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Meet Bob Lord of PARMA Recordings in Seacoast New Hampshire

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bob Lord.

Bob, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
There was never a day that I woke up and said, “I want to be a music producer, and I’m going to be the CEO of a classical music company, dammit.” But nevertheless, here I am, and this is what I do.

I grew up in Andover MA and began playing bass guitar when I was 12 years old, inspired by musicians like John Entwistle, Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney, Duck Dunn, Geddy Lee, Brian May, Chris Squire. It was clear the minute I picked up those 4 strings that music was it for me, and that I was a bass guitarist through and through.

By the end of high school, I had already developed a great deal of experience in composition, recording, and performance, playing in numerous bands with other Andover High grads who have also gone on to meaningful careers in the music industry. I produced recordings, played gigs, had my stuff spun on Boston radio stations, and even did a short tour before getting my diploma. Fun years.

In 1996, while in college I co-founded the experimental rock group Dreadnaught, performing and recording and touring and composing and generally making completely freaked-out oddball music without pause. 21 years later, the band is still an ongoing concern – our new album HARD CHARGIN’ was released in June 2017, and judging by what other people say it seems to be our best work to date.

Along the way, classical music – particularly orchestral music by 20th century composers like Stravinsky, Copland, Falla, Bartok, Bernstein et al – had become increasingly influential and central in my own work and study. In this music I found, for me, an apex of expression, a format capable of profound complexity, sophistication, and power, yet also equally profound simplicity, delicacy, and gentleness at the same time. A big palette, with lots of colors, and a big canvas to explore.

Also acquired along the way was deep experience in the business of music as a result of, well, non-stop immersion in it. I didn’t study any of this stuff in school (I’m a recovering English major) and had to learn everything in real time from the very start – how to book a gig, how to write a contract, how to manage people, how to exploit intellectual property, how to get an interesting sound out of a bass guitar while playing it in 24th position through an octave pedal, three stages of distortion, some time-shifting effects, etc.

In 2008, in addition to my ongoing work with Dreadnaught and after many years of solo work as a producer/composer of custom audio for media, an in-studio classical music producer, and a record label manager, I founded the classical music production company PARMA Recordings to tie together my various areas of expertise and passion. We record and release new music, mostly by living composers, and work across the U.S. and in countries such as Cuba, Czech Republic, Russia, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, and Poland.

Nearly 10 years later, we’re about to release our 500th album, just got our first #1 Billboard record, and have an amazing crew of nearly 20 employees and over a thousand artists with us making great music every day.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There are much easier ways to make a living than by working in the music industry, so any endeavor like this is a challenge from the get-go. Yet I think the most notable challenges have been the ones that have come with the steady growth of the business and the accumulation of our own history, all the unanticipated things like, for example, the sheer amount of time it takes to administrate the company’s activities, analyze the metrics necessary to manage what we do, or even simply to proof each and every recording we make, each piece of copy we write, each package we design.

At any one moment we’ve got dozens and dozens projects working their way through the shop at various stages of production, and it’s a daily challenge for the staff to keep all those moving parts in sync – especially because we’re detail-oriented people, almost all of us musicians, and our instinct is to dive deep. On everything. All the time.

Challenges like these have made us more effective at what we do, forcing us to think in new ways and to be in a constant state of self-assessment and evolution. But they are, after all, good problems to have,

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the PARMA Recordings story. Tell us more about the business.
PARMA Recordings is a music production company which develops and manages projects through every stage of the music-making process: project planning, contracting, logistics, in-studio production, recording and engineering, editing/mixing/mastering, art design and manufacturing, distribution, marketing, licensing, publishing, label services, and more, all fulfilled by our in-house team.

Formed in 2008 to present contemporary classical, jazz, and experimental music, PARMA’s projects feature work by artists such as GRAMMY Award winners Richard Stoltzman and Libby Larsen, Pulitzer Prize winners Yehudi Wyner and Lewis Spratlan, and former New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, among others.

In addition to the music we produce and release via our subsidiary label companies (the Navona, Ravello, Ansonica, and Big Round Records imprints), we work on a wide variety of media projects ranging from huge symphonic recordings (theme package for CBS Sports, debuted at the 2013 Super Bowl) to custom compositions (Golden Corral’s Jeff Foxworthy commercials) to television theme songs (C-SPAN’s “First Ladies”). Our music can be heard in products and projects from ABC, Microsoft, HBO, Nintendo, Showtime, PBS, and more.

The company has developed a reputation in our corner of the industry for high-quality music, innovative ideas, inventive problem-solving, and responsible, ethical business behavior (not always a given any industry, much less the music business!).

A personal highlight was working with one of my formative musical inspirations on a project. In 2012, I co-produced an album with Pete Townshend of The Who, METHOD MUSIC by Lawrence Ball; the album was released on our Navona Records label and praised by Pitchfork for its “wondrous, rippling, and startlingly tactile music.”

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I believe that luck is indeed the residue of design, and I also believe there’s no such thing as a self-made man. Frequently what in my life has appeared at first blush to be luck is actually the result of not only my efforts but also the light touch of many people who believe in me and what I do.

The fact that I have an incredibly talented, dedicated staff at PARMA can’t be underestimated in the role of good luck (because they make it possible) and bad luck (because their great work minimizes the chances of something bad happening). We always work hard, shoot straight, and act in the best interests of our artists. All the rest follows naturally.

But if I ever win Powerball, I reserve the right to change my answer.

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