SPARS recently initiated a new series of SPARS Sessions at the 131st AES convention in NY. One of those sessions was SPARS Talk – Lessons from Savvy Owners and was warmly received by the attendees who had the opportunity to hear some outside-the-box thinking with regards to the music and recording industry. The successful event was led by SPARS current President of the Board, Kirk Imamura, who is also President of Avatar Studios, NY.
Hosted by SPARS and presented in a roundtable format, attendees were exposed to examples of recording studios and production facilities that are expanding their businesses beyond traditional recording. The panelists represented three recording businesses, each with a unique business angle / strategy: Dan Workman, President of Sugar Hill Studios, Houston, celebrating 70 years of continuous operation; Chris Mara Owner of Welcome to 1979 in Nashville, a facility with an interesting slant on analog; and Kevin Hill, Lisa Horan and Stephen Joseph Antonelli principals in Popmark Media, a creative media partnership that offers unique services beyond traditional recording.
The round table was designed for owners, producers and engineers who are currently running or involved in a recording business and are looking for ideas to expand their operation. The session was also helpful for people who are considering starting a recording or production business or those who are interested in what new services recording businesses are offering now.
One interesting aspect of the seminar was the tweeting of questions by registered attendees prior to the event and during the discussions. Perticipants were encouraged to tweet questions using the #sparstalk tag.
SPARS would like to thank and acknowledge those who graciously participated in the panel:
Dan Workman: President (SugarHill Studios, Houston, Texas)
The Cool Stuff about Dan Workman:
Dan Workman began his music career as a charter member of the seminal art/noise/rock band, Culturcide. He leveraged his indie rock credentials and continued his work in the mainstream, engineering some of Texas’ most notable artists: ZZ Top, Clay Walker, Destiny’s Child, Beyonce’, Hubert Laws, and Arnett Cobb. Workman now produces full time, and is currently working with Kareem Salama, The Southern Backtones, The Wheel Workers and is writing for Zenfilm. He currently lives in The Heights, Houston, Texas with his wife Christi, daughter Joe Ann, three cats, and a family of raccoons who have learned how to sneak in the cat door. When not making music, or spending time with his family, he rides very old motorcycles, very long distances.
Potentially Boring Stuff about Dan Workman:
Trustee, Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy. Grammy Producers and Engineer’s Wing Advisory Board and Steering Committee. Adjunct Staff, Houston Community College. President of SugarHill Studios, Houston, Texas—the oldest continuously operating studio in the US, (70 years this month!). Producer/Engineer for Dan Workman Music. Producer and co-host of the monthly web broadcast and podcast, “Live From SugarHill”. Co-founder of The Houston Sound, ZenHill Records, and ZenHill Music Publishing, Houston Texas.
About SugarHill Studios:
SugarHill Recording Studios is the “Abbey Road of the South”. Believed to be the oldest continuously operating recording facility in the US, SugarHill has played host to a great many recording artists and their hits in its 69 year history. Blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins first recorded here in 1948. The 1950′s rock ‘n roll classic “Chantilly Lace” by the Big Bopper and Freddy Fender’s platinum-selling album Before The Next Teardrop Falls were both recorded here. The Rolling Stones, Johnny Winters, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Johnny Rodriguez, B.J. Thomas, Ted Nugent, Johnny “Rabbit” Bundrick (Keyboard player for The Who), Todd Rundgren, The Bubble Puppy, Selena, Janis Joplin, Roy Head, Arnett Cobb, Christopher Cross, Red Krayola, 13th Floor Elevators and Asleep at the Wheel are just a few names out of the SugarHill history book. Australia’s The Hitmen D.T.K. and Deniz Tek of the legendary Radio Birdman have also passed through our doors. Our corporate clients include Sony/Columbia, Vanguard, Nitro, Rounder, Universal, Cash Money, Music World Music, The Discovery Channel, MTV, VH1, Nonesuch Records, Subpop Records and BMG.
Chris Mara (Welcome to 1979, Nashville, Tennessee)
Chris Mara moved from Northern Wisconsin to Nashville when he was 19 years old to intern at a recording studio called The Recording Club. After his internship the studio hired him as the house assistant engineer, and over the next 5 years Mara moved up through the ranks in the “traditional” manner. After several years of being a freelance engineer/producer Mara decided to buck the trends and open a retro, all analog studio in Nashville aptly named Welcome To 1979. Mara also restores and sells MCI analog tape machines through his company called No Brainer Audio, and hosts Tape Camps and other events at Welcome To 1979, each catering to the analog recording enthusiasts’ curiosities of analog recording and sense of community. Chris also writes his own biographies for these types of things, and humbly asks for your apology after reading this short and disjointed bio.
