NYC-based music talent manager Ollie Hammett has launched a new venture, Spark MGMT, with an expanded roster of producers, songwriters and engineers.
Under Spark, Hammett continues to represent his (formerly Rocket Management) clients – songwriter/producer and film score composer Dan Romer (Ingrid Michaelson, Jukebox the Ghost), artist/songwriter Teddy Geiger, and mixer Mark Saunders (The Cure, Shiny Toy Guns) – and has signed a few more, including writer/producer Paul Savoy (A-Ha), mixer/producer Andrew Maury (Ra Ra Riot, RAC) and writer/producer Mark Alston (All That Glitters, Tiësto).
“On the flip side they’re all very different aesthetically and in terms of their strengths.”
Indeed, Romer – a producer who recently relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles – has proven a unique sort of talent, finding success as a film score composer with the award-winning Beasts of the Southern Wild, while also still actively producing/engineering records. He’s just produced and mixed the new album by A Great Big World, Ian Axel’s new band project now signed to Epic Records.
And Maury’s is a different wheelhouse, producing and mixing records – including the new RAC album for Cherrytree/Universal (new single “Let Go” is out this week) and the new Panama Wedding single – as well as remixing and FOH mixing on the road for acts like Ra Ra Riot. Then, there’s songwriter Paul Savoy, the man behind A-Ha hits like “Take On Me”, who Hammett calls, “one of the most prominent (and arguably underrated) songwriters of his generation, who is a fantastic producer too.” Now based in NYC, Savoy is in the process of building a new private studio in Brooklyn, and getting geared up for more production/writing for other artists – and Spark will be representing him for that work.
An Englishman born in London, Hammett moved to NYC in 2007 to run Mark Saunders’ Beat360 Studios in Midtown and later setup a joint venture with Elton John’s Rocket Music where he began to develop his writer/producer roster.
Now with Spark, Hammett can look at the bigger picture, take risks, blaze his own trail…
“I’m very open minded to business development and I’m not afraid to work on something I believe in even if it takes a moment for the business side to make sense,” he says. “I’m constantly exploring new ways of structuring the deals behind the projects so they make sense in terms of how everything works in 2013.”
So naturally, the roster is diverse. One of Hammett’s new signings is Devin Kerr, an LA-based mastering engineer and software developer who’s just mastered the High Highs forthcoming track and is in the process of launching his new hifi music player iOS app he developed called CanOpener. Another new signing, Mark Alston, is a dance music producer with a recent Tiësto collaboration under his belt and more pop co-writes in his future.
As a producer manager in an era of new models and few rules, Hammett sees his role as one of “minimizing distractions”, and helping develop his clients careers by “building smart business frameworks for and with them, fully understanding their strengths and helping them play to them.”
Hear some of the Spark roster’s work get in touch via www.spark-mgmt.com.
Also, Spark is hiring! Hammett is looking for a management assistant who can learn and grow with the company. Get more details and apply here.
Scratch below the surface of almost any producer, and they’ll tell you they’d love to find The One that can propel their artistry and careers to new heights.
No, they’re not talking about songwriters, vocalists, or A&R VP’s. The human resource many producers, mixers, and engineers crave the most is a manager. And as elusive as this goal may be for many hard-working studio pros, for others having a producer manager is a reality.
Peruse a partial list of audio achievers who have managers, and you’ll see a common thread of great creativity and platinum sales. Here’s just a few: Ron Anielo, Howard Benson, Steve Booker, Michael Brauer, James Brown, Chris Carmouche, Bob Clearmountain, Chris Coady, The Dust Brothers, Stephen Hague, Nic Hard, John Hill, John Holbrook, Trevor Horn, David Kahne, Kevin Killen, Holly Knight, Ryan Leslie, Chris Lord-Alge, Tom Lord-Alge, Lawrence Manchester, Paul Northfield, Paul Oakenfold, William Orbit, Hugh Padgham, GGGarth Richardson, Andros Rodriguez, Dan Romer, Jesse Rogg, Geoff Sanoff, Elliot Scheiner, Matt Shane, Chris Shaw, Trina Shoemaker, Sly and Robbie, Randy Staub, Tony Visconti, Andy Wallace, Josh Wilbur, Alex Wong, Brad Wood, and Emily Wright.
