Local Crew: XL5 ProductionsCLIMBING THE CORPORATE PRODUCTION LADDER
In this space, regional sound companies get a chance to shine, talking about recent contracted gigs, latest installs, providing a one-stop shop, etc. But for numerous production companies, a highly successful revenue-generating stream is found in corporate work, where XL5 Productions (Santa Clarita, Calif.; www.xl5productions.com) has shot straight to the top of its market.
Since its founding in 2004, XL5 has handled anything from small concert and festival work to the larger corporate shows. Indeed, the company's list of corporate clients reads like a who's who from the Fortune 500: Godiva, Garnier, Entertainment Weekly, Microsoft, Nike, Sprint, Yahoo!, Adobe Systems. In addition, the company has been working the Tony Awards in New York, the Emmys, the Oscars, Independent Spirit Awards, the Golden Globes — the list goes on. For the past three years, XL5 has been contracted to handle ESPN's X-Games, providing SR at the Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.) and the Staples Center (L.A.). “Last week I was in London advancing the sound reinforcement and lighting for the European X-Games, which is going to happen next September,” founder/director Anthony Lennon says. “We're currently working with ESPN X-Games to see if we can provide sound reinforcement for the Winter Games in Aspen.”
For the X-Games' live and broadcast audio production, XL5 brought out its Yamaha PM5D and a Nexo GEO D line array with CD-18 subs at the Home Depot Center; five PM5Ds, and LS9 and M7CL digital consoles (both handling TV control) were taken to the Staples Center. Also on-hand were Shure mics and iTech/Crown/Crest amps.
Lennon prefers to stock digital boards, citing their small footprint and recall capabilities as big pluses. “On these larger shows,” he says, “we may have eight, nine or 10 bands a day, and we have the ability to recall that previously programmed input list, so it makes for time savings and less stress on our engineering staff.” That staff comprises 12 full-time audio engineers and a list of audio techs that can be called upon as needed.
For many of these corporate gigs, XL5 draws upon its long-standing working relationship with Larry Abel from Larry Abel Designs, a leading event designer in Los Angeles. Through this arrangement, XL5 provides not only sound reinforcement for corporate clients, but also sole production services. “And then on the other side, we do many of the local festivals in the L.A. area, [such as] the local festival for Sunset Junction, which happens every year — that's three stages,” Lennon lists. “[We] work with the city of Oxnard Merchant Association for their Salsa Festival. We work with the city of Santa Clarita. We've been a longtime supplier for the city of Beverly Hills for all of their concert events — from a small jazz environment to their concert series in the summer.
“Another company that we have worked with during the past couple of years, ProMax & BDA, is an international organization for the electronic media that services the television and film industries,” Lennon adds. “We've just completed their annual June Conference, which was in New York City, with guest speakers such as former President Clinton and Kenneth Cole. We had another event for ProMax & BDA back in May of this year that was called MI6, a conference that targets the gaming industry, with participants that included Apple and Microsoft. Next week, I'm traveling to Mexico City to advance the Latin American Conference for ProMax & BDA, which is coming up in November.”
Fortunately for XL5, the corporate work doesn't seem to be drying up any time soon, and while competition is stiff in Southern California, Lennon sees a number of opportunities knocking on XL5's door. “Particularly in the last few years, there seems to be an abundance of work,” Lennon recalls. “A few years ago after 9/11, our industry slowed tremendously. In the past few years, we seem to be getting back on our feet.
“We don't try to be everything to everybody. We have a certain clientele that we try to cater to.” But will the company expand its boundaries to attract new gigs? “We unconsciously took a couple of steps forward this year,” he replies. “It creeps up on you, and before you know it you're doing five or six different things that you didn't do the year before. If we can stabilize where we are now and keep that level for another year or so, we'll be more than happy with that.”
Sarah Benzuly is the group managing editor of Mix, Electronic Musician and Remix magazines.