By Frank Wells.
Nashville, TN (May 28, 2010)--From the 1980s through the early part of the new century, Masterfonics Studios in Nashville, under proprietor and Chief Mastering Engineer, Glenn Meadows, bore a name synonymous with cutting edge technology and audio excellence. While Meadows spent a number of years plying his craft at a private label, on May 27th, Meadows and Mayfield Mastering announced that “Glenn is back” and ready to take on new mastering assignments.
Meadows’ previous employer, Indieblu Music Holdings LLC, where he served as both mastering engineer and IT manager, was recently purchased and the new owners will not be working catalog as had IndieBlu. “I could have found a position in IT,” comments Meadows, “but preferred to look for work in music, where my passions lie.” Conversations with various Nashville area facilities resulted in a dialogue with mastering engineer John Mayfield, a kindred spirit with an equal passion for music and quality audio. Mayfield Mastering had an opening in a room previously leased by a third party for video production, which will be reconfigured for Meadows, equipment including a SADiE 6 system and PMC AML1 monitors that Meadows will bring with him to the Berry Hill facility.
The label-driven business model has changed over the past decade, and while Meadows welcomes Nashville’s business, he adds, “In these days of YouSendIt and other internet delivery options, the market for mastering business is global. The days have passed of clients flying or driving in for three-day mastering sessions. Now files can be shared back and forth with clients anywhere in the world.” Though ready to take on new clients--or old--Meadows also admits, “I realize that many of my previous clients have made relationships and arrangements that they are comfortable with, and that’s to be expected and respected. That said, I like to think that my name and reputation is somewhat known—I’m here for anyone looking for a change and to renew or begin a relationship.”
Meadows, an industrial engineering graduate of Georgia Tech, was a service tech in a HI-FI shop while in college, and translated his experience and education into a tech position at Atlanta’s Sound Pit Studio, where he learned mixing and mastering. In 1975, Meadows relocated to Nashville. “Most everyone in Atlanta was going to Nashville to finish their projects, so it made sense to go where the action was,” he explains.
Meadows became an employee of Masterfonics mastering, eventually buying a small percentage of the business, then a larger percentage, then, in 1989, becoming the sole proprietor of the operation. A major renovation introduced acoustician Tom Hidley’s contemporary designs to Nashville; the two mastering suites were rebuilt and a dedicated mix room constructed as Hidley rooms in 1986. Eventually, Masterfonics took over the entire 28 Music Square East building, adding Studio 6 for tracking and mixing. Meadows was a key figure in Nashville’s embrace of digital technology. When producer Jimmy Bowen was heading MCA Nashville in the late Eighties, nearly every title from the label was mastered by Meadows. At one point, over 65 percent of the Billboard Top 100 Country singles chart had been through Masterfonics in some form. In the mid-Nineties, the nearby Carlo Case and Sound building was completely gutted and retrofitted as the Hidley-designed Tracking Room at Masterfonics.
Approaching the turn of the century, the economic model turned and commercial facilities faced new business realities brought on by the advent of the ADAT, then the DAW. Masterfonics was not immune to those market difficulties, eventually entering into Chapter 11 reorganization. Meadows sold the assets of Masterfonics to former Nashville rivals, the Emerald Entertainment Group, though he stayed on as an employee running the mastering department and managing the IT infrastructure. Emerald itself entered into Chapter 11 a short time later. Meadows tried to purchase the Masterfonics mastering operations and was subsequently released from employ in 2001. Until Emerald eventually sold their studio assets, a court-upheld non-compete clause in his contract prevented Meadows from competing with Emerald in any form (after a couple of post-Emerald owners, the 28 Music Square East building is now owned by industry mogul Mike Curb and still home to Masterfonics Mastering--in the capable hands of engineers Tommy Dorsey and Jonathan Russell--and to producer and label exec James Stroud’s Loud Recording). Meadows went to work as mastering engineer and IT director for a private record label, the Compendia Music Group, whose catalog of 6,000 titles was managed internally. Last year, key Compendia assets were sold to label IndieBlu Music, who in April announced that they were selling the assets once again to EOne Entertainment, resulting in severe staff cuts.
Meadows will be joined as a new Mayfield Mastering employee by veteran Nashville engineer, Mike Poston, who helped with studio construction at Mayfield Mastering a few years back, and is spearheading the design and build of Meadow’s new room. Poston has been working out of the facility doing archiving and format conversion for record labels. Mayfield Mastering’s facility and business model will be profiled in PSN's July Studio Showcase.
PSN Editor Frank Wells served as chief of tech services for Glenn Meadows’ Masterfonics from 1988 to 1997.