Musicians Find Gem at 'Lighthouse Sounds' | Small Business Revolution - Main Street: S3E7
Here. We go, we're about to go surprise. Lighthouse sounds Alex your heart rate start up they, have no idea where, this. Is gonna be awesome. Maybe, we can drop a trap. I. Was. So nervous I am so, and. We're. Inside, lighthouse. Sounds, right now and if you don't record your next album here, your. Albums probably gonna suck go, to lighthouse sounds, calm, do, it small. Towns across the country are fighting for their survival if the odds stacked against, them but what happens if we join that fight if we dedicate, a little money a lot of experience, and thousands, of hours of work into one small town focusing. On the businesses, that are the heart of their Main Street what started, as an idea became, a national, movement with over 30,000. Towns nominated. For the $500,000. Makeover, and more than a million votes cast from. Now. In our third season the team is taking on its biggest challenge ever, the town is three times bigger than any we've helped before and the hurdles Alton faces, will put to the test the very, idea of Main Street America, so, Amanda Brinkman and her team of marketing experts at deluxe our goal door for the people of Alton Illinois and, they're, not alone new, season three co-hosts Ty Pennington will, be working with the team to rehabilitate. The town's buildings, while a whole cast of experts helps rehabilitate its, businesses every, episode, we'll be working with a new small business, to see if we can change the odds if, together, we, could, revolution. This. Is what I've wanted to do my entire life you know since I was 10 years old, ever. Since then I wanted to be an audio engineer. It's. Great, to just love your job and love your life, my. Role was just recording, and mixing and mastering. Me. And Hart we've known each other since what middle-school hearts, dad was my football coach I, uh. You. Know I have no real. Musical, inclination. Or talent but I wanted to start a business just. A place you can call your own I have. To thank my dad for my, work ethic when, he passed away my, dad left me a little bit of money and I wanted to do something for my future you know I want to have something accomplished. And you know match my name with success and that in turn means alex is gonna be successful too because we started this together. Once. Lighthouse started, having. Success so, did the bands in Alton lighthouse. Has really been able to propel. A lot of the bands forward, by being at the, heart of the. Alton music scene Alex. Tons. Of experience making, it sound really good but not, over. Producing. It a lot. Of these bands would have a resource, to record. You know the deals we cut we're like come on in let's get this record done. Alex. Does the day-to-day operations. Of the studio and I'm, still, just learning you know, in the future I would like to start doing that kind of stuff but as of right now I do all the accounting, and I just pay for everything yeah. We. Knew we were gonna be losing money yeah for the first couple years I mean what's one client at a time, it wasn't. Plausible, to be profitable, at all it's. Been a lot a lot of stress you know if, we do something stupid and spend money on something we shouldn't that can make, or break you know so that's why we bicker about the slightest things, we're. Always going at it we're like an old married couple we. Fight quite a bit all the time constantly, he, always wants me to buy and stuff, the. Old married couple where even. Though our business, was doing good spent, so much money here in rent and wasn't making any back we. Were gonna close if we didn't find a building, we. Just had to figure something out. We. Were just, driving on Broadway, and we saw that fireplace, building, I was. Able to use my savings and purchase it so we have no mortgage we have nothing on it. But. There's. Just so much to worry about there's. A thousand, different things that could happen but, we spent hundred grand total probably between investment, and it could all go to nothing if it doesn't, work out I've. Always been a glass half-full person and hearts like a there, is no glass the glass is broken on the floor high person so. Yeah. I want to look negative, up on it sometimes but, you really can't do that I want to get this done make it the most awesome. Studio we can it. Could be our future for the rest of our lives. Between. The business and the building Hardin Alex have taken on a lot of risk but the upside is huge a renowned.
