Recording Connection grad Chase Zabatta: Lessons in branding and business
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Recording Connection graduate Chase Zabatta has found a unique way to put his audio skills to good use. After externing with Sax DMA of Terminus Studios in New York City (back when the studio was called “Tainted Blue”), Chase saw a need in his area for high quality practice spaces for bands and artists, and jumped in to meet it. Today, he owns and operates Rapture Sound Studio, a 5-room rehearsal space on Long Island’s north shore, stocked with high-quality gear and audio equipment.
Billing Rapture Sound as a studio “created by musicians, for musicians,” Chase found much of his motivation for building this space out of his own passion for music. “I was a musician, a touring musician, and a singer, and a guitar player,” he says, “and I was doing all that, and wasting money, and I was like, ‘What am I doing?’…[So] I took my musician skills and turned it into a career.”
As a musician himself, Chase felt the common plight of the area musicians who needed a good place to rehearse in, especially when it came to the gear. “When I was younger, I used to go to rehearsal studios,” he says, “and they’re all pretty crappy around here. Around here, they’re really bad…We’re like number one on Long Island, because nowhere else…When you go to these guys’ places, you’re not going to see the kind of gear I have.”
It turned out to be the right idea at the right place at the right time. “There’s really not many of these anymore,” says Chase. “I got lucky because all of the monthly rehearsal [spaces] have been condemned. So now they’re looking for rehearsal studios.”
Chase says he’s relied a lot on word-of-mouth and quality experience to help build his brand. “With your artists,” he says, “what you’re doing is you’re getting people to like you and trust you, and they’ll start putting up a review on you and kind of help brand you…You have to be very professional about it. You’ve got to know this stuff, and you’ve got to produce a great product, and when they come back, they say, ‘You know what? This guy is great.’ They start putting up reviews and they come back. That’s what I consider good branding. You know? …Word of mouth is really your best way. You have to do everything to the artist’s expectations, and higher even.”
He also says social media has played a large part in spreading the word, especially in cross-promotion with local acts. “I’ll post on Facebook, their shows and stuff and what they’re doing, their new music videos or whatever they got, and then share it, and then just say, ‘Check out our new client.’ Then they get more likes on their Facebook. Then we take pictures in the studio and everything else, and we put it up and promote their new show…I’ve gone to shows of the bands that have been there…I’ll go to their shows, stuff like that. They’ll help me, they send people my way. I have a few bands that are endorsed that have been helping me, and I help them.”
By holding to the standards of audio excellence he learned at the Recording Connection—as well as by maintaining one of the best sounding rehearsal spaces around—Chase says he’s even had some well-known artists and companies show up to use the space.
“We’ve had people from the Smashing Pumpkins in there,” he says. “We’ve had Nate Watts, who is Stevie Wonder’s bassist and musical director, and we have all these guys, from Zoom Recorders, they come and use the spot. They do videos with artists, showing off the new gear and stuff like that.”
As business continues to grow, Chase says they are working on adding live recording capabilities to the space, including plans to bring in a larger hybrid console and Pro Tools capabilities. Meanwhile, he considers himself lucky to be doing what he loves.
“I started off with what I wanted to do,” he says, “and I’m still doing exactly what I wanted to. And that’s very rare in business. Usually what you start off doing turns into something completely different.”