Recording studio owner's view - Jerry Boys
Jerry Boys is co-owner of Livingston Studio, a twin studio complex with SSL 48 track and Amek 24 track rooms, and is a widely respected engineer himself with credits including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Kate Bush and more recently Everything But The Girl, Lisa Stansfield and REM.
Choice of studio
"One factor is the type of record they are making. Is it a largely MIDI based record or is it a 'musician' based record? In the latter case they would need a decent recording room with proper acoustics and a good selection of microphones. For the former case they might need other technological type facilities. Most of the upmarket studios would try and cover both areas but their main rooms would be leaning towards 'musician' recording. Like ourselves they would all provide a basic computer, software, some sort of sync interface and a few sound modules. Some studios have a separate MIDI room as part of their facility."
"In this day and age we try and be competitive. We are not among the cheapest but we offer excellent value for money. We operate in the lower third of the top echelon of studios, price wise. We range between £475 (plus VAT etc) per day in our smaller room and £650 in our bigger room."
"Our house engineers are important, and have become a more important feature in recent years. In the 80s it became the fashion not to use house engineers, but it has sort of come back in fashion. I guess it is because they are often cheaper, and they are often better because they know the studio and how it works, and how it sometimes doesn't work!"
"The console would be a major factor in a producer's choice, whether he wants SSL or Neve, or something cheaper or different. We have an Amek room and people will choose that if they perhaps don't want to go SSL, but also if they are on a relatively tight budget. Most of the major manufacturers' consoles are OK in terms of sound these days. It's really down to ease of operation and whether they have the facilities you want. The top line consoles like Neve and SSL have sounds of their own, and they have automation systems that people are familiar with."
"We find geography is important. People come to us because we are a long way from the record companies! (Livingston is in Wood Green, London, whereas most of the record companies are in the West End) They like to feel they are locked away a bit, from involvement with the A&R department shall we say. On other occasions where the A&R people are having a strong input, we may lose the gig because we are not close to the record company."
"I think the most difficult thing to quantify would be what we call vibe. I think that's the one thing where you can as a studio create your own unique space in the world. Most studios these days are built by competent acousticians and they have equipment from the same manufacturers. There is not a lot of difference apart from the mixing console and the colour scheme. What you can influence, and where you can carve out a particular character, is the vibe. We try to be very informal and yet efficient at the same time."
"We provide private lounges for both studios. There's a general entertainments area upstairs with a pool table, music, TV, satellite and all that sort of thing. If you have got a band in, a lot of people want to be able to sit somewhere outside of the control room. Wood Green is well endowed with all sorts of restaurants and takeaways: Chinese, Malayan, Greek, Pizza Hut, MacDonalds. There are plenty within ten minutes walk, and many within half that distance. We provide a kitchen here and some people cook for themselves."
"Maintenance is important in terms of keeping people happy while they are with you, and you hope then for return work. It is an area that is quite expensive and you have to be careful that you provide a proper level without spending too much money. We have a guy who comes in three times a week, and then he's on call the rest of the time. Then there's normally myself or another experienced engineer on site. A lot of faults are not really faults, they are operator errors. Most things in fact get sorted out by someone who's already here. On the odd occasion when we do get a major breakdown the maintenance engineer can be here within half an hour."