The Record Co. provides accessible recording space in Newmarket Sq.
Walking down the hallway of The Record Co. in Newmarket Square is like going around the world in 80 steps. Out of one door wafts the mournful sound of bagpipes; out of another, the bold beats of a hip-hop track; a few steps later, an Italian opera aria drifts out of a third space. This impromptu global mixtape illustrates the wide range of artists utilizing this local resource.
The Record Co. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers studio space, recording equipment and other music-making tools to the public at an extremely affordable rate. While a recording session at a private institution can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, renting a space at The Record Co. is just $10-$35 per hour. That includes access to the nonprofit’s library of special equipment and instruments like keyboards, floating microphones, synthesizers and more.
“Music-making, creating music socially with other human beings, is a very ancient thing. It’s in our bones,” says Matt McArthur, The Record Co.’s founder and executive director. “When you succeed at being accessible in the way we envision, you end up with this really rich melting pot of people who have a variety of abilities, a variety of goals, a variety of racial and gender group identities, and a variety of backgrounds in terms of their relationship to music.”
More than 4,000 artists, musicians and creatives use The Record Co.’s space every month. The site offers recording studios, rehearsal spaces, production suites for sound engineering and a community room with flexible application. These spaces are utilized for all kinds of projects, not only for recording music and albums, but also for recording podcasts, for group rehearsals and for experimenting with new instruments.
Cost is one important piece of the accessibility equation, but location is another. McArthur says users of The Record Co. were ecstatic to have a space like this near the Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods, when they would typically have to travel miles to get downtown or to Berklee College of Music to access recording space. Cultural competency is an important component as well. McArthur says private recording spaces will often add an extra insurance charge for hip-hop or rap groups that are operated by musicians of color. The Record Co. is designed for greater equity and access for all groups.
Going forward, McArthur hopes The Record Co. can expand to support even more artists.
“If you’re a sculptor and you’re using chemicals, you can’t do that in your garage. If you’re a glass-blower and you need a furnace, you can’t do that in your garage. If you’re a drummer and you live in an apartment building, you can’t practice there,” says McArthur. “We spend a lot of time thinking about physical space and the intersection of physical space and creativity.”
The Record Co. also provides a social space for artists to mingle and network. McArthur says the hallways and common spaces are always pulsing with energy and conversation, and artists often connect while grabbing a coffee or taking a rehearsal break. It’s important to McArthur that everyone feels comfortable in the space. It’s not just for “professional” musicians, he says.
“I understand that many people think that for musicians, this is a money-making commercial endeavor. Actually, most of them are doing it for another purpose,” says McArthur. “They’re doing it to experience joy. They’re doing it to connect with other human beings. They’re doing it to build the kind of community that they want to be in, and they’re making the city that you live in a better place to be.”