New York, NY (February 2, 2004)–Studio owners in major and secondary markets alike surely know the unpredictable nature of their business, perhaps no one better right now than Sear Sound owner Walter Sear, who after putting his classic facility up for sale a year and a half ago, has in recent months been busier than ever.
Certainly worth noting is Sear’s motivation for getting out of the commercial studio biz. “My heart’s not in it anymore,” he explained in September, 2002. “I’m building studios now. Home studios have cut into the commercial studio business, so I figure if I can’t beat then, I’m going build them.”
Of course people aren’t exactly lining up to buy two-room facilities in the pricey Big Apple, especially as more private and smaller all-digital rooms are opening all the time. And, Sear refused to liquidate the studio, dismantling and selling off all the equipment he has cared for and improved on over so many years, so the sale it seemed, would have to be all-inclusive. “Worst case scenario, I’ll continue to run it,” he said when announcing the sale.
Soon after Sear announced his plans, the facility got a long lock-out session, and with no record labels or artists showing serious interest in buying the place, Sear was forced to live out the worst case scenario. Recently, this particular scenario has produced some of the busiest months in the facility’s history. “We have been exceptionally busy,” assures Sear. “We probably had our second best year in nearly 40 years.” Wilco, Norah Jones, D’Angelo, Ben Kweller, and Joshua Redman all worked at Sear Sound in 2003, among many others. At press time, Sear reported that T. Bone Burnett would be coming in to do the score for the next Tom Hanks film.
“I’m happy that my studio is well booked, but I’m not sure why we’re so busy,” admits Sear, who’s studio is as one of the oldest studios in New York. “I mean, yes, we are very analog, but there are a lot of studios that are still analog capable. Most other studios have wanted to be stylish, so they’ve run out and bought the latest console, and they’re still paying it off, and they’re always trying to get their Pro Tools up to date, which is an ongoing investment. I never invest in technology that I don’t have faith in. People come in and say, ‘where’d you get all this vintage equipment?’ and I say ‘when I bought it, it wasn’t vintage, it was new!'”
“We’re still talking about getting our rooms to sound great and I’m still building new equipment for the studio,” adds Sear. “Our motto is ‘the recorded sound sucks, and we’re trying to make it better. We’ve been here for a long time though, so we must be doing something right. It may be the sound that we’re still quite dedicated to making better.”
No matter what the reason, Sear Sound is going strong, with no signs of slowing down. Although, as an experienced studio owner knows, the unpredictable is always around the corner.