SPARS enjoys successful SRO crowds at recent Asheville Studio Summit


Sean O'Connell, CEO of Music Allies and Creative Allies, shares insights into recent music industry changes.

SPARS recently completed the first in a new series of regional Studio Summits in Asheville, NC. The response from the local Asheville and surrounding production communities was overwhelming resulting in a sold out conference and SRO crowds.

The well received event was held at Echo Mountain Recording and brought out local students and industry pros as well as artists, producers and engineers from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and surrounding states. There were also several registrations from as far away as New York, Florida and Texas.


Kirk Imamura, SPARS President, leads the Music Business Panel (L-R), Billy Hume, Matthew Sherwood, Scott Phillips, Jessica Tomasin and Dave Hampton.

In addition to panels and roundtable discussions on such topics as Music Business, Recording and Post, the participants were treated to several doses of the now well known, Ask SPARS, Speed Mentoring Program. The Ask SPARS program divides participants into various groups according to interest. The groups then rotate among panels of industry pros who answer questions and offer career insight and tips. The program allows students and working professionals valuable access to those who have been successful in the industry. Comments from attendees…

SPARS wishes to thank all those who supported our efforts and who participated in the Asheville Summit, especially Steve Willmans, owner of Echo Mountain Recording, Jessica Tomasin, Studio Manager and Julian Dreyer, Chief Engineer. In addition, we wish to thank the chairs of the recording programs who participated, Dr. Wayne Kirby, University of North Carolina, Asheville, Scott Wynne, Appalachian State University and Dr. Bruce Frazier, Western Carolina University. We also wanted to acknowledge the additional support of Jude Weinberg, Chief Recording Engineer and Assistant Professor at UNCA.


Shown here are students from Appalachian State University and several SPARS board members. App State was one of three area Universities participating.

A big thank you also goes out to those who agreed to give of their time and participate as speakers, panelists and speed mentors: Kirk Imamura, SPARS President, Avatar Studios, Eric Johnson, SPARS Past President, Trailblazer Studios, Sherri Tantleff, SPARS Secretary, Full Sail University, Dave Hampton, SPARS Director, MATK Corporation, Los Angeles, Scott Phillips, SPARS Director, Blackbird Studios, Nashville, Rick Senechal, SPARS Director, Microsoft Studios, Seattle, Jessica Tomasin, Studio Manager, Echo Mountain Recording, Julian Dreyer, Chief Engineer, Echo Mountain Recording, Dr. Bruce Frazier, Professor, Commercial and Electronic Music, Western Carolina University, Dr. Wayne Kirby, Chairman, Department of Music, University of North Carolina, Asheville, Jude Weinberg, Chief Recording Engineer, Assistant Professor, UNCA, Scott Wynne, Chief Recording Engineer, Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University, Neal Merrick Blackwood, Producer & Engineer, Merrick Music, Dave Harris, Owner, Studio B Mastering, Billy Hume, CEO, Radiator Music / The Zone, Ben Lovett, Artist, Ben Lovett, Sean O’Connell, CEO and Founder, Music Allies | Creative Allies, Matthew Sherwood, Sherwood’s Music and Chad Stewart, Owner / President, Stewart Sound Inc. / Stewart Stageworks Inc.

The SPARS Studio Summit program is a new mentoring and education initiative adopted by the 33 year old recording association to bring together educators, students, working professionals and SPARS members and facilities on a regional basis around the country. As part of the Studio Summit, Ask SPARS is SPARS new mentoring initiative that allows students and working career recording professionals access to successful industry leaders.


The Ask SPARS mentoring sessions were a highlight of the Summit. Shown here is one of the Music Recording groups.


Ask SPARS participants ask questions, get insights and receive tips from industry pros. Shown here is one of the Post Production groups.


Few would argue the music business is upside down. In this age of never ending change, cutting edge leaders like Sean O'Connell, CEO of Music Allies, Creative Allies (pictured), share how they are adapting to the new environment.

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