Label Mergers Are Music to Indies' Ears
As the record industry's leaders rush to combine, upstart
companies say the trend will work to their advantage.
the CEO's of contraction big 3
Nobuyuki Idei (Sony), Jean-René Fourtou (Vivendi Universal),
Richard D. Parsons (Time-Warner)
wave of consolidation in the ailing music industry could mean
that 75% of the music sold in the world would be controlled
by just three companies. Consider the headlines of the past
several weeks: Sony Music Entertainment, a division of Sony
(SNE ), plans to merge with BMG Entertainment. Meanwhile,
No. 1 music company Universal Music Group is snapping up the
record division of movie studio DreamWorks for an estimated
$100 million. And the Warner Music Group, a division of Time-Warner
(TWX ), and EMI continue to explore combining operations.
contraction will send ripples through the music industry,
but executives of independent music companies don't seem too
worried. Their message to the music giants: Merge away! In
fact, this new consolidation, and the resulting pressure to
cut costs, will create enormous opportunities for them, the
smaller fry figure. As management and artists get dropped
by major labels, the upstarts will be able to recruit new
executive talent and sign acts looking for more nimble handlers.
Independent record labels think they'll grab a larger share
of the music market, after dropping to 25% from 28% four years
ago. "We're ushering in a period that will be the blooming
of a thousand independents," says Steve Gottlieb, CEO
Records, which has about a 1% share of the music market.
TVT's roster of artists includes Lil Jon & The EastSide
Boyz, Sevendust, and Default.
SUFFER? Taking a long-term view, the consolidation baffles
some veteran music-industry followers. "Merging doesn't
get you more or better music," says Hal Vogel, founder
of media investment firm Vogel Capital Management. "It
only stifles creativity, as executives worry more about budgets
and who's going to be the next to go out the door."
controls that big music companies say they're seeking in consolidation
have been standard business practice with smaller independents
all along. In a leaner industry, the leaner operations will
thrive, so bring it on, they say. Bigger and fewer music companies
"just won't be as friendly to artist development,"
says Cliff Chenfeld, co-founder of Razor
& Tie, whose roster includes Dar Williams, Brand
New, and 40 Below Summer. "I see more opportunities for
us, not less." (Privately held Razor & Tie has a
distribution deal with fourth-largest music outfit BMG.)
Records, for example, can sell 100,000 copies of an
artist's CD and make a profit, while it takes sales of a million
or more for a major to make money, says music-industry vet
Danny Goldberg, Artemis' founder. That's because indies have
lower fixed costs, pay less for promotions, and have less
staff to support. What will happen as a result of these mergers
is that more performance-based deals with artists will be
struck, rather than "deals based on what you hope they
will sell," says Goldberg. Artemis' roster includes Steve
Earle and the Pretenders.
CALL. Driving this new merger wave is the 20% decline in music
sales over the past three years. Labels blame the precipitous
falloff on piracy and online file-sharing, while some consumers
point to lousy music offerings. The merger rationale is that
by combining operations, costs can be cut, offering some leeway
to the big music companies pressured by shareholders to try
to gain traction selling tunes online.
a Band-Aid approach? "It allows for a 36 month solution,"
says Gottlieb. "Once the costs are cut, there are no
economies of scale. Look, it's not like scale has insulated
any of the big music companies from the real problems the
big still has its advantages in exerting leverage to get new
artists on the radio and on the shelves of big retailers,
like Wal-Mart (WMT ), Best Buy (BBY ), and Target (TGT ).
But as online music becomes more popular, the majors' leverage
"doesn't count as much," says Vogel. "The cost
of distributing your product doesn't cost nearly as much per
unit in cyberspace."
wake-up call that piracy sent to the music moguls, perhaps
watching more and more acts on independent labels rocket up
the charts might serve as yet another reminder to the Big
Labels that their industry needs fewer tourniquet approaches
and more strategic thinking. (By Tom Lowry in New York, BW)
Tino Passante (Avatar Studio manager) with
Alicia Keys at the videotaping for Sessions@AOL event held
in Studio A
on 9/15 with J Records and AOL Music.
and AOL Music recently taped "Sessions@AOL" with
Alicia Keys in studio A (Neve 8068). The live performance
to air in October was engineered by Greg Thompson, Brian Montgomery
and Anthony Ruotolo.
Tommy LiPuma and Al Schmitt recently returned to Avatar with
Diana Krall who's recording for her upcoming Verve release.
