Music venues may be closed, but one Scottsdale engineer and producer is providing a virtual outlet for local musicians and fans to get a live music fix.
At TheRecordingArtist.com every Wednesday, Otto D’Agnolo invites bands into his MIA Studio to record a track while live-streaming the two-hour interactive experience for fans and followers.
“All of it is just absolutely fun to me, that’s really what I get out of it – that and providing this opportunity for bands, to watch the impact it has for them to be produced,” the Scottsdale resident said.
TheRecordingArtist.com offers two membership tiers: $3.99 a month for the basic membership, which allows members to watch the recording and mixdown sessions the following day; and $6.99 a month for an artist and repertoire membership that allows them to choose the bands invited to the studio and the song they record as well as chat during the recording session.
D’Agnolo said he has about 60 subscribing members and another 50 or 60 who were brought on as beta testers.
“The fact that [bands] have two hours to get done, they love the pressure that has been put on a creative process to move it forward,” D’Agnolo said.
“They have to commit, and they feel that it really gives them something that feels a little bit more alive, like a concert, like a live show,” he explained. “It has the energy of that, but it has, tucked in, polish of a record.”
Bands get two hours to set up and soundcheck prior to the live session, which includes a basic track performance followed by some overdubs.
Bands are also treated to dinner from one of TheRecordingArtist.com’s sponsors, Il Bosco Pizza.
While members must pay to watch, bands are invited in to participate for free.
“I think they’re just happy to have somebody who can help them be better,” D’Agnolo said.
With more than 30 years of experience in the music business, D’Agnolo is an award-winning recording engineer and music producer who has worked on projects for Kenny Rogers, Phoenician Jordin Sparks and others.
With TheRecordingArtist.com, D’Agnolo has worked with 15 bands, including popular Phoenix indie-rockers Vinyl Station and Paper Foxes.
“Initially, I was skeptical,” Paper Foxes singer and guitarist CJ Jacobson said. “It seemed like a very short amount of time to try to record anything. But after hearing about the experience from some friends, it sounded like fun.”
Paper Foxes recorded two songs during their session and Jacobson described working with D’Agnolo as “fun and loose.”
“We had a great experience,” Jacobson added. “It felt like he pushed us in ways we never expected. The time crunch and crowd interaction made the entire experience very exciting and had a similar energy to performing a live show.”
“They knocked it out of the park,” D’Agnolo said.
According to D’Agnolo, what members enjoy most about TheRecordingArtist.com is not so much the music but the process.
“We happen to be making music, but it’s about the process and the personalities. And when they watch it, they get it. They go, ‘I don’t care what the music is. That’s not my music, but I love the show,’” he said.
That’s why D’Agnolo looks for not only energetic music, but also interesting personalities.
“I want people who like to look fun, whether it’s the costumes or their personalities or the way they work,” he said, adding that members “don’t care what the music is because it’s more about the process and the personalities for them.”
TheRecordingArtist.com’s demographic is composed of women over 30 and recording students in the their 20s.
D’Agnolo offers a 25 percent discount to recording students.
As D’Agnolo continues to grow TheRecordingArtist.com — his goal is to reach 1,500 to 2,000 members and start traveling to bands out of state – he recently premiered the first monthly episode of his Amazon Prime TV series, “The Recording Artist.”
“We’re already shooting the second episode now,” said D’Agnolo, who handles all the shooting, editing, post-production and closed captioning.
“Besides doing all that, I’m booking all the bands. I’m recording all the sessions. I’m mixing all the sessions. I’m shooting video for the rehearsals. I’m doing all the interviews with the bands. It’s a full-time job,” he said.
D’Agnolo is also working on two country albums, one for San Diego-based musician Jay Tighe and one for Arizona City-based singer Josh Scott.
“There’s nothing I like more than editing video and making music,” he said. “So, I’m really spending 100 percent of my life doing stuff I love.”
For each new subscribing member between now and the end of the year, TheRecordingArtist.com will donate $1 to local charities benefitting music education.