Marshall Carson

Music Technologist

Music is known as a universal language—a way to connect with people from any walk of life. For Freddie Marshall Carson, known to most simply as Marshall, music has always been a way of life.

After high school, Marshall attended Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, from 1984 – 1987. There, under full scholarship, he studied music performance and film scoring and composition. Finishing as the top trombonist at the conservatory, he auditioned along with more than 600 other musicians for principal trombone in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He succeeded, distinguishing himself from the competition. In fact, at the age of 20, Freddie Marshall Carson was the youngest person ever to win and hold a full-time principal position in the history of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

In the early 2000s, Marshall broadened his horizons, delving into another aspect of his skill set in the music industry—cinematic composing. His work has since been used both in live performance, as well as advertisements. During this time, Marshall noticed that the sound quality of the instruments he used was not translating into recordings as well as it could be, and he endeavored to find a way to improve it. He began developing his own virtual instruments that used sounds from live professional musicians and converted it to a digital interface through the use of MIDI technology.

It was this technological development that would eventually lead Freddie Marshall Carson to start his own business. He is currently the founder of a tech start-up with a focus on the development of immersive audio and visual technologies. His ultimate goal is to create a way for people to connect to music and sound virtually that will feel just as real as if it were live and in-person. In pursuit of this goal, Marshall has developed a vertically integrated, interactive music delivery platform with bleeding edge, spatial audio coupled with AR Technology.

In his free time, Freddie Marshall Carson loves to spend time with his family. He especially loves to grill whenever he gets the chance. He also loves to fish, and to immerse himself in nature.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

As a lifelong musician and composer, I’ve come to realize there is no middle class in the music industry. This is really where the crux of the inspiration came from. For me, the idea is to create a middle class in the music industry. As it sits right now, it’s either boom or bust, feast or famine. Artists either must be in the right place at the right time and know the right people, or just keep slogging away hoping to catch a lucky break. My idea was to create a middle class of artists, so that no matter where you are in the spectrum of your music career, you can survive and thrive and make a living off your art. I want to take the luck out of the process and create a middle class where, if you’re willing to put in the time and the work, you can make a living off your musical talent.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

For me, a typical day would be a combination of the administrative and creative. I tend to make my administrative calls early in the morning. I want to get them out of the way and then use the rest of my day for creative work. That may mean collaborating with someone creatively or locking myself in a room, using a Cal Newport technique called ‘deep work,’ where I’m just thinking, innovating, writing down ideas, and developing those ideas. I also like to do what is referred to as ‘work sprints’ (a technique from the book, Make Time) in the afternoons wherein I will set an alarm for 20 minutes or so and hyper-focus on whatever task needs addressing. I find that really helps with my productivity.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It may sound unconventional to some, but for me, bringing ideas to life is done by taking long walks alone with a list of technology ideas I want to think through. I will take my iPhone with me and think through those ideas from every angle, writing down all ideas that come to mind. I’ll do the same thing while I’m fishing. I find being on the water to be very inspirational. That’s where I feel most creative and innovative. These deep work sessions have been a great way to come up with new ideas and plan how to bring them into reality.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The Metaverse is something I am very excited about. I really believe that great tech should connect people emotionally and physically. The Metaverse is something that I think has the potential to define how we live our lives, day in and day out. Its purpose is to connect people in a virtual sense with all the physical realisms that we experience in everyday life. This trend is a very exciting one for me.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Setting aside time to allow for innovation has served me well as a habit. Those ‘work sprints’ that I do are scheduled during the time of day when I am most awake and have the most energy. I will pull out my idea log and start meditating on ways to bring the ideas to life. This habit is probably the most productive one that I have. It’s just so important to allow yourself time every day to expand your knowledge and to learn new ways of doing things.

What advice would you give your younger self?

If I had the opportunity to go back and talk to my younger self, I would say: “work more efficiently, not harder.” We think we know so much when we get out of school. We feel so invincible and knowledgeable, but when you look back, what you really see is a lot of potential, but without any real-world experience. I would tell myself to count the cost of my actions, create a plan and execute that plan. Basically, I would encourage a younger me to work smarter, not harder.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

My approach to business is probably something that not too many people would agree with. I’m not your typical Harvard or Wharton School of Business guy. I did not attend business school. My emphasis in business is always on relationships and team building as opposed to a business plan or the bottom line. Creating genuine connections and building real relationships is more important than a proper business plan, in my opinion. Recruiting is also important. I’m always recruiting the best talent to our team. Another important part of my approach is the transparency with which I run my business. I don’t keep secrets. Many entrepreneurs and business leaders like to keep things more covert, but I don’t think that helps in developing synergistic relationships.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Set aside quiet time every morning for reflection, planning, or devotion. Whatever you need to do to start your workday calmly, make the time to do that. I like to envision the end and then work backwards from there to where I’m at. In other words, start with the end in mind, back up and work towards that end. This has really helped get me going every morning. It’s during this time I figure out what big tasks I want to accomplish that day and plan out how I will complete them.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Recruit, recruit, recruit. Build relationships and be transparent about your goals, as well as how you intend to reach them. Regardless of your field, this will only serve to increase your business. If there are secrets or reasons for those you work with to mistrust your judgment, how can you expect to grow? Find motivated people who are creative and innovative and willing to work toward the same goals. Your team is what will ultimately affect your bottom line. You want to be sure they are just as driven as you are.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Years ago, I started a production studio, and frankly, it failed miserably. I overcame that by allowing the experience to become a successful failure and taking inventory of what caused it to fail. This is when I came to the realization that I didn’t have to be the smartest person in the room but having the smartest person in the room with me (in any given area of expertise on our team) will lead to success. The whole experience and what I learned by going through it helped me to adopt a better mindset and create a better business plan for my future endeavors. I don’t know that I would properly grasp all that I know now had I not gone through it.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

While I don’t have a specific business in mind, it seems to me that renewable or green energy is the wave of the future. I would imagine that any smart and hardworking entrepreneur could make an excellent living by building an innovative company in that still largely unexplored sector of the economy.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Recently, I bought a portable power station with AC outlets. I love the outdoors, especially fishing and grilling. This tool allows me to be able to blend my work and my recreation with my gadgets. Even if I were to travel to the wilderness, it allows me to take my gadgets with me and be plugged in all day. So that $100 I spent basically allows me to work while surrounded by the serene, inspirational environment of being outdoors.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I use an app called Notion. It allows me to see virtually my entire life, both personal and professional, at a single glance. I can see where I’m at on any given project at any given time. It allows me to collaborate remotely with anyone on any project. I can assign tasks to my team members, and they can collaborate with me in real time. As they input from their end, it will appear in front of me. It has a virtual whiteboard, as well, which is very useful. It also has a time management aspect that allows me to input and monitor all my tasks and my daily schedule.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. It’s by far the single most practical book on time management that I’ve ever read. It’s best read as a recipe book, a few pages at a time as needed, rather than reading it from cover to cover. What I mean is, as a reader, whatever issue you’re facing at the moment, it’s best to look through the pages of the book to find the ‘recipe’ that fits your situation. Then, simply learn the principles that will help with the issue and start applying them.

What is your favorite quote?

“What you think about, you bring about.” — Bob Proctor.

I read this quote in The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Basically, it’s the law of attraction. You can manifest things into reality by focusing on them and believing them to be possible.

Key Learnings:

  • Find the best time management method for you and apply it.
  • Build a team of creative and motivated people.
  • Allow yourself downtime to foster creativity.