While having a manager is no guarantee of a multi-platinum career for a producer, mixer or engineer, there’s an undeniable connection between hits and the people in the above list, all of whom employ a manager. But can a producer manager actually get more – and better-paying – projects for their clients? And how does an emerging audio pro snag one of these desirable wingmen for themselves?
The most common expectation that audio pros have for hiring a manager is that their workload will increase significantly. Most managers see that as a primary function, but also point out that their job description has many diverse aspects which go far beyond that benefit.
New York-based music industry veteran Joe D’Ambrosio started his full-service management company 10 years ago, and has grown a roster that includes Tony Visconti, Hugh Padgham, Kevin Killen, Elliot Scheiner, Joe Zook, Larry Gold, Rob Mounsey, Jay Newland, Lawrence Manchester and many more producers, mixers, arrangers, songwriters and engineers.
“A manager really does three things,” D’Ambrosio says. “33% marketing you, 33% getting you work, and 33% getting you paid. That last one is quite important: You’d be surprised how many people, big and small, don’t get paid — or get paid in an untimely fashion.”
By removing his clients from discussing finances, D’Ambrosio explains, it allows them to focus solely on their craft. “The first thing I attempt to impress on the clients I represent is, ‘If you’re going to allow me the pleasure of representing you, you cannot talk about money. If people ask you how much to mix, tell them three words: Talk to Joe. He’s there to handle the business.’”
On the “gets-you-work” tip that D’Ambrosio lists, tuned-in producer managers can be a major asset in the current climate, where the plentiful major label projects that once kept everyone busy have slowed to a relative trickle. “The whole industry is smaller and more compact,” says Alia Fahlborg, Executive VP of Nettwerk Producer Management. “It used to be that if you were a producer, you didn’t have to worry about not getting the big pop or rock record, because there was plenty to go around. The challenge now is you have far more producers and mixers competing for less work, with smaller budgets than ever before.
“I’m always on my soap box saying that the producer is the next-most important person in the industry, besides the artist themselves,” continues Fahlborg, who counts Howard Benson, Bob Clearmountain, Chris Lord-Alge, Tom Lord-Alge, Mike Shipley, and Victor Van Vugt among her 21-client roster. “The rest of us are expendable, but the producers, mixers and engineers are the ones actually making the product that everyone else is selling. So their part in this whole thing is invaluable.”
But supply is at an all-time high in proportion to projects, as noted by Sandy Roberton, who is widely regarded as a pioneering force in producer management. Currently, Roberton’s L.A.-based firm World’s End represents a long list of audio pros including Nick Launay, CJ Eiriksson, Matthew Wilder, Atticus Ross, and Peter Katis.
“At any one time, there are only a handful of producers or mixers who are in demand at that moment,” he observes. “Bearing in mind that a good producer or mixer doesn’t suddenly become a bad producer or mixer, they are simply in and out of fashion. A good manager is constantly in touch with labels, A&R, artists, and managers to keep their clients’ name in their thoughts.”
As producer managers go about their task of marketing their clients to artists, managers, and labels, they strive to articulate an audio pro’s value to an upcoming project, while making their connection to successful past projects crystal clear. In the process, managers maintain a link between their clients and the outside world.
“Hopefully they’re in the studio all the time, so while producers are trying to be creative and focus on their current project, they need someone out there promoting them,” Fahlborg says. “It may take a year for a record to get made, and it can be really difficult for them to come out of the cave and say, ‘I’m here!’ So it’s really helpful for the manager to be out there, interacting with the industry, and keeping them in the loop.”
Debbi Gibbs, who heads up Manhattan-based Just Managing, and along with Dan Backhaus represents a nine-client producer/mixer/engineer roster including James Brown, Chris Coady, Geoff Sanoff, and Matt Shane, agrees that providing a conduit to the outside world is a key function. “What a manager does,” she says, “is to make sure that everyone can find them, that the artists who work with them are kept informed and responded to in a timely manner, and that the best projects that come in are scheduled and organized in the most effective way. So producers can do more of what they want to do.”
Of course, audio pros don’t just want a nonstop stream of projects. They want projects that fit their skillset and creative outlook, and a good producer manager will keep on top of their clients’ personal evolution. “You think about the combination of projects that they’ll be doing, how those projects will use their skills, and what will be the most effective musically,” notes Gibbs. “But a record producer often sees himself going in one direction, while the artist who’s interested in them likes something they did a year or two ago. Part of my job is finding projects that are halfway between where a producer’s been and where they’re going – rather than something that’s strictly about what they did in the past.”
