About ROBOTSPEAk the long version
Back in October of 2002 ROBOTSPEAk was born. In the beginning ROBOTSPEAk dubbed itself a left of center Computer Music Store specializing in Music Software, Controllers, Audio and MIDI Interfaces, Synthesizers, Drum Machines --pretty much anything related to electronic music. Back in those days ROBOTSPEAk flourished as a rare independently owned shop that offered pre sales consultation with software demos and advice-we made sure to hook you up with the right gear that would set you on your way to capturing the music you had always wanted to do.
Who is ROBOTSPEAk and where did those guys come from?
Steve Taormina grew up on the east coast and discovered a love for music at an early age. Playing guitar was his first instrument but all along there was a love for synthesizers.
This love of Synthesizers was enhanced when Steve graduated from Berklee College of music with a bachelors degree in Music Synthesis. Soon after, Taormina moved out to California in search of a Music Software related job and ended up working at Computers & Music in downtown San Francisco. Computers and Music was the first retail computer Music store in the US and possibly the world. Joe West the owner of C&M, was the pioneer of this business model and founded this one of a kind shop in 1981-pre MIDI! Part of the job description was to learn every piece of music software out there so when a customer came into the store one would be able to do a demo, answer any technical question and hopefully impress them enough to buy the software. This was an excellent way to get up on all of the then current titles: C lab Creator and Notator on the Atari ST (now Logic on the Mac).Cubase, Opcode Studio Vision & Galaxy, Digital Performer, Digidesign Protools, Sample Cell, Sound Designer, Turbo Synth, Intelligent Music, Voyetra Sequencer Gold, Twelve Tone Cake Walk, Passport Master Tracks Pro and whatever else people were asking about at the time. The same held true for all of the Audio and MIDI interfaces, Synthesizers, keyboards or any gear that was currently in the store at the time.
Learning all the tangents of this software while on the job was a true learning experience. Couple that with being the go to person for any technical support a customer had and the trouble shooting of many tens of thousands of technical questions that came with it, allowed anyone who had this job to hone in a skill set that covered the gamut of the computer music industry.
At one point in the late 90's a customer came into C&M and started asking questions about which music software would to fit his needs. After navigating the conversation to the just recently released Steinberg Cubase VST, Steve demoed the software to the customer. This customer was Alan Stewart! More on that soon——
Alan happened to have his resume with him that day and dropped it off. He ended up working at C&M (within the next week) initially as the webmaster and in the same capacity as Steve—learning all of the ins and outs of all things Computer Music. Alan and Steve soon became great friends and started doing music together at C&M. After working together for years they realized that the world was in need of a more niche Computer Music store and left to start ROBOTSPEAk.
The shop officially opened in October 2002! This was soon after the 2nd Iraq war began-not the best time to start a business. Alan and Steve scrambled to get RS up and running by stocking the shop with the latest and greatest Music Software, interfaces, synths, controllers and assorted electronic music gear. Soon after the store was looking good they realized that they needed to do more. They needed to figure out a way to become a bigger part of the San Francisco electronic music community which they knew in turn, would help spread the ROBOTSPEAk name.
ROBOTSPEAk gave back and enhanced the SF electronic music scene by continually offering up free software and hardware clinics and by doing a monthly live show that was dubbed ROBOTSPEAk Sessions. Sessions was a live in store concert event that happened every third Wednesday night of the month. This monthly event was free and would showcase three 30 to 45 minute acts. At the end of each set there would be an open mic discussion about whatever anyone attending wanted to ask about what they had just heard. This was hugely successful for many years and helped the ROBOTSPEAk name spread as thee source for any electronic musicians needs.
Times have changed! Buying online has become ubiquitous in the average persons daily routine. With this and the over saturation of all of the software and gear that was once the RS staple (and once considered boutique), the need for a business model alteration was obvious. This change was to cut out the stuff that the big box stores were whittling down the industry with and to carry gear that would regain and retain the ROBOTSPEAk uniqueness in this bloated world of big box stores.
It was obvious the return of the Modular Synth was gaining strength. The same conversation started to be heard every day in the shop. Many long time customers found it to be more and more difficult to look at their computer screen at work all day then come home at night and turn it on to do music. Hardware was the answer. Beautiful in look, feel and sound, the day of the Modular synthesizer is back -stronger, more accessible with more options and waaaay less expensive then back in the day.
And scroll on up to today! We are going strong after over 12 years—with a new outlook on the business and the shop itself-this is all due to one thing——that is right you guessed it:
The Modular synthesizer!
Stop in and feel your mind melt as you demo our Massive 6ft + Modular rig and it’s friends!