The initial development of UpStage received funding from the Smash Palace Collaboration Fund, a joint fund established by Creative New Zealand and the NZ Ministry of Research, Science and Technology to encourage collaborations between artists and scientists. MediaLab South Pacific was a project partner in the first year of development.
During 2003, programmer Douglas Bagnall worked on developing the first version of UpStage, which was tested during November and December, and launched in January 2004. Project team members used every opportunity to talk about UpStage at various conferences, festivals and meetings around the world during 2003: Hamilton NZ, Melbourne Australia, Novi Sad Serbia, London UK, Banff Canada, Bremen Germany, Amsterdam Netherlands … and everywhere, people responded with interest to the concept.
In September 2003 Helen Varley Jamieson joined fellow NZers Adam Hyde and Honor Hager plus other new media software developers at the Tool Builders’ Fair, part of the next5minutes festival in Amsterdam. She gave a 45-minute presentation, assisted by Karla Ptacek online, outlining the concept and how the project has developed. The fair was an opportunity to meet with developers who are working in related areas.
In October, Vicki Smith and Douglas Bagnall attended the NZ Music Centre’s conference 03, where they were the final speakers in a panel discussion entitled “Web: Monster or Marvel? A discussion around the dissemination of music on the web”. Vicki gave a presentation about cyberformance, the work of Avatar Body Collision and how we use sound in our work. Then Douglas spoke about how UpStage will work, with specific reference to audio features. Questions and comments from the audience focused on how musicians producing music for this environment might be able to get paid fees and secure their rights.