How Music Producer Paul Moak Combines Classic Studio Gear and Advanced Digital Recording

The Nashville-based producer Paul Moak is all about moving forward when he’s creating. One thing that makes it possible for him to stay in the flow is “having a state-of-the-art drive that helps us save time and have storage capability and really not have to worry — and just worry about making music.” As a result, he no longer stores an internal hard drive in a safe hoping it will fire up later, on a wing and a prayer. Instead, the LaCie 6big RAID is a trusted presence at his studio.

Check out his studio in the video, then read below for Paul’s commentary about how he works to help recording artists stay creative by combining classic recording gear with the most effective digital recording and audio management systems.

What are the crucial roles and responsibilities of an effective music producer? Paul Moak offers his insights, and explains where LaCie fits in:

One of our responsibilities here at the studio is to be very certain that we know exactly where every recording that we’ve made is on our computers, and how to access it quickly.

I’ve been using LaCie products for almost 20 years now. One of the cool things about the time period in which my career has spanned is that we went from analog recording to digital technology. But with that came a lot of growing pains.

Transferring audio in the old days

Back in the analog days, when there was a band that I worked for and we went to master their record — the final process before it’s released — we would send a guy on an airplane, with the tapes in his hand, to deliver them to mastering. Because it was it was too risky to ship the tapes.

And now, in theory delivering audio tracks is only a mouse click away. Everything can be transferred over the Internet. But that creates its own problems, because you can have different versions of different albums that don’t need to be out there. So — keeping your files secure, and keeping everything manageable, is quite a big deal.

Early days managing digital audio data

So when we first realized we needed to keep everything in-house — even if it’s being delivered to a record company — we came up with a system of putting things on hard drives and storing those in a fireproof safe. Then we were able to pull those out when needed.

That system is very archaic now. At the time, it worked great — but we’ve done ten years worth of recordings since then.

So that can become quite a big pile to dig through, when you need to find something. And these days people want it now, or yesterday. It’s often weekly, if not daily, that we’re asked to to reach back and grab something from the past, because we’re in a time period where artists need content.

Why LaCie 6big gives me a better way to manage audio data

With our LaCie 6big, we have one repository for all our audio sessions, with RAID redundancy, all searchable and available instantly.

Also when we’re in the middle of recording, the last thing we want to worry about is how much hard drive space we have. The 6big gives us plenty of space, always connected to the session computers, ready to go.

So there are two things that are really important to us with our data management. One is being able to archive projects that we’ve worked on, and being able to access them. And then the other is having enough space for what we’re currently recording.

And the 6big has allowed us to do all that, and not worry about it.

A music producer’s most important role

One of the most important things in making a record is capturing inspiration when it strikes. We’ve spent a lot of time in this building laying a foundation, so when an artist comes in the room we’re able to record whenever they’re ready.

Operating a studio of this size, and having all of this classic recording gear — some of which is 40, 50, 60 years old — we’re constantly doing maintenance on everything around the studio. We have to baby, and keep in operation, the classic analog gear we love that’s capturing the sound.

All of our rooms in the studio and the editing computers are all on a network together. We’re constantly sharing files, so fast data transfer is very important to us as well.

And the one thing we don’t want to worry about is the hard drive and our computer recording system. It’s a big comfort to me to not have to worry about the computer side of recording.

You never want an artist waiting on you for anything as a producer.

Recording without limits — classic gear and advanced digital tools

And ultimately, knowing that we don’t have any limitations — in terms of hard drive space, and in terms of our ability to create — it’s very comforting. And it’s almost like you can put it in the back of your mind, and focus on the things that matter in this studio.

I’m fortunate that artists that have a lot to say, and a talent to say it with, come to trust me with their vision. They trust me with their music. To get to make records and make art that gets out there to people. With that comes a great responsibility to keep track of everything. And not having to worry about where the files are being stored, but know that they’re safe — it’s a big weight off of my shoulders.