Exclusive Interview with Claris Sayadian-Dodge on Studio
& Producer Management.
Interview by: Chris Hambly, director of AudioCourses.com
With more than
twenty years of studio management, sales and public relations experience,
Claris has been active in the Los Angeles music industry since 1986.
She has a degree in business and has held positions at various music/media
entertainment companies including: Frank Dileo Management, Management
III, PMK, Rogers and Cowan Public Relations, Prairie Sun Recording,
Ocean Way Studios (where she managed the facility for over a decade),
studio bau:ton & TEC:ton engineering.
clients have included: Dr. Dre, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones,
REM, Counting Crows, Bonnie Raitt, Quincy Jones, Luis Miguel, Ringo
Starr, Alejandro Sanz, Goo Goo Dolls to name a few.
AC: What is
CSD: The art
of keeping clients, employees and machines working in harmony while
making money! How's that for a high wire act?!
The term traffic
manager commonly used, refers to what a studio manager deals
with on a daily basis
managing situations from why a client
is unhappy about their bill to why an engineer considers the delay
in his session to be a downtime to getting chicken soup for Bob
Dylan at 3am! Plus every person and object that comes in and out
of your recording studio, need to be accounted for and treated with
utmost respect. A good manager has a team that understands this
and can act accordingly 24 hours/day!
One day you're
dealing with a new artist who's working on his/her 1st studio record
and another day you're trying to keep Mick Jagger's 5-star hotel
expectations satisfied! Then there's your producers' prized strato
stored at your facility or master tapes (worth hundreds of thousands
of dollars) that can't be replaced!
Did I say be
That means you've
got to run a tight ship - manage your overhead, have policies and
stick to them and keep the place booked solid to break even; and
if you still want to be profitable...diversify!
That just about
sums it up! It's fun but hard work.
facinating Claris, and a really great opening pitch for us to dive
AC: What are
the key elements that differentiate Studio Management from say artist
management, are there any differences at all?
CSD: I see more
similarities than differences. Facilities and artists have the same
basic needs -- sales, marketing and PR. Knowing how to negotiate
and deal with creative people who work long hours helps. You need
to know the product or person you're marketing - know the strengths
and weaknesses and match them to the right situation. That way everyone
wins. You need to know about managing a budget and pricing your
services. I'm currently managing producers/mixers and songwriters.
They are usually solo operators and somewhat established. Like studios,
we're interested in building a good reputation and getting returned
clientele. Finally, it helps to remember that you need to respect
the human element. We all have bad days and have to deal with life!
So, unlike machines, people are allowed down time!
AC: Yes Claris
this topic of people skills really does seem to crop a lot in management
and particularly in many spheres of the music business.
AC: What can
you tell us about the music industry in general, what are your impressions?
CSD: I think
music will always be made and every generation will have its musical
revolution and heroes. The business and distribution models are
dated for the technology that's available to us. And, it's up to
the big companies to figure it out and adapt. I'm confident the
downloading issues will get resolved. I dont believe in penalizing
people for taking whats been given to them! Someone said it
would be kind of like lowering the price of stamps to encourage
people to send more letters.
AC: Do you have
experience with marketing in the music business? If so what experience?
CSD: Over 20
years of experience in marketing facilities (Prairie Sun Studios,
Ocean Way and Record One Studios, Studio bau:ton and Tech:ton engineering)
AC: You have
an impressive client list can you tell us how you managed to accumulate
such a list?
managed to acquire an impressive client list one client at a time
by working with reputable people and companies, being in the right
place at the right time and finally, creating opportunities for
myself. Most of the best jobs or clients Ive had, I have gone
after them. I was a bookkeeper at Ocean Way when the manager left.
I ran after the owner in the hallway when I saw the position was
open and convinced him that I could do a good job and he should
at least try me temporarily. Twelve years later I must have convinced
him! When I decided to go on my own, I called a handful of people
who I had a lot of respect for. Most of them became my clients.
within the music industry, is perceived by many, as being a glamorous
occupation, would you say this to a fair presumption?
CSD: Well, its
probably more glamorous than most jobs. But, the misperception is
bigger! In the beginning youve got to pay your dues and in
order to do well youve have to be passionate about what you
do and believe in yourself in order to make it. Later, youve
got to learn to adapt to change and reinvent yourself to stay on
top of your game. So, in that respect its not glamorous at
all. But, since youre counting your lucky starts every day
that youre doing what you love, thats glamorous to me!
AC: You have
a business degree, has this educational experience helped you in
your professional life? Either directly or in-directly, if so why?
CSD: When I
graduated from University with a business degree mid 80s,
I turned down a nice corporate salary a family member had arranged
and took a job at $50/week at a recording studio. I welcomed the
offer because I wanted to learn about the business and I believed
in my ability to increase that income and fortunately I did! I still
turn down offers that are financially attractive short-term. Ive
learned to think long-term and to do what matches my personality
and skills. I love education because it makes you a more interesting
well-rounded person. And, people who are multi-dimensional do well
in music business. Lets just say that the degree may have
gotten me through more doors but it didnt keep me there!
AC: Tell us
about Studio Expresso
was launched in 2000 to make world-class production resources accessible
to a growing market of independent artists. Our community of producers,
songwriters, musicians and recording studios are past and present
hit makers and bring a wealth of experience to any record. Since
most agree that artist development is lacking in lot of record companies,
we felt that this community could be valuable to both artists and
we 1st launched SE it was introduced as a search engine for studio
time! We still do studio, producer/engineer referrals. And this
is a totally free service to the artist. Again, its to help
artists find a team to develop their work to a level where they
can sell records on their own or get picked up by a label that wants
to buy the masters.
Claris, what would be your advice for someone wanting to follow
in your footsteps? How does someone become you?
your heart, learn from good people and bring integrity and hard
work to the table. And always love what you do and help people around
AC: Claris it
has been a pleasure thank a great deal, our readers will benefit
no end and your summarising statement says it all for me, always
love what you do and help people around you. Thank you.
Artists' Gateway To Production Services - Come Together!