When Working with a Producer Manager Makes Sense
So how does a producer, mixer, or engineer know when they’re ready to take that next step, and legitimately vie for a spot on a manager’s roster?
“Essentially, if a producer has gotten to the point where they are so focused on the artists they’re working with that other projects are getting away from them, they need a manager,” Gibbs says. “There’s a lot to be said for producers taking care of themselves, so they know the logistics of the business. But once that gets in the way of them doing the best job in the studio, they’re ready for a manger — if the business is taking up their time or distracting their headspace, they should start looking.”
In addition to getting them the kind of work they know and love, producers and their brethren may look to a manager for help in diversification. Ollie Hammett is an NYC-based producer manager for Sir Elton John’s Rocket Music. “I think we’re in a unique position to help develop the careers of producers,” he says, “in both traditional ways i.e. producing records for artists as well as new ways, too, through opportunities in digital, interactive, film, television and theater. It’s an exciting time for music producers and there are many opportunities to rewrite the rule book.
“Anyone capable of providing music production, engineering or mixing services to the highest level (needs a manager),” Hammett continues. “You could be an up-and-coming producer who needs development but shows great potential, or someone who is self-managed and at the point where you need help. You could also be someone who is unhappy with an existing or previous management relationship and looking for a fresh start.”
Chris Lord-Alge, the world-class mixer whose massive platinum discography includes everyone from James Brown, Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks and Green Day, to My Chemical Romance, Snow Patrol, Shinedown and Daughtry, is represented by Alia Fahlborg. “Getting a proper manager is something you build up to,” he says. “I recommend it as a way to keep yourself in the talent pool – and not just the ‘worker’ pool. When you do make a decision as to who will represent you, it’s got to be someone you trust.
“But the other point to consider is, are you willing to give up a percentage to have someone work with you? If not, then a talented manager won’t work with you. A manager is worth the cut they take, but you also need someone you can call 24 hours a days. If a good manager will take a cut of your income, then they should pick up the phone when you need them.”
Winning a Place on a Producer Manager’s Roster
Once an audio pro has targeted a manager, the next step is to make it onto their roster. With fewer projects available, managers can be expected to be even more discerning than ever in their client selection process.
In D’Ambrosio’s case, the formula is a mix of “excellence, skills, communicative ability, accomplishments and earnings.”
Similarly, Gibbs of Just Managing looks at intangibles just as closely as the balance sheet. “I have a lot of really good producers come to us, but I don’t always get a handle on what we can do to help them,” she says. “Picking the right clients is an ongoing challenge. We think we’ll take another two clients at some point this year, and choosing who that will be is always a big decision for us. It’s very crucial that we understand our clients musically, but I can’t take on a client just by looking at their discography.
“If it’s someone who’s skilled technically, but doesn’t feel strongly about the music they make, I probably wouldn’t know what to do with them,” Gibbs continues. “Producers have so many different techniques, and their studio experience is what allows a band to produce the best performance possible. You need to know your client’s m.o. in order to put them together with the right people.”
“I would say you need undeniable talent and an incredible work ethic,” advises Hammett. “Rocket’s core business is artist management and the producer roster is still small, but I think the common thread and what we look for in general is exceptional, unique clients whose work speaks for itself. We’re actively looking for new clients as part of our expansion. Personally I’m very proactive at making contact with producers/engineers or mixers that I’m excited about, and building relationships with them. We do get quite a few people reaching out, enquiring about representation too.”
Of course, the age-old chicken-or-the-egg quandary can come up for young producers, mixers or engineers who know they have the skills, but haven’t had the breakout hit yet to prove it. “There’s a Catch-22 sometimes for producers and mixers,” Fahlborg acknowledges. “They feel they could benefit from having a manager, but the manager has to have something to run with – chart success or something that’s really buzzing. There needs to be something I can grab onto, or else I can’t be effective.
“A new client also has to be the right fit,” continues Fahlborg. “You want to have a roster that complements one another, and doesn’t compete to each client’s detriment. Ultimately, if I think I can help a prospective client long term, I want to work with them. If I can’t, I won’t want to be involved.”
