PopMark Media

We kick off a new online series written by and for mid-level studio owners. On a monthly basis, Studio Unknown (Baltimore) owner Kevin Hill and creative director Lisa Horan will be calling around the country and bringing their own expertise to the issues that matter most to a successful studio life. Let’s face it, the middle has been hit hard in the economic downturn, but it’s also the middle that is most likely to come roaring back. In this first installment, they talk about interns.

Pop Mark Media's Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Tree Sound Studios

Sep 25, 2012 12:34 PM, By Lisa Horan

Given the society in which we live, it’s no wonder why many of us become jaded. All too often, we see the dishonest get away with crimes, the innocent suffer unnecessarily, and good people overwhelmed by bad circumstances. Sometimes, though, a story comes along that brings us back to that old adage: You reap what you sow. Atlanta’s Tree Sound Studios offers a refreshing example of that saying. ...

PopMark Media’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Indie Record Label Trades in Quick Sale for Long-Term Relationships

Jul 10, 2012 4:50 PM

Do a search for indie record labels, and you’ll find, well, a lot. We know because we’re constantly checking them out to see who’s gotten in (and out of) the game and what they’re doing. That’s how we came across Playing in Traffic Records. Not unlike others, the label offers artist development, promotion, touring, and so on, but with one unique twist that we don’t see very often: They’re not in it for the quick sale, but rather, for the long haul. Imagine that....

PopMark Media’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Bringing the Past Back to Life through Audio Restoration

May 7, 2012 8:20 PM, By Lisa Horan

This month’s “Confessions of a Small Working Studio” features studios that have built their businesses on mixing the old with the new. Specifically, they are using futuristic technology to breathe life into past recordings. Find out how audio restoration facilities are not only helping to restore vintage albums and other music-related media, but also historic audio for museums and libraries, and even forensic audio to help aid in criminal investigations....

PopMark Media’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio:
Music and Videogames—A Composer’s Paradise?

Mar 13, 2012 4:50 PM, By Lisa Horan

This month, I spoke with three of the nation’s top videogame composers: Jason Graves, Inon Zur, and Boris Salchow. Truth be told, when I prepared for my interviews, I didn’t expect my sources would have much to say about the differences between composing for games and other media. As it turns out, though, they did. And for them, the differences are precisely why they’ve carved a niche for themselves in the medium. ...

PopMark Media’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Embracing it All—An Interview with Producer, Musician Ben Rice

Feb 14, 2012 4:19 PM, By Lisa Horan

When he was just starting out, his producer at the time told him that if he really wanted to be involved in music, he’d have to embrace every part of it. “That was probably the best career advice I’ve ever gotten,” says Ben Rice, producer/engineer/songwriter and studio owner. In fact, it’s advice that has served this young up and comer extremely well....

PopMark Media’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Santisound, A Small Studio Capitalizing on a Major Trend

Jan 3, 2012 2:53 PM, By Lisa Horan

George Lucas is a master at it. Disney does it all of the time. The major studios can’t seem to get enough of it. We’re talking about adding bonus features and “never-before-seen footage” to DVDs. It’s a big-time trend, and this month we talk to boutique audio post-production studio that has created a niche for itself in mixing and editing these DVD additions for some of the biggest and well-known Hollywood productions. ...

PopMark Media’s December 2011 Confessions of a Small Working Studio
Production Music: An Interview With Studio 51’s David Trotter


Dec 5, 2011 2:51 PM, By Lisa Horan

This month, we are pleased to bring you an interview with a music industry professional who is not only widely regarded as an expert on production music, frequently traveling the country speaking at music events, but whose company has also achieved mega-success in the field. And while the unpredictable nature of the times is forcing closures and cutbacks throughout the industry, Studio 51's David Trotter has managed to expand his company into new territory. ...

PopMark Media’s November “Confessions of a Small Working Studio”: The Sound of 'Lovely Molly'

Nov 7, 2011 6:37 PM, By Lisa Horan

When filmmaker Eduardo Sanchez first met with our own Kevin Hill (sound designer/engineer and director of PopMark Media’s audio post division, Studio Unknown) to discuss the sound for his new, yet-to-be-shot (at that point) film, Lovely Molly, the original idea was to create a simplistic mix that sounded less like a typical film and more like a home video based in reality....

