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Q&A: Studio City Sound switches up jam sessions for live-streaming sermons amid COVID-19

When your recording studio has accommodated the likes of Rod Stewart, Maroon Five and Kelly Clarkson, to Halsey, No Doubt and The Strokes, you must be doing something right.

That’s clearly been the case for Studio City Sound, a Studio City business owned and operated by Grammy award-winning mixer Tom Weir. With three individual recording studios and an array of mixing boards, compressors, echo units and other gear valued at around $1 million, this operation can accommodate everything from folk, blues and gospel music, to pop, heavy metal and grunge.

The 3,500-square-foot studio was established in March of 2002, but its pedigree runs deeper. The facility is housed at the site of the former Fidelity Studios, which hosted legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Billy Joel and the Steve Miller Band.

When the pandemic hit, the company’s three studios closed, Weir said, putting a quick end to sessions booked 25 to 40 hours a day by clients from Interscope Records, Capitol Records and Roc Nation.

“We were closed for about three months during the pandemic, although prior to that we had been open seven days a week since March 2002,” he said.

Weir said he filled in the gap with some online mixing, radio shows and drum sessions. The studios opened up to reduced capacity and hours at the end of June.

We caught up with Weir to see how things have changed at Studio City Sound.



Q: The studio has accommodated live streaming since 2010, but now you’re living streaming much more amid the health crisis. What kinds of clients are using the studio to live stream, and has that helped keep things afloat at Studio City Sound?

A: Since April, we’ve been live-streaming the Sunday masses for Saint Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood, and we also broadcasted the High Holy Day services at The Pico Union Project. We’ve used our setup to live stream a concert for the Epilepsy Foundation of America, featuring members of Devo, and we did a four-artist showcase with HeadCount and BMI.

We’ve done it all, from seven-member band live streaming and video production for video podcasts and learning apps, to live streaming socially distant record-release parties, virtual graduation ceremonies and sports award shows for Saint Charles School.

Q: Can you explain how live streaming works?

A: Depending on how many people are in the group, each member performs in one of our studios, control rooms or lounges. We have a camera in each room, along with a video monitor, so the artist can see everyone participating in the performance and can hear them on headphones. Each person has their own monitor mixer.

The camera outputs are sent to our video switcher in the video control room along with the audio mix of the complete show from the Studio A control room. Our director can elect what shots go out for broadcast. The switched video and audio mix are sent to our streaming devices along with streaming software we send to the different video platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Stageit ) for broadcast.

Q: How many rooms are being utilized for live-streaming events?

A: We have up to eight separate rooms that can be used for our live-streaming events.

Q: What kinds of safety precautions are in place for musicians who want to record or live stream at the studio?

A: We sanitize the studios, surfaces and restrooms consistently. We have all members fill out a COVID form and we require everyone to wear masks. We check temperatures when they arrive and also get their contact info. We don’t allow any gathering in the common areas and ask that the members meet or talk outside, if needed. We ask artists to bring their own headphones and some even bring their own microphones.

Q: When you look at the recording industry as a whole, how big a hit do you feel it has taken in grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: I think COVID-19 has been a huge hit on the recording industry. Before the pandemic, over 60% of our business was from major labels, and now it’s about 10%. Our live streaming was 5% pre-COVID and now it’s over 50% of our business because artists and bands can’t safely perform live right now. The pandemic has been a disaster for the music business, live venues, artists and all the touring support.

Tom Weir

  • Title:  Owner
  • Organization: Studio City Sound
  • Residence: North Hollywood
  • Education:  Studied Drums with Joe Porcaro and took classes at Los Angeles Pierce College and Los Angeles Valley College.
  • Previous jobs:  Drummer in our family band “The Weirz,” and the Michael Damian Band. I have been a full-time engineer and producer since 1983.

Five things to know

1. Won a Grammy for mixing Toots and the Maytals’ album “True Love,” which was awarded the best reggae album of 2004

2. Produced, recorded and mixed brother Michael Damian’s number one hit “Rock On” in his family garage in Calabasas

3. Played the drums in my family band, The Weirz and produced music videos for the band

4. Dad bought me a 2-track, reel-to-reel Sony TC 630 tape recorder in 8th grade and that’s when I started recording

5.  Co-wrote some songs and produced, recorded and mixed music for the 80s classic movie, “Teen Witch.”

Source: Orange County Register

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