There’s a New All-Ages Live Music Venue in Our ‘Hood
In order to take The Track Studio to the next level, owner Perry Neal will say that he had to give up “the crown jewels” first.
“We’ve taken a lot of risks and sold a lot of our best equipment,” Perry said of transitioning the recording studio, founded in 2008, into a music school for kids.
The 4,000 square-foot building is located at 961 N Avenue in Suite 400 in east Plano. It has seven rooms for private voice, guitar, keyboard and drum lessons. Set in an industrial area, Perry touts that people don’t usually expect what they see when they walk into the building — especially the live room, or main stage. This place has a retro vibe and plenty of what Perry calls eye candy. With vibrant, bright blocks on the walls, apple-red barstools and decorative sound diffusers on the ceiling, that description is apropos.
“We are not a recording studio. A recording studio is a one-trick pony that didn’t fit well with the school,” he said.
This was largely because of artists’ desire for entire access to the building for weeks at a time while kids needed to come for their half-hour lessons — all of which caused possible sound bleed issues to the recording. Perry and his son Alex see The Track Studio’s “better long-term” opportunity as a school and all-ages live show venue. Perry even has the expandable idea of creating a franchise — something he’s had a long, corporate background doing.
“Recording studios are dying. It is such a bad business model because of the assets needed and the way the business has evolved. We aren’t saying we don’t like the recording, what we are saying is we can’t make a living doing it. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” Perry said.
The Track Studio is in constant evolution. Though Perry claimed he wasn’t a DIY guy, he is now. Aside from contracting out the flooring and ceiling, he hand-built the live room to reflect this vision that is opposite of what you would typically see from recording studios. There is no carpet on the walls, no candelabras strewn about and no earth-toned marquis tile. He also spent three weeks tuning the room to perfection and it is three times the usual size of a live room.
Next they are investing in mist machines; rotary lights and eventually a food cart will be added for the all-ages shows. Usually when teen musicians play live, they often play at bars where young people are charged a high price at the door to make up the money venues lose on alcohol sales. But at The Track Studio, the shows will not cost more than $10 no matter where they buy the tickets, and it will be a family-friendly experience on Friday and Saturday nights.
A show night would ideally have five bands, each receiving 30-35 minutes of stage time using the studio’s high-end equipment. They would have the opportunity to obtain the live, unedited recording of their show for just $15. Perry said musicians need product if they want a career doing shows.
“There are plenty of ways to learn how to play an instrument, but if you ever want to make it into today’s social-driven media culture, you better have a visual product, and you can only develop it onstage with band members,” he said.
Perry intends to cut booking agents out entirely by approaching high schools and homeschool programs all over Dallas/Fort Worth to bring awareness to what the studio offers — a music school with private lessons and bands that hosts live shows of all musical genres. This definitely makes The Track Studio “the underdog” but Perry believes this is the right direction for the business.
“We know where we want to go, and now we want to prove it.”
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The next all-ages shows at The Track Studio are Friday, Jan. 13 and Saturday, Jan. 14. Details here.
Featured photo at top is musician Cole Wilkinson performing at The Track Studio // photo Jennifer Shertzer