Glenn Meadows, one of Nashville's and the industry's leading mastering engineers, was dismissed from his position as vice president of mastering services at Masterfonics. Emerald Entertainment Group, the parent company of Emerald Recording Studios in Nashville, made the announcement in late February in a press release.
Dale Moore, Emerald's CEO, indicated that the parting was not amicable. “I am sorry to see Glenn go, but our differences, in my opinion, had become insurmountable,” he said in a prepared release. Moore was reluctant to elaborate further, other than stating that, “There were differences we couldn't overcome. He left me no choice.” Moore bought Masterfonics out of bankruptcy in 1999 and retained Meadows as vice president of mastering operations; Emerald Recording filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.
Meadows seemed to confirm the nature of the split when he told Nashville Skyline that he would have no further comment other than to say that he has retained counsel and is “exploring his options.”
Masterfonics was founded in 1973; Meadows, a two-time Grammy winner and three-time TEC Award nominee, had co-owned the facility since 1977 before becoming sole proprietor in 1989. The studio's two original mastering suites were designed by Tom Hidley. Michael Cronin designed a third mastering suite added in 1998.
Moore did say that mastering remains a linchpin in the company's overall business strategy. “That division is extremely important to us, providing the ability of our clients to seamlessly move through the [entire] recording process.” He also stresses the need to maintain a high-end mastering operation to compete with what he called a changed mastering environment. “There's more competition,” he says. “There's been emphasis put on the ability to master cheaply…on Pro Tools rigs, which can be done, but the quality is not even close to what we can deliver.”
Moore says that Meadows' departure will not affect that strategy. He notes that Masterfonics' other mastering engineers — Benny Quinn, Jonathan Russell and Tommy Dorsey — had developed significant client bases of their own.
On the matter of the bankruptcy situation, Moore says that he expects to file a reorganization plan with the court in March, after which creditors have 60 days to review the plan. He is optimistic about the outcome and says he expects the company to emerge from Chapter 11 well before the end of the year.
Not So New Kids In Town — RCA recording artist Martina McBride and her husband, John, president of live sound company MDSystems/Clair Brothers Audio, have purchased and renovated the former Creative Recording Studios in Berry Hill. Already the leading candidate for Nashville's most successful pro audio couple, they expect to open a completely remodeled and vastly upgraded two-studio facility by early spring.
Creative Sound was originally owned by producer Brent Maher, and was where he recorded many of the Judds' albums. More recently, it had been owned by a trio of commercial jingle producers. The McBrides acquired it last year and brought in George Augsperger to update his original acoustical and monitoring design of the 1970s-era studio. McBride then bought Donald Fagen's Neve 8078 console, which was upgraded by Geoff Tanner — who had worked as a Neve technician on the console when it was first built — and McBride's chief tech (and former Frank Zappa tech) Arthur “Midget” Slopeman. It is installed in the main control room, adjacent to the studio's large tracking room. The equally vintage Sphere console that came with the studio will be moved to the facility's second, smaller control room. Both control rooms have extensive Pro Tools systems, which are linked to a central network server. Studio A also has a pair of sequentially numbered Studer A827 multitrack decks.
The studio — which at press time was still unnamed — will be a combination of commercial and private: John McBride says that Martina and her longtime co-producer Paul Worley will do her next record there, but that she will book time like any other client. Despite a difficult studio economic climate, John McBride strongly believes that this facility will be at least marginally profitable, while giving the McBrides a creative locus for Martina's records. “I don't believe this studio is a great business opportunity, but I do believe it can be profitable,” McBride states, explaining that much of the equipment is gear the couple has acquired over the past two decades, and that they capitalized the entire estimated $2 million project themselves. “We don't have bank loans and equipment leases, so we're already ahead of the game there,” he says. “If it breaks even, I'm a happy guy.” He also believes the main room can support a rate structure ranging between $1,200 and $2,000 per day.
It's also worth noting that Martina McBride and Worley previously made her records at The Money Pit, a small facility in which Worley is a part owner. Thus, moving her productions to a self-owned studio doesn't take any work away from other commercial Nashville facilities.
But more than anything else, the studio quenches a passion that predates John McBride's success in the live sound business. “My original proposition to the bank in Wichita 23 years ago when I started out was for a recording studio,” he recalls. “That didn't fly, but my proposal for a live sound company did. So I'm finally getting around to doing what I wanted all along.”
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