Name Tom Coyne
Company Sterling Sound
Role Title Managing Partner and Senior Mastering Engineer
Headquarters 88 Tenth Ave, New York, NY
How did you get started in the music business?
After knocking on 84 recording studio doors, the 85th opened and offered me a job sweeping floors and making coffee and tape labels. This was the late 70’s. Back then there was well over 100 studios in NYC. I shudder to think how many less there are now.
This studio had one main recording room and in the back, a stereo cutting lathe and 2 mono cutting lathes. I fell in love with the mastering side immediately and taught myself how to cut records when the boss was away. Six months later it was time to move to a mastering only facility and I started at Frankford / Wayne, again at the bottom making coffee and filing tapes. Ten years later Herb Powers and myself were offered positions at The Hit Factory. Chris Gehringer would us follow shortly after.
How did you come to be at Sterling Sound?
From the first day I learned about mastering I wanted to work at Sterling Sound. After about eight years at Frankford / Wayne, Lee Hulko, the owner of Sterling knew who I was because I would call him every 4 months asking for a job. He finally said during one conversation that he would call me if and when they wanted me.
So... no more phone calls! I made my move to the Hit Factory and the same week
I started, a letter came from Lee offering me a position
I had a handshake deal with Eddie Germano and spent five fabulous fun filled years there! Again, time to move on as Greg Calbi was leaving Sterling to move to Masterdisc. I then started my career at Sterling Sound with George Marino, Ted Jensen & Jose Rodriguez.
Name three people whom have been critical to your career?
Domenic Romeo, my mentor at Frankford / Wayne who was an incredible engineer and man.
Max Martin with whom I’ve worked with for the last 20 years. Thank you Max! Murat Aktar who finally got 3 engineers [Ted, Tom & Greg] on the same page at the same time and we bought Sterling 4 years after I started there.
Tell me about the last year you’ve had personally and professionally?
Everyone is healthy and happy so I cannot ask for more personally. Professionally it was my best year since the 90’s. I’d done some incredible sounding records coming out of Japan, Korea, China, South America [including Miami] Canada and Europe. Every day is a new adventure. Then we have the American market which is icing on the cake. I also have a great team in my manager Katy Samwell and my 2 assistants, Aya and Randy Merrill who are invaluable to me!
What challenges have you faced?
Reading people’s minds. Music files will be sent to me with no note on a direction to take. I understand they want me to put my touch on it but a little note on the things they liked and the things that could use a little nudge would be helpful.
How do you celebrate?
A round of golf.
Which artists inspire you on a visual / creative level?
I can’t say any artist inspires me a visual level. What I do is audio only and more times than not, my eyes are closed. Creatively, I get excited by sounds so every record I do has some sound or sounds in it that get my energy level up.
In what ways can people be more socially responsible for the health of our music industry community?
Pay for your music please!!!!
If you could provoke change in any area of the music business, what would it be?
Moving to higher resolution files would be nice but there is always the speed and drive space issue which seem to stop this from happening.
Tell me about something you learned the hard way?
You can’t make everyone happy all the time but if you know in your heart you tried your best, your next project can be brilliant!
What is art to you?
Something created out of nothing
*Photograph by Richard Warren