Joel Stoner, Studio Suite - EMusician

Joel Stoner, Studio Suite

Studio Suite got its start innocently enough. I purchased my first computer in ’89, along with an application called FileMaker Pro. I had no idea what FileMaker was, but I started playing with it. Soon I discovered I could make a database of all of my contacts. I got immersed, and realized that I could also use it to
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Studio Suite got its start innocently enough. I purchased my first computer in ’89, along with an application called FileMaker Pro. I had no idea what FileMaker was, but I started playing with it. Soon I discovered I could make a database of all of my contacts. I got immersed, and realized that I could also use it to create invoices for my engineering work. I thought it was so cool that from my newly created Invoicing module, I could just select the client’s name from a popup menu, and their address and phone number would auto-fill into the invoice — I didn’t have to type it twice. We take that stuff for granted now, but it seemed remarkable back then.

Being a recording engineer, my first thoughts were how could I use this in the studio. That spawned a Tape Library module, which would keep track of not only all of the tapes I was working on, but print labels for different tape formats too. The Tape Library linked to a separate Songs module, which kept track of each song on each tape, and included a track sheet. I added bells and whistles, like delay and time code calculators, lyric comp sheets, production status, etc.

It grew from there. Studios have tons of equipment. Each piece has a bunch of details — brand, model, price, date of purchase, serial numbers, etc. The Equipment module was linked to the Rooms module, so each room knew what equipment was inside it. Equipment needed maintenance, so the Maintenance module was born. The spiral had started: I was addicted to creating slots for every little detail in the studio ecosystem, and finding ways to link those slots to other slots. This allowed you to look up a client in the Contacts module, and have all of their related Projects, Invoices, and Tapes at your fingertips. The modules multiplied. I was staying up all night programming, and when I finally went to sleep, I’d have detailed dreams of what came next.

Parallel to that time, there was no standard “studio management” software for the industry, so when employees moved to a new studio, they had to learn a whole new system — at best a mish-mash of separate applications that didn’t talk to each other, and at worst, a dog-eared, smudged-up, calendar book with an explosion of post-it notes. I didn’t fully realize at the time, but I was building the future of studio management software (and a whole new career) in my spare bedroom.