Sound studio

Clock is running out on Music Hub: Mosaic Sound Collective loses lease to development: Owners hope to relocate music industry collective – Music

The Black Pumas recorded several nationally televised performances at Mosaic, including appearances on The show tonight and President Biden’s Inauguration Day (photo by David Brendan Hall)

Mosaic Sound Collective, the music and business hub in East Austin that opened in 2017, is winding down operations and will move out of the former juvenile detention center in the coming months as plans for the redevelopment of the property are moving forward.

Founder Dan Redman confirmed the news to The Austin Chronicle last week, saying he and project manager Mike Henry were working out moving timelines with the handful of tenants who stayed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project, which had always been intended to be at least partially operated as a nonprofit, entered into a five-year lease/purchase agreement in 2016 with owner Jimmy Nassour. That agreement expired in 2021 as the pandemic still upended business activity across the world, and Mosaic had been operating on a month-to-month lease for over a year. The organization has been working throughout the pandemic to try to secure the investment or money from the city’s Creative Space Bonds needed to purchase the 25,000 square foot facility which, according to the Travis County Archives, sits on 2.6 acres and had a market value of $1.8 million in 2021.

Nassour recently informed Mosaic of his plans to redevelop the property, although he continues to work with Redman and Henry to try to find another space that would suit the collective which for five years served as the studios’ home. recording, rehearsal spaces, a concert backline company, music business offices, small manufacturing operations, nonprofits, and more.

Redman said Nassour supported and hoped that some of the $12 million voter-approved in 2018 to secure creative spaces in the city would be directed to Mosaic and give the group the money it needed to take back ownership and partner with surrounding landlords in building affordable housing for creative people. The bond money has yet to be distributed by the city, with quasi-governmental Austin Economic Development Corporation recently announcing that it has selected a group of unnamed favorite/finalist properties that will either receive the money or be online for future funding.

“It may have been a hard lesson, and I learned a lot from it. That’s how city government works…” – Stuart Sullivan, Wire Recording Studio

Mosaic was preparing its funding application, but was told three days before the application deadline that Nassour had decided to redevelop the property.

“[Our landlord] was great to work with. He was incredibly patient with us and so supportive of the project. And even talking to him about other properties he might have or find,” Redman said. “A lot of it was about feeling like we were really the poster child for the creative connection of talk to every member of the city council. We were doing everything we could to make sure we ticked all the boxes.”

Before the pandemic, things looked bright for Mosaic. It was fully occupied, had agreed to partner with actor Val Kilmer’s HelMel Studios on creative projects, and had a lineup of South by Southwest events aligned with then-tenant Spaceflight Records, which aimed to significantly expand the presence of the collectively in front of a global audience. .

But once SXSW was canceled and the economic fallout from the pandemic set in, about 60% of Mosaic tenants left due to financial hardship.

Redman, Henry and others tried to look to other models to generate revenue to cover rent and operating costs for the 50-year-old building. His video production work capturing live performances for Black Pumas, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Gina Chavez and Holy Wave was among the best locally produced virtual content and garnered further attention from the band. but not enough money to operate in the dark.

“Our goal was, ‘Hey, let’s see how to pivot and continue to serve the music community in the creative industry,'” Redman said. “We were very encouraged and felt really good, but obviously the local bands still didn’t have a big budget and a lot of people were just trying to do their own pivot with whatever it took to make ends meet.”

Mosaic’s upcoming closure means a lot of questions for its few remaining tenants, including Stuart Sullivan’s Wire Recording Studio which was one of the first businesses to move in after rent for its former home rose nearly of six.

Sullivan said he was unsure what the future holds for the studio after leaving Mosaic in the coming months.

Looking back, he said, the space’s mission was to serve as a home for those who valued Austin’s history by supporting musicians and the broader creative community, like his work there. years in the old Austin opera house.

“We were in a community where we all did our own thing and supported each other. There may be a slight competition between us, but we are friends and we experienced something that I had already experienced at the Opera with Arlyn at one of his peaks,” he said.

“Having experienced that sense of creative community…it’s kind of like a band without a leader, but we all have a voice. I wanted Mosaic, especially if we could get some bond money and survive and survive, to have that same sense of community creativity that was so vibrant and alive.”

As a member of the city’s music commission, Sullivan said he was patient but often frustrated with how slowly he decided how to allocate Creative Space Bond money that had sorely needed need music and arts groups under increasing economic pressure due to rising rents or redevelopment plans. .

“I knew things would be more bureaucratic and slow, but I had no idea how much,” he said. “It may have been a tough lesson, and I learned a lot from it. This is how city government works…and I guess I was naive it would take this long.”

Henry, who joined Mosaic as the only paid staff member at the end of 2018 after working as a talent buyer and event producer for the Downtown project in Las Vegas, said he and Redman will continue to try to find a new home for tenants who made the space a hive of buzzing activity in its best times.

“Walking through there in one day, there was a lot of magic happening. Every day, both recording studios would have a local band recording. There would be several people doing visual arts. There would have lessons. . There would be gigs booked and bands rehearsing and the Worshiper people were building crazy guitar cabinets,” he said. “It was really amazing. It was like, this is how it’s supposed to be.”