LOS ANGELES, CA – The minute that Eric Boulanger, founder and principal mastering engineer at The Bakery, touched down in Nashville on Thursday, July 13, for the activities surrounding the Summer NAMM Show, he hit the ground running – the start of a whirlwind weekend for Boulanger that saw him sharing his expertise and knowledge with the Nashville engineering community, both at the convention itself and elsewhere.
His first stop was The Blackbird Academy, where Mark Rubel, instructor & co-director of education, hosted Boulanger as he lectured current Blackbird Academy enrollees. Boulanger held an in-depth discussion with the students, covering his personal history in the industry, his origins as an intern, his mentorship under the legendary Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab, and finally his current success as the founder of mastering facility The Bakery, located on the famed Sony Pictures lot. An extensive Q&A came next, covering topics including mentorship, how to conduct oneself with clients in a studio environment, how to listen and learn on the job, tips for interviews, the experience of listening to vinyl, his views on mastering and how it can help achieve the vision of the artist, producer and engineer for a song, album or soundtrack, and more.
Rubel stated, “It was a great pleasure to have Eric come and lecture our students. The Blackbird Academy believes in the importance of our students getting exposure to real-world knowledge from industry leaders. Eric covered a wide range of topics that were entertaining and informative, and of tremendous value to our aspiring audio professionals.”
The following day, Friday, July 14, Boulanger appeared at the Summer NAMM Show’s Vinyl Mastering Panel, part of the convention’s TEC Tracks series of educational sessions. Vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2017, with sales nearing the $1 billion benchmark for the first time this millennium, according to Forbes. In this session, Boulanger and fellow panelists Glenn Meadows (mastering engineer, Mayfield Mastering) and Cameron Henry (mastering engineer, Welcome to 1979), along with moderator Dan Daley (noted journalist) filled attendees in on how to ride the vinyl wave with high-fidelity results. Topics of discussion included the differences, in both hardware and technique, between mastering for vinyl vs. digital formats; unique challenges faced in mastering for vinyl; the direction of the role of vinyl in the music industry; financial aspects of the vinyl mastering world; and more.
Boulanger states, “Both of these events, along with the rest of my trip, which I spent meeting with associates and friends new and old, were an opportunity to share my perspective and learn new things. I’m so glad I made it to Nashville to participate in and contribute to one of the most eventful weeks of the year for the city’s music community.”
Photo caption 1: Shown L-R: The Bakery founder and primary mastering engineer Eric Boulanger and Mark Rubel, Blackbird Academy instructor & co-director of education, addressing the latest audio class at Nashville’s Blackbird Academy.