Recording studios are still closed with all other ‘non-essential’ businesses. It hasn’t derailed music creation for big stars with home studios or bedroom pop purveyors completely dependent on laptops. However, this poses a problem for everyone in between. But what if artists could order a soundproof campervan – a campervan that had been gutted, rebuilt and inflated with quality recording equipment – to plant right outside their front door?
That’s the kind of experience Mobile Sessions founders Christine Hufenbecher and Kenny Moran are trying to deliver right now. With live events and large gatherings banned, Los Angeles-based Hufenbecher and Moran are finding a new market for their business, which was officially launched in 2019 at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show as a way different for artists and writers to create. . The pair renovated a motorhome into a professional-grade studio they could bring to artists – trying to foster the same kind of creative music-making from people’s driveways as they do from cabins and remote retreats.
Although the concept of a traveling studio is not new – the Rolling Stones used a mobile studio to record “Exile on Main Street”, for example – the nature of Mobile Sessions as a rental service that can provide unknown independent artists a high level The final equipment makes this offer unique.
Pricing depends on customer preference, and having just one vehicle and not needing special travel permits keeps costs down. “We kind of feel the artist. What are you trying to do? Want to make an entire album? Do you want to do a writing session? We’ve talked to publishers about doing song camps for about five days — where they rent an AirBnb for writers and we hook into AirBnb,” said Hufenbecher — who previously managed producers and songwriters. after being mentored by the former manager of Lady Gaga, Laurent Besencon – tells rolling stone.
The Mobile Sessions VR is divided into three areas: the control room, the production area and the living room. With carefully applied acoustic treatments, sound can be isolated in one area or played through all of them. Moran, who just finished producing a song for Earth, Wind & Fire and has worked with everyone from LMFAO to Jennifer Lopez, points out that the space isn’t just for mixing and mastering, and that most instruments can be saved in the RV.
Since its launch, Mobile Sessions has performed recording sessions on the beach in Malibu with the wheels directly in the sand, as well as at 3,000 feet in the mountains. The duo expanded their business model by launching into the branding space last summer.
“Fender called us one day and asked if we could partner with them and the 1500 Sound Academy to do an on-site experience for fans,” says Hufenbecher. “They wanted to let fans come into the studio, try out the rig, and play Fender guitars. It turned into this whole thing where successful songwriters would come on board, hanging out for hours. It was at the Real Street Festival in Anaheim, so just imagine Big Sean and Cardi B performing 200 feet away… and there are people doing sessions inside the studio while a festival is going on.
Mobile Sessions was supposed to put on bigger demo sessions for artists this year in conjunction with ASCAP and the nonprofit She Is the Music, and it hoped to be part of Camp Flog Gnaw and Coachella. But the team had to take a break from marketing events after the pandemic put an end to public gatherings. Still, Mobile Sessions has seen a noticeable increase in requests over the past year and plans to expand into big events next year.
A new educational partnership with the Recoding Academy and GrammyU would also have brought the mobile studio to schools this spring, but that the initiative was postponed until the fall. “We’re going to talk to the students about the recording process, the mixing, the live process, the editing, and the business side of things,” Moran explains.
The team’s regular check-in hourly rate is $100 and the daily rate is $2,000 for a 24-hour period, but the duo point out that pricing is flexible. “Overall, the majority of musicians aren’t going to go platinum or sell a million downloads,” Moran says. “They’re gonna make an album, they’re gonna release it, and they’re gonna get in a van and try to push it. We recognize it. We want to help, so we’re going to be as flexible as possible with a truly independent artist.
Of course, a mobile studio on wheels has its constraints. Moran says the one major thing they can’t do in the RV — aside from recording a 30-piece orchestra at once — is follow the drums live. But they box run 100 feet of cable from the sidewalk and into an artist’s house, which they did for Earth, Wind & Fire drummer John Paris last week.
“Unless it’s a really small kit, it just won’t fit,” says Moran. “But we have several amps, several sought-after guitars always on board. We have a full mic complement, so we can easily roll up and do a full headphone mix and record a full band – like a quintet. He also stands firmly by the sound quality of the space: At the last NAMM show, he says, more than a dozen Dolby and Dyn employees checked out the RV and were impressed with its sound. “And Dolby Atmos came up with a design with Dynaudio, saying we can make it a full Atmos platform,” Moran says.
Mobile Sessions has partnered with Blue Microphones, allowing them to offer discounts on mics to students, and they say other partnerships — like the one with Yamaha that’s currently in the works — are on the way. ‘horizon.