When Ricky Martin re-released his Latin Grammy-nominated album Pausa in July featuring an all new audio technique called "orbital audio," he was up to something.
It wasn’t just an updated version of the album, which originally dropped end of May and is now up for album of the year at the 21st annual Latin Grammys, it was a preview of his new venture Martin Music Lab, a brand-new company centered around the breakthrough patent-pending audio technique that creates a new type of immersive, headphone listening experience.
In partnership with multi-Grammy award winner and music mix engineer Jaycen Joshua and music engineer Michael Seaberg, Martin is now focused on offering artists and studios a new breed of immersive audio.
"We were happy with the album, we high-fived each other when it was released," Joshua tells Billboard. "Then I get a call form Ricky basically saying that he’s heard something that ‘blew his mind’ and he wants to do it to his album. So, here I am thinking I’m going to help my brother out with some audio stuff but little did I know that the rabbit hole was so deep."
It was then that Martin, Joshua and Seaberg began the creative process behind a technique that could be applied and optimized for any type of audio entertainment –– from music and movies, to gaming and sports –– to create a personal sound experience.
“I received this immersive audio from a friend of mine in Brazil and he said ‘you should do music like this’ and I really enjoyed what I was listening but I thought, we really need to make this perfect and what is perfect to me is to be able to grab track for track, channel for channel and individualize it," Martin says.
The goal is to "engulf listeners within the complexities of a particular track and all of its nuances," according to a statement from the newly-established company which has hired 10 master mixers who are working with different clients. "The Lab’s mission is to build a true audio journey that you can feel and one that resonates on an individual level."
How the patent-pending audio technique works is that it creates an immersive headphone listening experience by using any type of headphone (wired or wireless). No need for an expensive surround system. "Everybody gets to experience this – even with cheapest headphones you have," says Martin.
But nailing that technique sounds easier said than done, according to Joshua. "I discovered so many things about immersive audio, how advanced it is in virtual reality right now and how it’s going to pretty much take over the gaming industry," says Joshua. "In music, it’s pretty complicated because it’s a whole different math. You have multiple signals coming in – meaning different instruments and vocals coming in at the same time. But Ricky would not give up and I wasn't going to give up after seeing his passion and excitement to achieve this."
After the trial and error period in the studio, "I saw the look in Ricky’s eyes and he said, 'we need to give this to the world' and that’s why we formed the company," says Joshua, who adds that the "orbital audio" technique can be added at any point of the mixing process and it really just depends on an artist's vision.
"With Pausa it was done after the fact it was released and after I mixed it. So, I took those recordings and put them in our orbital audio program and just started moving stuff to wherever Ricky wanted to place it. That’s how personal this process is."
With artists A$AP Rocky, Residente, Bad Bunny and Myke Towers already on board to work with Martin Music Lab, the company will also boast an executive advisory board comprised of top music executives such as Noah Assad (Bunny's manager), Rodney Jerkins and Chris Taylor.
“I chose them because these are people that are constantly pushing forward music and are constantly challenging the dignity of music," says Martin. "These are powerful people that simply put know music.” Joshua adds, "the advisory board will let us know how to be better because we always want to evolve and grow. We wanted tastemakers to be game changers, too, and for them to be part of this process."
With the hope of expanding this technique beyond the music industry and tap into the movies, sports and, most notably, the wellness and meditation space, both Joshua and Martin see this as an opportunity to heal and improve people's mental health via music.
"We started with music but the idea is for people to start healing," says Ricky. "For me personally, music is a release, it helps me focus and helps remove anxiety. 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."