Recording studio

After the pandemic closed his recording studio, he had an epiphany

It has been a year since the pandemic began. In the series “The Creative Grind,” reporters from ARTery spoke with individual creators to assess the financial and artistic impact of COVID-19 in the Boston area.

The International Show producer and musician works in a recording studio tucked away behind a hidden storefront in Weymouth. It’s not glamorous, but it has everything it needs: a computer, a mixing console, a recording booth, and a small electronic keyboard that he plays when he wants to relax.

This is the place where Show, whose first name is Roy Studmire, makes a living. He’s kind of a jack of all trades: he rents the studio out to artists who record, mix songs and produce beats under license and for sale. He also records his own music, hip-hop inspired by his Christian faith.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Show was, as usual, at the studio. His phone sat on the desk next to him, lit up from customers’ texts. Business was picking up, although it wasn’t like it used to be.

Like most businesses in Massachusetts, Show was forced to shut down last March. He was able to reopen a few months later, although he feared at the time that he would accidentally expose his young son to the virus. “He lives with his mom most of the time, because, you know, she works from home,” Show said. “This is kind of one of the hardest parts of [the pandemic], not being able to see it as much as usual.

Mike Mack, right, working with International Show, points to part of a Christian gospel song played on the board and suggests a certain singer they know who might perform it. (Jesse Costa / WBUR)

The other hardest part, of course, was the bottom line. Show fell behind on rent during the months that its studio was closed. He already owed his owner money, he said, for helping him renovate the studio, bringing his total debt to nearly $ 50,000.

“It’s something that a lot of people on the outside don’t see,” he said. “The studio looks good … but in the back of my mind there’s always a tab that needs to be paid for.”

Show said he was denied a COVID-19 economic disaster loan due to his credit history. He managed to get a few thousand dollars in grants. The biggest boon has been the federal extension of unemployment benefits to contract workers like him.

An estimate of the professional expenses of the Salon International.  (Arielle Gray / WBUR)
An estimate of the professional expenses of the Salon International. (Arielle Gray / WBUR)

Then, about six months ago, as the hope for a vaccine began to shine and Show’s business began to pick up, he decided to change.

“I was just meditating one day and it really touched me,” he recalls.

Show describes himself as a Christian hip-hop artist, but as a producer and engineer he has always worked with anyone who asked him to. The pandemic has changed all that. He realized that he only wanted to produce a job in line with his values. So he decided to pivot his business to focus exclusively on the Christian music market.

“People were dying. I have had friends who have passed away. And my church always has multiple funerals throughout the week, ”Show explained. “I wanted to support and support music that promotes good emotion and has a positive outcome.”

He was careful not to pass judgment on the artists who worked with him in the past. “Who am I to judge their condition and their point of view?” ” He asked. “But I have my own trip.”

This decision comes at a price. Show has abandoned most of his existing clients and now estimates he earns around $ 4,000 a month, about half of what he used to have. That’s enough to cover the studio’s monthly overhead costs of $ 2,750, but it doesn’t leave much to pay for rent, groceries, and auto insurance – let alone debts.

Still, he thinks it was worth it.

“The studio has evolved into just more than getting in and recording people and producing,” he said. “It has become a haven of peace and a place of healing and emotion. “

As it turned out, the pandemic had offered an unexpected gift: clarity about who he was and how he wanted to move around the world.

“That’s where the faith part comes in, because it’s a really big step in faith,” Show said. “It’s not just something I’m talking about, ‘Oh, I have faith.’ I’m really stretching, exercising, and taking giant leaps at the same time, because in my mind I have such a broad vision.