Tim Callaghan reinvents
the way music & video
are delivered 8/31/09
By Robert Downes
As the frontman for the bands Fairchild and 74 Marauder, Tim Callaghan is one of the most exciting rock musicians in Northern Michigan, with years of packing full houses at local nightclubs to prove it.
But Callaghan is also something of an inventor. His new thumb drive (TD) goes beyond the CD and DVD to deliver music and video in a format that has already caught the attention of major players on the music scene as well as the big box merchandiser, Best Buy.
Callaghan has just signed an exclusive distribution deal with Best Buy, with his new thumb drive and album to be on the shelves this month. Heres whats up with that:
NE: Tell us about your new device and what it does.
Callaghan: Its a thumb drive, also known as a jump drive or memory stick. Whats unique about ours is that we custom-built the drive in the shape of a guitar, and then we programmed the drive with software so that it would be compatible with anything that has a USB port.
Today this includes Mac or PC computers, as well as the newer in-dash car audio and next generation home theater. We then put my album Plastique on the drive twice, CD quality audio and mp3s. We also installed a thank-you video running in hi def, then added lyrics, photos and liner notes. All of this information is running on a proprietary player we are calling thum operating system or thum os.
NE: How is your thumb drive better than a website or a CD format?
Callaghan: It smokes a CD. Audio CDs dont have hi-def video capabilities, they get scratched eventually, and can skip under vibration. With this format I have so much information installed, to compete you would have to print an 18 panel accordion jcard for all the photos and text associated with CD packaging, making thumb drives a greener product.
We can run hi-def audio thats beyond CD quality, rivaling vinyl. We also left room on the drive for our fans stuff, too -- photos, music, whatever they want, so its reusable. There are also no moving parts required to run the drive, so it takes less energy to run it than to spin a disk -- more green points there.
As for online music and downloads, theyre great but it all seems like empty calories to me. You get your song, but you still didnt get anything you can touch or hold in your hand. With downloading, its just ones and zeroes coming into your computer. I have been running into a lot of people with the same Internet burnout. Its one of the reasons vinyl sales are hot. You can touch an album. Mp3s dont sound very good, either. They are one tenth the size of a CD audio file. Less data, less music.
NE: How did you come up with the idea?
Callaghan: It was mostly from boredom with the CD format. One day I ran into my uncle who runs a promotions company downstate in Birmingham. He was telling me about flash drives being made in funny shapes. Realizing the potential for releasing an album on this flash format was a big duh moment. It was right there in front of me.
NE: How is it being marketed?
Callaghan: Well I started a company called THUMUSIC. Not only for my band, but for other bands that want in on this. I am now a label, and we are already in talks with major and minor bands hoping to produce their music this way. We also inked an exclusive distribution deal with Best Buy for Fairchild, starting in the Michigan and Illinois markets. Hopefully it will take off and go national. It will also be available at bestbuy.com.
NE: Have you shared it with any other musicians yet?
Callaghan: Yeah, and the response has been huge. I did some touring with my boy Brent Grunow and had the opportunity to show this to some heavy cats. Billy Squire, Stone Temple Pilots and Whitesnake have seen it. Also, Mike Dunbar, my drummer extraordinaire, got one of the drives into Joe Satrianis hands during a Chickenfoot meet-and-greet. He loved it.
NE: Whats your background in music?
Callaghan: Ive been playing music since I was six. I first gravitated to classical guitar, but after learning (though loving) so many Andres Segovia songs, I felt the need for something more. Then I heard AC/DCs High Voltage and it was all over.
I do come from a very musical family. My dad was and still is a huge music influence on me. I remember him playing me Led Zeppelin 1 even before I could see over my moms ironing board. For the bulk of my teens and into my 20s, I was just a guitar player, wanting to be only thatgreat at guitar. But singing and songwriting began to nag at me too, and I discovered and rediscovered great songwriters. The Beatles, Bowie, Tom Waits, U2. You could say I dated the guitar but fell in love with and married songs. I have written and produced/co-produced four CDs and now one TD (Thumb drive).
NE: Do you have any current musical projects in the works?
Callaghan: I already have the roughs for the next Fairchild album, and Im still working with Brent on his project. I also have a studio at my house where I produce other acts. Lately Ive taken to playing the fiddle -- easily the toughest instrument Ive tried to learn, and I know how to play many. A day doesnt pass where Im not doing something musical.
NE: How is the thumb drive project going so far?
Callaghan: Awesome! In the past weve had vinyl, 8-track, cassette, Cd, Cd rom, DVD, hddvd, blueray, and digital downloads. I believe this format, along with our programming, is the next generation of physically-produced media. To the best of my knowledge no other band big or small has done this, at least at the level of distributing through a big box company like Best Buy.
The Fairchild album/ TD Plastique will be at the Traverse City Best Buy store by September 12, 10 a.m. and were looking forward to launching the websitethumedia.com