Falhborg receives several emails a week from audio pros hoping to get onto her roster. “I think that’s fine — they need to hustle and get along in their careers,” she says. “I try to look at them all, and if someone catches my eye, I’ll get back to them. Or I might say, ‘There’s no room on our roster right now, but keep me posted.’ Email is the best, most effective way to pitch yourself to me, and we do look at everyone who gets in touch.”
What to Expect from a Producer Manager
For those who make the grade and sign on with a producer manager, they’ll find that outside of the core offerings, each firm may exhibit different specialties and strengths.
“Broadly speaking, we offer full service career management which covers pretty much everything,” says Hammett. “For example, marketing your skills and services, managing your schedule, helping to find new projects, negotiating deals, building strategic partnerships, and handling all communication on projects between managers, labels and lawyers. Rocket also offers in-house legal and finance functions. If something very specific is needed that’s outside the scope of management, such as tax accounting, we’ll help find someone who can effectively handle that for our client.”
At Nettwerk, Fahlborg takes considerable pride in her firm’s in-house project coordinators, as well as their commitment to air-tight royalty tracking. “Our coordinators do the day-to-day of planning budgets, booking studios, booking musicians, and invoicing. And they chase the money, which is an increasingly difficult time expenditure.
“We interact with the attorneys on contracts, and once I’ve negotiated a deal I make sure that the deal I’ve made is reflected in the contract. Then there’s royalties. We often need to track down the statements, and make sure the correct advance is in there. I have one person who does all royalty tracking and analyzing of statements — that’s almost invaluable, because there are a lot of checks that never show up unless you chase them down fervently.”
For Lord-Alge, the biggest benefit of having management comes back to the concept of staying outside of financial discussions. “The biggest problem you have as an engineer, mixer or produce is that you can’t talk business with an artist,” he confirms. “Having proper management representing you is what gets you past being a salaried, paid person to an entity. That way you never have to get involved in negotiating money or time. Then you never have to know anything but one word: ‘yes.’
“That’s important, because as soon as you’re talking money, you’re not the talent any more. You’re really only supposed to have to talk with your clients about the creation of music, and what will make it better. When people ask you your price and you can say, ‘I don’t know – ask my manager,’ that’s one thing. But if you have to say, ‘It’ll cost $2,000 for me do to this,’ then you may as well be behind the cash register. You’re selling yourself. But you want an artist or label to work with you because you have talent – not because you provide a service.”
The Financial Commitment
So what’s it going to cost you? Although there are always exceptions, the typical arrangement is a 15% commission to the manager, on all projects negotiated. If the client is a writer/producer, some managers will receive a cut of the publishing as well, while others choose to keep it simple and stay out of the back end.
Whether or not that 15% will be worth it depends on many different factors. According to one multi-platinum mixer, management became nonessential as major label work grew increasingly scarce.
“A good manager will help you get work, and my previous manager did that to a certain extent, but not a lot,” says the mixer, who asked to remain anonymous. “But I don’t think that it’s a reasonable expectation that the manager will get you work. Remember — the client is looking for you, not the manager. My manager’s value came in for handling the backend and negotiating deals. When I was busy, I needed someone to handle day-to-day business, billing and that kind of stuff, which is a big pain.
“But it wasn’t worth 15% for me. In the past, managers would make really good deals that made it worth it, but with the changes in the business, that just didn’t happen anymore. If you’re a producer/writer who’s guaranteed a backend, then I believe a manager is necessary. But for a mixer, I don’t think so.”
For this mixer, the diminished workload made self-sufficiency the only real option. “With the economics of the music business today,” he says, “there isn’t much of a deal that a manager could make for you, that you couldn’t make for yourself. In order to make getting a manager make sense, you’d have to see way over a 15% increase in income, and its that much more work to offset that. I just don’t see that happening.”
Producer managers who are in the thick of a fast-changing market will be the first to confirm that the act of matching production talent to artist has undergone a major transformation. “When I managed bands, they didn’t have direct access to producers or their discography – artists had to rely on the record company to tell them what Steve Lillywhite was doing, and how to get ahold of him,” Debbi Gibbs states. “But now bands don’t rely on the record companies for that: They rely on the Internet.
“So the vast majority of the decision-making around producers comes from bands directly. They like knowing you’re professional, and knowing that a producer who has a manager will make things move smoothly, and deliver on budget.”
