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SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Idea Innovators
Published July 22, 2013, Page 16
Paul Gilman designs audio technology for major league teams to deliver a better listening experience at their stadiums — for both the fans attending events and the artists performing game-day concerts.
Gilman, a musician, producer and composer, owns GilmanSound, a Los Angeles company that produces computer software that reshapes sound waves and distributes them evenly in a stadium. It is a substantial upgrade over the often choppy distribution of sound at many stadiums.
“The technology itself evolved from mastering [a song] in the recording studio,” Gilman said. “In a studio, you do everything you can to make it the best you can, then send it to a mastering lab and they fine-tune it. We’re kind of like a mastering lab in a sports facility. We’re at that level.”
Over the years, Gilman has written numerous scores for television and feature films and produced recordings for Leon Russell and The Temptations. About five years ago, Paul McCartney was the first artist to “hear my encoding process and use it in a world tour,” Gilman said.
Gilman’s sports connection started about three years ago. A friend’s ties to former Dallas Cowboy defensive back Charlie Waters led to the Jones family testing Gilman’s technology through headphones during Keith Urban’s Thanksgiving Day 2010 halftime performance at Cowboys Stadium.
“We had Charlotte [Jones Anderson] literally jumping up and down wearing the headphones,” said Gilman, referring to the Cowboys’ executive vice president and chief brand officer and daughter of team owner Jerry Jones.
The NFL lockout put the Cowboys’ plan to implement the technology at their facility on hold, Gilman said. Down the street, though, the Texas Rangers caught wind of Gilman’s system and installed it for the start of the 2011 season to improve the ballpark’s audio production.
Starting last season, the Rangers expanded the technology’s capability to include plug and play for postgame concerts on the field. The system streamlines concert production by allowing bands to use the ballpark’s power system without having to haul truckloads of gear to the venue.
The acts perform on a stage that the team rolls out after the game. They plug into speakers providing audio exclusively to fans on the field. The park’s regular speakers feed the audio from the stage to all levels of seating.
The technology provides an acoustical mix on par with a concert hall, Gilman said.
For the Rangers, the GilmanSound system has helped eliminate many of the expenses tied to paying artists and vendors to produce concerts on the North Lawn outside the ballpark. Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ executive vice president of ballpark and event operations, confirmed that the team has saved a few hundred thousand dollars since those shows moved inside the park in 2012.
Elsewhere, the Houston Astros recently signed a deal with GilmanSound for plug and play concerts at Minute Maid Park.
In Arlington, the 75-minute concerts begin on the field within 15 minutes after the final out, a quick turnaround made possible by the plug-and-play system. This year for the first time, the Rangers allow fans on the field for the concert. The team sells 1,200 field passes for $10 apiece and generates revenue from postgame food, drink and merchandise sales.
The best indication of the superior sound quality is the thousands of fans who remain in their seats to listen to the concerts, including a large number of people sitting behind the stage. Those behind the stage have views to the video board broadcasting the performance.
“It’s a testament to what he has delivered for us,” Matwick said. “The nice thing about Paul is he’s been on stage and knows what the artist wants as well as the fans. It’s a nice balance.”