by Christopher Walsh.
New York, NY (November 10, 2008)–Veteran engineer Scott Hull has acquired the assets of mastering studio Masterdisk Inc. Rights to the name Masterdisk is included in the acquisition, as are the five studios and equipment located at 545 West 45th Street in Manhattan.
Hull began as an intern at Masterdisk in 1983; he was hired in 1984 and was the assistant to Bob Ludwig, now of Gateway Mastering in Portland, ME. Hull later became Masterdisk’s chief engineer and remained there through 1999, when he founded Scott Hull Mastering. The latter facility, at 321 West 44th Street, will remain in operation as part of Masterdisk. It includes Hull’s mastering studio, a writing/production suite and a recording/mix studio.
“My business, Scott Hull Mastering, was doing pretty well and attracting some new engineers,” Hull says. “I was starting to talk to other engineers but realized I didn’t have any other place to put anybody. Somewhat simultaneously, I was hearing about the sort of negative direction Masterdisk had been going–downsizing, a few people had left, they were shorter of staff than they had been before. That led to discussions with the owner about taking it over. I knew a lot about the place and a lot about the people, and figured with a little bit of time, they’d trust me to take the company in a positive direction.”
Most of Masterdisk’s rooms have been renovated, says Hull, and new engineers brought on staff. “At this point, I’m still building the team with the right people,” he explains. “What was really good and successful about Scott Hull Mastering was that we didn’t have a lot of people, but everyone was pulling in the same direction. I was supportive of the younger engineers getting their work in and getting time in the studios, and they were very supportive in putting in extra hours and getting important projects done. It felt like it’s supposed to be; it felt good.”
Hull states that his goal is “an enthusiastic re-dedication to the ‘excellent customer service, spread around multiple rooms’ that characterized Masterdisk in the 1970s and 80s. “What I really don’t want it to feel like is a big factory. What I do want it to feel like is a bunch of small businesses that have come under one roof to be more profitable. I want to continue the very direct customer-service approach that was very positive back in the ’70s and ’80s–the ’80s especially, when I knew Masterdisk. I think it’s very important now to set ourselves apart as a group of very experienced engineers. That’s what I’m aiming to go forward with.” A new website will be launched in the coming weeks, he adds.
Hull also notes the prevalence of independent projects brought to Masterdisk; staff engineer Andy VanDette was a panelist at the Understanding Mastering during last months’ CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival in New York. “It’s huge,” Hull says of the of independent productions’ representation in Masterdisk’s clientele. “We’re keeping a keen eye on that, because you can add a lot of bang for the buck to an independent production, as long as we are willing to educate, talk and walk each one of the projects through the process. There are a lot of relative newbies that have some level of knowledge–and some level of disaster waiting to happen! [But] the quality of the music and the variety of the music is head and shoulders above what you’d get if you were a pigeonholed engineer working for a small group of labels.”
In addition to Hull and VanDette, Masterdisk engineers now include Dave McNair, Tony Dawsey, Randy Merrill, Roger Lian, Richard Morriss, Alex DeTurk, Howie Weinberg and Matt Agoglia. The production staff is comprised of Danielle Crisafulli, Suzie Ocal, Edgar Irizarry and Vera Beren.
Hull has also announced that Masterdisk is expanding awareness of the Masterdisk brand in Europe. To that end, Stefan Heger, based in Germany, now represents the company in Europe.