Recording Connection mentor Bobby Ferrari talks Building Catalog and Connections
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Recording Connection mentor Bobby Ferrari, one of the key players behind Vegas View Recording in Henderson, Nevada, has worked with everyone from Three Dog Night to Bobby Day. Today, along with his producing and engineering duties, he helps up-and-coming audio engineers get going as apprentices at the opulent 2,500-sq-ft recording and mixing studio, located just 20 minutes outside of downtown Vegas.
When asked how he got his start in the music industry Bobby puts it simply: “I got into music really young. I got my first real guitar at 13. My parents didn’t want me to go into music. I was just a drama and music kid. That led to me playing in a bunch of LA bands in the 80s, the heart of all that hair band scene going on. And I got offered a tour, and I was out playing with all the old rockers, like Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, Spencer Davis…I played with Bobby Day, Donnie Brooks, Mike Pinera from Iron Butterfly…I got this amazing experience learning from those guys. I would just bug them all the time, ‘How’d you make that record? How’d you make that record?’ having no idea I was going to get involved in the studio at this point.”
As time passed, Bobby made connections and moved up through the industry. He worked assisting people like Bob Rock on Motley Crue’s records and also did some engineering on various Nine Inch Nails songs. During this time he met Bill Kennedy who was working at A&M. From there Bobby and Bill partnered up and when Bill struck out on his own, making the leap from audio engineer to producer, Bobby jumped in as his assistant. As they say, the rest is history.
When asked if he has any tips for career longevity in the music business Bobby makes a sound argument for embracing the old-school mentality of making good albums and building strong relationships with the artists we work with. Changing back to the days of yore would mean more money and better music for everyone: “The industry isn’t teaching people to go beyond their limits and build catalogs that can earn revenue for the next 30 or 40 years. We’re teaching people to build instant hits and go away…I think it’s absolutely the wrong approach. We’ve lost substance for hype…I look at all the people I admire, and they’ve done two or three albums with the same artist, not just a single. They’ve created relationships that are ongoing. There was chemistry and the work mattered. The work spoke to people.”
So how is one to start building a solid rapport with the artists they record? Bobby says at least part of it is about having enough creative symetry to make it a good fit for all involved. Sometimes that symetry just isn’t there and that’s ok. He recommends that engineers play the artist their stuff, to which they might say, “‘That fits me. We would be a good fit.'” But sometimes it’s just not meant to be. “There have been plenty of meetings I’ve taken with artists that I go, ‘Man, we’re really not a good fit. I don’t want to waste your time and money. It will make us both look bad at the end of the day.'”
When asked if he has any tips for how students could get the most out of their time in Recording Connection, Bobby advises them to just do the work as much as possible: “To make the most of the program, do the work outside. We can show you the studio, we can show you routing, we can get you through the tests but if you don’t apply it, if you don’t make mistakes, if you’re not willing to get out in the world on your own, even if you’re just going to record vocals in your house with friends or do guitars, just doing anything just to be doing it so you can go through the trials and tribulations and make mistakes, that’s the best thing you can do. If you don’t apply the craft, you’re never going to get any good at it.”