October 23—BOB LORD FINALLY released his first solo album, Playland Arcade, last year after playing with the band Dreadnaught for 25 years.
To find the time to work on the project, he had to steal time from his other job – running PARMA Recordings. This week, the North Hampton-based company will hit a major milestone with the release of the 1,000th album from its family of music labels.
The bassist, composer and producer is CEO of a small company with international reach. Since founding PARMA in 2008, Lord has traveled extensively to produce recording sessions, including visits to Cuba, China and Europe, where half of his 26-member team is based. The company mainly focuses on classical music.
“I think it’s amazing that a business like mine can exist and do wonderfully here on the coast,” Lord said last week. “I get asked all the time, how come you didn’t start a business in New York? How come you didn’t start a business in Los Angeles? Well, I love New Hampshire. great place to work.”
While Lord spends a lot of time traveling, he is actively involved on the coastline. He served on the board of Portsmouth Music Hall for 10 years and is in his second year as chairman.
Music Hall patrons who have attended the Writers on New England Stage series know Dreadnaught as the house band.
“This writer’s gig is great. We’ve been doing it for 17 years,” Lord, 46, said. “For authors, it’s really something special for them too. If you’re a famous author, how often do you get played on stage by a band?”
Lord grew up in Andover, Mass., and first attended college at the University of Vermont. He transferred to the University of New Hampshire in 1996 so he could play music with one of his longtime collaborators, who co-founded Dreadnaught.
Lord’s journey to becoming a music company entrepreneur evolved from his work with the band.
“I really ended up getting into all the different areas of the business as a result of a lot of Dreadnaught activity,” he said. “Gig bookings, touring, studio production and the business aspects – or the non-performing aspects of music creation – interested me.”
Lord considers Playland Arcade – named after the Hampton Beach boardwalk attraction – to be a “producer’s album”, which explores the various genres he loves and has worked in over the years. The mostly instrumental disc contains elements of film soundtracks, video game music, rock ‘n’ roll and classical music.
He likes to produce other artists. Much of this work involved overseeing the recording of orchestral music, including with heavy hitters like the London Symphony Orchestra. He also co-produced a project with Who guitarist and bandleader Pete Townshend.
“Producing is a privilege – you can actually bring the best aspects of your knowledge and experience to someone else’s art. And it’s a really good symbiosis of collaboration,” he said. .
Lord’s recent projects include work on “Wild Symphony”, composed by Dan Brown, best-selling author of “The Da Vinci Code”, who has also written a children’s book associated with the symphony. Lord was Brown’s music producer for eight years.
“I’m so proud of this project. I think it’s a wonderful thing for families. I also feel like it’s a real honor and privilege to be able to work on a project that I know will outlive me,” Lord said.
In addition to production services, PARMA also operates a digital agency that handles other aspects of the music industry, such as marketing and other creative services.
With Dreadnaught, he had first-hand experience of how all the different vendors working to release an album weren’t necessarily in sync.
“I wanted to give other people what I always wanted, which was all the control and zero responsibility,” he said. “It’s the most artistically selfish thing you can do when you’re an artist, and that’s what you want.”
He’s particularly proud of PARMA’s No. 1000 release, which is out Friday on the company’s Navona Records label.
AMPLIFY is a partnership with All Classical Portland, a radio station in Portland, Oregon. The Recording Inclusivity Initiative series strand is designed to respond to the classical music industry’s need for greater diversity.
“I think what we’ve seen in the classical music market in particular, but I think in general it’s a lot of programming security,” Lord said. “There hasn’t been a change for too long on the playlist, on the program,” he said.
Lord notes a recent year when 45 new recordings of Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” were released.
“Imagine if every year, year after year, there were 45 versions of Steely Dan’s Aja coming out, all with their slight variations in tempo and structure. We’d say that’s ridiculous,” he said. .
“The express purpose of the Recording Inclusivity Initiative series is to find people from traditionally overlooked communities — women, people of color — people who have been pushed out of space.”
Mike Cote is editor for news and affairs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 206-7724.
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