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Our History
(For pictures relating to the story below, click: Here!)

 

In the Beginning - The Independent Christian Music Association (ICMA)

In  the year 2000 our founder, Joe Nicholson had - like so many others - the dream of becoming a popular singer/songwriter and performing on stages across America.  But before investing too much time and money into this venture he decided to learn what he could from other artists who had already "been there, done that".  So he began seeking interviews with artists who met the following criteria for bands in the Seattle / Puget Sound Area:  1.) They had a full production CD commercially available to the public.  2.) They were actively performing in concerts as headliners or opening acts.  3.) They had at least one song being played on the radio.  With this criteria, Joe was able to reduce the list from hundreds to a few dozen.  And then he went interviewing - sometimes paying for lunch for the entire band as he did!  In the course of all these interviews, Joe discovered there were many things the bands had in common, but there were also some things lacking with one band but not another and visa versa.  After discovering that nearly every band needed help with one thing or another, Joe began thinking about ways to form a networking organization to which bands and individual artists could join and help each other.  At first, his goals were centered on helping Christian bands and artists, and thus the idea for the Independent Christian Music Association or the ICMA was born.

 

Do Good Music

With not much more than a name and an idea, Joe began promoting and recruiting members for what he hoped would become the existence of a real, thriving organization.  He began talking with bands and artists about the ICMA one by one, starting first with those he had already interviewed once before.  The idea received a lot of head nods, but many were skeptical as to whether it could ever actually happen.  Still, Joe persisted in talking with as many artists as he could about the idea, and eventually the word got around.  One day, "out of the blue", Joe received a call from an organization based out of Palo Alto, California called, "Do Good Music" (DGM).  The president of DGM said to Joe, "We've heard of your ideas about for the ICMA, and we like them, but we have just one question:  Why are you trying to re-invent the wheel when we've already done it?!  Why don't you join us instead?".  So after a trip to Palo Alto to meet with DGM, and a few contracts signed here and there, Joe set-about representing Do Good Music in the greater Seattle area but with the assignment to reach out, not only to the region, or even nation, but to the whole world!  And so, that is what commenced for a couple of years to follow; seeking, finding and signing up artists and bands to join the DGM organization with the hope that through that affiliation the artists would find the help they needed in order to succeed.

 

JC Music Connection

By 2003 Joe had come into contact with countless artists and bands from all over the world, but was beginning to see that Do Good Music simply did not have enough staff to effectively serve such a large group of artists that needed help.  Do Good Music was charging a small membership fee to join their organization, but there was simply not enough revenue coming in to afford the size of staff and other overhead expenditures needed to help a world wide membership.  The concept was a great idea, but the target market was simply too large and the revenue stream was simply too little.  This reality was not lost on the DGM officers and eventually they were forced to change their business model.  Instead of being low-priced helpers to thousands, they became high-priced consultants to the few that could afford it.  It was a risky decision for DGM, but it paid off, and for the first time since their founding, DGM was in the black!  But in changing their business model, Joe realized his original passion to help all artists, whether they could afford it or not, was lost.  Joe believed that the only way to effectively build an organization that could stay affordable to everyone was to start small and stay local, helping people one-on-one, one-at-a-time.  And so, on friendly terms, Joe left Do Good Music and formed JC Music Connection and once again began promoting the concept of an A-Z resource for artists, but this time focusing on the local Seattle / Puget Sound market.

 

Project Won Studios and Boat Rocker Records

Joe was determined to build an organization that was a ministry first and a business second - an organization that was not born out of the profit motive, but out of a genuine desire to help anyone with talent and ambition, no matter how capable they were of affording the help and services they needed.  It's not like Joe had anything against music businesses that were built for turning a profit.  But, his goal to help artists of any economic status led him to see that the only way he was going to be able to do that was to offer as many services as possible himself and whomever he could recruit to work with him.  He couldn't expect other businesses that were designed and built for making a profit to offer their goods and services on a donation basis, so to be able to offer just that, Joe realized he needed to build his own recording studio and his own record label as a start.  Thus was born Project Won Studios and Boat Rocker Records.

 

