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Nathan Wright of California Sound Studios and Wright Records knows the business of music.
What do you do?
We have two businesses: California Sound Studios and Wright Records, a record label. Basically, what we do is record everybody in the studio from up-and-coming bands to corporate projects—movie soundtracks, commercials, things like that. With the label, what we're doing is looking for talent in the area to develop, help them with their album and their press kit, and then shop them to major labels.
Does the label or studio have a specialty or focus?
The label is focused on really good rock & roll and innovative hip-hop—a new style of delivery and lyrics. We're looking to get away from the bling-bling, the girls and all that stuff. We're trying to put together good character with a natural talent for poetry. We've signed four rock bands and one hip-hop artist. The bands are the Morning Riot, VeedaVoo, Blacklist Union and Evolution. Evolution is 14 and really influenced by Mötley Crüe and Poison. The hip-hop artist is Reign the Italian.
Is the shift from CDs to downloads an issue for the label or the studio?
The whole industry is really worried about that right now. Record sales are looked at as dropping, with downloads as the cause of that. But I would look at it as just another avenue. Some people aren't looking at the new avenues as a way to grow the industry. If you have a fan base and you're out there promoting yourself, there's no reason why you shouldn't sell if you have a good product. It's just getting it out there. With the majors owning the majority of the distribution and marketing, it's tough to get your name out there. The way we find to do it is through endorsements. A lot of our bands are endorsed through No Fear, Quiksilver and Vans. Those companies sponsor the Warped Tour, Coachella, the Weenie Roast and things like that. If you're sponsored, you can get your band at those festivals on a side stage or something.
What's the history of your recording studio?
It's a family-owned, full studio. Our team is phenomenal: My mom and dad, JoAnn and Frank Wright, are the owners. My brother Jesse is an engineer here along with Adam Duffy and Jeremy Lemke. And I'm the CEO running the business side of the studio and the label. What sets us apart here is our team. My dad started as a guitar player right out of high school. He had a teacher who was friends with Sonny and Cher; they had a TV show, and they had an opening for a guitar player. He made the cut and played with them for a couple of years. He ended up starting a band called Chicago Transit Authority, now known as Chicago. He did the first couple of albums; he did a tour with Kansas. He came back from that and met my mom, got married, had me, went to school and got a job at Warner Bros. as an engineer. He's an executive producer at WEA now.
Do you see the accessibility of home recording changing your business?
It's different. You can get a great sound at home, but it's hard to get a good acoustic sound, an open-concert-hall-drum sound, if you don't have the right room size, acoustics and microphones. It also comes down to what you're going to do with the finished product. You need the contacts. The majority of deals I see signed are not made off demos made at home. They're made at real recording studios. There's a reason why they're in business. If U2 could record a great product at home, I'm sure they would. If Snoop could do it at home, I'm sure he would. But where do they record at? They make their own studios or record at high-end studios.