You don’t have to leave Columbia to find the perfect recording studio — local musicians can easily find one right here. Including home studios and commercial operations, Columbia has plenty of options, each with its own philosophy, style and method of recording. We spoke to some of the city’s producers for help picking the right studio for your needs.
North Village Recording - The Professional Experience
Looking for professional-grade equipment without the intimidation of a daunting commercial studio? North Village Recording is the place to be. Owner and head producer Tim Hanson says he wants artists to be able to "skip the overthinking and be themselves and work on their music." Hanson prides his studio on having the same quality gear as other professional studios but in an inviting, comfortable environment.
“Some artists are just starting out, and if you go to this professional studio you can feel very intimidated,” Hanson says. “When we work with clients, it’s important for us to make people feel comfortable.”
North Village Recording is the only commercially owned and operated studio in Columbia since its opening in 2013. On average, an artist can record at North Village for $45 per hour. It’s not a budget studio, but the professional-grade equipment and welcoming atmosphere speaks for itself.
1203 E. Ash St., northvillagerecording.com, (573) 823-3969
LinderVox Sound - The Live Experience
As the city’s only location-based recording business, LinderVox Sound is unique. Owner Rob Boullion specializes in live recordings of bands and orchestras and will meet you on location, ready with gear. He also advises artists on the best possible locations for live recordings. “I’ll go check out (the location), we’ll see if it’ll work and look into frequencies, feedback, stuff like that,” Boullion says.
LinderVox Sound also burns CDs and creates album art for an added price. LinderVox Sound’s recording rate starts at $50/hour, or $35/hour for educational/non-profit organizations.
lindervoxsound.com, (573) 268-9802
Apollo Audio Alt - The Metal Experience
For Columbia’s metal artists, Apollo Audio Alt is a haven. Ryan Vincent started out recording for his own band in the '90s before moving on to recording others. He has recorded for several large names in the metal world, such as Misery Index and Phil Anselmo of Pantera. After recording for professional bands, he opened up shop in 2015.
Vincent says he loves recording metal for the challenges it poses. “I got into metal because of the difficulty, it’s hard to master,” he says. Due to its speed, volume and specialized sound, it can be hard to find a producer for this genre.
Vincent takes pride in Apollo Audio Alt’s comfortable atmosphere and ability to accommodate any artist getting into metal. Price range depends on the size of the band and length of session, but Vincent says a session at Apollo Audio Alt averages about $125.
apolloaudioalt.com, (573) 607-0795
Centro Cellar Studio - The Therapeutic Experience
Wil Reeves, owner of Centro Cellar Studio, says he believes there’s more than one definition for what a producer does. As the studio’s sole operator, Reeves wears many hats to assist artists on their creative path. “Some days I’m an engineer, some days I’m a producer,” he says.
Reeves describes his approach as being similar to that of a therapist. “I might have to prod (the artist) a little bit. I see what it is they might want and lead them in that direction,” he says. “I listen to what they’re playing, see how they react, and try to discover what we can do to help them adjust and make it sound the way they want it too.”
Musicians who have recorded at Centro Cellar Studio can shape their music by bouncing ideas back and forth while workshopping their sound. “People seem to be really open to me experimenting, and getting to flex some creative muscle,” Reeves says. Centro Cellar Studio's rates start at $45/hour.
15 Austin Ave., centrocellarstudio.com, (573) 424-6833
MPF Studios - The Raw Experience
If you’re wary of overproducing your music, MPF Studios is the place for you. Owner and operator JT Schnakenberg says he strives to make artists sound like they’re performing live, to capture them in the rawest state possible. “I think (overproduction) takes away from being the artist you truly are,” he says. “I try to get everything done in one track. It might take 20 takes, but when we’re finished, you have one track of this great, raw sound. I don’t overwork it.”
MPF Studios has been in operation for 4 years, but Schnakenberg has been in the industry for over 20, and is also an audio technician for Frank Production Concerts and Live Nation. In his experience with FPC and Live Nation, Schnakenberg has worked with popular venues such as Rose Music Hall and The Blue Note.
Rates begin at $30 per hour. Schnakenberg caters to those who can’t afford the usual high-end studio. “I try to keep my rates as available as possible,” Schnakenberg says. “I’m a musician myself, and I know I can’t afford to spend $1,000 on a record."
602 Jackson St., mpfstudioscomo.wixsite.com, (573) 397-3891
Szkolka Studios - The Vibrant Experience
Szkolka Studios is run out of a renovated former barn next to Pete Szkolka’s home. Szkolka has been in the music business for 45 years. Having played in multiple local bands, his knowledge on the city’s music scene is vast. He has recorded with musicians from an array of genres, including blues, hip-hop, country and rock. He most recently recorded with Willie J. Campbell, formerly of Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Szkolka Studios is known for its diverse clientele and longstanding, prominent role in Columbia’s music scene. “Columbia has always been a vibrant music community,” Szkolka says. “There’s this stubborn insistence on original music. They come in and they’re playing what their hearts want to play. Most of these people aren’t copying the top 40.”
6150 N. Oakland Gravel Road, (573) 489-4674