Planet10 partners (from left): Vince Consolo, VP marketing; Jim Johnson, president and chief engineer; and Frank Lucas, VP sales
As we worked on this special issue of Mix, it became increasingly clear that audio businesses that will get noticed, heard and paid today are those that offer value-added services to help artists navigate the ever-changing music business model. Jim Johnson, one of three partners in Planet10 Studios (Palatine, Ill.), knows that — even beyond the recording/production facilities and services he provides in his Carl Yanchar-designed studio — his clients need an advocate.
“My partners, Frank Lucas and Vince Consolo, and I have been playing a long time and we've made a lot of connections,” Johnson says. “One of the main things we do with our clientele is help them after the fact — once the recording is done. We do everything we can to get them shows and help them network with promoters and management and booking agents and other bands.”
Johnson moved to the Chicago area from L.A. several years ago because he enjoyed the Second City's focus on quality playing. The studio business that serves as Johnson and his partners' home base is situated in the lower level of a 10-story office building. The 2,800-square-foot space includes a MIDI recording/pre-production suite in addition to a main recording studio that includes a 1,600-square-foot control room and a live room with two iso booths. “When I moved here from L.A., this was one of the first studios I worked in,” Johnson recalls. “It was called Studio 53 back then and there was an SSL console and two 24-track tape machines.” In its current incarnation, Planet10 offers a Neve 8108 board, Steinberg Nuendo Version 4.2, and B&W, Dynaudio and Genelec monitors, among others. (A complete gear list is at www.p10studios.com.)
However, it's the extra help Johnson and company give their clients that makes the studio a unique bargain for local bands. “We want to help further their careers. Most studios just take your money, and they don't care what happens after that, but we try to get them the best recording possible and then try to help them get it out there into people's hands.”
That help includes managing some of the bands he records, and arranging showcases and opening gigs. He notes the near-success story of former clients Sleeping Shelby, whom he recorded before helping them build their fan base and grab attention by appearing in, and winning, the local Bandemonium battle of the bands. Sleeping Shelby also appeared at regional indie music convention Mobfest, and Johnson entered them in a contest to open for a Bon Jovi concert at the United Center. Winning that contest, Sleeping Shelby performed (for free) in front of an arena full of Bon Jovi fans. Johnson was disappointed when the band “imploded,” but he remains committed to going the extra mile to stimulate his clients' careers and create great relationships with local bands in the bargain.