By Donna Furey | LB Indy
Hidden in plain sight on Second Street, two shaded glass doors, a buzzer and an inconspicuous sign indicate the entry to Laguna Sound Studio.
Inside is equally surprising. Wood shingled walls contrast with white leather sofas and black and white geometric floorcoverings, what studio founder and president, Dustin Yrizarry, (pronounced ea-ra-zarry) describes as a “recording lounge.” It’s clear from the glass topped tables to the precise placement of guitars on the walls, that the $1 million spent on design and improvements was thoughtfully considered. Even the wiring is hidden under the floor.
Within the 1,000 square foot space is the dream and passion of Laguna local Yrizarry, 24, who financed the improvements himself. He envisions LSS as more than a recording studio, but “a space that inspires creativity.” His idea is to offer artists the opportunity to work in an environment with people like himself, who share a common passion for music. “We are not trying to compete with Los Angeles studios,” Yrizarry said. “We want to be the nexus of the artist’s self expression in the Laguna community.”
The son of a classical guitarist, he started in his teens selling royalty free music and making re-mixes. Since then, he received a diploma of audio technology from the SAE Institute, a private college with a Los Angeles campus. There, he met his business partner, 27-year-old ChanceMcCullough. “We were the two best students in class, always competing with each other,” jokes Yrizarry, who still produces his own music.
The third member of the team, branding expert Mark Harmon, manages marketing and production as well as artist services for the LSS team.
The opening of LSS reflects the town’s enthusiasm for musical performers, said Rick Conkey, founder of the Blue Water Music festival. Artists are always looking for new studios where they can record, he said.
Indeed Yrizarry’s business plan is unusual within the recording industry, and what he thinks will set his studio apart from direct competitors in the Orange County area like JEL in Newport Beach, ArtiSans and S1 in Fullerton and Love and Laughter in Anaheim. Rather than charging an hourly rate for studio use, LSS team members assess a client’s project and then determine a price based on the services they will provide to complete the job. Their belief is that hourly fees are stressful, forcing musicians to constantly check the clock instead of just focusing on creativity.
LSS also differs from other recording studios by offering artists a menu of services, including tracking, editing, mixing, and mastering services. The company will also assist artists with videography services, career development, social media management and copyright advice. And they will release a musician’s tracks to Sound Cloud, an online audio platform, which allows an artist to post music to build an audience. Yrizarry calls it a “one stop shop.”
Film and television composer Mark Morgan, of Malibu, in sizing up the studio’s resources, agreed. “They have all the proper gear to produce the whole package,” he said.
While Yrizarry does not draw a salary from LSS, he says his partners are being paid and the studio is breaking even strictly through word of mouth referrals since opening six months ago. He has no plans to give up his day job in finance, which began in 2009 with an internship at his father’s company, Nicholas Yrizarry Wealth Management Group, and was followed by a stint at Newport Beach’s PIMCO. He has since returned to his father’s company, located next door to the studio.
He and his partners, though, have big plans to grow their business. The fourth member of their team is 25-year-old Breeana Kelly-Slatten who is responsible for building the studio’s brand and recruiting new artists.
One of her first projects illustrates the studio’s effort to develop ties to the local music community with the monthly, invitation-only Spring Artist Showcase, which will feature new talent the last Friday of every month. April’s featured artist, Lauren Black says, “what really sold me on Laguna Sound Studio was the staff. They are passionate and knowledgeable and I felt like we shared the same vision for my music.”
LSS also sponsors FM radio station KX 93.5, where Yrizarry performs engineering duties. He will take part in the radio station’s April 26 fundraiser, Craft Brews and Views, to which he has donated a $1,000 recording package.
“I hope Laguna musicians utilize this local resource,” says radio station program director Tyler Russell. “There is so much talent in Laguna Beach and, much like our radio station, the studio is a tool for them to develop and expose their music.”