PopMark Media's October 2011 Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Lessons From Studio Owners

Oct 17, 2011 3:38 PM, By Lisa Horan

Every studio owner has a different story to tell and a unique journey that led him to where he is now. No matter the road that’s been traveled, each has been peppered with a variety of lessons. In this edition of “Confessions of a Small Working Studio,” the professionals we talked to share some of the most important lessons they’ve learned along the way and how they’ve applied these lessons to their careers....

PopMark Media’s September 2011 “Confessions of a Small Working Studio”: Assessing the Power of Your Image

Sep 12, 2011 6:28 PM, By Lisa Horan

They say image is everything. Understandably, image is crucial to “talent,” but does it play a part in the facilities that are behind the scenes? Is it really worthwhile for a recording facility to spend valuable time and money on branding and image development? We talked with the owners of two studios who say, like it or not, image does matter.
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August PopMark Media/Studio Unknown’s “Confessions of a Small Working Studio”—Beyond Burning Candles: The True Art to Help Singers Get the Most Out of Vocal Sessions

Aug 8, 2011 8:38 PM, By Lisa Horan

If you’ve been a producer or engineer for long enough, you’ve doubtlessly experienced your share of hellacious recording session: the ones in which the vocalist just can’t seem to get comfortable or perform to his/her capacity. Dimming the lights and lighting some candles to create a more relaxed mood just isn’t helping. Is he/she just having an “off” day or are there some adjustments that you can make to salvage the session? This month’s column features advice from two professionals whose techniques have effectively solved problems that otherwise would have derailed a session and left everyone involved unsatisfied....

PopMark Media/Studio Unknown’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Spend a Little, Save a Lot. Why It Can Pay to Hire a Studio Consultant

You’re right in the heart of a mix one afternoon when, out of the blue, Pro Tools crashes. You figure your system is just having one of those finicky moments and you re-boot. All your plug-ins load up fine, but then a minute later it happens again— and again, and again! “Just great!” you think. “I guess I’m finally going to have to bite the bullet and make yet another purchase and go get that new software.” Not so fast. Before you invest in even more technology, wouldn’t you rather learn how to make the best use of what you already have? There are professionals who can help you do just that, and their services just may wind up saving you in more ways than one. 

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PopMark Media/Studio Unknown’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Darlene Love, Worth the Wait

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if the things we wanted came easily? Of course, but we wouldn’t have good stories to tell, would we? This month, we bring you one such story. A woman with more perseverance and determination than most people half her age. A woman who has endured more than 50 years in the music industry and has overcome disappointments that assuredly would have dissuaded even those with the strongest of constitutions from continuing. But Darlene Love is anything but ordinary. Coming up on her 70th birthday, she is an example that endurance pays off, cream does rise to the top and what goes around, comes around—finally. ...

PopMark Media/Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Balancing Act: Craft Vs. Business

In life, there’s a lot to be said for generosity, right? It really does go a long way, and if you believe the adage “What goes around, comes around,” it’s especially poignant. However, in business, there’s a point at which going overboard with generosity means shooting yourself in the foot; it’s a delicate balance. For some reason, sound designers have earned a reputation for being some of the most “generous” folks around—at least in the eyes of filmmakers. But it only has to get obnoxiously out of hand if you let it. The sound designers featured in this month’s column have mastered the fine art of making amazing things happen within the confines of a budget. While they’ll admit they still went a little above and beyond, these composers were able to prevent themselves from total exploitation by effective communication and considerable imagination. 
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PopMark Media/Studio Unknown's 2011 Confessions of a Small Working Studio—An Interview with Grammy Award–Winning Mixer/Engineer/Producer Andrew Dawson

With two Grammy Awards, five nominations and credits on dozens of Number One and Platinum albums and singles, mixer/engineer/producer Andrew Dawson has accomplished more at the age of 29 than many accomplish in decades in the profession. While the story of his rise to success is part and parcel of the age-old "being at the right place at the right time" phenomenon, it's also proof that to make it in today's industry, one must possess a perfect fusion of skill, personality and desire. ...

Studio Unknown/PopMark Media’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio—A New Approach to A&R

While we continue to grimace at the headlines that insist the music industry is in the ICU and cringe at predictions that those involved will endure devastation of apocalyptic proportions, there are a few glimmers of hope. It seems that, in spite of shrinking budgets and vanishing jobs, the demand for music for TV, film and artist-centered projects is actually increasing. ...

