At Spin Recording Studios are (L-R): producer Nik Chinboukas, owner Peter Benjamin, writer/producer Terence Dover, assistant studio manager Kurt Nepogoda
New York City bedrooms are the site of some legendary creative acts. That doesn’t mean that every music producer working in New York City wants their studio to be situated in a bedroom, however. Fortunately, a convenient option is emerging for solo practitioners who want to work in their own space and at their own pace, but with the energy of a team and the amenities of a world-class studio close at hand.
Spin Recording Studios (www.spinmusicstudios.com), in the Queens neighborhood known as Long Island City, is offering New York City’s producers the latest, uh, spin on the creative beehive. Today, Spin provides an elite corps of music-makers the ability to work in production suites tailored specifically for the needs of today’s producer.
For owner Peter Benjamin, Spin’s producer pod-based model came on the heels of a common New York City studio scenario. “This guy showed up one day in 2007, and said, ‘I just bought your building: You can either stay here and I won’t renew, or I can buy you out of your lease,’” Benjamin recalls. “We let him buy us out of our lease, and it took us about a year to find another location.”
Benjamin left behind a spacious control room and one of New York City’s best-sounding live rooms at their first location, but were determined to replicate them nearby. “Cost was the first major consideration for staying in Long Island City — square-foot prices have gone through the roof on the other side of the bridge [in Manhattan],” Benjamin says. “Second, I had a client base, and I didn’t want to throw a monkey wrench in everything by saying that we were opening up in another neighborhood.”
Benjamin and his team — including producer Nik Chinboukas, studio architect Alex Kyrazis and assistant manager Kurt Nepogoda — may have actually surpassed their original goal of perfectly re-creating recording conditions at Spin Version 1. The new 650-square-foot live room features a striking staggered ceiling, open but well-controlled acoustics, and the famed former Bearsville Yamaha C6 grand piano. A newly acquired SSL 4068G/G+ console is the centerpiece of the highly comfortable 450-square-foot control room. Meanwhile, a well-equipped B room with an Amek 44-channel console and Pro Tools HD3 Accel handles the overflow.
While the old Spin had depended on an annex of 11 hourly rehearsal studios to supplement their income, Benjamin was more than ready to move on to a more pro approach for the new location with four production suites. “The production rooms lend themselves to what we’re doing,” he explains. “Each producer brings his own gear into the suite, which has a vocal booth. Now they’re in a facility with a lounge, a kitchen, and they can use our studio to sell their craft because everyone pops into the Spin control room and live room before they go to the production suites.
“At the same time, we expected we’d get business from these guys. If they need a world-class live room, it’s right here, or they say, ‘We should really spread this out on the SSL and mix there.’ And that’s basically what’s been happening.”
The Spin suites have already attracted successful producers like Josh Wilbur, whose credits include Lamb of God’s Wrath, which debuted at a healthy Number 2 on the Billboard charts earlier this year. Also in-house are emerging writer/producers like Terence Dover, whose production for New Zealand band Midnight Youth scored the group a Number One radio hit and a Gold album at home.
Before he came to Spin, Dover had been working and living out of a studio within his loft space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where he wrote and recorded with Avril Lavigne and multiple indie artists. When the hipsters in his ‘hood started evolving into young professionals who were less tolerant of having a music studio next door, however, Dover was happy to learn he had an option opening up in Long Island City. “I had done a few records at Spin and enjoyed the room,” he says. “When Pete called me and said there was a room at the new facility, I said, ‘Put my name on it.’
“The initial attraction was to have the facility right down the hall, and there is a wow factor of showing clients the SSL, but really what I found the most compelling was the camaraderie. Here you have the water cooler aspect, with all the guys making records. It’s a synergetic energy that makes you want to do good work and reach a certain level of achievement.”
Before Dover could get settled in at Spin, Benjamin and Chinboukas had their reasons for selecting him as a tenant. “It was a perfect fit,” Benjamin notes. “First of all, we knew him — first and foremost you think trust. And from a business sense, we knew we could possibly get work out of this relationship, be able to say, ‘You’re here. Why go somewhere else when you can just walk down the hall?’”
With a metal man, Broadway specialist, rock maven and pop prodigy all onsite, the producer-friendly Spin Recording Studios has taken a definite turn for the common good of all its tenants. “It’s not just one person doing something — it’s a situation where everybody wants everybody else to succeed,” Benjamin observes. “Everyone looks out for the next person. That’s what a good family is made of.”
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