View From The Top: Rick Silva, COO / Product VP, Audionamix

Rick Silva grew up in Las Vegas and has “been around music my whole life,” he explains.
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Rick Silva grew up in Las Vegas and has “been around music my whole life,” he explains. Living his teenage years as an active guitarist, playing in local bands, giving lessons in local music stores and recording, and more, Silva saw his future in the music industry, wasting no time as he enrolled in the GIT program at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA at age 19, graduating in 1990; today, he remains on MI’s roster as an instructor for its Audio Engineering program.

Having developed interests in MIDI sequencing, DAWs and recording technology in general, Silva continued his audio journey back in Vegas before returning to Southern California to complete his studies at MI¹s Audio Engineering and Film programs and launch Mixed-Emotions, a production studio in Studio City. Through a friendship struck up at Waves Audio with Scott Pederson and Mick Olesh after becoming involved in its Waves Certification Program in 2007, they introduced him to Mike Lawson at Hal Leonard where he was signed to relaunch the “Power Tools” series of books with his own Power Tools for Pro Tools 8 and Power Tools for Logic 9.

It was in late 2009 that he was introduced to Audionamix by a former student. Silva was quickly intrigued by the Paris, France-based company that claimed it could ���unmix” audio. “Always willing to help a student, I met up with him to help steer him away from this ‘voodoo,’” recalls Silva. “Who had ever heard of such a thing? This was impossible and couldn’t be done. Right?”

Silva soon met Audionamix’s VP of Operations at the time, Arnaud Dudemaine, who insisted that Silva help the burgeoning company achieve its goals in America and beyond. Thus, in search of commercial success, Audionamix had just started operations in Los Angeles. “Audionamix was looking to break into the industry to un-mix audio for up-mixing it into 5.1,” says Silva. “They were searching for the right person to help bring their technology to the audio industry. After meeting with the CEO and CFO, I appreciated their confidence in me, however, I felt the technology was only ‘kinda cool.’ Unfortunately, I was hardly convinced that it was refined enough for pro audio applications. Regardless of my opinion at that moment, they insisted that they were onto something groundbreaking and that I was the right person to help them make this technology a must-have for all audio engineers—and [that] my studio, Mixed-Emotions, could be Audionamix’s home base (and it was until 2011, when it took off). I was very flattered that they were so persistent on having me join their organization and accepted!”

After a trip to Paris to meet CSO Pierre Leveau, Ph.D, and his team, Silva soon realized the possibilities. “They had many different audio separation algorithms in different stages of development,” he explains. “But most importantly, they had incredibly talented people that were dedicated to understanding ways their technology could fit into a practical workflow for professional audio engineers.”

Silva began his role at Audionamix as VP of Production in 2010. “In 2012, the second CEO decided we would develop commercial products and promoted me to VP of Production & Product Management. In 2014, after hiring our third CEO, I was promoted to COO/Product VP. I am currently transitioning out of my operational role to move into more of a ‘Global Ambassador’ one to further focus on tech integration, licensing and strategic partner relations, ensuring a more sustainable engine of growth for Audionamix and our technology. Our latest speech optimized products (SVC and TRAX Pro SP) allow dialogue isolation like never before possible and will broaden our market in a very exciting way!”

Silva has been a key part of the company’s growth, having brainstormed all along the way how to market Audionamix’s technologies to a generally skeptical group of potential customers: audio engineers. “When I first started with Audionamix, we had to identify a ‘pain point’ for the major television, motion picture and music studios,” continues Silva. “I found out quickly that if you try to sell them what you think is your product or service, but they have no need for it, then there is no business opportunity. Nobody wins. However, if you ask questions, listen to their needs and try to help them solve a problem they are having by adapting your service or technology for their needs, they are much more excited and willing to work with you. This ‘partner’ approach builds relationships. Creating trust and building relationships while figuring out real solutions to real problems with business partners has always advanced us to the next level.”

Today, Silva’s work ethic and Audionamix’s technology has moved its “voodoo” into the light for many Hollywood-based, as well as worldwide, audio professionals. “We handpicked a team of former students/graduates from Musicians Institute’s audio program and, together with ADX Technology, we built a reputation in the film and television industry as ‘the audio company that is able to achieve the impossible,’” recalls Silva. “We were asked to remove licensed music from full mixes when no stems were available and leave the dialogue and FX intact so costly licensed music can be replaced with affordable library music to increase the ROI for worldwide digital distribution. We’ve also been asked to isolate only the dialogue from movies such as The Blues Brothers so our clients build new M&Es for the same purpose. As the word got out about Audionamix, from 2012 through 2014, the music industry started contracting us quite often to isolate vocal tracks from pre-multitrack-era recordings to re-record ‘virtual duets’ for artists [including] Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and Natalie Cole. We’ve done several projects for Warner Bros., Disney, Hans Zimmer, David Foster and on and on. During this time, we developed and went to market with our first commercial products, ADX TRAX and ADX VVC; both have won awards [ADX TRAX debuted at NAMM 2014 as PSN Best of Show and, more recently, ADX Vocal Volume Control plug-in won the 2017 Editors Choice Award for Electronic MusicianEd.].”

Silva feels that his background as a lifelong student, musician, guitar instructor, audio engineer, audio engineering instructor, studio owner, music technology author and entrepreneur influences everything he does at the company. “Audionamix was a start-up, struggling to find its way in a very competitive industry, when I first started working for it,” he says. “I experienced similar struggles trying to ‘make it’ in the music and recording industry in Hollywood. Over time, I’ve learned that it is very important to round out your skill set and have an awareness of everything that goes into audio production—and business, then figure out what you are really good at, surround yourself with passionate co-workers and listen to your clients’ needs so you can present your ideas, services or technology in a way that inspires them to work with you so both parties win. I’ve used the same approach to help Audionamix become who we are today.”