Recording, Studio can pull an artist through literally all over the world and we've got the marketing, and branding power to raise them to that level we've. Also brought in experts whose work is truly world-class, wanita. Copeland is president, and general manager of sound and foreign one, of Nashville's most, prestigious, recording, studios with credits, from Johnny Cash to, Alabama Shakes and she's, brought along chief engineer Mike stingers to help talk tech. We, chose hearten alex for their combination, of raw artistic, talent and exceptional. Work ethic any experts, used to that equation could, truly put them on the map. Alright. So show us around, so you gutted the whole what, was here before a fireplace. Store okay as you can see from the few. Stove. Pipes and chimneys that are left going up the, whole building is about 4,800. Square feet, upstairs. We're gutting and we're not gonna have that finished for, the actual opening. Of this part and this is gonna be our retail, over here and you haven't thought anything about a reception, area or having any one we're. Really not on that yeah. We are putting, the office space for the retail area it could be a good you know kind, of area, for that as well what, are you guys planning to have this construction finished, we're holding for June yeah I'd. Love to sit, down and talk a little bit about the. Stage plans, that you have in the current business model and get money to settle, so for sure. We're. Heading down the block to the courage to do to talk layout we're. Not diving right, in though because lighthouse. Sounds, has a lot of toys so, we've got our therm in here we've, got a lot of weird stuff in the studio and this is one of our our, favorites, so okay, I'll try it sure. Okay. So. What, major funds user Thurmond good vibrations about Beach Boys for films, we use diamonds a lot. Higher. You raise your hand in the latter it'll get. There. Tell us a little bit about how you're planning to kind of roll, up the business and how you're thinking about it well. Right now it's just a matter of getting the the, studio area done so we can you know get in that that, new space and start being profitable would be great to have you know other, options, in the studio that we're making multiple, forms, of income the, retail shop will kind of go hand in hand with the studio part because there's nowhere around here where somebody can get local brand merchandise or, anything so. What is the best way to think through the revenue, model of the studio, I mean what, really is your product, it's the time, right it's absolutely. It's no different than renting, a hotel room but you're renting it to make art I would. Take that area, that you guys are calling a retail space and I. Would make that another, room that will bring you more revenue in my opinion, than, a shop that you can put upstairs all, that space should be utilized, to make music but. I also think you very much need a reception, area so. Much of what we do is its, client. Services, it is taking, care of people being, in the, studio world, there's a four-letter, word call. Vibe yeah. I've heard you guys use that as well for, sure every, studio has gear every. Studio has staff but, vibe, is something you cannot buy your create it but, ideally, you've got an awesome console everybody wants to use and a bunch of outboard options for EQ is compressor there's all that stuff some people are more gear minded others are more vibe minded, yeah but if you can sort of meet in the middle and have enough, of each of those then it'll be win-win, yeah tell me how you're feeling about the things for sharing I mean I agree. With most of it but I want to be able to work in the retail spot because I don't know how to do what he does here you know a record, a session so, I can't really come work at my own business, no it can be me, it. Is music business, it is a business you will be the, prime business, part of it and then, creative part goes to him that's exactly, how the sound Emporium has been set up and that, is how we have thrived and how we have been the busiest studio in Nashville I mean. It's kind of scary you know that the whole our whole plan has been flipped around a little bit but I mean they can find a way to. Apply. That to me being involved more than I'm more, than happy to do that because I want to be able to come work in my own business, strengthening. This business, will do more than just put heart and Alex in a better place the. New building is located in a growing arts district on East Broadway and that's, important for two reasons, first, businesses, like lighthouse and Jacobi's, Art Center across the street are repurposing. Old industrial buildings, that have been vacant for years and second. The cultural, impact of arts businesses, like this one in a, town this size is, immeasurable.
What. I love, about lighthouse. Sounds, is these guys they, want to stick it out in their, town and in, all in small. Towns a lot of times these people that want to play music and mean bands they leave because, they think that there's no outlet for them they're you. Know these are dreams man and sometimes, those, dreams lay in the balance of somebody who cares, about your, talent. Local. Musicians, are already invested, in lighthouses success, it's. Our job to reach everybody, else and that. Means giving these guys a public, face that measures up to their talent. So. Let's talk a little bit about attracting, new customers who handles, your website, your social media. Whenever. We first opened just kind of been adding stuff too we need to do a kind, of an overhaul, there's a couple things but one of the things we love is this video this drone shot of all is awesome, but we want to think through when people are looking for studio spaces what they're coming to your site to do and how you want to kind of take them through that discovery, journey of who you are because that's what we're gonna tell your story that's where we're gonna communicate, your vibe and, your brand for gonna have your logo and how they then book with you we would make sure that the word recording, studio is not only in the, tags on your page but it's littered throughout the site so that you know when the search engines are crawling for those keywords you're. Popping, up search is the name of the game when it comes to the, online space because, it's the majority of how everyone finds businesses, we do it right like a few Google just lighthouse sounds, so I felt like I tried that yeah we had a hard time finding you yeah okay. So let's talk about studio. Operations, best practices, business, structure what we really want to focus on from a studio perspective, may be something that could be helpful. It's, almost writing, a job description for hurt so we're clear, absolute.
