Wisseloord Studios

Oct 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Tom Kenny

CLASSIC FACILITY RETOOLS FOR THE NEW MUSIC BUSINESS

Polls


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The tracking room in Studio 2, which was slightly modified with the Blue Wave on the side wall.

The tracking room in Studio 2, which was slightly modified with the Blue Wave on the side wall.

Reboot, reinvention, makeover, rejuvenation, 2.0. These are words that get tossed around so much these days that it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of real transformation, the kind that involves a company embracing its heritage and simultaneously reimagining its future, and then really making the change. Two years ago at the San Francisco AES, the principals of Wisseloord Studios, the world-renowned facility in the Netherlands, announced the beginning of their transformation. This month we’re back in San Francisco for AES, and the new Wisseloord Studios is up and running and booking time; that’s Studio 2 on our cover.

Ronald Prent

Ronald Prent

Considering the challenges facing today’s commercial studio market, the Wisseloord story seems rather improbable. The brief version: Opens in 1979, owned by Polydor/Polygram; creates a legacy and mystique with clients like the Rolling Stones, Elton John, the Scorpions, U2 and hundreds of others; changes ownership a few times over the ensuing decades, fails to maintain equipment, loses some key people, loses its luster; enters first stage of bankruptcy in 2009, with rumors of pending equipment liquidation. For all practical purposes, that should have been the end of the story. This was 2009, after all.

Darcy Proper

Darcy Proper

At the time, Ronald Prent, who began as an assistant at Wisseloord in 1981, and Darcy Proper were lead mixer and mastering engineer, respectively, at Galaxy Studios in Belgium. For a few years, Prent had been conceptualizing a new studio business model. Not drastically new, but built for the new music industry and involving everything from artist management to media delivery, picture and sound. It had to be a full-service, track-to-distribution facility, and it had to involve business development, both for emerging artists and emerging technologies/formats. It had to offer the highest-quality equipment, and it had to be a place where people want to be creative.

Paul Reynolds

Paul Reynolds

Then, he and Proper hooked up with Paul Reynolds, a man with a creative mind, solid business sense, a nose for financing, and a track record for developing cutting-edge formats and facilities. Within a year, the three partners had their plan and the financial backing, and soon after, Prent contacted Jochen Veith, a Munich-based designer/acoustician whose work he had admired throughout Europe.






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