About Welcome to 1979:
Welcome To 1979 is a Nashville based retro, all analog recording studio that strives to cater to the independent & budget minded artists, producers and engineers. Featuring fully restored analog tape machines, console, outboard equipment and microphones we ensure that “vintage” doesn¹t mean “old and broken”. Along with tons of vintage gear, Welcome To 1979 also features tons of space: Over 7,000 square feet of unique recording and recreational spaces to help inspire your creativity, with or without the use of a computer!
Fingers on Strings, Hands on Faders, Music on Tape. Welcome To 1979!
Lisa Horan: Co-Founder/Executive Director (PopMark Media, Catonsville, Maryland)
Lisa’s role in PopMark combines her 18 years of writing/marketing/PR experience with her songwriting/music background. In addition to overseeing the day to day operations of PopMark, Lisa works with businesses, ad agencies, government agencies, and non-profits; musicians and songwriters; and filmmakers to create and enact effective strategies that help their projects stand out. Whether it’s developing a website or creating a powerful social networking plan, she works closely with each client to address their unique needs. She also puts her songwriting skills to work, as she helps to create music for artist projects, radio and TV spots, videos, films, and other marketing campaigns, in conjunction with PopMark’s Music Production Director. Lisa is an award-winning songwriter whose music has been used in films, videos, the Web, and other projects and has been licensed by music consultancy companies that place songs with CBS, NBC, HBO, ESPN, and Columbia-Tristar Entertainment. Her articles have appeared in a variety of industry publications including Mix magazine (for which she currently writes a monthly column), Videography, Government Video, Digital TV, iCOM, and others. Lisa’s professional background includes serving as the associate director of TIVA-DC (an organization representing film, video, and production community professionals) for eight years; a PR/publications manager at Rosenberg Communications, a communication/PR firm; and the creative director of Studio Unknown.
Stephen Joseph Antonelli: Co-Founder/Music Production Director (PopMark Media, Catonsville, Maryland)
Steve is a multi-talented producer, engineer, arranger, and songwriter . As a producer/musician, Steve’s passion has always centered on producing and arranging. This passion led him to pursue a career in the music industry, first in Nashville – where he received his musical education working in busy demo and commercial studios – and later in New York City, where he fine-tuned his skills by working with such greats as Grammy-winning Engineer Frank Wolf and composer Douglas Cuomo and in studios such as Right Tracks, Sears Sound, the funk East side, and Mercy Sound. Steve’s clients have spanned multiple genres, including hip hop and rap, Contemporary Christian, rock, hard core, neo soul, R&B, gospel, singer/songwriter, and pop. In addition to his busy recording artist project schedule, Steve also works with businesses, advertising agencies, corporations, government agencies, and non-profits to create custom music for their projects.
Kevin Hill: Co-Founder/Audio Post Production Director (PopMark Media, Catonsville, Maryland)
Kevin regularly works with filmmakers, production companies, ad agencies, and other organizations to provide expert sound design and mix services. He is an engineer/producer who began his career 20 years ago. In 2001, he launched Studio Unknown, an audio post production facility. Kevin’s sound design and original music have been featured in film, TV, web, stage productions, and video games. Most recently, Kevin served as the Supervising Sound Editor and Re-recording Mixer for Lovely Molly, a film by Eduardo Sanchez, (Blair Witch Project), which is making its worldwide debut at the Toronto Film Festival. Other projects have included sound design and 5.1 mix for for Freedom Dance (a film that earned multiple awards, including a CINE Master Series Award) and Lost in Woonsocket (an Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival); original music and narration recording for the Telly Award-winning A&E series “Random 1″; and sound design and mix for programs for Discovery Communications, National Geographic, NASA, PBS, and others. In addition, Kevin served as an adjunct professor, teaching Audio Production, at Anne Arundel Community College, and is a member of the country songwriting collaboration MoranHillHurwitz.
About PopMark Media:
PopMark is a creative media partnership occupying a 4,000 square foot facility in the heart of Catonsville, MD, which offers three distinct, but complementary, sets of services:
* Custom music & music production/recording
* Creative promotion & marketing, and
* Audio post production.
Music Production Division:
Our custom music services cover film, video, TV, Web, government, and promotional projects.
Our professional recording studio caters to singer/songwriters, bands, and musicians.
PopMark New Media Division:
Our new media, marketing, and promotion services offer clients customized social media, creative writing, script writing, spot development, web development, media buying, strategy consulting, and more.
PopMark Audio Post Division:
PopMark Sound specializes in providing sound design, mixing, Foley, and related services to filmmakers, and also works with ad agencies, production companies, and other clients.