Brian Montgomery & Ross Petersen assisted.
Award Winner Sheryl Crow recently in recording for the "Carter
Family Tribute" to Johnny Cash. AVATAR's Roy Hendrickson
engineered and mixed with help from Anthony Ruotolo
Kevin Killen recently mixing the new album by Five For Fighting
for Columbia records in studo B- (SSL9000). Tracks were produced
by Bill Bottrell and Gregg Wattenberg. Brian Montgomery assisted.
Producer Gregg Wattenberg recently in doing overdubs for Wind-up
Records' Big Dismal with engineer John Agnello. Ross Petersen
John Alagia (Dave Matthews, John Mayer) recently in with RCA
recording artist Rachel Yamagata cutting piano and vocal tracks
for her upcoming release in Studio C- (NEVE-VRP72). Ross Petersen
Engineer Joe Ferla recently in tracking with RCA artist Eliane
Elias. Elias co-produced along with Steve Rodby. Peter Doris
Jason Corsaro recently in mixing with new artist "Vast"
for an independent release in Studio D- (SSL9000) Peter Doris
Studios appointed Roy Hendrickson (above) as their Chief Engineer.
duties include heading up Avatars renowned maintenance
department. Roy is already a resident of Avatars recording
complex with his own mixing room, Studio R, on the 4th floor.
That is where he recently mixed Cheap Tricks soon-to-be-released
DVD, featuring live concert footage mixed in surround, on
his Yamaha DM2000 console. Roy brings over 18 years of engineering
expertise and industry experience to his new position.
gets an 88R and hosts to great session!
include: 6 channels of Pacific Microsonics Model 2, 48 console
controlled remote Neve mic pre-amps, 48 channels of Pro Tools
HD, and 48 channels of R1.
mixing projects include:
5.1 DVD-A Herbie Hancock Future 2 Future
5.1 DVD-A String Cheese Incident- full concert video
5.1 SACD remix Michael Feinstein and the Israel Philharmonic
5.1 SACD remix Rosemary Clooney's White Christmas
recording projects include:
Michael W. Smith
provides an HD System for the recording of "Looney Tunes"
& "Peter Pan"
The Scoring Crew at Warner
Bros. Eastwood Stage during dates for "Looney Tunes:
Back in Action" (left-to-right): Music Editor Ken Hall;
DMT presidentDoug Botnick; Barry Fawcett (Warner Bros. Floor
Man); Richard Wheeler(Warner Bros. Cue/Floor Man); Ryan Robinson
(Warner Bros. Scoring TechnicalSupport); Jamie Olvera (Warner
Bros. Client Services - in front); Pro Tools
Operator Tom Graham; Greg Dennen (Warner Bros. Scoring Recordist);
PeteGermansen (Warner Bros. Scoring Technical Support); Bruce
Botnick; and DMT'sBrad Cobb. Not pictured: Recordist Bob Bayless.
Photo: E. J. Annas
Doug Botnick, composer James
Newton Howard and scoring mixer Shawn Murphy pictured (R)
at Todd Scoring during soundtrack recording and mixing for
Revolution Studios' new film.
recently supplied an array of high-precision converters to
scoring engineer Shawn Murphy for use during the recording
of James Newton Howard's haunting score to "Peter Pan,"
which is scheduled for release within the US this coming Christmas.
The highly experienced music scoring mixer/producer Bruce
Botnick once again called on DMT Rentals to supply the high-precision
recording systems he needed to capture Jerry Goldsmith's innovative
musical score for Warner Bros.' new movie, "Looney Tunes:
Back in Action," directed by Joe Dante and starring Brendan
Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin,
Timothy Dalton plus Heather Locklear.
has recorded the majority of Jerry Goldsmith's scores, including
"Star Trek First Contact," "Basic Instinct,"
"The Sum Of All Fears," "L.A. Confidential"
and many more. In
addition, Botnick has just completed work on David Newman's
score for "Duplex," directed by Danny DiVito. Other
notable features include: Quincy Jones' score for "The
Color Purple" and John Williams' score for "E.T."
