Local Crew: Drummer Boy SoundLITTLE BIG FISH SETS HIGH STANDARDS IN SOUTH FLORIDA 3/01/2007 7:00 AM Eastern
Founded just three-and-a-half years ago, Miami's Drummer Boy Sound Productions Inc. (www.drummerboysound.com) has done quite well. Whether supporting local bands at clubs or large-scale festivals, the company has become known in SR circles throughout South Florida as a premier sound company that can handle an array of production needs: audio, video, lighting, staging, backline and even design. (The latter comes through a partnership with founder Harold Cummings' wife, Tangela, and her Admarde Solutions Inc.) And in addition to relying on strategic marketing tactics to attract new clients, DBS emphasizes a word-of-mouth campaign; most often heard from repeat customers is the quality of service. Maintained within the newly built warehouse facility, the company boasts high-end gear from the likes of Electro-Voice, Dynacord, Midas, Klark-Teknik, McCauley Sound, Yamaha, Shure and Sennheiser.
But this diverse inventory wasn't always the case; the company truly began with two powered speakers and one small mixer. Cummings' (who is also a full-time Miami police officer!) interest in sound started in his teenage years, when he installed car audio systems for local neighborhood car shows. He then learned to play the drums, along with other instruments, and has since followed that with doing church sound recording and now owning DBS. “I started out small with no equipment, but a passion for the music industry has kept me disciplined and humble,” Cummings recalls. He credits his rapid growth in the business first to God and then to his clients and the support from local sound companies.
Cummings used to work off-duty jobs at the American Airlines Arena and the Miami Arena to watch and learn from engineers traveling to those facilities. “I would be on duty at [concerts] and would sit behind the monitor guy or front-of-house guy and pick their brain,” Cummings says. In addition to the information he would gain from these conversations, Cummings also got the 4-1-1 on the latest products and equipment. Cummings began buying used equipment from local sound companies, but soon realized that he heard a difference in the sound of a used a piece of gear vs. the sound of a “fresh-out-of-the-box” product — and so began his lifelong pursuit to own anything audio, which would take him from his home base of operations to his current warehouse digs.
“And now we're considered the little big guys because we've only been around three-and-a-half years and we're doing bids against companies that have been around 15, 20 years,” Cummings enthuses. “But people know about us and we're winning these bids for big shows and our clients have always been happy. A lot of the other sound companies here use us for their logistical stuff — generators, backline, et cetera — because they don't have, for example, three or four drum sets, they don't have six keyboards, they don't have the multiple bass rigs and guitar rigs [that we have]. “You have to remember that these guys have been around 20 years and they have been able to build up from sound to lighting to staging to logistics. We don't have 20 generators, but we have enough to do two or three big shows. We don't have a 60×40 stage, but we have 15 decks and we're getting more.”
In addition to this steady rental stream, DBS is on hand for high-end clients, including Wyclef Jean, Monica, the MLK 2007 festival, local charity events and Ruby Baker. “[Baker] uses us because, according to her, we're the only sound company that in the 15 years she's been singing commercially, has been able to get her sound onstage perfectly and quickly,” he says. “When we do her show, I like to mix her because I know how she needs to sound: a little reverb to where she can hear it in the monitors but not too much where it's overdone, and she wants slightly more in the house so that when the house and monitors are on together, she can hear that reverb effect.” For these larger events, Cummings will handle the mix himself, but will most often be found floating around the gig, ensuring that everything goes as planned so that the client is happy. In this case, DBS employs two full-time engineers and draws upon a list of subcontractors.
While DBS continues to stay busy, Cummings is not content to rest on his laurels: He plans to bring DBS into the international touring market while continuing to service his regional clients. “I just want to keep on growing,” he says. “I can remember just a year ago we were in a house and now we're in this warehouse and now the warehouse is full. We want to be the only company you can call and get everything at one time.”
Sarah Benzuly is Mix's managing editor.