As most musicians can attest, a great recording studio is more than a place where music is made. It offers expert guidance, state-of-the-art equipment, and a nurturing, supportive environment that inspires the very best performances and produces recordings of the highest quality.
These are just a few of the characteristics for which Innovation Station Music, a recording studio and music production company located a few miles outside of Washington, D.C., have come to be known. It’s little wonder, then, that the studio recently received the prestigious WAMMIE award for “Best Music Studio” in the DC Metro area.
The honor, which was accorded to studio Owner and Producer/Engineer Dave Mallen at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington on March 31, 2019, was an unprecedented achievement for a home-based studio. This year, the WAMMIES were administered in a fresh way by an organization called The MusicianShip. Unlike in the past, nominations were open to anyone living in the metropolitan area, and those submitting nominations were required to provide testimonials and data to support their pick in each category. This thorough and democratic process makes Innovation Station Music’s win quite significant.
Innovation Station Music’s achievements are all the more remarkable considering its humble beginnings. Starting out in a small townhouse bedroom in 2006 (later migrating to the basement), Mallen rebooted his studio business in a newly-constructed home in nearby Annandale, Virginia. In 2017, with the help of renowned studio architect Wes Lachot, Mallen opened his new facility, which offers five fully-soundproof rooms, pristine acoustics and the finest recording tools – all with the same comfy, relaxed vibe as before.
According to Mallen, “It took over a year of painstaking design and another year to build, not to mention a whole lot of perseverance and fortitude – but then, nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. Today, I’m proud to say we have the most state-of-the-art studio in the area, and clients simply love the vibe.”
Innovation Station Music truly provides the best of both worlds – all the comforts of a home-based environment, with all the benefits of a world-class studio. But as Mallen and his clients are well aware, it takes more than a beautiful, multi-room facility and top-flight gear to create a space where musicians feel comfortable and free to fully develop their ideas.
“Innovation Station Music was built to foster collaboration and a sense of community,” Mallen notes. “We place an emphasis on personal attention and care deeply for each of our clients – inside and outside of the studio. It’s probably the reason so many of our clients become great friends.”
In every sense, Innovation Station Music is a “one-stop shop” capable of handling whatever the project calls for – from song development to post-project business strategy. Uniquely, Mallen works with clients to establish musical and business goals in the pre-production phase, and these goals inform many of the choices made throughout the project. Projects typically conclude with the creation of a Strategic Music Business Plan, which serves as a detailed roadmap for success.
“Innovation Station Music has always been about creating fresh sounds, paired with innovative business strategies that can help artists be successful,” Mallen says.
Considering all the benefits bestowed on Innovation Station Music’s clients, it’s not surprising that many of them have gone on to reap honors of their own. Indeed, many of the 250+ artists that have passed through Innovation Station Music have been highly successful in crafting fruitful musical careers. Those clients include celebrated folk artist Kipyn Martin; Donnie Logan, a singer/songwriter whose music has been featured in both Film and Television; and multi award-winning songwriter Mike P. Ryan, whose accolades include numerous songwriting honors from the local Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and across the globe.
Mallen’s efforts also extend beyond the walls of the studio. In 2009, Dave co-founded the Metro Music Source, a pro-bono effort aimed at supporting the DC area music community and providing local musicians and industry professionals with opportunities to network, learn and collaborate.
“After over 20 years in the DC area music scene, I had seen so many talented artists either stall in their careers or find success by moving to other “music towns.” I decided to invest everything in helping to build a local music infrastructure and nurturing the amazing talent we have in this area. It’s all been worth it.”