With a new 70,000 sq.ft. headquarters in New Jersey's Meadowlands, Masque Sound has increased its capacity for technical support, networking, and wireless system design and fabrication. The new facility will also house the newly created Masque Entertainment, which will provide a comprehensive DVD production service for the company's live concert and corporate client base. Award-winning director Gerard Schmidt has been named executive producer/managing director. Schmidt's credentials include projects for the Rolling Stones, Beastie Boys, Elvis Costello, and Def Leppard.
The new headquarters and the creation of Masque Entertainment also exemplify what Masque Sound has been doing for much of its 67-year history: expanding. But these expansions are certainly not done on a whim; they are well thought out by the company's co-principals and vice presidents James and Geoff Shearing. “Moving into a new area of expertise is predicated on whether or not you have the resources to make that next step,” Geoff says. “There's a lot of opportunity out there and we're in a unique position on the front lines to watch the industry grow and develop as well as see new technologies emerge. We're also in a unique place because sound is a very technical field and we're seeing a lot of technologies develop.” He added that it is equally important to listen to what customers are asking for to see what type of market needs could develop.
“We'd been searching for a new way to generate revenue without such a huge capital investment,” James says of Masque Entertainment. “So we looked in the area of video, not from a technological side but more as an art form. We have a resident video artist here — Lucas Corrubia — who handles our rock-and-roll business, Masque Live. The beautiful thing about the DVD business is that it costs us relatively little to produce because it's coming from a person; it's intellectual property. Also, it's a way to balance out our economic equation.”
The new division also fits into the company's philosophy of good customer service. “We're still just a rental house at heart,” Geoff says. “We're trying to become more of a service-oriented business and that's why our customers continue to call us: our superlative service as well as our ability to bring new things to the table. We try to be a solution provider and the DVD aspect falls into that goal quite nicely.”
It is also hoped that the new DVD service can help Masque's customers entice more concert goers to get out and see a show, especially considering how much the touring industry has been hurting in recent months. “This is a way for us to bring something better to the marketplace,” James says. “If we can bring extra capital to the table by saying ‘Here's a new revenue stream’ [to our customers] then obviously that's a no-brainer.”
Whether an idea to expand is successful is wholly based on an existing market for the service or product, which, as Geoff points out, is just “good common business sense. This company started out as a niche business by doing only Broadway audio but we've done a ton of other things since then. We looked for an underserved market and found people who wished that a [DVD production] service existed. I am constantly looking for new niche opportunities.”
After being continually frustrated by annual cable/wiring bills of half a million dollars or more, the Shearings decided it was time to go into the manufacturing realm. “A lot of companies in the audio world, buy equipment from manufacturers and and assemble it themselves,” James explains. “But we've found situations where we needed specific kinds of technology; cables, small consoles, RF antennas, and other proprietary products that were unavailable from the traditional manufacturers. Because we had the engineering talent in house and knew exactly what we wanted this new technology to do, we decided to manufacture some of it ourselves. We developed products to serve our clients' needs and discovered there is a real market for them. This has proven to be a win-win situation for everyone.”
Masque Sound is further supported by a Manhattan-based Recording Studio, located in the heart of the Theatre District and a technical facility in Orlando, FL.