BOSTON — This past July, Converse opened the Boston location of Converse Rubber Tracks, the third permanent music studio they have established. Rubber Tracks is a free recording studio for musicians who are just starting out. Converse Rubber Tracks gives artists a taste of what they can accomplish in a studio and how their music will sound using state-of-the-art equipment. Whatever artists create during their eight hour day, they own the rights to.
“Converse owes so much to music,” says Jed Lewis, Director of Media Marking for Converse Rubber Tracks. “We wanted to give something back, especially to emerging artists.”
Lewis says Converse asked independent artists what was the hardest obstacle to overcome to get into the music industry, and musicians consistently answered “studio time.”
Nicole Marie Dessingue, who goes by the moniker “Orchids,” says it “sounded too good to be true.”
When Dessingue arrived for her recording session, Rubber Tracks offered her a pick of five different microphones, one of which was a Manley Gold Reference, a microphone upwards of $7200.
“I went home and looked it up and went ‘I can’t afford this,'” says Dessingue. “But at least I got to use it at Converse Rubber Tracks.”
The Boston Rubber Tracks location offers 1100 sq. ft with a live room full of vintage and new equipment, two isolation booths, and a control room with a 32 input Neve Designs 5088 recording console and Ocean Way HR3 studio monitors.
Evan Kenney, Studio Manager, says that the studio is equipped with everything a band could conceivably need. One band, he says, showed up with “only a backpack and a banana.”
Artists that apply need to be passionate about what they do and active on social media. Kenney says it isn’t a talent competition, but instead rests on who needs it. Bands need to have a sample of their music in their application, as the staff of Converse goes through and listens to each applicant to give everyone a fair chance.
Lewis says Converse Rubber Tracks is an entry studio for musicians who are recording for the first or second time. It was important to the founders of Converse Rubber Tracks to not have a negative impact on other studios that are pay-to-play. “It’s the beginning of a bigger cycle,” says Lewis. “It doesn’t change the music community, but encourages more recording.”
Besides being a free studio, Converse Rubber Tracks also offers Rubber Tracks Live, where bands that perform at the studio can open for a well known band at a prominent music venue in the vicinity. This past spring, the Sinclair hosted a week-long showcase for emerging artists to share their music with new audiences.
Another pain point independent artists reported was not having enough samples, which are individual, reusable sound recordings, to create music on their computers. Converse responded by introducing the Converse sample library, with access to more than 22,000, high quality, royalty free samples.
Lewis says Converse Rubber Tracks wants to keep growing, too. “We ask, ‘How many artists can we touch with this? Are there more ways to touch more artists?”