Coronavirus

Nashville Session Pros Use Tech During Studio Shutdown, Though 'Magic' Isn't Guaranteed

Ross Copperman
Taylor Kelly

Ross Copperman

The coronavirus has killed more than 40,000 Americans — will it kill Nashville studios, too?

With safer-at-home restrictions preventing musicians from recording en masse, a modern website, audiomovers.com, is keeping session work alive. The technology allows a producer and musician in separate locations to work in real time with an existing track. Skype has been used in the past, but AudioMovers provides a higher-quality sound.

Producers Joey Moi (Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen) and Ross Copperman (Dierks Bentley, Kelsea Ballerina) have worked that way in the last few weeks, as have keyboardist Dave Cohen, guitarist Derek Wells and drummer Miles McPherson. It's a change necessitated by the shutdown.

"Audio Movers has been around for a couple of years maybe, but it was used most of the time to OK a mix from afar," says Cohen. "If you're a mix engineer and the artist doesn't have time to come in, you can broadcast live high-quality [music] and then get [immediate] feedback."

Attempts have been made with similar technology to conduct entire tracking sessions with multiple musicians at different locales, but the hassle and bandwidth limitations have thus far made it impractical. Tech, of course, is always advancing, though studio owners and the musicians themselves thus far think it unlikely that the new tech will entirely destroy the existing studio business.

"You don't get the magic of the studio [with remote recordings] — there's something to be said about that," suggested Copperman.

It's unrealistic to simultaneously record extremely large ensembles, such as orchestras, from remote locations, and there are some artists — such as Chris Stapleton or Miranda Lambert — whose music is much better suited for a raw band recording together instead of a piecemeal creation.

"Dierks is going to want to sit down together and make a record," says Copperman.

For now, remote apps are the best solution: Nashville studios are unlikely to reopen before June 1.

This article first appeared in the weekly Billboard Country Update newsletter. Click here to subscribe for free.

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