The New LoFi


Michael Ingber: The Austin music scene from the inside out




Michael Ingber: The Austin music scene from the inside out

Today I sat down with Michael Ingber to chat about his experiences as a drummer and recording engineer in Austin.  Michael has a degree in Professional Music from Berklee, he is a top notch drummer and he recently opened a state-of-the-art recording studio packed with the best gear you can think of, right in the heart of South Austin, Studio 601.

His band Soul Track Mind is currently working with grammy award winning producer Boo Mitchell and has just performed last week at the AT&T Center in San Antonio during the Spurs game.  Michael is 29 years old and is often touring the country with his band.  When he is in town he produces some of the hippest up-and-coming artists in the local scene as well as established names in the industry.  Today I wanted to find out his thoughts on the current music industry from his perspective.

Michael, let me get right to the point.  Since the royalty payouts have dropped significantly for songwriters and producers, mainly due to the stabilization of online streaming as the main source for music consumption today, what do you think motivates a musician/producer to record a new project, given all the hard work (and money) that goes with it?

First off, thanks for talking to me!  I believe the industry is in a very strange place right now, but I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  The old way of doing things is definitely finished.  The idea that my partner and I had for our studio was to create something for the future that is sustainable.  The decision of going without a console for instance was a big one.  As magnificent as a recording console is, it costs too much money to maintain.  There’s just no budget for that kind of thing anymore.  So we are forced to innovate what the idea of the modern studio is.  So while labels might not be shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to make records anymore and most artists are now independent businesses as well, you have to adapt to the climate.

Do you think that is the route new artists should be taking? Turning themselves into small businesses?

I don’t think we really have a choice anymore…  Between the decline of the music business as we know it and as it transitions into whatever it’s going to be, there is just simply so many more artists out there than there ever has been.  Technology has leveled the playing field, it seems everyone and their mother is a songwriter these days.  So while yes, it could hinder your art in some fashion, the only way to get ahead in this business is to sharpen up your small business skills.  Not only are you a songwriter, you’re the booker, manager, merch guy, publisher, sometimes producer/engineer, etc.  You need to be prepared to do it all, because if you don’t, someone else will.

OK! Now let’s talk local.  Recently, around 4000 musicians currently living in Austin participated in a survey and the results were quite shocking after they’ve stated that the average earned by a musician in town falls way below the national poverty line.  Are venues not willing to pay, or are the local artists just not doing their business right?

I actually filled out that survey and also found the survey results to be disappointing but I wasn’t too surprised.  With the supply being much higher than the demand, venues generally are no longer charging a cover for entry, Austin’s premier venues being washed away by condo builders, and rising housing costs, yeah you could say it’s pretty tough for a musician in Austin right now.  Not sure how much longer this city deserves to be called the “live music capital of the world” sometimes.  However, there are a lot of resources here for musicians such as HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians), the SIMS foundations, and many more who continuously support Austin’s music community.  I think this goes back to what I was saying earlier about needing to evolve.  Clearly the system is broken, so maybe we need to figure something new out to survive.  It will be interesting how this pans out, I’m sure Austin’s music scene is not the only one taking some punches these days.

Well, I feel like we could continue on this topic all night long, but I’d like to change the subject to wrap it up and ask you what are you looking forward to check out at SXSW this year?

Haha, we definitely could.

I’m playing a few unofficial shows this week so hopefully will get to check out some friend’s bands.  One of my best friends from Berklee, Emily Greene is playing with her band “Riothorse Royale”, definitely want to go check them out again, and you should too!

I definitely will, brother! Thank you so much for your time!


Check out Soul Track Mind’s latest release on Spotify!


Ricardo Vogt

Ricardo Vogt is a 4 time grammy winning guitarist from Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil.