There comes a time where a sound engineer simply knows, deep down, that working out of a home-studio is simply not going to cut it. One can only tolerate so many clients sitting on his bed while the mix is being done or the master being burnt. The decision was made to bite the bullet and establish a studio.
There are a great deal of recording studios in New York City where facility, amenity, and talent are at the top of the top. I did not dream to compete with big studios; I wanted to, instead, offer a studio environment where client-service comes first. Being a people person, I set out to create a space where clients are treated as friends. The final product ends up so much better if the vibe in the studio is amazing. After all, making music is an incredible feat. All clients, no matter how big or small, are treated equally and provided with our top service. Bumping booked sessions for bigger and more famous clients does not exist in my book. Armed with my client-service-based motto, came Zampol Productions.
After a few months of looking and brainstorming, I found a room for rent at Union Square – part of a larger facility with a live room and two control rooms. It was a beautiful space but one that unfortunately went under amongst the recent downshift in the music industry. Three years later I was forced to relocate and regroup.
Zampol Productions is a mixing and mastering facility now located in lower Manhattan. The Zampol team consists of multi-platinum Grammy-award-nominated/winning engineers, producers, and composers. I take on the bulk of the mastering projects while others share the load of recording, mixing, producing, and writing original compositions. As an engineer and studio owner, I am now in a position to facilitate the creative aspect of music making as well as overseeing the business side. I have been fortunate in that the studio grows steadily each year. However, growth comes at a great price. The downside of studio ownership lies, precisely, in owning a studio. I struggle with the business aspect the most. As a studio owner, I must fiddle with budgets and expenses, where as a freelance engineer, I get to show up to the session, have a blast during the session, and go home worry-free at the end of the day. It is very difficult for me to separate the business aspects with the art of engineering. I often take on projects for the simple fact of wanting to be part of something great and creative, instead of asking about budget and crunching the numbers. There is an inevitable balance that must be achieved for engineer/studio-owners.
What I have learned (the hard way) is that studio ownership comes with an overwhelming amount of clerical work: bookings, emails, invoices, budget proposals, and accounting just to name a few. I’ve also come to realize that one cannot do it all alone. You need a strong team if you want pay the bills, make great music, and create an atmosphere where clients come first. Being a control freak, it is very hard to let things go but I am slowly learning. In time, I hope to arrive at a place where I will only supervise the ‘business stuff’ and devote more time to what I really love, engineering.
Oscar Zambrano graduated in 2003 and is the chief engineer / partner at Zampol Productions. He is reachable at email@example.com, www.zampolproductions.com, 212-966-3435. You can follow him on twitter at: @oscarzampol , and @zampol_prod.