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Meet Steve Fisher of 11th Street Studios in West Midtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Fisher.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Steve. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up in Charleston, SC, music was always something I loved, although I didn’t really realize I could end up having a career in it. From getting into hip-hop in the mid-80’s, as well as early forms of EDM like electro breaks and Latin freestyle by the late 80’s, I was always interested in exploring new and exciting music. I picked up trumpet in 5th grade, and spent the next 7 years studying musicianship through classical music and, later, jazz. From the moment, I got my first car, my friends and I found a new hobby: we graduated from boom boxes to car audio. Building speaker boxes, wiring amps and crossovers, many a weekend was spent in friends’ driveways trying to create the perfect system.

It wasn’t until while in college, when 4 of my closest friends became DJ’s spinning House, Breakbeat, and Drum&Bass in the mid-90’s did I really find my path. I tried my hand at DJ’ing with them from time to time, helped them set up sound systems for parties, and even did a short stint in broadcasting at the college radio station doing a trip hop/ rare groove/ acid jazz show. I found myself wanting to get involved in the music and culture I was passionate about, but becoming frustrated that I couldn’t interact with the sound the way I wanted to. I began to realize I wanted to get my hands on the music at a deeper level, at an earlier stage, before it was cut onto a record. That was how I wanted to get involved. I wanted to do whatever THAT was. That’s when I began reading album credits and discovering the world of music production and that there were professions such as audio engineering. It was an instant connection. I soon changed majors from Chemical Engineering to Media Arts and began to immerse myself in this new field.

By the time I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1998, I knew I needed to go to a bigger market; staying in Charleston or Columbia wasn’t a realistic option. Atlanta was the closest industry hot spot. So I made the move and landed an internship at the late great Doppler Studios. My persistence there led to an assistant engineering position, which after a year or so led to me becoming a full-fledged recording engineer. After spending 3 years at Doppler and looking to grow I moved over to the newly build Patchwerk Studios, spending the next 5 years on staff there staying very busy and honing my craft. Eventually, the opportunity to open my own studio came along. It was a situation I couldn’t pass up.

In those early years I got to work with and learn from so many talented artists, producers, songwriters, engineers, and mixers, it was really exciting. Working behind the scenes on projects, watching them get released to critical acclaim, hearing them on radio, in clubs, seeing the videos on TV, and watching them climb the charts, it was always a fun and rewarding process. I love engineering and mixing records, it’s a great blend of both art and science, musical creativity and technological skill. As I’ve moved up and my role has evolved, it’s now more about running a business, having a vision, building a team and network, and continuing to grow into a larger force in the industry. I’ve been blessed to have a long career with some great achievements. With over 500 releases under my belt, including over 100 RIAA certified gold & platinum releases, dozens of Billboard #1’s, a host of Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning projects, I still feel the best is yet to come — which is what keeps me motivated. You have to stay hungry. It’s the desire to do something bigger that keeps you pushing forward.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I came to Atlanta without knowing anyone here, no family or friends, just pursuing my dream. I had to make my own way. Being an entrepreneur is always difficult, starting a business from scratch is tough, and a lot of it is figuring it out on the fly, making adjustments, and keeping the big picture in focus. The nature of our business is that work comes in waves, so you have to learn to not to overspend when times are good, because you need to be able to survive the drought when it hits — and it will hit. Not everybody handles the feast-or-famine aspect too well, and it has sent a lot of studios and even engineers and producers running. The music business crashed around 2009, a difficult period that put a lot of studios out of business, but we were able to weather the storm, and now as the transition of music from a sales model to a streaming model is almost complete, things are starting to getting back to normal — or at least everyone can get back to work. We were able to make it by balancing major label work with independent artists and labels. Relying on either one too much can make life difficult, but the proper blend of the two can work really well. The business has changed a lot, even in the past 10 years. You have to adapt, try to stay up on where things are going and try to stay ahead of the curve. When a lot of people gave up on Atlanta and moved to LA, Nashville, or New York, we stayed the course, so it’s been rewarding watching everything come back full circle just like we believed it would, with Atlanta as strong as ever.

Please tell us about 11th Street Studios.
11th Street Studios is a 7,000 SF music production facility located in West Midtown. We opened in 2006 with 2 rooms, and have since grown to 5 working rooms, with 2 more to be added in the next year. We also have an eye on expanding to a 2nd location in the near future, which will include getting into audio post production, i.e. sound for film, tv, video games, trailers, radio & tv adverts, ADR, voiceover, 5.1 surround mixing, and even film scoring. Currently we specialize in recording, mixing, and mastering services, and we also offer songwriting and music production thru our other in-house companies. We mostly work in Hip Hop, R&B/Soul, and Pop Music, but have also done a good bit of EDM, Gospel, and World Music as well. Since opening we have earned 24 RIAA certified Gold or Platinum albums, and we are proud to have been a part of 4 different Billboard #1 albums in the past year, including Kanye West, Travis Scott, and both of Future’s latest offerings. One of the most consistent comments we get is that people love the vibe here. It’s hard to put into words what that is exactly, but it’s something we’ve cultivated from the beginning. We want people to feel at home, to be comfortable, relaxed, and inspired to let their creativity flow. Advertising is not a big part of our business. It is mainly a word-of-mouth game. We have successfully navigated that by doing quality work, becoming known for getting results, and building relationships. You have to earn clients’ trust, and from there your reputation spreads.

The studio’s success has also allowed me the freedom to pursue other avenues in the music business, including occasional production, starting both a record label (11th Street Recordings) and a music publishing company (11th Street Music) with Grammy-winning producer Blac Elvis, a promotions company (Respect Artistry) with A&R/Manager Mathias Sorum, my engineering and R&D company (Audio Elements) and a few other projects currently in development, including a speaker company and an audio plugins company. It’s a lot to juggle, and it seems there is never enough time in the day. But when you love what you do it never truly feels like work.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I really wouldn’t do anything differently… sure I’ve made mistakes, but you learn from them and keep going. It’s all part of the process. It’s easy to look back and say “I wouldn’t do that again”, but you don’t always realize that even those mistakes may lead to positive things later, and in the end, all of it is why I am where I am today. So I really don’t like to second-guess myself like that. You have to follow your passion, trust your gut, and don’t let fear get in the way of you pursuing your dreams. Keep learning, keep growing, keep challenging yourself.

Pricing:

  • Studio A: $140/hr w/engr ($125/hr room only)
  • Studio B: $125/hr w/engr ($110/hr room only)
  • Studio C: $95/hr w/engr ($80/hr room only)

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Darnell Wilburn

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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