Owners of Sound Kitchen Studios told Mix that they plan to addon a 5,800-square-foot addition later this year. Dubbed“Digital Village,” the adjunct facility will house newservices, including DVD authoring and Pro Tools-based editing andassembly, as well as audio mastering. The new facility, located ona lawn the staff has taken to calling “the grassyknoll,” will be adjacent to the existing six-studio facility,which brought its most recent room—a large tracking studioequipped with a custom API Legacy console—online lastyear.
The owners also plan to install a new digital console in one ofthe studios in the near future. But co-owner Dino Elefante says itwill not be one of the large-format digital desks. “We don'tbelieve in the big ones; they don't work,” Elefante said.
Elefante also doesn't believe in investing in certain othertechnologies that he thinks will expand most quickly in thepersonal recording sector—he mentions online recordingsystems, such as Rocket Network. “I don't want to getinvolved in anything that anyone can do from home,” he says.“We've been doing well with tracking and mixing; now, we wantto get more of the ancillary business and the things inbetween.”
Elefante also denied that there had been staff cutbacks at thestudio, saying that layoffs had taken place at Pamplin Records, arecord label in Portland, Ore., and one of the Elefante's otherbusinesses, and that the layoffs were in preparation for relocatingthe label's operations to Nashville. Only one studio staffer, atechnician, has been laid off from Sound Kitchen, he says. Thefacility has also shelved plans, announced over a year ago, tobuild a film and video shooting stage and post-production facility,citing a failure to reach an agreement with a prospective partner.However, Elefante says he still believes that the Nashville areacould support a high-end, film-oriented facility.
A number of recent changes at MasterMix: MasterVision, whichlaunched Nashville's first DVD authoring operation in 1998, hasterminated the partnership it was based on. The company operated asa sister company to 15-year-old audio mastering facility MasterMix,in the same new Russ Berger-designed facility both companies movedinto two years ago. MasterVision was a venture between MasterMixowner and chief engineer Hank Williams and rental company EquipmentPool owner Mike Poston. Both Poston and Williams describe thedecision to terminate the venture as mutual.
In its place, Williams established MasterMix Media, which willbe based out of the same space once occupied by MasterVision. Thecompany will also provide most of the same new-media services,including DVD authoring, while MasterMix continues to do audiomastering. One new service available for DVD clients is Weblinkingfrom discs, enabled by the addition, in November, of a SonicSolutions E-DVD add-on to the Sonic Creator system that the companyuses for DVD authoring.
Other changes at the company include the departure of TracyMartinson, former director of new media for MasterVision and one ofthe brightest of Nashville's few new-media tech stars. Williamsgave no reason for Martinson's departure. In her place, Devin Pensetakes over in that position, and Jim Kaiser, a longtime fixture inNashville's engineering community and formerly of Studio Techs,comes on as director of technical operations.
When MasterVision was launched two years ago, it seemed toherald a new era in Nashville's media history. While studios begana long downward spiral that took at least one major masteringfacility—Masterfonics—with them, Williams was lookingto new-media formats as the key to future success. MasterVision hadone significant coup right out of the box when it landed anonexclusive contract to provide authoring services forBertelsmann/RCA's Sonopress disc manufacturing facility in NorthCarolina, which had just started DVD replication at the time. Thatrelationship remains in place.
Asked if the new-media bonanza had turned out as well as hehoped, Williams laughed briefly and replied, “The range ofmedia we cover had to be broader. It's no secret that the music andrecord business climate in Nashville for certain genres is a littlemore challenging than in others. Studio and mastering facilityowners know that the effects of that travel across town into everysector.”
Asked whether Nashville still has a chance of developing anew-media footprint, Williams says, “If I didn't think so, Iwouldn't be doing this. There's always a chance it can.” Atthe very least, he adds, Nashville has developed a deep pool oftechnical talent to wrangle new media, including audio, video andgraphics hotshots.
Rooster comes home to roost—for a while, anyway: Legendaryproducer Norbert Putnam, who produced records for Dan Fogelberg,Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett out of the pop music oasis hecreated in Nashville at Quad Studios in 1970, returned to thatstudio to work for the first time since selling it in 1980. It wassince sold again, in 1999, to New York City-based Quad Recordingowner Lou Gonzales. Putnam, who opened a new studio in Memphis in2000 specifically to develop and commercialize that city's R&Blegacy, did a string session on Quad's SSL 9000 J console forR&B veteran Jerry Butler.
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