Parkhaven Productions, the teen-run recording studio founded last year by Jason Desiderio and Matt Schaefer (who are both studying sound recording technology and music performance at Fredonia State College) and run with Danny Ziemann (a junior at Williamsville East), has become the go-to place for teen bands to lay down tracks professionally.
About 85 bands have recorded with Parkhaven since it began. "The second we started working with Parkhaven, they treated us like we were much more than just a business venture," said Nick Sessanna, singer of The Kismet, which recently recorded its first EP with Park Haven. "It was such a comfortable environment and because of that, we ended up with an incredible product."
After their success this summer, the studio was able to purchase lots of new equipment (microphones, preamps, monitors, etc) and finally finish construction of the studio (which is in Schaefer's basement). They also added two new members: engineer Derek Walters, and Jenna Murray, who is in charge of booking. (Both are juniors at Sweet Home.)
So with things going so well, the question was: What next? It took a while, but the answer finally came: Start a record label.
"I'm not really sure how it originally came up, but I remember at one point a band asked me 'What exactly is preventing you from starting a record label?'" said Ziemann. "I told the band that I had no idea, because other than money, I really didn't know what would prevent it from happening."
Ziemann brought the idea up to Schaefer, and they talked it over and decided that if they were to start off slow, they could potentially be successful with it.
"During recording sessions, I have always felt the urge to help bands out, get them shows, promote them, in addition to all of the recording that we were doing for them. I soon came to realize that starting a record label would not only benefit the bands, and us financially, but it would be a fun thing to do," said Schaefer.
From there, they started taking the first steps toward their future label. "I got a hold of a guy named Steve Kropski, who works for a label down in South Carolina," said Ziemann. "He gave me some great advice on how a label actually functions... Then, I talked with a couple teachers who have had ties with the music industry on how they would like to see a label run from a musician's perspective."
Schaefer and Desiderio obtained additional information from dozens of books and Web sites and began drafting potential contracts for bands that would be signed to their label.
After months of hard work, signing contracts, planning, and mapping, Wake Up and Smell the Music! Records finally surfaced in November, surprisingly without any loans. These masters of recording had finally created a way to properly publicize any bands they encountered that they felt had talent or potential.
So how does a band get signed to Wake Up and Smell the Music! Records? "We are basically looking for bands that have something new and original to offer to the music scene," Desiderio said.
Once a band is signed, they can expect everything they'd ever hope to earn: Recording, producing, mixing, and the release of full-length albums.
Wake Up provides marketing campaigns, including T-shirts, stickers, posters, and, hopefully sometime soon, action figures. They will book shows (hopefully tours sometime in the future), work with local promoters, and create compilation CDs of bands they have signed. Any band signed to Wake Up will get paid through the royalties their CDs and merchandise make, the managers say. And because the Wake Up managers also own Parkhaven, a band would have nothing to lose if an album were unsuccessful.
Wake Up embraces use of the Internet to spread their music. "We are currently looking into methods of distributing CDs, but for now we plan on having a great deal of our music being sold online," said Ziemann. They will also post all information about the label and the bands they sign on their official Web site.
Wake Up reports signing two bands of very different styles so far (they declined to name the bands for now) and are currently negotiating their contracts. "We plan to start off small and work our way up the food chain," said Desiderio. Wake Up's official launch will be held Friday at a battle of the bands at Xtreme Wheels Skatepark featuring Parkhaven favorites Air Based, The Kismet, Umberland, Derek Walters, Lucky Charms, and Mandy K. The prize is several hours of free recording time. Tickets can be purchased from participating bands or at the door for $8.
There is a lot to learn about running a label, but the people at Wake Up are excited to see what the journey into this new side of the music industry will hold. "This is a very tedious job, because we have to work out all of the loopholes, all of the financial details, all of the services, and above all, be fair." said Schaefer. "But we are going into this with the same philosophy as we did with our studio: Create opportunities for musicians in need. We are still learning and hopefully will keep learning so that we can constantly bring this project to new heights. The music industry is so complex and full of such a variety that you learn something new about it every day."
Wake Up managers say their main goal is to help out bands in need. As Desiderio said: "I hope to help local bands get past the point that many get stuck at because they do not know where to go or what to do next. I've seen it happen many bands over the years, and our goal it to prevent that and help the music of the bands we love reach everyone so they can love it, too."
Added Ziemann: "All I want to do is help fulfill a band's potential to becoming something beyond the point of 'just a local band.'"
The guys hope to run Wake Up for as long as they can, and possibly even turn it into a career. "It would be great to wake up every morning knowing that we have the best jobs in the world -- a studio and a label!" said Schaefer.
For more information on Wake Up and Smell the Music! Records, check out www.myspace.com/wakeupandsmellthemusicrecoLine is overdrawn rds. To contact Wake Up, Instant Message Danny Ziemann at Guitarplayer1627, Matt Schaefer at msguitarman9, or Jason Desiderio at Till 2021 AD.
Jason Silverstein is a sophomore at Williamsville North.