“The most important thing to know about the relationship is that it’s a partnership,” adds Fahlborg. “People think a manager will come in, and all this magic stuff will happen. But it’s hard work, not magic, and the client has to be doing their part as much as the manager. It’s so important for the manager and the client to be in communication, and be working the different situations together.”
The payoff for the team is when a producer, mixer, or engineer keeps moving forward as the two work in tandem.
“The biggest challenge remains managing your client’s expectations,” says Joe D’Ambrosio. “You do that through constant communication, expressing honesty and heartfelt wisdom throughout. The best reward is when a producer, manager or artist calls me and says, ‘Your client did a job for us. I can’t tell you how happy we are, thank you.’ I say, ‘No, thank YOU!”
Debbi Gibbs offers up a picture of the producer manager who can grow their practice in the current industry. “If you like the idea of a low-profile position in the music business that allows you to have amazing people as clients, you could be well positioned as a producer manager.”
In that sense, Alia Fahlborg is very much living the dream. “Like a lot of my clients, I get up in the morning and I’m excited for something that I’ve done for many years,” she says. When you work with so many great producers, mixers and engineers, you get to see what they do on a deep level. You see the demos, their involvement in the studio process, and you see how much better the music can be with a top producer or mixer involved. To be a part of what they’re doing, and making their careers better in some way, is a privilege.”
– David Weiss
HELLS KITCHEN, MANHATTAN: Feeling neglected? U.S. music pros tired of going it alone may have just gotten some help from across the pond.
The recent opening of the New York offices for Rocket Music Entertainment Group is good news for producers, mixers, and elite songwriters looking to raise their game even further. As the name suggests, Rocket has serious bloodlines: Its co-founder is Sir Elton John, and he’s tasked his staff with taking an artist-oriented approach to their work.
Operating from Beat360 Studios with a panoramic view of Manhattan’s West Side, Rocket Producer Manager Ollie Hammett explained how the firm is building on what management for music and sound professionals can do.
Get us oriented. When was Rocket Music founded?
Founded in 2011, Rocket Music Entertainment Group is an international music management company co-founded by Sir Elton John, with the core of the business being focused on artist management. Rocket has offices in London, New York and Tokyo, offering its artist clients support on a worldwide scale. In both London and New York, Rocket combines its offices with integral recording studios available to its artists. The company employs managers who come from various facets of the music industry, bringing with them an array of experience at major record labels, radio, talent booking and business affairs.
What differentiates the company from other management firms?
Rocket was founded by one of the most celebrated and accomplished artists of all time, for the direct and ongoing benefit of other artists. The artist’s sensibilities are literally in this company’s DNA. Elton’s interest in Rocket is driven by his passion for contemporary music. Now that we’ve opened the New York office, Rocket is truly global, with a unique ability to connect the dots around the world for our artists, producers, and writers.
What is your role and goals here in the NYC office?
Rocket’s New York office was setup by General Manager Mike Tierney. My title is Producer Manager, I’m responsible for the management and development of the US producer roster division of the business.
I represent a roster of producers managing their different production activities and business affairs. My goals are to continue to develop the careers of the clients I represent, helping them to find fulfilling and rewarding projects, create awesome music and reach their full potential.
That sounds like a dream gig. Who is on the NYC producer/engineer/artist management roster currently?
Mark Saunders — Producer/Mixer/Writer known for his work with The Cure, Neneh Cherry, David Byrne, The Shiny Toy Guns and PNAU.
Dan Romer — Producer/Mixer/Writer for Ingrid Michaelsen, He is We, Lelia Broussard, Ian Axel and Jenny Owen Youngs.
Teddy Geiger — Producer/Writer with a Billboard Top 10 single “For You I Will”, the Columbia Release Underage Thinking, and the 2008 film The Rocker.
What do you believe is the role of a producer/engineer manager today?
I believe the role is manifold – overseeing producers business operations, identifying new opportunities, acting as a sounding board for the creative process, facilitating and mediating where necessary. Working alongside labels, management companies and publishers to find appropriate projects. Liaising with lawyers, negotiating deals and looking at new creative ways of structuring contracts. Also especially nowadays, more than ever, to look beyond just record-making in the traditional sense and leveraging producer/writer skill sets across different markets and mediums e.g. brand consulting, licensing, TV, film and games development.
That’s a big agenda! So how will Rocket Music be a particularly good foundation for you to help them with their careers?