Best Practices, between what should the lead engineer be doing versus, the business manager solutely, well, the first thing is that you, have to wear several, hats you're gonna be the, engineer but you're probably also gonna be the technical expert, and you may have to do some light gear repair, and you are gonna have to be the face of the marketing, of the, I don't know how much accounting, experience you have but you're. Gonna need to do that and I had to learn in every bit of it the little details matter, I agree there's a lot of little things we could do like like, the book work that you know how badly that frustrates, yeah what he's saying more or less is like I can, be bad about you know and hearing stuff in QuickBooks at the end of every day or not, just make things harder, you. Should be the one doing that not you that's not acceptable yeah and I would get you if you were my student yeah see, I'm nicer, than you and, I start, getting. Put. That foot down okay, so let's talk a little bit about the business structure give one you get a sense for kind of how you structured, the business Alex. Does. 1099. Independent, contractor, work is how we do it now so I don't have to have payroll and because he's the you know the only one but eventually you will need other, engineers. Yeah that's true because I in the past month, actually I just got a job with vintage King okay. Is it distracting you though from your. Current revelation oh no. No. I don't think so it's not it's, not taking, me away from anything, that's far I don't know for, two weeks yes I am leaving for two weeks that's the only time where I leave and you look before that there's a ton of sessions you look after that there's a ton of sessions in that period there's none because we don't have anybody else right now and what what are you leaving for as a trainee yeah, well, I. Even. Before I knew about this I was nervous that you guys didn't, have another engineer, because, you can't have that, it that is a kiss of death two, weeks would no income, kiss. A death so I am curious kind of how decision-making. And things like that happened it's at you because of the ownership of the business are you trying to make all these decisions equally, me and him are partners but everything. And the corporation's all under my name so. If everything is in Hart's name in what, way are you guys actually partners. Does. That make sense that. Question. Work. I mean out there, I mean the best way I think to put it is there wouldn't be a studio without either, one of us on paper it's Hart's business yeah it's in reality, it's the two of us yeah, a lot of equipment is his he invests a lot of the money he makes back to gear for the studio right so here's part of the partnership is the gear and services. Mm-hmm, the gear technically, is an asset of the business Alex's. We. Sold lighthouse sounds, yeah just, someone and they offered us whatever a bunch of money yeah and I offer you something you're gonna leave your gear the gear as part of an asset is you fix that but as of right now the way it's set up legally that is that, is where it can get scary because it's messy your friends, now is just, healthier.
