If you regularly read my column, you’ll have probably realised that I’m obsessed with community. As an industry made up of freelancers who quite often are surrounded by family and friends that don’t really understand what they do for a living, it can be pretty isolating. This is why I’m a huge fan of getting involved with the pro audio community – sharing ideas, meeting up for beers and just generally making friends.
When Romesh Dodangoda created a group on Facebook full of genuinely lovely audio engineers and producers, I was totally on board. And there’s no gear bragging and putting other people down like certain other online communities for audio peeps…
Romesh’s Control Room community has been growing rapidly since the beginning of the year, and it’s easy to see why. Regular question and answer sessions with people at the top of their game, mix competitions with incredible prizes, and discount codes for most brands you can think of, plus the fact that the community here is absolutely rock-solid with actual genuine advice and support, makes it pretty much a pro audio worker’s dream. So, obviously I had to chat to Romesh for some more info…
Hey Romesh! Your Control Room community has grown so rapidly since you started the group. What made you start it in the first place?
I was getting lots of questions about production and mixing over various social networks and I thought there must be a better way to get people that are interested together into one place where I could help a lot of people at once. I would always get questions like “how did you get this guitar sound?” or “what was the processing on the vocal on this track?” And I thought it would be great to actually create something where everyone who was interested could get this information together.
Was starting this group something you’d been planning for a while or was it more spur of the moment?
It is something I had thought about doing for years but I was never sure how it would take off. I’m so overwhelmed at the response and it’s been amazing to have so many pros in there, so it’s no longer just about me. I’m really glad we’ve turned it into a platform where there are so many top producers and mixers discussing their ways of working.
One of my favourite things about Control Room is the Q&A sessions with the pros and the amount of support and advice you get from other members. Audio forums are usually not this positive – how did you manage to create such a great vibe?
I think it’s because of the way everyone is spoken to. One thing I really can’t stand in a lot of forums is the way some people talk down to people with less experience. It really doesn’t create an encouraging environment. Even the pros in Control Room talk to people wanting to learn in a respectful way and that really makes the vibe so amazing.
I think it’s incredible that you do regular mix competitions, allowing members to download stems that you’ve personally recorded. The last mix competition you ran was with Lower Than Atlantis, with Mike Duce as the judge. How do you even go about making that happen?
I’m constantly going through my archives of multi-tracks looking for things that I think will be interesting for people to mix and learn to get better mixes with. I remembered the Lower Than Atlantis session and thought it would be really great because, even though it’s a simple arrangement, the trick is getting the right feel on the song and not to overcook it compression wise, etc. I thought it would be a really nice touch if the Control Room participants could actually mix the song “for the client” so I called up Mike and he agreed to pick the winner. He even filmed a video for the winner, which was so cool. The mix competitions are a nice bonus; you don’t have to do them but a lot of people enjoy it and there’s always some cool prizes up for grabs. This time, as well as the first and second prize, we also gave out some prizes for random entries so that everyone had a chance to win something.
You’ve very kindly arranged discounts on a whole load of studio stuff, from gear and plugins to actual computers. If you were setting up your studio from scratch now, what would your first three purchases be?
I really wanted members to be able to get some great discounts on products. We can pretty much do discounts on anything now, which is amazing. If I was setting up from scratch, the three purchases would be the best monitors I could afford (I have been using NS10s for so many years though), a great interface, and Sonarworks. Using Sonarworks has been an insane game-changing moment for me. Even with my well-treated room, it really made a big difference to my monitoring. We have a huge discount on it in Control Room and everyone who has got it has said how much better it’s made their mixes.
Quite a lot of Control Room members have met up in real life (I personally met up with Julien Kindred, Alex Rose and Dan Crook at The Great Escape over the summer). It’s really great to actually hang out with other audio pros – did you intend to create such a social group?
I intended to create a welcoming and supportive community but I didn’t expect people to meet up in real life. It honestly makes me so happy seeing everyone meet up and post photos. It really shows how supportive everyone is. We are planning some events at some great studios for the future, so I’m really looking forward to that.
A lot of the emphasis in Control Room is on learning new things, no matter whether you’re just starting out or doing audio professionally already. Have you found yourself learning along with the group, and if so, what’s the best thing you’ve learnt from it so far?
Absolutely. I’ve picked up loads of amazing ideas, the members are always teaching me new tricks. I think that’s why it seems to work for both people who are learning and established professionals. There have been lots of producers who have told me they’ve picked up new ideas or ways to try things from reading Control Room posts, so I think it’s been pretty cool for everyone. Sometimes it’s a new plugin or way of using it that sparks a new idea. I have noticed I’ve personally felt a lot more inspired to try out some new ideas after reading about how someone else does something.