Industry Profile: Crē•8 Music Academy at Westlake Studios

Westlake Recording Studios is spearheading a revolution with a groundbreaking concept. The studio is launching a new initiative that addresses that mystical, magical area where art meets commerce and achieves extraordinary results. Called the CRē•8 Music Academy, it’s an intensive four-course, 60-hour Music Production Program unlike any other.

Westlake’s co-owner and CEO, Al Machera explains, “Steve Burdick (studio co-owner and President) and I always wanted to create a learning environment. And we finally managed to put the pieces together and make it happen.” Burdick says the motivation to do something arose because they noticed that production quality could make or break a deal, whether it’s a record deal, songwriting collaboration, management representation or licensing opportunity. Burdick points out, “People form opinions based on production value, and if you don’t have a polished and professional sounding recording it can hurt your chances.” As such, he and Machera wanted to offer the knowledge, guidance and direction necessary to achieve success in today’s uber-competitive marketplace.

But, they didn’t want to simply be another recording or engineering school. Instead, they wanted to make the lessons applicable to the “real world.” To do so, they plan to bring the “Westlake experience” into the classroom. “We’ve had some amazing people come through our doors,” Burdick relates. “And often they bring something different to the recording process, a new sound or a new way to do things.” Indeed, the Westlake experience referred to is meant to share those revelations.

Over the years, the studio has hosted an incredible array of recordings from a “who’s who” of modern music, including The Weeknd, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Usher and Justin Bieber, to name a few. In fact, (arguably) the most famous record ever produced, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, was recorded at Westlake.

Working with Doug Fenske, a recording industry veteran and former Westlake engineer, the dynamic troika of Fenske, Machera and Burdick developed a curriculum that is as innovative as it is creative. By focusing on art and commerce and combining creative aspects with technical applications, the CRē•8 approach to recording and producing is unique. Fenske observes, “There is a gap between what traditional music schools teach and what actually happens in a studio. It involves more than just technical expertise.” As a result, the CRē•8 courses are designed to reflect real world conditions, not just theories or technicalities

Initially, the courses will be taught by Fenske, who holds over 10 years of experience as a renowned engineer, mixer and producer. He has worked a plethora of musical luminaries and superstars, such as Quincy Jones, Randy Jackson, Britney Spears, Cee Lo Green, Snoop Dogg, Frank Ocean, LL Cool J, Bruno Mars and many more.

The school itself is located in a building adjacent to the studio, with classes limited to 15 students. A 31 calendar-day course (also available in a 10-week version), allows students to attend while holding down full or part-time jobs. Students can even opt to take individual courses if they wish.

The courses are designed with an introductory and intermediate focus that both new and moderately experienced artists, songwriters and aspiring producers will find inspiring and beneficial. Industry professionals are also welcome should they want to refresh their skills or learn a new one. Of course, both Logic X and Pro Tools 11 are covered. But, unlike other schools, the creative process is also explored in courses vibrantly titled: “Initi•8,” where you capture your musical ideas by learning to construct, arrange and compose songs meant for commerce; “Activ•8,” where you get to turn your thoughts into songs and design your own project studio from scratch; “Stimul•8,” where you can capture your performances and polish your sound; and finally, “Liber•8,” where you learn to mix and master your songs in a professional manner. Westlake priced this comprehensive package in such a way that aspiring creators would not have to take out loans and put themselves into debt for thousands and thousands of dollars.

Fenske notes, “Westlake has been making phenomenal records for over 40 years. And, we have a certain standard here that we would like to share with talented, creative individuals.” Fenske maintains that the CRē•8 Music Academy will not only do that, it will also help students conceive their projects in a fresh and exciting way and even bring new life to old recordings.

According to Westlake’s Steve Burdick, the takeaway is that CRē•8 students will be able to compete with industry professionals who may have more experience than them. He reveals, “Most creatives, whether they’re artists, songwriters or producers, want to simply make a living with their music. And that’s the mission of the CRē•8 Music Academy––we want to help them achieve that goal.”

For information and additional details, visit cre8musicacademy.com.