And Easier, now to have very clear cut lines of ownership because right now you are the one with the business risk if. You don't think Juanita and I have ever, had to go through any of those kind of some mistake. Yeah. Been. Through a lot you don't have to bring yours. It. Is hard to mix friendships. And business, family, and business yet. A lot of people go into business with their friends and their family it's. Kind of difficult talking, through that stuff because it is hard to trust you know that's a lot of money of mine that's been put, towards someone else so they. Can have a partnership till the cows come home but the buck stops was hard and he's, gonna have to take a more forceful role, as a leader for it to work. Between. 1969. And 1979. Aretha. Franklin, Paul, Simon, Willie Nelson, and the Rolling Stones all recorded. In a tiny studio in Muscle Shoals Alabama, and, if, we play this right Alex. And Hart could bring big artists from all over the country to make music in Alton, Illinois but. To get there lake house is going to have to take some huge leaps for it in every facet of their business, partner. Alex will continue construction on the new space but, deluxe shows local contractors, on standby ready, to hire in case the guys need help with the build oh because. We're going to be asking a lot of them over the next few months Juanita. And Mike are going to continue, to work with Alex and Hart shoring, up operations, and filling out the gear list while, the deluxe marketing, team collaborates. With them on rebranding, the business as a destination, recording. Studio light, house sounds, it's about to make a big move, into a new studio space so, the key will be to ratchet, up that brand, that looks that feel that the big bands really consider them if, we're trying to reach artists outside about their, first impression, of lighthouse sounds is going to be the website so, that's where we started over over I heard from their interviews like we don't want to be sterile we don't want these stare about their website is really sterile. Hopefully. We can address that from photos kind of like those photos, from studios you'd see like you know rock turtles taken while we focus on website, babe hearts hustling to keep the construction, schedule on track and, mics. Across town working with Alex on the other key ingredients at any recording, studio the gear upgrade, just a little to something stuff that's a little more recognizable, to the clients. Alex. Obviously, wants a bunch of gear, but once you're kind of running and operating you have income to reinvest, that's, where you can start slowly over time adding, new gear they'll, just be a slow process so, photography, the, gear upgrades might be along but, the guys are putting together some of the other key pieces that puzzle even faster, than we had hoped you don't, bring some new guys on our team I remember, one eita saying that you know you need more engineers I, was like okay I'll try and. You know now we've got four, people in the West it. Just, really makes. My heart sing. It's. Amazing, how part notes are clean all of these ideas into practice but, we've got to make sure the transition into a bigger staff runs, smoothly we can put all your employees on direct deposit, makes it very simple so as your business grows we're gonna be able to grow with you you're not gonna have to worry about tax, payments, or anything.
Organizing. Payroll may not be the sexiest, part of running a business but. It's a lot sexier, than getting hit with a tax penalty, it happens, over 40% of small businesses every year and right, now pardon, Alex can't afford to have it happen to them. A. Lot. Of the engineers, have their own unique qualities. So. We try to depict, that in their biographies, all of these engineers, are musicians actually, play that actually performs, so they know what it takes new, building new, staff new brands none. Of it matters if the partnership isn't, strong and the time to take care of that, before. The business really starts to take off and. The. Best situation, from your perspective, what is the value that you've brought into the organization on, percentages. And things that sort just, the reputation I've built for us alone I think 25 is fair ten percent is what I feel comfortable with I mean and that's me being nice with. The revenue I brought in I believe I've created the value for the business we started the studio together, right but with my because. You had no initial, investment, except for a couple things from your house without that, there would be no space, to create a value, you've actually gotten, to put money in your pocket, I have not if I could actually give myself a paycheck, and if, we started, making money we're about you, know about - yeah exactly I don't, want nothing I want to see this, business be successful before I give that much away you know it could be in the future that when things are starting to get. Better we, would need to set up some parameters of, this, is how we are testing, success, and. Right, these are the things that if these happen and the percentage, goes up to 25% or, something like that I'm not opposed in the future depending, on what happens changing. That right, heart, foot in the most time the most money the most effort so whatever ownership, I would take you. Know I want hard to get his investment, back before. You. Know I would see any sort. Of benefit, I will still be happy and have a great. You. Know I want this to work the. Structure the business is starting to take shape but with all of the demands on her time the, build-out is fine time so. We're calling in the local contractors, to make sure Hart doesn't have to finish the new space alone. You. Know this is one of the hardest things we've had to do with any of the businesses, it's a massive, space and being.
