Hoping to attract artists, DDA develops incentive plan with music studio

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Representatives with Split Window Studios plan to reinvest in a downtown Denison music recording studio.

For more than 30 years, a small recording studio in Denison has played host to generations of musicians. From Vince Gill to the Dixie Chicks, the small, unassuming studio tucked above a main-street storefront, has brought well known and up-and-coming artists to Denison. Now, that studio may see new life under new ownership.

Representatives with Split Window Studios recently announced plans to purchase and invest $200,000 in new equipment for the studio. Representatives and city officials said they hope this investment and new business will be music to the ears of Denison's musical community.

"It's a small business in town. It has the opportunity to generate a great deal of traffic with the musicians and the professionals involved with the recording," Denison Development Alliance Vince President William Myers said Tuesday. "We are hoping that they will also work with local musicians and local artists, like the Shawnda Rains Studio. We hope that it continues to build up the local industry."

The upstairs studio was recently used by Bent Leaf Music Studio, but the site was recently purchased  by Tony Giarraputo and Chris Romain of Split Window. The pair originally formed the studio around 2007, but careers and travel led the duo to take a break until around 2018 and 2019.

Giarraputo previously has done studio work and video production in a building behind his home in Sherman. However, he jumped at the chance to purchase the Denison studio when he heard it was for sale.

"This is a studio that was designed in the 1980s by Russ Berger, who is I would call a world-famous acoustic designer," Giarraputo said, describing the studio as one of Berger's first designs. "So, when the opportunity came up for us to get that space came up, we decided we would love to do that."

The Denison location provides opportunities not only for audio production, but also for video work, he said. Plans for the site include a nearly 1,000 square-foot video production stage, including a 12- to 14-foot LED Wall that would work as a giant television wall.

Other plans for the site include four tracking rooms, a podcast room, and equipment upgrades.

The reopening of the studio, which is expected to happen in April, coincides with efforts by the city to foster the local music industry in Denison. The city was designated as a Music Friendly Community by the State of Texas in late 2020. City officials at the time said they hoped to use this recognition to increase the exposure of local acts which attracting music industry business from across the state.

"As you are well aware, Denison recently got the Music Friendly Community designiation from the State of Texas," Giarraputo said. "Denison has a community focus and a Main Street focus. They are focus on growing Main Street and growing business on Main Street and making it a place people want to come to. By promoting music and film, that fits in with our culture and our plans."

Beyond simply recording music, Giarraputo said he would like to attract musicians to the city for public performances and other shows. Plans are underway to combine the music and video interests this summer as Split Window will be filming and hosting a preshow for Music on Main each week.

The Denison Development Alliance has voiced its support by offering financial incentives for the project. The DDA is offering to finance 15 percent of the improvement project with an incentive package valued at about $30,000. This marks the DDA's third micro-manufacturing incentive grant following two issued in 2020 to CJ's Coffee Cafe and Ironroot Republic for bean roasting and bottling equipment, respectively.

“Split Window Studios is the perfect fit for 400 W. Main and our vision for Downtown Denison.”  Mayor Janet Gott said. “Their choice of Denison and their willingness to make a long-term investment is reflective of the city’s commitment and investment in our Historic Downtown revitalization programs. We are so pleased they chose to be part of our very exciting future!”