When Spotify talk about a destination artists prefer, they are speaking in the literal sense: alluding to the scale of their platform, the programs they have in place for aspiring creators, and so on. But when they are talking about their office in Los Angeles, in Mateo, they also mean it literally. The Spotify Los Angeles hub is a cutting-edge audio-recording facility and a doorway for creators, opening up wide to innovate and celebrate in sound – there is something their for every kind of content creator.
Chris DAngelo, Spotifys head of production & studio facilities, and William Garrett, senior manager for music production/studio development–two of the biggest champions for the space–have been thinking through how best to utilize the space since it was founded. And now it is opened, they are realizing more ways to make it compelling and affordable for creators long into the future.
“When we were originally sitting down to design the office, we wanted to make sure music, video, and audio production could all take place right here at the Spotify offices, in one really awesome environment,” Chris told The Record. “And so we really talked about a lot about who was going to be coming in, what kind of artists, what kind of creators, what employees were going to have to work with, and what would be expected from the community we were building. We spent a lot of time thinking about how every constituency was going to have to utilize it.
Chris, William, and the team came up with the design that makes Creators feel right at home. William tells “What we put together is actually a comfy, fully equipped recording studio,”
“We try to set everyone at ease straight away, because we only had limited time working with these artists. They are on really tight schedules. So not only did we create this nice acoustically balanced space, we filled it with meticulously chosen instruments and recording equipment”. . But it is not just any old instruments. He means guitars dating to the 30s and synthesizers from the 80s, keyboards used by LA punk outfit Social Distortion, the amp from Stone Temple Pilots, and a piano on which Norah Jones made her early recordings for Do not Know Why.
It is a venue that takes on an instantly reverent feeling.
“One of the things that we found is artists are always really into the stuff they used for their recordings, so they are going to be really into vintage guitars, or a little bit of the newest technology on synths, or maybe an old drum kit with just the right heads and cymbals. So, all these instruments build instant rapport and discussions with artists, in hopes to inspire creative ideas. Because with the programs that we are working on, our hope is to inspire them to create something creative and new in our spaces,” she said.
“We are getting everything from ancient analogue technologies to completely new digital technologies. So we are trying to blend all of those things together without making something that is specific to one genre.”
If you are doing live recordings with the whole band, we could do it. If you are doing a computer-based, sample-based recording, we can do that. . The instrumental options at the studio are limitless: “We chose gear and instruments that could fit with whatever kind of genre or band was coming in there to record,” notes William.
“We have just hosted the Kalush Orchestra, a Ukrainian group who won the Eurovision. They played the flute with the help of drum machines and a drum box.
We had all of the instruments that they needed to make it. And we were running series created by women, where producers, engineers, artists were all women. So, all of them are working on different genres, and we had all of them come through. . The music studioA has seen their share of talent already, with the likes of Japans Breakfast, classical pianist Lang Lang, Zara Larsson, Avril Lavigne, Ethel Kane, Arooj Aftab, Del Water Gap, Bob Moses, Tom Morello, and Snail Mail.
But, the first-ever recording sessions were conducted by none other than producer and singer-songwriter F.INNEAS. “He is a tremendous artist,” says Chris. “He came in, he instantly understood what we were trying to do.
We got immediate feedback, which is we hit him right on the head, in that he was like, Wow. It is always really nice to get a pop from an artist like that. . Some studio clients are not as versed in the recording arts.
In partnership with the Los Angeles School System, we run L.A. Beats, which brings about 250 students, from fifth through 12th grades, into Spotifys studios to get an in-music-like experience unlike any other. The participants would then celebrate with a competition and artists including Lil Nas X. The kids had an absolute blast.
There was plenty to do even for slightly older Makers. Up-and-coming artists who are part of our Radar Program, and independent artists who are part of our Fresh Finds Program, have the opportunity to have their own Spotify single recorded at a venue in Los Angeles. Each years Best New Artist Award winner also gets the opportunity to record every March, while female artists get a shot at making their mark on our Created By Women series, or EQUAL. And more new programs are coming up soon for underrepresented creators.
The Studio is not the only space that is been created–or used–with care. Listening rooms, green rooms, and breaks, snacks, and drink spots were all designed carefully, too. We wanted to make spaces that artists felt inspired to stick around – perhaps even longer than they needed – for the creative hours they spent working with us, says Chris. “Podcasting is kind of a different medium from music,” said Chris.
The cozy, colorfully coordinated podcast studio hosts originals on Spotify, such as Archetypes and the video podcast We Say What We Say, featuring Rickey and Denzel, and The Ringer breakout series High Learning, featuring Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay. “The other cool stuff is actually working with some of the other programs Spotify is doing, like Sound Up, which is a program that is really lifting underrepresented voices in podcasting up and making them heard,” Kris explained. “We get them in the studio and we put them in a longer-term program where they learn the ropes of creating podcasts. . In addition to a recording studio, there are also a lot of places around the office where completed productions are celebrated, such as the recent release of Jordan Peeles “Quiet Part Loud”.
Executive producer and head of fiction for Spotify, Mimi ODonnel, joined Monkeypaw Productions creators at the Spotify screening room in surround sound to talk about the new productions unique place as a podcast about horror. That kind of conversation is exactly what Chris intends the space to be. “We were intent on creating a studio that could grow alongside Spotify, along with the industry.
A podcast studio, music studio, video studio, events space, a screening room, all of which are endlessly configurable. And each one, in turn, needs to be as flexible as possible, so when someone calls up and says, Hey, heres this next generation audiobook, music, or podcast that we are trying to do – we are going to be able to support that”. . And ultimately, this is a space open to creators of all kinds–and will be increasingly so as time goes on. “It is all about the democratization of access,” agrees Chris and William. “The act of creation is all about the making and breaking of connections.
So the more people that you have playing and trying to innovate, the more we are going to start seeing things that are really disruptive, really groundbreaking, really next-level ideas. . And we are looking forward to seeing it happen here. Spotify in Mateo has been nominated for the TEC Award in the Studio Design Project space