Rocket’s core business is artist management with an impressive track record of breaking artists on both sides of the Atlantic. This track record, combined with a team of executives who have a wide array of experience from labels, radio, marketing, digital strategy, studio management, finance and business affairs provides a unique environment for producers to develop their careers within.
– David Weiss
HELL’S KITCHEN: Dig Art Deco? Most definitely, and we could always do worse than to be in the majestic polychromed lobby of The Film Center Building on Ninth Avenue – especially if we’re visiting Beat360.
Evolution is the solution at this extra-comfy facility founded by the busy English music producer Mark Saunders in 1997. He was in town then to produce Cyndi Lauper’s Sisters of Avalon, and never really left. With a production/mixing/programming discography that includes The Cure, Neneh Cherry, Shiny Toy Guns, David Byrne, Tricky, and A-Ha, Manhattan has been more than happy to take him.
The addition of Ollie Hammett as Director came in 2007, and Beat360 has grown out beyond just being a great place to track and mix. Today, this flexible sound concern takes on everything that touches artists and producers – management, synch, publishing, distribution and more. Corporate clients have been attracted too, including Nike, Reebok, L’Oreal, Chevy, Motorola and Microsoft.
With all that going on, they seem as eager as any of us to see what’s next, as Hammett made abundantly clear in a recent convo.
What kind of group are you and Mark working with at Beat360?
It’s essentially just the two of us, and we have a pool of assistants who help with the day-to-day running of projects. As a small team we cover as much as we can in-house and for larger projects we outsource to additional engineers as and when needed.
Mark came up in the industry as an engineer, producer and mixer. Recently he has been establishing a name for himself as an exceptional co-writer working with artists/writers such as Teddy Geiger, Cathy Dennis and PNAU (production duo behind Empire Of The Sun).
My time is equally split between studio work as an engineer/mixer and project management/business development. Projects I’ve worked on include Idris Elba’s High Class problems v1 (engineer/mixed), The Sounds’ Crossing the Rubicon (engineer), A-Ha’s upcoming Farewell single (engineer & additional production), and So So Glos‘ self-titled debut album (mix engineer).
That’s a small but diversified and accomplished core team. From there, how would you explain Beat360 as a business today? Is it a recording facility? Mix facility? Producer/songwriter haven? All of the above, or is it something else entirely?
I would say we’re all of the above. We market ourselves as a “full service music and audio solutions company.” It was originally established as a private recording, production and mixing facility for Mark’s projects. We now work with a whole array of different clients – bands, brands, digital interactive agencies, management companies, record labels — less and less — and independent artists more and more.
While diversifying, it’s really important for us to continue to try and bridge the artist development gap we now see in the music industry, so I think this is something that’s integral to everything we do. We’re always looking for opportunities for the artists we work with through our network of contacts and relationships.
I’ve had a couple visits to your studio HQ in the landmark Film Center Building, and it seems like a very productive place to work. Can you fill us in on the design philosophy, plus the hardware and software goodies?
Beat360 is a 2000 sq. ft. facility with two mix/production suites, one live room, a kitchen, lounge and chill out area. Our philosophy is for artists/clients to feel as comfortable and creative as possible.
Our main production/suite is a hybrid system – no mixing board in sight. The main DAW is an Apple Quad Core/Logic/Apogee symphony system with X series converters, and a Mackie Control. We have a Dangerous 2-Bus summer and a selection of outboard gear that can be integrated into Logic sessions as insert plugins. We both use Pro Tools but prefer Logic so we have a Pro Tools LE system for converting projects that come to us in that format.
We have software, hardware and musical instrument toys in serious supply. See the full list here. But here’s a taste: Logic 9, Waves Platinum v7 bundles, Sonnox plugins, Arturia Collection, a Ludwig 1968 Drumkit, Soundelux U95S, Neumann U67 (1960’s), Telefunken SM2 stereo (1960’s), Urei 1176, Manley ELOP leveling amp/compressor, Night Nt3 mastering EQ, Telefunken V72 (2 channels) racked by Dave Marquette, John Hardy M-1 (4 channels), Neve 33122 (2 channels), Neve 33115 (2 channels) and API 312 (5 channels) racked by Brent Averill.
Ooooo, tasty. So what niche does Beat360 fill in the NYC spectrum of facilities? And globally for that matter, since you’re doing international services like FTP mixing.
