Over in California, Music & Arts Production Studio (MAPS) is not only smashing it as a great sounding studio with an inviting atmosphere, but for the past few years, owner Mike Willson has also been developing a business model to allow freelance producers/engineers autonomous access whenever they like – effectively using the studio as their own space.
After induction – which includes a thorough training session on their ASP4816 mixing desk – MAPS clients book themselves a time slot online. They get to use the quality, gear-packed MAPS studio at a time that suits them and – this is the good bit – without the additional cost of multiple full-time staff members.
Audient was keen to find out more, so we asked Mike (pictured below) to tell us about the setup at MAPS and how it all works…
Music & Arts Production Studio (MAPS) is located in Fullerton, CA on Fender Ave. (Yes, that Fender.) Our commercial building houses two studio spaces with a spacious lounge that has accidentally become a very useful chamber. Almost all of the gear came from my personal collection that I’ve been putting together over the past 10 years. I try my best to fill the space with pieces of gear that you wouldn’t find in every studio.
“everything else falls into place once they feel good on the Audient”
For the past few years, we have been helping freelance producers and engineers develop their business while using our studio as their home base.
So freelancing producers/engineers can book time slots for the studio without any staff needing to be there, is that right?
Yes! All of our clients are freelancers that we’ve developed close relationships with and have allowed access to MAPS through our automated booking system and facility access. More or less, they don’t even need to talk to us while booking a session. They just hop on our Producer Dashboard, book the session and let themselves in.
How have they found using the Audient ASP4816 mixing desk?
A large part of bringing new people on board is a thorough training on the console. We do have a Studio B that is set up for ‘in the box’ production, but I focus on making everybody comfortable on the console, because everything else falls into place once they feel good on the Audient.
“We are constantly getting great feedback about how much our producers love working on the console.”
Most people make music nowadays solely with computers. Believe or not, most of our new clients have never worked on a console before. [What??!?! ~ Audient]
Luckily, the Audient is so easy to navigate and I always feel confident that the console will add to their workflow rather than distract from it. We are constantly getting great feedback about how much our producers love working on the console.
When did you get your Audient console?
We got our ASP4816 in May of 2017 and have been so happy with it! We were originally looking at a smaller format SSL console, but couldn’t justify the cost with the lack of features built in.
A friend of mine coincidentally worked on an ASP4816 after I told him I was console shopping, and convinced me that the Audient was what I needed. He’s also the biggest gear hound that I know and actually found a used ASP4816 out in Las Vegas, so I quickly drove out to pick it up.
Great advice. What do you love about your desk?
Honestly, my favourite thing about the Audient console is that it doesn’t break down. Ever.
I’ve worked in so many beautiful studios that have legendary consoles, but as soon as you look at CH1 wrong, it goes down. Considering we’re providing a space for freelancers to elevate their craft, I could never have a console that needs to be repaired weekly. The Audient is so solid and always performs so well at every session.
“my favourite thing about the Audient console is that it doesn’t break down. Ever.”
The preamps are fantastic and it feels good to have console preamps that people aren’t afraid to use. During mix, I love all of the routing options that help me get a mix to feel good so much quicker than when I’m working in the box.
All around, the console just makes me happy. That’s why we all make music right? We like to be happy.
Do you get to spend a lot of time engineering there as well?
Fortunately, I am still working quite a lot as an engineer/producer. I think it’s really important that I’m still working with the gear and making sure that we’re still offering a great space for our clients.
Tell us about those clients. Who have you had through your doors over the years?
We mostly cater to our local community. Every once in a while, we will have some legends come through, but most of our clients are modest, hard working people 🙂
How has the pandemic impacted things for MAPS?
Well! It has been interesting for sure. I actually was finishing a two week stint in the studio when we got the news that the country was shutting down. Like most people, we didn’t think it would be long and decided to lock up and wait a couple weeks for things to smooth out.
“it feels good to have console preamps that people aren’t afraid to use”
Clearly that did not happen. We made the difficult decision to follow all local guidance and close our doors for two months. It was really tough to receive emails from our producers begging to get in for a quick session. However, we could never prioritize somebody’s music over their health. No matter how you spin it, no recording session is worth risking somebody’s life.
We watched the case numbers closely and were able to open back up safely in accordance to our local COVID protocol. All of our clients have been very supportive through these crazy times and we’re still cranking out some records!
How do you see the future of MAPS?
We are very excited to keep bringing on more freelancers and expand that model with other studios. Our team has put a lot of work into building a system to allow people autonomous access to our studio and would love to work with other studio owners to implement this idea at their spaces.
“An empty studio doesn’t do the world any good”
I really feel that studios are sacred places and need to be used 24/7. An empty studio doesn’t do the world any good. Historically, younger engineers believe that it is impossible to record in a professional studio. We’re hoping to change that.
It’s an inspired idea, Mike – Audient wishes you every success. And long may your ASP4816 serve you to that end!