Ricky Martin’s pandemic project is bigger than yours.
Sidelined from touring, the global music star got busy creating an accessible, immersive listening technique he implemented to record his new album Pausa, released in May. Now he’s opening the patent-pending technology, called Orbital Audio, to the broader music industry—A$AP Rocky and Bad Bunny are among the first in line—with plans to expand into other sectors including movies, gaming, sports and mental wellness.
“The sky’s the limit with this technique; it’s part of evolution,” Martin says. “When people used to watch black and white television and all of a sudden there was color television, they never went back. This is the way I see it. It’s a before and after.”
With a goal of building audio journeys that resonate on an individual level, Martin is now launching the Martin Music Lab in partnership with multi-Grammy-winning music mix engineer/producer Jaycen Joshua and music engineer Michael Seaberg. The company will be centered around expanding the Orbital Audio universe, which can be optimized for any type of audio entertainment—from music and movies, to gaming and sports.
The company has hired 10 master mixers who are already working with clients to produce both new audio projects as well as reimagine the audio experience of library content via the technique.
Dissatisfied with existing advanced audio technologies that either were tethered to hardware, not universally effective or both, Martin sought to develop a better headphone listening experience. He enlisted Joshua, whose prolific credits include Beyoncé’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) and work with Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.
“We acquired the ability to isolate individual sounds and be able to have those individual sounds orbit around your head simultaneously without taking the listener to a place of dizziness,” Joshua says. “Whether it’s up down, left right, behind you, above you, real far away, super close up next to your ear.”
After reaching what Martin calls their “SpaceX launch” moment, they shared Orbital Audio initially with a small group of artists including Bad Bunny and Residente, with whom Martin previously has worked, rapper Myke Tower and A$AP Rocky, who plans to release his entire upcoming album using the new tech.
“This is from us to the world,” Martin says. “It’s not about the record label. It’s about the artist, finding a new level of freedom and taking music to different levels.”
Beyond music, Martin and team want to bring Orbital Audio to other media sectors—and indicated interest is already growing.
“The biggest reason why there’s so much electricity around this technology is because with other systems, they were individualized, so if you listened to a song that was developed for that specific system you had to have those speakers or that hardware,” Joshua says.
“This works with anything, and more importantly it works on anything. So you can watch a basketball game and can hear the movement of the ball in your headphones, or watch that action movie on the plane,” he continues. “There’s going to be a huge surge in VR in the gaming and other industries, and it’s going to be all immersive. Everyone plays online, with their headphones on.”
Mental Wellness Applications
A primary goal for Martin is to bring Orbital Audio into the mental health space.
“Music heals. Our goal with Martin Music Lab and the overall Orbital Audio technique is to amplify that as much as possible. For me personally, music is a release, it helps me focus and helps remove anxiety,” he says. “I want to harness that power and unlock its potential to help others find the same level of calm and serenity. As much as this is about giving people a more personalized music experience, it’s also about improving their overall mental health.”
The idea, he says, is to create a wellness app or work with existing wellness apps, noting, “We already have many of these apps excited to work with Orbital Audio.
He envisions creating immersive sounds, music, story-telling, meditative and other content for people of all ages, and says Martin Music Lab already is working with an undisclosed company to engage in mental wellness research. “If we do it right, let’s say with a story, the child would be able to close their eyes and see the images of the story in their head.”
He adds: “When the pandemic started, to be quite honest, I was going crazy. I was talking to my team and I said, ‘We’ve got to do something that is of impact, that will take us to this wellness everybody is going to need after this pandemic. There’s got to be something that will take us to a place of wellness.’ ”