Music Insight Series // Conrad Osipowicz
Before you think about your music "brand," you have to start with your music! Making sure your music is complemented by strong production is a vital part of your music career, and music release strategy. We've been completely inspired by our friend, Conrad Osipowicz, who founded Blue Room Productions in the DC-mentro area. If you've ever wanted insight about studios & production, keep reading!
1. How did you get your start in the music industry?
I’ve been playing drums since the age of 12, and played in multiple bands of various genres throughout high school, college, and more recently too. Although I’ve been playing drums for 18 years, I have always been into technology and computers as well. Audio engineering seems to be the perfect hybrid and marriage between music & technology!
2. What inspired you to become a producer, or begin Blue Room Productions?
While working and interning at other recording studios in Washington D.C. and Boston, I immediately thought “Hey…. I think I can do this on my own independently.” My inspiration to build and open a private recording studio was not related to making more money; instead, I was driven to open the studios by the idea of more freedom, more independence, more control in being a business owner, versus being a staff audio engineer working at a recording studio.
3. Is there a story behind the name, "Blue Room Productions?" If so, please tell us about it.
Believe it or not it’s quite a simple answer. The first studio was opened in Bethesda, MD in 2009. Before converting the room into a recording studio Control Room, all the walls were already blue before I arrived! I started referring to that room, the “studio in-progress” as “The Blue Room” and the name just stuck! 5 years later in 2014, we opened our second studio in Herndon, VA, and all the walls in the studio are painted blue as well, to match! We’ve also got matching blue cables, blue music stands, even custom-painted blue studio monitors painted with 7 layers of blue paint.
4. What types of bands does your team produce? Any band names/albums you can share?
We work with all types of artists; singer/songwriters, hip hop artists, bands, voiceover talent, etc. I’ve got multiple engineers and producers on staff that specialize in different genres and different styles of music. We’ve got all different types of clients and artists that walk through our studio doors. A really notable session for me personally was working with Cindy Blackman Santana twice, wife of guitarist Carlos Santana. She is a phenomenally gifted jazz drummer who toured with Lenny Kravitz, among other artists. It was truly a memorable session in my recording career. Some other recent samples of our work are available up on our site, or can be shared in person during a studio tour!
5. How do you typically connect with new bands? Do you find them, or do they find you?
Both. We field lots of inquiries from bands (typically local, occasionally national) that are looking for a new studio to work out of. Sometimes they are providing their own engineer or producer who they already have experience with, sometimes they are working with myself or one of our other staff engineers. Aside from that, my staff are always hitting the pavement, attending local shows around the DC/Baltimore area, networking at Recording Academy/Grammy events for the DC Chapter and AES (Audio Engineering Society) DC Chapter, as well as holding free Open House events at the studio, where we invite local musicians to come to see and tour our facility and meet our staff of engineers.
6. What makes a good "session" for production?
Ample pre-production and rehearsals prior to a recording session will always yield a much smoother, easier recording session for everyone involved! I encourage all our clients to plan their session out and what they want to accomplish with us. We’re here to support them and offer advice and suggestions when they can. Sometimes, clients are just in need of someone to brainstorm with prior to a big recording session. It’s those types of discussions and considerations that occur PRIOR to a recording session that will allow for a creative, efficient session together between the studio and the client.
7. What are some things that can make a production session more challenging?
The biggest examples that come to mind are lack of preparation, lack of rehearsal, you or your bandmates not being familiar with the arrangement of the song, distractions in the studio, and too constricting of a budget or deadline to accomplish the desired product. Creating high-quality, professional art in a recording studio takes time, thought, sweat, and planning!
8. How can artists best prepare for a session before they see you at the studio?
They can start by reading these two recent articles on our Blue Room Blog named:
“Blue Room Tips: Studio Etiquette!”
"Recording Session Primer: Your Band’s First Session"
9. Is there a song that stands out to you as some of your best work? If so, please tell us more.
I loved recording, mixing, and mastering this one project with my friends in Cover Drive from Barbados. They brought one of their exciting singles “Grapefruit Perrier” to the studio, and I am most proud of my work on that tune! Check out the final mix on YouTube here:
10. Were you ever part of a band? If so, please tell us more about your days in the band.
Most recently, I’ve played with the group Wild Eyes for the last 4 years. We are a Tool tribute group, and play complicated Tool songs off each of their records. Song lengths are anywhere from 9 to 13 minutes long, and most of the songs are in odd-time signatures like 5/4 and 7/8. Lots of double-bass polyrhythms too. Love playing these tunes! Check us out here:
11. How do you think indie bands can set themselves apart in the music industry today?
It’s easier said then done, but the music should be unique. If your goal is to be commercially viable and compete with other “radio-ready” or Top 40 material, then make that your goal and your target. If you are in it to make art, to be different, to make music that you love and you enjoy, then keep that goal in your sights and don’t worry about what critics might say about your work. Our studios can help you to generate a professionally recorded mix that is powerful, artistic, and represents your music and your songs in the best light possible.
12. What advice do you have for indie bands in search of a good producer?
Find someone who loves your original songs as much as you do! Your producer should believe in your music and your goals. Make them the “5th member” of the band and include them in your rehearsals, your songwriting, your live performances, etc. A good producer can dramatically elevate the quality, arrangement, and instrumentation of your songs, and can offer you a clear unbiased, neutral perspective on your music that you can’t provide yourself as the songwriter.