By Christopher Walsh
Shokan, NY (March 21, 2008)--Allaire Studios, a two-room "destination" facility situated in a 1920s-era mansion in New York's rural Catskill Mountains region, has dismissed the staff and ceased music production projects.
Studio manager Mark McKenna, chief technical engineer Ken McKim, assistant engineer Stephanie DuFresne, office manager Susan Perrin and a part-time assistant engineer have all left the studio, according to McKenna. Presently, property manager Colby Reynolds is Allaire Studios' sole remaining staffer.
In the fall of 2007, Allaire installed the famed Neve Air Montserrat console, one of only three produced and the only one in the U.S., to replace the SSL 9000 originally housed in the studio's Great Hall. That console and Allaire's additional equipment, which includes a Neve 8068 in the second studio, remains onsite.
"The backbone of the studio, which is myself, Ken McKim, the two assistant engineers and the office manager, were let go," McKenna tells Pro Sound News.
"We had a bad winter," McKenna explains. "We didn't have a productive winter, and Randall [Wallace, owner] basically just didn't want to fund the studio any further, to see us through to where the bookings picked up again. Basically, we ran out of time and money. We did have bookings on the calendar for spring--big projects--which had to be let go.
Presently, Allaire is booked for a number of upcoming photo shoots, according to a person who answered a call to the studio. Wallace, who was not available at press time, is a professional photographer.
Although budgets have fallen sharply as the music industry consolidates amid a long and steep decline in sales, McKenna feels another evolution in the industry is more to blame for Allaire's slow winter. "That doesn't help," he allows, but "I think it's less attributable to the budgets than to [Allaire's] remoteness. It's really hard to get producers, in this day and age, to leave their homes, and increasingly, their home studios. So many producers are based out of either Los Angeles, Nashville, New York or London, [and] to get them to commit to going to a remote location for two weeks, or more, is difficult. I think that might have had more to do with our problems that with the actual budgets. We were very reasonably priced--I don't think our pricing was a problem.
In its short history--the studio opened in 2001--Allaire attracted a large number of high-profile artists and projects. David Bowie, Tim McGraw, Norah Jones, Rob Thomas, Joan Baez, Ryan Adams, Roseanne Cash, Gipsy Kings, Guster and Cassandra Wilson are among the artists who have recorded at Allaire, along with producers including Tony Visconti, John Leventhal, Craig Street, David Kahne, Matt Serletic, Steve Lillywhite and the late Arif Mardin. Last summer, the Black Crowes recorded their first new studio album in seven years, Warpaint, at Allaire with producer Paul Stacey.