As noted in this column before, Emerald Recording was the first of the traditional facilities to change its model radically. It has not only grown by acquisition, but has added a range of new services not traditionally found in audio studios, including artist booking and representation and a sponsorship division intended to pair recording artists with corporate sponsors. The conventional studio has become merely a part of a much larger and more diverse machine.
June saw the arrival of another new face just a block off of Music Row. Music Enterprises is a diverse media company centered around streaming music and video on the Internet. The $2 million facility is housed in the building that once was home to the RCA Studio A, where Elvis Presley recorded "Heartbreak Hotel." More recently, it was the home of the former Crook & Chase television studios. Music Enterprises has two recording studios, each with a specific purpose. "We have one demo studio, which is intended to serve our publishing company; the other is a master recording studio," explains Christy Weaver, executive VP in charge of the company's publishing division.
The main studio was designed jointly by John McBride (a partner in Clair Brothers/MD Sound) and Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen. The room is outfitted with Digidesign Pro Tools 5.0 and a Mackie digital mixer with Mackie monitoring. The demo studio has a Mackie analog mixer and Alesis XT-20 ADATs. Chip Matthews, audio supervisor of the company's Production Impact division, says the main studio is a pivot between music recording and feeding the company's post-production and Internet streaming. "It's not just a mix room," he says. "We'll take work from there, manipulate it in Pro Tools and store it on hard drives, then send it to Moo TV (Music Enterprises' broadcast operation) or send it to the Net."
Weaver says that the partners in this enterprise were well aware of the condition of the Nashville market when they embarked on this venture. "We wouldn't have opened just a recording studio here, that's for sure," she states. "These studios were designed to support the content needs of the company. On the other hand, it makes sense to make these studios available for rental when they're not in use. For instance, we have four songwriters signed to the publishing company that would use the demo studio, but two of them are signed artists and are on the road a lot. So, we intend to rent that studio out when it's not in use by our writers."
The master studio will also be available to the open market, though it's attached to a Webcasting and video production soundstage within the 18,800-square-foot complex. "The soundstage and the studio are intended to be revenue generators for the company, but we're not dependent on them for that," Weaver explains. "They're not intended to carry the business. They're tools for it."
Weaver also believes that Nashville is going to be seeing more of this sort of vertically integrated, multimedia-based facility in the future. "I think it has to," she says. "I mean, you have these publishers or other people in the music business sitting in offices and waiting for the business to come to them. The opportunities are too limited. By having a lot of different services in the same building, we can work off each other."
Harrison console manufacturer GLW, long a fixture in the Nashville area, has opened a new 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the suburb of Lavergne, where it will incorporate design, manufacture and support of Harrison audio consoles. All engineering and manufacturing operations, which are currently divided between two locations in Nashville, will be moved into the new facility situated on the southern edge of the city. GLW president Bill Owen says that the new space is more then 50% larger than the previous Harrison manufacturing facility in the region, and it will accommodate additional engineering personnel.
Some features of the new facility include a new demo room, a conference room, as well as increased R&D and production areas. Larry Groce, general manager of GLW, says, "For the last several years, we have been working under rather cramped conditions. This changes that very nicely." Groce says that previously, manufacturing had been in one location, while the metal and woodworking were in another. "This has allowed us to consolidate all of those operations, which has any number of benefits to us and our customers," he says.
Groce says that the decision to stay in Nashville underscores the company's "satisfaction with the city as a music center and as a place to do business. It especially has had impact for us in that it has provided a deep pool of talent for our research and engineering departments."
Groce also states that GLW has three new console product lines currently under development, but the company is not ready to issue any information. However, when asked specifically about a downsized console, one of the major trends in mixer design in the past several years, Groce says, "That's a possibility we're looking into. Other than that, I can't comment." He also adds that, as of press time, the company is not yet ready to commit to showing any of the new console products at this year's AES convention in Los Angeles.