I would characterize our studio as a full-service professional recording, production and mixing facility. In addition to the hiring the studio and services out to NYC clients, we also offer remote mixing and mastering solutions for independent artists all over the world through www.beat360-master-mixing.com.
Clients upload sessions to our server and we mix/master the tracks working closely with them on revisions to make sure they’re 100% happy with the end results. More than just an online service, it’s an artist development vehicle. A number of these artists we have gone on to help find management, legal representation, sync placements, TV show appearances, etc…
Our niche is that we are centrally-NYC-located with a great-sized space by today’s standards, have a diverse client base and work with both high-profile established clients, as well as helping to build the careers of indie artists.
I think that sounds like a real indication of where “music companies” are going. The model is comprehensive but light on its feet. But would you say you’ve been high-profile or under the radar? Is this by accident, by design, or a little bit of both?
I would say we’re in the process of establishing ourselves. As of September, I will be managing a small producer/writer management division of a new international music group, rocketmusic.com. The starting roster in the US is Mark Saunders, Dan Romer and a couple of others to be determined — if you’re the next Quincy Jones feel free to get in touch! This exciting new venture will be integrally linked to BEAT360 and will no doubt help to put us more on the radar. I think the next few years should see our business become a more visible part of the New York studio facility and music production landscape.
Ambitious – we LIKE. Can you tell us a few projects you’ve got in the hopper right now?
We have been working with phenomenal talent Teddy Geiger for the last few months, Mark is producing his new album. I can’t tell you how excited I get when I hear his work. It reminds me why I followed a career in music. He really is a prodigious talent.
Mark is in the process of mixing music in surround sound for a forthcoming Luc Besson film. We’re beginning production of French singer/songwriter Emilie Gassin’s debut E.P this month. We’ve been recording Idris Elba’s features for several UK artists including Ty and recent XL signing Giggs. Also, we’ve been producing/recording audio assets for a multinational brand website.
That sounds like a solid spread. Would you agree you have to be a constant innovator in this business today?
Yes, I think you have to be creative with how you approach business and you have to pay attention to the market forces/technological advances that affect us all and try to stay one step ahead. Technology aside I think there’s something to be said for consistency: If you do something consistently really well, people will hopefully pay attention.
I’m a big believer in good old-fashioned customer service, the value of genuine win-win relationships and being proactive.
Aye! On the growth tip, how do you strive to publicize/promote Beat360, and successfully diversify your revenue streams?
A lot of our business is word of mouth and referrals. Luckily we get to work with some very cool talent that automatically creates visibility and awareness for what we’re doing in the right circles.
We promote our facility and services through various mediums, the obvious ones being Google/Facebook and relevant local business and directory listings. We normally attend events such as SXSW, NMS, Billboard and CMJ helping us keep up-to-date, hearing great new music and building relationships with potential partners and clients.
What or who is keeping you motivated right now?
I’m inspired that the music industry — as unstable and tough as it is seems to be – is moving towards a more transparent place where there is less room for monopolies. It’s more about passionate people doing stuff really well and building authentic relationships around it.
I’m inspired by independent artists doing it for themselves without record label backing. April Smith just made an awesome album independently and has had several significant TV placements after raising $13,000 through Kickstarter.com, and Jenny Owen Youngs has raised over $30,000 through the same platform to record her next album. Wow!!
Some key influences for me are entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, and Chris Blackwell who have managed to enrich lives through brilliant music and art-based ventures. Thought-provoking writers/bloggers such as Chris Anderson, Seth Godin and Bob Lefsetz help me get perspective and try to stay on top of what’s relevant to the ever-changing business we’re in.
How would you characterize the overall studio scene in NYC today? What’s making you determined to be a part of it?
It’s difficult for me to characterize the scene in NYC today, actually, but it’s certainly great to see a website like SonicScoop helping to build a community around the facilities and professionals who work in them. I just try to stay in the loop with people, companies, technologies and music that excites me.
Thanks for those props, Ollie! Last off, what makes Beat360 an only-in NYC story?
I think we’re probably one of the only 100%-British-run music studios in NYC – I could be wrong! — and as you would expect we make a killer cuppa tea!
The advantages of being in NYC surrounded by so much talent, ambition and competition is that it drives us to constantly better ourselves. The main disadvantage is that there are not enough hours in the day to stay on top of any reasonably sized to-do list.
We know how you feel, OLD CHAP.
– David Weiss