"Looney Tunes: Back In Action" score was recorded
with a 100-piece orchestra
plus drums, electric bass and guitar at Warner Bros. Eastwood
Stage in Burbank, California.
next project will be an orchestral score with composer David
Newman for Universal Pictures' upcoming feature, "The
Cat In The Hat," directed by Bo Welch, and starring Mike
Myers and Alec Baldwin.
on the complete range of DMT Rentals' equipment and
consulting services is available from fn 818.559.2272. fx
818.559.2329 EMAIL Doug
A Recording Sanctuary for studio cats and the stars alike
Guests are greeted by Mr
Ed at arrival to Allair
studioexpresso visited with vet engineer/studio
manager Mark Mckenna back in October who told us what's up
on the Glen Tonche hill-top studio ...great sounds coming
out of the studio include -- Norah Jones, David Bowie, just
to drop a few names! Craig Street with engineer Husky Hoskulds
had just finished mixing the Gipsey Kings and were thrilled
with the sound of the SSL 9K. The production team used the
Great Hall itself as a live reverb chamber, making use of
the room's nearly 90,000 cubic foot volume for natural reverb.
A smaller space, the nearby men's room, was also used as a
chamber; watch out - even the bathrooms can be mic'd up at
Allaire! Craig and Husky dug the Augspurger monitors, and
the dinners at sunset weren't bad either.
In the spacious control
room with the SSL 9K studioexpresso's Claris with manager
gear, great hospitality and the down-to-earth vibe of this
studio coupled with the VU's (high, about 2000 feet above
sea level, overlooking this big reservoir. You can spot a
hawk or eagles in the sky... it's truly outstanding! The on-site
accommodations are superb --chef on demand, exquisitely decorated
rooms... Good going Mark and staff! If you don't have your
directions to the place, there's always a friendly Britt fetching
you to the hilltop mansion on Glen Tonche! Put this one on
your must visit list if/when near New York. It's only an hour
away from the Big Apple near the artsy town of Woodstock.
We enjoyed visiting the nearby historical village filled with
great restaurants and galleries. Allair, Allright! Read
Cory Rooney and Engineer Peter Wade Heat Up!
The New GML 8200 Stereo Parametric EQ Hit after Hit
get any hotter than the string of artists producer Cory Rooney
and engineer Peter Wade have been recording this year. Jennifer
Lopez, Mark Anthony, Toni Braxton, Tamar Braxton (Toni's younger
sister) and Tarralyn Ramsey, winner of the "VH1 Born
to Diva" contest, have all worked with this much sought
after production team. Rooney and Wade work out at the Pool
House Studios in Long Island.
used all the GML gear for years now going back to my stint
at Sony's studios," engineer Peter Wade says. "There
is something about the 8200 - it adds the proper amount of
life to anything."
Wade goes on to say: "For recording at the Pool House,
I've been using
either the Universal Audio 2-610 tube mic pre-amp or my Vintech
(Neve 1081 module copy) which both have EQs. Sometimes I leave
them flat and
experiment with the 8200 to carve out whatever frequencies
I need to dump or
boost. I wish I had an entire desk of 8200s. It's such a great
Lopez's album, "This Is Me Then," in conjunction
with Bruce Swedien, Wade used the 8200 to track all the MIDI
instruments at the Hit factory in New York. "We were
holed up in Studio 2 for almost a year," Wade continues.
"Having the 8200 around was amazing to make synths and
drum machines sound 'bangin', and if need be to make them
more pleasing. The 8200 makes it easy to clean up grimy sounding
samples or synths. My sounds had to blend with the great live
sounds Bruce got on musicians like drummer Omar
Hakim and bass player Verdine White. Really what I like about
the 8200 is that I know what I can get out of it and I can
get what I need - FAST! There are a lot of other boxes I could
use but they're just not as fast and don't sound as good."
Massenburg, the two-rack space GML 8200 is the archetype
stereo parametric equalizer and has been an industry standard
for over twenty years. Each of the five broad and overlapping
bands offers 15dB of boost or cut and adjustable bandwidth
(Q) from 0.4 to 4. Additionally, the lowest and highest bands
can be switched to shelf modes. Known for its extraordinary
resolution, benchmark transparency, generous headroom, and
surgical precision, the GML 8200 continues to be the reference
standard for many other equalizers with none considered better.
Audio Group, founded by industry veteran Brad Lunde, has
quickly become the premier U.S. importer/distributor for high-end
audio. Transamerica AG's product lines include AEA ribbon
microphones (USA), Apex (Belgium), ATC Loudspeakers (UK),
(Germany), Drawmer (UK), Geoffrey Daking & Co. (USA),
George Massenburg Labs
(GML) (USA), Manley Labs (USA), Mission Audio (UK) Phoenix
Soundelux (USA), SoundField (UK), and Z-Systems (USA).
