On the Cover: Paramount Recording Studios, Los Angeles

Dec 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Bud Scoppa

Polls


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From left: Producer/mixer Neal Avron (Linkin Park, Fallout Boy, Sara Bareilles, Blink-182) in Paramount Studio A with chief engineer Tom Doty and studio manager Megan Milius

From left: Producer/mixer Neal Avron (Linkin Park, Fallout Boy, Sara Bareilles, Blink-182) in Paramount Studio A with chief engineer Tom Doty and studio manager Megan Milius

These physical changes represent the duo’s proactive responses to a dramatically changed music business—a new paradigm, as they put it. “The control of the budgets is now largely in the hands of the music producers, not the labels,” Beilenson points out. “These are not the traditional producers we saw during the rock era; they’re writing the music and then producing the acts. J.R. Rotem, The Stereotypes and Harvey Mason Jr. are perfect examples. They want their spaces to look like modern, high-end boutique hotels, and that’s what we’ve aimed for. We believe the collaboration between our chief tech, Tom Doty, and Jack Viera of Pirate Acoustics succeeded in melding style, function and design for the modern recording era.”

Beilenson is quick to point out that the 20 small rooms are production studios. “We’ve made large investments in these rooms with the long-term outlook in mind. They’ve got vocal booths, they have professionally built acoustic treatments on walls and ceilings, we installed double sound doors, and because the spaces are pre-wired, they can plug right in. That’s the nature of our business today.”

Paramount’s winning formula is simple but inclusive: provide state-of-the-art spaces at competitive prices for all manner of clients, from budget-conscious producers and musicians who book smaller rooms in 4-hour-minimum increments to movers and shakers. Of the latter group, Dr. Dre has had a lockout on both rooms at Encore for two years running; Mason Jr. is Track Record’s long-term tenant; and Rotem (Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, Sean Kingston, Beluga Heights) is camped out in Wilder Brothers Studio A, while The Stereotypes production team works continuously in B.

Traditional music-biz clients haven’t completely disappeared, however. Sony/ATV Music Publishing leases a second-floor alcove above Paramount’s back patio that’s been dubbed the Tree House; the previous tenant was Atlantic Records. And in October, new Epic Records head L.A. Reid booked three of Paramount’s tracking rooms and four production studios for a 5-day, around-the-clock writing camp, in 8-hour shifts, with such heavies as Polow Da Don and Tricky Stewart participating. “It was like back to the Brill Building,” says Beilenson. “I’m told it was incredibly productive. And Polow hasn’t left—he fell in love with C.”

Beilenson and Kerns are D.I.Y. to the max, and that willingness to get their hands dirty, they believe, is the key to their ongoing success. “We’re extremely hands-on,” says Kerns. “You’re not dealing with a studio manager, you’re dealing directly with us. We’re trying to be very agile in every aspect of the business. We look at everything, we’re here every day, we see all our clients every day and they enjoy it. Our big thing is, we always answer the phone, 24 hours a day. We’re small-business owners; we don’t have a rich dad or mom. Every day it’s a few bucks—if we can make it happen, let’s do it.”

“This business is based on immediacy,” Beilenson adds. “A lot of bookings are last-minute, and as a result, the more available the decision-makers are, the better you’re going to do. We’re hard workers; we have been for 26 years. We work seven days a week. If there’s a slogan to describe us, it’s this: We do whatever we have to do to be able to say yes to everybody.”

“We’ll eat a bug!” Kerns interjects with a laugh, referencing the iconic line of SoCal used-car dealer Cal Worthington in his local TV spots.

“Not to sound boastful, but we have an insane number of clients, a critical mass, just due to the volume that we’ve done for 26 years,” Beilenson continues. “We’re talking about 31 rooms with a client or a tenant in it every single day. That’s a huge number of people, and in a relatively small business that’s a lot of market share.”

So what’s next for Paramount?

“We want to continue our expansion,” says Beilenson. “We have our eyes on other facilities. At this stage, we’re well positioned to acquire places and immediately turn them into profitable situations because our overhead is going to be tiny relative to anybody else. So we’ll always be looking for those kinds of situations. We’re ready to pounce. Whatever it takes.”






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