“After silence, that which come nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”—Aldous Huxley
Those are words that Scottsdale resident, Otto D'Agnolo, holds close. Music has been a big part of D'Agnolo's life since he was a young boy, growing up in Peoria, Illinois. The fire was ignited with a notice he saw posted about joining the school band.
“I signed up thinking they had all the instruments for us,” says D'Agnolo. “Then I found out we had to provide our own.”
That instrument turned out to be a trumpet, which would help to shape the path of his future. He soon picked up the guitar, then a bass guitar. And he sings and composes music, too. In fact, D'Agnolo is an Emmy-award winning songwriter, and he fronts two tribute bands that have toured the country.
Then there's his record studio, MIA Records.
To say D'Agnolo is multi-faceted in music is a big understatement. He finds joy in creating his own music, and also in helping others create theirs.
Eight years ago, D'Agnolo started a project called The Recording Studio. It was endeavor that brought bands together to record music, and then stream it online. The project lasted about a year before it was put on the back burner.
“We were a little ahead of our time back then,” D'Agnolo says. “Nobody was really going online to watch live music at that time.”
At the beginning of 2020, D'Agnolo and his wife, Emily, were ready to get the ball rolling again for The Recording Artist. That's when the global pandemic shook things up a little. Live shows were cancelled, creating an opportunity to really get The Recoding Artist up and running.
“Everyone was performing online,” he says.
The current model of The Recording Artist is a subscription-based online platform that allows listeners/viewers a deeper look into the music recording process. The participating bands go through a vetting process helmed by Courtney Sheber, head of A & R (Artists and Repertoire). Sheber personally selects bands she feels are appropriate for the process, and then turns to the subscribers for their input and song selection. Then, D'Agnolo meets with the band to get them ready for the recording session.
Every Wednesday, The Recording Artist live streams the recoding sessions. Each lasts two hours, and the subscribers are invited to interact through the chat feature.
“The bands don't even know what song they're recoding until they arrive at the studio,” says D'Agnolo. “It adds to the excitement, and allows the fans to be involved in the process.”
Also adding to the excitement is the tight timeframes in which everyone has to get a song recorded, from start to finish, all while being streamed on the internet. The setup leaves little room for mistakes, and plenty of antics and entertainment—inspiring D'Agnolo even further.
As a content creator for Amazon Prime (yes, he dabbles in film, too), D'Agnolo created a reality show of the same name. The pilot episode premiered mid-September, and a new episode is scheduled to be released every four to six weeks.
D'Agnolo was surprised to learn that viewers found him funny.
“They find me quirky, and some of the feedback was that I was the funniest thing on the webcast,” he says. “On the show you realize how weird I am.”
The reality show features the entire process of The Recording Artist, from Sheber selecting participating bands, to D'Agnolo getting meeting them for the first time. It takes a village to get things going, so viewers are introduced to other key players as well, including Brian Stubblefield, technical director and narrator, and A.D. Adams, who serves as a sort of a mentor to the band members.
It's all quite an undertaking, but everyone finds joy in the process. D'Agnolo says he was truly inspired to go down this road to stay relevant in the ever-evolving business of music.
“In my business, I saw changes that made it difficult for the industry to stay alive. People were streaming instead of buying, and fans wanted constant content,” he says “At my recoding studio, I started getting more calls from people wanting to be engineers than I did from performers.”
The Recording Artist ticks off all the boxes, meeting the needs of fans and artists.
“It's a lot of fun and these bands get so much out of it,” he says. “At the end of the recording session they get a fully produced song, and some of them are even featured on the show. It's a great opportunity, great exposure.”
D'Agnolo's Favorite Holiday Songs
"Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon
"(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays" by Perry Como
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Judy Garland