XXX hosts Durack in the new SSL K room
Tom Durack recently finished mixing a new album for Virgin
France artist Étienne Daho at Plus XXX in Paris, using
the facilitys new Solid State Logic 9088 XL K console.
The album, entitled Re-evolution, was produced by Daho in
conjunction with musician Bertrand Mako Blais
and will be released in November.
R-Place in Nashville
veterans David Schumaker and Crystal Taliefero have taken
their combined 30 years of experience and established a unique
approach to the studio business forming R -
Place Studios, an all inclusive production studio located
just 10 minutes from downtown Nashville. The studio, formerly
known as The Salt Mine, reopens this month with a new name,
new gear, a new design and a new attitude. "Our philosophy
is simple: the right vibe, the right gear, the right price,"
information on R-Place
studios visit them on the web at or call 615-377-0677.
Moves with Dooley
Paramount/Ameraycan Studios owners Adam Beilenson and Mike
Kerns announced the appointment of Bill Dooley as chief mastering
engineer and director of post-production services at Paramount
Recording Studios in Los Angeles.
very excited to have Bill join our team at Paramount,"
said Kerns. "Bill brings a wealth of talent, knowledge
and experience to Paramount Mastering." Dooley, who has
been involved in mastering since being the chief recording
engineer at Atlantic Recording Studios in New York City, has
also built and operated CD mastering facilities at the former
A&M Recording Studios and the former Brooklyn, now Extasy
Recording Studios. Dooley's mastering credits range from CD
remastering of Madonna's Bedtime Stories and Me'shell N'degocello's
Peace Beyond Passion, to Motley Crue's "Lewd, Crude and
Tattooed 5.1 DVD. For
more on Paramount Recording Studios, visit www.paramountrecording.com
space available for Lease
space is available adjacent to a recording studio & audio
post-production facility. 2500 sq. ft. loft with Roof deck,
skylights, hardwood floors, full kitchen, 2.5 baths, secure
parking. Blocks to Main St., Abbot Kinney, Santa Monica shops
Pacific Ocean Suitable for record label music/film
For more info: click on space for lease at Tutto
Chops offered inspiration and practical advice to musicians/songwriters
by Guitar Center's GCPro
in association with Succeeding In Music and studioexpresso,
the seminars were held at Sportsmens' Lodge on 9.15 and The
knitting Factory on 11.2. The events drew close to 300 musicians,
songwriters and audio professionals who discussed current
issues relating to the artist and offered positive suggestions
on how to seize opportunities present in today's changing
Development Room (ADR) was hosted by studioepxresso. It featured
producers Marvin Etzioni (Counting Crowes, Toad The Wet Sprocket,
Grey De Lisle), Matt Forger (Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney)and
Jeff Gross (Baywatch, MTV, Raj) who listened to songs and
offered evaluation. Read
The Acoustic Room hosted
by studioexpresso featured producers (L-R) Jeff Gross, Marvin
Etzioni and Matt Forger.
Artist Revolution Panel moderated by John Wooler, featured
producers (L-R): Bobby Borg, Scott Mathews, John Wooler, Michael
C Ross and Andre Fischer.
Yamaha's Three New VST/AU Plug-Ins
things audio" now done inside of DAWs, it seems a good
fit for Yamaha to release VST plug-in versions of their digital
signal processes previously only available in their standalone
outboard processors or digital consoles. The three new plug-in
modules are compatible for Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98 or 98SE
and Mac OS, 9.x or OSX.
First up is Pitch Fix (MSRP $299), the first plug-in implementation
of Yamahas proprietary formant pitch correction and
pitch shifting technology. Pitch correction using formant
shifting better preserves the quality of the original signal.
Vocal Rack (MSRP $199) includes 20 presets using processing
tools specifically designed for vocal
processing, including a high pass filter, compressor, harmonic
enhancer, three-band EQ, de-esser, gate and delay. Final Master
(MSRP $199) is based on Yamahas compression algorithms
including a multi-band compressor/limiter with adjustable
frequency control, three soft clipping models and pre-seek
look-ahead technology. Available in December, for more information
Yamaha Corporation of America, Pro Audio & Combo Division,
Digital Musical Instruments, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA
90622, telephone 714-522-9011, or visit www.yamaha.com,