performed most post production processing for all other numbers;
Bill McElroy and David swapped sound files and comments on how to work toward final mixes of the numbers; and
The mastering process putting numbers together into an album revealed additional details to be fixed.
For the publishing part -
Researching germane historical information to include in each history for each hymn;
Writing the accompanying History Through 26 Hymns and Songs book;
Finding editors to assist with the draft script for the book;
Finding an appropriate publishing process;
TortoiseClimbing Website Services™
It was critical to create a quality website for the greatly expanded TortoiseClimbing™ -
Providing an intelligent, interactive, comprehensive web presence with information about all the projects and publications. That included coming up the learning curve on:
HTML5, which is substantially revised from the HTML3 used on the initial 2003 website;
CSS3 - The initial 2003 website did not use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). The concept of separating styling from the HTML content existed, and there was a CSS2 specification. However, Browsers' implementations differed widely, making it risky to count on CSS2 styling. Now in 2022, browsers' implementations of CSS3 (and even some CSS4 pieces) are much closer to predictable, reliable implementations;
Server side processing. Used PHP7 (PHP8 was released the end of 2020) for implementing server based error checking of forms, passing on data from the forms, and other processing. This allows email addresses used for sending form responses to TortoiseClimbing™ to be hidden. (They were visible in the 2003 version, which got A Lot of Spam.) (Future implementation is expected to incorporate use of databases as well.) No server side processing was implemented for the 2003 website;
Researching and writing biographies/credits for each of the persons involved in the Hymns and Songs for Living and its companion project History Through 26 Hymns and Songs. (Tracking down artists involved in the Phase I work, 20 years later, was a challenge!); and
Contacting each of the artists to verify they are comfortable with the bio/credits about each.
Each of these areas of business activity were significantly new roles requiring numerous new skills, because TortoiseClimbing™ had no:
Budget to hire persons to perform the new roles and provide detailed business knowledge for running a record label, book publisher and website development and maintainence.
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