Bio taken from Billboard Magazine article “New York’s The Cutting Room Enjoys Textbook Success” written by Christopher Walsh and from Pro-Sound News article “Urban Organics” written by Janice Brown.
“Founded by a young engineer with no prior commercial studio experience, The Cutting Room is a text book example of how to grow a business in the face of tremendous overhead and competition.” -Billboard Magazine
The Cutting Room owner David Crafa started The Cutting Room while still attending New York University in the early 90’s a musician himself, the young entrepreneur moved his nascent business from a live/work loft space on west 25th Street where he was recording demos with a ½ inch 16 track recorder which he saved up for- to 678 Broadway in the mid 90’s when rent for the fifth floor space was a fraction of what the market would demand today. He never imagined that he’d one day be the owner /operator of a world-class multi room recording and production facility “Back in those days I was engineering while trying to get my band together” Crafa recalls “ you get a couple of gigs and think its just a shot in the dark” but all of a sudden clients turn their friends on to you and you start working with other people.” The Cutting Room has had an organic life and has always paid for itself and its upgrades and relocations. Crafa recalls “You think the gigs are going to stop the next week, but your booked and all of a sudden you have a budding business and keep putting money back into it. Before you know it you have something like this”.
Crafa, who spent some key time at Berklee College of music before heading to NYU did mostly MIDI programming and sampling for dance and early electronic music in the 90’s. Word of mouth built Crafa’s clientele-with clients like Puff Daddy, who was working with Mary J. Blige, coming to his apartment-until there where just too many sessions for him to handle. “Things started to kick into gear when we bought a 24 track 2-inch tape machine “ Crafa recalls,” and then we were compatible with other studios. We had constant work and when I contemplated moving to a larger space, I started working with another engineer from Berklee, who stayed with me until we moved” Around this time, Crafa started to back away from the engineering side of things, as the Cutting Room became a business in need of a leader and manager.
“It seemed really stable,” says Crafa of the business in the beginning. “ We kept getting bigger and were earning more each month. I guess I sort of targeted making the same things happen, just in a larger space. I didn’t plan on opening an SSL room or anything like that”. So, the Cutting Room came to live in a big space on Broadway, in the East Village in 1996-perfect timing for this now graduating NYU music student.” It was pretty cool,” Crafa noted.” Because I was just graduating and already the work was there. I didn’t have to go out and pound the pavement.”
Putting 70 to 80 hours a week at his new endeavor, Crafa grew his business by wearing many hats and steadfastly reinvesting profits. But only after several years at that pace he explains, was he able to see what was happening. A moment of clarity came with the purchase and installation of the SSl 4000 G+ “Over the last 3 years its sunk into my mind a bit what we are where we’re going and that it is possible to do what we want to do”. “ Now that we have the SSl in there, it’s a different ballgame. We Still had A-list Clients-we did Bruce Hornsby’s last album on the Souncraft console- but when we made the move to the SSL, things really started to solidify:” Ok were running a major studio, and we’ve got major clientele. I’ve got to really take a look at my staffing. Take a look at everything and sort of restructure”.
“The hardest part was getting a good staff together” Crafa informs,” and learning that that is really the heart of the place and not the gear that you have. You have to have people you like to work with. You work for them to make things happen for them and the place, for everyone’s career. Crafa’s next move was to hire a versatile new team. “ I’m trying to put a team together that can do a lot of different things. “ Crafa adds. “ We re trying to do a lot of things other than just being a commercial recording studio. We’re trying to seize other opportunities”.
One of those opportunities, Crafa confides, might be an online label. “ We really got involved with the internet and want to start doing some Internet broadcasting. We want to go after an online label and eventually, maybe dedicate one room to in house productions. We still want to do great commercial projects and work with great artists but also start developing that area of our business. I hope we can take on a lot of different ventures in the future with the right staff and use this as our headquarters and as a springboard to other possibilities. The industry has been in transition and we have adjusted for that”
Recently the Cutting Room has purchased property and finished construction on their new location at 14 E 4th St. the old Tower Records Building on Broadway and 4th.
“To this day, the studio has financed itself from profits reinvested back into the business and Crafa has made sure that this kind of organic growth has set the pace for the studio as a business. “