Able To get it done in the time that they've wanted to do it has been the challenge you know we're helping them with, design of the front area you know putting new windows and getting. A really cool retro, looking. Sign. Based, on their new logo, they were very tied, to, that lighthouse they didn't want to abandon that so we came up with several options they're having a lot of fun exploring logos, so we'd presented, more than just three to them which is normally. What we would present with. All the work Curt and Alex are doing in shaping the new space we, want the guys to see a world-class studio, in action so, we've booked them a trip to Nashville where, Juanita and Mike arranged for a private tour of the legendary, sound Emporium, their. Gear selection is insane. Like vintage and new and it's just amazing so yeah I'm like a kid in a candy shop here no, he's been looking at gear I've been looking at designs and the way they have stuff it's just homey. In here it's like I'm in the lounge in the lobby I get I see what they're talking about how that's a very important, part of the studio. Good. That, was the purpose we wanted to inspire you. Now. My layouts, gonna be a little different than we had talked about we, can do it bigger, than I had imagined, before, the, ultimate. Goal is to get people to talk at work um look at our student come check it out so we actually decided to put. Four plans onto the website so that when people do go visit, it it's gonna feel like home we do find out that people you know basically lived there for nine months and then out recording, an album okay why be confident, and right, on the heels of the Nashville tour, Juanita, really, pulled a rabbit out of her hat I heard you. Have some good news our. Broker, found an amazing console. That, is going to be a game changer for them and it, is less than half the cost of, what they would have found anything for online, we're, so excited, it, is a big deal just gonna kind, of put us on a different level than we were before you see this Matt massive, console in there that looks legit it just gives it that wow factor we. Didn't have well. This is great cuz the new console, can go in the larger studio and then they will, not have a smaller studio. As well yeah and it allows us to spend our budget on the things that they need in terms of infrastructure. The, exposed, brick looks so good because, I played music to like this really excites me I was so stoked for you I'm so, excited I like that how much time do you think this was saved the, framing, that delux had do for us it would have taken me by myself probably, three weeks so you got new windows right yes sir I got new front windows this would have this would have been very hard for me to do my son actually. Helped, us move towards getting ready to open and where you. Want me to make a couple of cuts you want to slap up to what yes and then just get a few things done so. I've had a lot of experience, building things I've also renovated, a lot of old warehouses there's something about going. Into an old building but, now it's got a new life and see, new studs going up that. Is the elation of like this place is gonna be insane. In spite. Of everyone's, hard work the building is still a couple of months from completion. But, the wrestle a house sounds makeover is dialed, in and ready for the big move including. A pretty big surprise that we've been conspiring with Jensen fabrication. To design and sneak into the new space so.
After Months of long-distance, collaboration. The band is getting back together one, last time to launch lighthouse 2.0. Waltons, world-class, recording, studio. So. Let's go, back in time and talk about your existing, logos, so you had kind of two of them out there, we truly wanted to be very clear that this is a music company and so we worked with you on developing, your new, logo. Awesome. I, love, that we still held on to the lighthouse but by adding kind of this really, great vinyl, record look it communicates, music, right away I love the fun and I'm really glad that you guys can incorporate the, original, design because I was super adamant, about that all. Right so one of the tests of a great logo is to see what it looks like. Awesome. And then this isn't it's probably, my favorite, guitar. Picks, that's. All I, love that we thought it would be really fun to make coasters those are amazing just. Having your brand around your own space, yeah makes a business feel so professional. Postcards. Can be a really great way to take off the fact that you've moved what, the small business revolution has, done for lighthouse sounds, you kind of handed them this awesome. Here you're gonna succeed package, and that's immeasurable, they 100%. Are going to excel at this, okay are you guys ready to see your new website beauty okay, here's your new site oh. Wow. That is great. That looks awesome I love the color scheme I love to layout like it's a lot better than anything I could have ever imagined, we right away when I draw out the booking asset button in itself to really make booking, very clear, dad's gonna call to action, to really encourage people if they want to they can come in and take a look then by just adding some personality. And photography, to it it really personalizes. It it doesn't feel like you're just filling out a booking form it feels like you are communicating and, developing, a relationship already. And the right of way we want to get into about us so this is where we're gonna use the high quality videos it's still right there on your. Home page but it has a little bit of context to it right we've added words we've added things that will help with search trees added it as a clickable, video versus, an automatically, playing one so that the user, can decide when they want to engage with the video rather than the website, to sign it for them so, did you guys build in like if someone is searching for st. Louis, area, recording, studios will, it grab them yes in a subpage we definitely built in other words that could potentially, play into how people would search for your business it really does help to build a website from a search mentality. Okay. So then we want to make sure that we get to know the team right away a little bit of their history, their experience, why they love music right, away by introducing, the team you put a face to the business, and they will go to your website and they'll walk in the door and say oh I recognize, you from the website yeah so it does happen let's. Look at the studios page so we've got a studio floor plan so people can get a sense for what each of the rooms and studios. Are best used for it and then again another, option, to you, know book a studio tour or call where it's just many times it's possible training your hammer that home right yeah now, let's get to the gear page artists, will search and producers, will search based on what, kind of gear you have so, we want to make sure that your gear list looks crawlable by a search engine we want to make sure it is listed on your site as keywords. And this will be somewhere that you're gonna want to be constantly, updating, as you're adding a new and new every, every single thing it's always an immediate I send it to our web guy and yeah I knew. Mike's in the last week so we need well there you go thank you, it updated is really, important, you guys have been doing a really great job with social media this is an automatic, seed from your Instagram so that you aren't having to refresh. Your website constantly, with new photography's any solution, where you just have to post something one, day.
