A dream in production

Ross editing tracks at Avidity. Photo courtesy of Catamount Communication.

Daniel Ross is juggling responsibilities and working for his dream. His long-time passion for music sparked a new love for music production, leading him into starting Avidity Recording Studio. Ross launched Avidity in 2011 and has since carried steady clientele over the last two years, most of whom are WCU students.

Ross, a junior and communication major at WCU, has gained substantial experience in the entertainment industry already. By the age of 20, Ross toured as a member of “Divided By Friday,” a rock band signed with Hopeless Records (who “All Time Low” and “Yellowcard” are signed with). Currently, the musician is focusing his time and energy on his dream to build a successful recording studio, including developing his own band, Wilmore, as a client.

Being a full-time student and recording engineer can be hard to balance. These responsibilities require Ross to delegate some tasks to the student- run public relations firm, Catamount Communications, or CatCom.

“I’m investing time and money into CatCom because I believe that they work hard and are good at what they do. They benefit me in such a way that I will be able to go to the next level when it comes to clientele. Having a public relations firm back me up is the professional way to do things,” said Ross.

CatCom an arm of Western’s student-run organization, Public Relations Student Society of America, does strive to always act professionally.

“We give clients the best publicity while helping the clients maintain a good reputation to their audience. CatCom needs Ross and he needs CatCom,” said Megan Smith, firm director of Catamount Communications.

Ross says he has his hands full just worrying about the technical end of the music business industry.

“I never went to school for running a recording business. I’ve picked things up as I’ve gone along. I’ve made a bunch of mistakes but I guess I’ve gotten some things right along the way,” said Ross. “I am glad that CatCom is taking care of other aspects of my business, like increasing my visibility. Then I can focus on the music.”

Ross hasn’t had the studio and clients handed to him. He has worked hard to recruit artists who are talented and want to put in the work to make a successful album. Ross believes that his experience playing with “Divided by Friday” and “Wilmore” gives him an edge that many producers do not have.

“As an artist and a producer, I know what sounds good and I can produce tracks that reflect my client’s personalities in their final product,” Ross said. “I am not just involved in the business aspect.”

Ross and Wilmore have just produced a single titled, “Out of Reach,” with his vocals. The single has a rock and dub step sound.

“I want to be relevant in the music I write and produce, and I think “Out of Reach” is something people will relate and want to listen to,” Ross said.

CatCom is working with Avidity under contract, allowing the firm to do all social media for the studio. This includes initial set up and management of Avidity’s Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn profile and SoundCloud page. CatCom is also training Ross in the best utilization of these social media platforms so that he can continue to use them when CatCom moves on to other clients.

“Daniel is a very different kind of client for us. Avidity gives us a chance to work in a more ‘hands-on’ way. We are trying to build his visibility more than anything,” said Smith.

Although CatCom is a free service for its clients, Ross donates half of his profit to the firm. This is not only a help to the firm, but, according to Smith, demonstrates Ross’s generosity and willingness to help anyone he works with.

“I am willing to work on a price that fits their needs if I believe in what they’re doing. I’m seeking to work with clients who work hard and are passionately trying to go places in their musical careers,” said Ross.

“Daniel truly believes in his clients’ dreams and wants to have a place where his clients can grow as musicians,” said Ross’s wife, Cara Ross.

The thought of his clients doing well excites him as a producer. One of Ross’s clients and student at WCU, Matthew Lowery, has been rapping for only one year. Although Lowery is new to the business, Ross has high expectations for this artist, who recently recorded “Future Glory” at Avidity. “Future Glory” is from a Christian’s perspective on facing God after death. The track, written by both Lowery and Ross, also features Ross’s vocals in the chorus.

“I think Matthew is the epitome of what a lot of people would call a musical prodigy. He has so much talent. Any major label would be foolish not to sign this guy,” said Ross.

Another client of Avidity, “Mangas Colorado”, is a band of WCU students who have a folk-rock sound similar to that of Mumford and Sons.

“We’re a band who loves live shows, but there’s really no substitute for a hard copy of music and well recorded tracks,” said Jarrod Couch, who plays banjo for “Mangas Colorado”.

“Mangas Colorado” just released their first two-song EP with the help of Avidity and will release a full album in the fall of 2014, also to be recorded at Avidity.

“Now we’re on iTunes and people are calling me from other college campuses saying, ‘I bought your EP on iTunes and it rocks.’ Avidity is a huge part of that,” said Colby Deitz, lead vocalist for “Mangas Colorado”.

“The songs they write are interesting. They’re talented and listen to advice. That’s smart, because they’re willing to learn. That makes a good artist,” said Ross, talking about “Mangas Colorado.”

When asked where he sees Avidity in the future, his dream continues toward reality: recording high quality music at an affordable price for his clients while expanding his clientele and continuing to make his own music.

“We get the experience of having well recorded music produced by a friend. It’s a real treat for us. We feel ahead of the game because we have the opportunity to record this high quality of music and not have to pay thousands of dollars for it,” Deitz.

“I want to make music with artists who rival what is on the radio. I want to work with people who scare other artists because they’re so good. I want to ‘wow’ people with my product,” said Ross.