Eric Tunison's Groove TunesFEELING GOOD ABOUT GIVING BACK 5/01/2007 8:00 AM Eastern
As this special edition of Mix focuses on health and well-being, it's worth noting that sometimes the best way to feel good inside your own skin is to use your musical/technical resources to help others.
Case in point: Eric Tunison is an engineer/producer/project studio owner of Groove Tunes, a facility he designed and built from the ground up to his own high standards when he moved from Seattle to Alpharetta, Ga., in the early '90s. Groove Tunes began as a part-time enterprise — a side interest — but a few years ago, Tunison decided he had made enough cash doing his day-job as a project manager to upgrade his studio from Tascam 8-track analog to Pro Tools 7.3/HD Accel and make the leap to full-time studio owner/operator. His facility also includes a balanced selection of mics from Neumann, Soundelux, Royer, AKG, Sennheiser, Shure and Beyerdynamic; preamps from Focusrite, PreSonus, Groove Tubes and others; a large collection of outboard gear and plug-ins; and JBL LSR 6328P powered main monitors — more than adequate tools to serve the musicians of his small community and beyond.
Since making the change, Tunison has recorded some full-rate clients, such as CNN International writer Gustavo Gonzales, who has been making his first Latin CD at Groove Tunes, but he's also offered discounted rates to younger, local bands and charitable organizations that need studio time. For example, Tunison is affiliated with Music for Charities (www.downloaduplift.com), where he gives highly discounted studio rates to members who donate portions of their musical downloads to charities of their choice.
“My affiliation with Open Mic Atlanta (www.openmicatlanta.com/renovation) offers discounted studio rates to Open Mic performers, including some studio time give-aways to winners of Open Mic contests,” Tunison explains. “I have a similar affiliation with Gary Steffins of Gary Goodstuff (http://garygoodstuff.com), a local promoter of youth bands, by giving away studio time to Battle of the Bands contest winners and discounted studio rates to all participants.”
Recently, Tunison collaborated (again, for a fraction of his day rate) with independent artist Deborah Lanham on a CD project for a group called Kidini. “They approached me to produce a child-abduction-prevention safety-awareness album,” Tunison says. “They conduct seminars where they teach courses live to children and their parents — visiting Cub Scout meetings and things like that — and they have these cardboard cutouts they show to the children with cartoon-type characters, but they were feeling like the children needed something to take home to remember the lessons. The idea was to create a CD of original music that would not only make the lesson plans more real for the kids, but would be fun enough so that parents wouldn't mind listening to it.”
Lanham and Tunison — both multi-instrumentalists — played most of the musical parts themselves (guitars, synths, horns, percussion), though they had some help with the vocals: “Deborah sang all the lead parts, but we also had 30 children from the Christian Youth Theater of Alpharetta — aged anywhere from 5 to 15 — come into the studio to sing backup vocals on four or five of the songs. I have a very large lounge, and some generous parents came to mind the children. I could fit 10 at a time in the studio proper. I fit them all with headphones, stood them all in a row. Deborah would be in the studio with them and she'd mouth the words and hold up cue cards, and it took several takes for the kids to get the hang of it, but I comped the best takes and they sounded pretty decent.
“You just have to do what you can,” Tunison reasons. “Not everybody can afford to record in a recording studio. My rate is very low as compared to the big-time Atlanta studios, but for a lot of people, what I charge is a lot of money. I can't do these things for nothing because this is my livelihood, but at the same time, I understand there are young musicians who just can't afford it. And then, with people who are doing charitable events, I want to give them a deal, too, so they can keep doing something good. All I care about is making enough to keep paying my bills and doing work that the musicians and I can be proud of.”