Work. In multiple places and then we've got the hwachun listened so this is your opportunity to talk about past video sessions, past clients. It's kind of your your book of work, I links right to your YouTube channel as well as your SoundCloud, this, is just, above. And beyond we could even imagine this, website is head and shoulders above the competition in this area yeah. Percent. So. I think, that you're gonna be stealing, some some. Of the clients from over the water I've seen a lot of studio websites. That's. Right up there in, our website was okay but it was definitely lacking a lot of things and the new site, looks phenomenal so, I feel like that's gonna take us you know to a new level as well everything, about this is just on a whole different scale, in level than it could have been last time we were here you were kind of working out your structure, and how, the partnership. Was working so we talked, with a lawyer the other day we figured out a percentage, and we're setting stipulations, for those percentages, to change as the business grows so his, gear is now a part of the business as well that's part of his bias yeah well. That's the smart way to do it because it's clear defined lines and you don't have that grey area where it can actually ruin, relationships all, right well I'm so excited about all these different working pieces and I can't wait to see the progress on the new building should we go check it out yes, let's do it. All. Right so from the very beginning Juanita might have been advising, you that it's really important, that your Lobby communicates. That great customer experience, right away and obviously you have to use your imagination because, you're still building on the walls but, we wanted to you know get you either start for your furniture, so. You can get a sense for how cool that modern, vintage viable, feel actually in the space of your reception. Area it's the heart of your business yeah this looks, amazing and it's going to be even oh. Yes you, can see what its gonna be juanita, for her to be as supportive as she wants that's that really means a lot if, they went above and beyond we're, so honored to be a part of this with you you've, taken every, bit of advice that you've been given and put it into action the pace in this process, that we go through with businesses, for this show it's it's unbelievable and you guys have just really. Stepped, up all right so we have one more surprise for you. This, was made right here in Alton by Jensen fabrication. They did a beautiful job curious, yet oh ho this is where your history begins right right one. Two, three. Wow. Wow. Dad. Gnarly, credible, a. Recording. Studio is making part the, fact that they take that seriously. And they're. Creating, a space that people are going to want to come in and create, that art is, incredible, I would love to make a recognize, Lulu. D putting, the sweat and there are tears into, building their dream the. Fact that we could sort of help spark that and watch that is phenomenal. Every. Time you watch a movie or, read a book or, listen to an album you. Are watching the work of hundreds, of people the. Vast majority of whom never end up with their face Medical Board or in health they. Put in the hours often. Long and thankless simply. For the love of the art it's. The gift that artists, and the business people that sound behind them give, to the rest of us and it's, been an honor. Alex and heart chase, that dream I think is that would be super practical we done sure. On. The. Season finale of small business revolution Main, Street it's awesome and all the entire team descends on Alton Illinois hoping, to finish the town's makeover, before the closing, event looks like we can get this done in time but, bringing the town together will challenge, their very definition of Main Street America everything. Takes time and you don't, know what you don't know you knew that this is a special and beautiful place and it couldn't be better it's about wanting to help one another because, that's what a community is don't, miss the finale of it on the, next episode of small business revolution Main, Street heart, and Alex have the potential to run a nationally, known recording, studio but, building a reputation in a small town isn't, easy visit. Deluxe comm backslash, lighthouse sounds, to learn more about how the deluxe team amped up their brand presence to, make lighthouse sounds a beacon to musicians, near and far.