Studio Unknown/PopMark Media's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Secrets of Audio Post Survival

There you are: relaxing in that nice, ergonomically correct chair that’s perfectly situated front and center of your console, completely protected from the harsh conditions of the world outside. When you stop and think about technical field crews—those poor camera guys and recordists who have to bear the cold, the wind, the stormy seas of demanding location shoots—you’ve got to feel bad for them. Then you fire up your system and check out the raw audio you'll have to mix, and without leaving your seat, you've been thrust right along side of them—into the inhospitable realities of the field and the sounds that accompany it....

Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Wisdom Over Pride

Small to mid-sized studios may be springing up all over the map, but that doesn't mean they can do everything the "big guys" can do. In many cases, the little guys can only take a project so far before having to collaborate with a larger commercial studio to finish it. The question is, though, what factors dictate when the owner of a small studio should work in conjunction with a commercial studio? And how can small and large studios work together effectively? Below, we share the experiences of several engineers and explore how they have achieved success by partnering with other studios and learned to recognize and avoid common and potentially dangerous pitfalls....

Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Put Up or Shut Down

It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year since we launched our “Confessions of a Small Working Studio” column for Mix, and what a whirlwind 12 months it has been! When Kevin Hill and I first discussed the idea of the column with Editorial Director Tom Kenny, we were excited about the opportunity to talk with studio owners around the country, take a look behind the scenes and share their creative antidotes to tough economic times....

Confessions of a Small Working Studio—21st Century Sound-for-Picture

The term sound-for-picture traditionally has been linked to the music and sound that accompanies major motion pictures, but we’ve entered into a new era. Thanks to technology, the Internet, and new marketing methods, sound for picture now relates to multiple types of projects, which offers some much-needed good news for audio post and sound professionals....

Confessions of a Small Working Studio—The New Role of Remote Recording Professionals


Think back to your favorite live album. You know, the one that was recorded a few decades ago but just never seems dated. There's something really special about the way it makes you feel, right? It transports you to another place for a few minutes and gives off that "you're right there" kind of vibe. ...

Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—What Artists Are Really Looking for In a Studio

Each month, we talk to professionals who give us an insider’s look at studio life. This month, we decided to turn the tables a bit and talk to the artists who keep studio owners in business. We wanted to find out what makes them tick, how they go about choosing a studio, what qualities they really look for,and what impresses them enough to open their wallets to record there. ...

Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Designing Studios to Meet Multiple Functions

It doesn't seem that long ago that offering CD duplication—in addition to recording—was a prime example of a diversified service. Today, it's a completely different story. With technology as accessible as it is, many studios are going way outside the box and developing much more intricate add-on niches. ...

Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Staying Small, Thinking Big

Let’s get honest. Many of us have envisioned ourselves at the helm of our own mega-studio. Ten years ago, that dream may have made sense, but considering current economic and industry trends, smaller studios have not only become a more viable option, but, in many cases, a smarter one. ...

Studio Unknown’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio—The Internet: The Birth of a New Focus?

It’s impossible not to notice the upsurge in online video consumption. With YouTube claiming nearly 90 percent of unique views, according to Nielsen Online, the time that Americans are spending on video sites has escalated by more than 300 percent since 2003. But what does this mean for audio professionals?...

Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Cracking the Code: Breaking Into Game Sound

So you’ve been thinking about trying your hand at the gaming industry, but is it a realistic goal for a studio like yours? The optimistic answer is, anything is possible. However, we’re not going to mislead you into thinking it’s going to be easy or that it’s going to happen overnight. In fact, “If you’re trying to transition into the gaming industry, you should not give up your day job,” cautions Paul Ruskay...

Studio Unknown’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Should Your Studio Go Mobile?

With all the talk about diversification this year, it would seem like venturing into the parallel world of remote recording would be a logical move for studio owners, right? The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple yes or no. ...

Studio Unknown’s Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Studio Owners Venture Into Live Venues

The studio is booked 20 hours per day, seven days a week with billable hours. You’ve got staff a-plenty for round-the-clock coverage. Artist after artist and band after band are knocking on your door—anxious, willing and ready to pay your regular hourly rate to record and mix their tracks. Your feet are up. The phone is ringing. The dollars are flowing in. ...

Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—The Hidden Value of Interns

We kick off a new online series written by and for mid-level studio owners. On a monthly basis, Studio Unknown (Baltimore) owner Kevin Hill and creative director Lisa Horan will be calling around the country and bringing their own expertise to the issues that matter most to a successful studio life. ...

Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Specialized Mastering Work Gains Popularity

At one point or another in our careers, we’ve all been reminded to develop and perfect our specialty—that one specific area within our field that we do better than anything else. But just how “specialized” are we talking? ...

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