2003 - 2006

By June of 2003, Joe had found the means to finance and build the first home for Project Won Studios in the basement of a house he was renting.  The room that could be made most suitable environment for a studio needed a lot of work, and having only a small recording set-up in his bedroom, he knew he needed a lot in the way of equipment and software as well.  The studio started out simple.  The room required finishing the drywall, paint, molding, trim, carpet and many other things to make it suitable for anything!  So this was done, along with a modest investment in new recording equipment, computers and software that was a step up from the set-up he'd had in his bedroom before.  After converting a closet into a vocal isolation booth, Project Won Studios was finally able to be open to the public by that November.  Work for the studio was slow at first.  Joe was able to maintain all the work for the studio and hold down a full-time job outside of the studio as well as all the duties that come along with being a husband and father.  But after a few months, the work began to steadily increase, he quit his job and started focusing on the studio full-time.  One day Joe got a call from an artist that made an interesting offer.  The artist didn't have money, but did have a lot of nicer gear and he was willing to let Project Won Studios borrow it all in exchange for part-time use of the facility.  About the same time, Joe had the opportunity to assist in the liquidation of another studio that was going out of business, and instead of taking a fee, Joe was able to acquire even more equipment of his own.  The combination of these two events led to a complete remodel of the studio, which allowed for the building of a separate control room and the addition of more professional mixers, Apple computers and ProTools recording software.  From then on the studio continued to grow even more with new clientele and increased business.  Then, in summer of 2005, the artist who had made the offer for Project Won Studios to borrow his equipment decided the time had come for him to build his own studio.  So there went the nicer mixers, monitors, compressors, drum kit, keyboards and the Mac computer and ProTools.  At first Joe thought this would mean the end to his studio.  But to his surprise, it was tremendously blessed and grew even more afterwards!  And so the studio continued, stronger than ever, even with the "poor man's" recording set-up he had left.  But then came that fateful day - with nine separate recording projects in the works - that Joe and his wife learned the owner of the house they were renting needed to move back into his own home!  And so, within 30 days of that announcement, Joe and his family had moved out, and the first Project Won Studios was dead.

 

2006 - 2007

For the rest of the year following their first move, the studio existed only in Joe's mind and dozens of boxes.  He and his family had moved into another rental home in another nearby city and started all over again.  This time the only place even remotely suitable for a studio was the garage.  And so, with scraps of building material he'd managed to salvage from the first studio and much a smaller investment in new material, Joe began building Project Won Studios # 2.  This new studio was much smaller and not really suitable for more than just a hobby operation, but Joe gave it a try anyway.  The main problem with this new location however, was in keeping it warm.  The furnace was an old 1960's era diesel fueled model that was very old and inefficient.  To make matters worse, the price of diesel had risen sky high, and after one month when the fuel bill was almost the same as the rent, Joe and his wife came to the conclusion that - studio business or no - they could not afford to stay there.  Project Won Studios # 2 had been host to only one client and only one project when, in October of 2007, Joe and his family moved out and Project Won Studios # 2 was dead.

 

2007 - 2009

For the rest of 2007 and sometime into 2008, the studio once again was something only in Joe's mind and dozens of boxes.  He and his family had moved back to their former city and much closer to their kid's schools.  In that respect, the move was an improvement.  But the rental house they moved into was only 1,200 square feet, whereas both of their previously rented homes were in excess of 2,100 square feet!  So where do you put a studio?  Once again the only answer was the garage, which once again was unfinished.  To make room for things Joe built an extension to the attic and a large outdoor storage shed.  That helped a bit, but the need to combine the studio with their office was still a necessity and one corner of the room needed to remain a garage!  Despite the challenge, the task of insulating the attic and putting up interior walls commenced.  Though the studio wasn't yet complete, once it had become functional enough to work, Joe began working on a few small projects that were new, but mostly finishing up old projects that remained unfinished from Studios #1 and #2.  Joe had some good things lined-up for when the studio would have been finished, (a radio ad for UPS for example), but sadly, that day never came!  After they'd been in this home for almost 2 years Joe and his wife got a call from the property management company explaining their lease would not be renewed.  Why?  Because once again, the owner's of the house needed to move back in!  With the exception of a few customers who had hired Joe to make some Tape and Vinyl to CD transfers, there had not any new business for this new studio and there never would be.  In November of 2009, Project Won Studios # 3 was dead!

 

2009 - Present

It was a clear blessing from the very start, but little did Joe and his wife realize just how much of a blessing it would be, and still has yet to become even more!  In November of 2009, they were able to purchase their first home.  No more renting!  No more potential for old owners to move back in! And no inefficient diesel furnace to deal with!  This house was large and spacious and although the garage was still the only suitable place to build a studio, it was a large garage with a blue print that was immediately obvious would make a great studio!  The problem was, having moved three times since 2006 and having already financed the construction for three studios, there was no money to build a fourth!  So once again, Project Won Studios existed only in Joe's mind and dozens of boxes... and Google Sketch-Up!  After being introduced to the program by his son, Joe began designing a fourth studio, knowing that this time, if he could only find a way to finance it, he could build a studio bigger and better than any he had before and this time keep it for good!  So although he had no way of actually building it - yet - he spent the better part of a year carefully researching studio design on the internet and books from the library.  And then one day, a miracle happened!  Joe had been playing bass for a weekday ministry group at his church.  While having a bite to eat with a lady attending that had known of Joe's previous studio work, she said, "So Joe, why haven't you built a new studio in your new home?"  "Time and money", Joe replied.  "Well, I can't help you with the time", the lady said, "but perhaps I can help you with the money.  How much do you need?"  So Joe told her an amount, and although his estimate turned out to be far less than what it would actually cost, it was enough to get things started.  A few months after that conversation, Joe got a call from that lady letting him know she was ready to write him a check!  And so now having the seed money to get started, Joe set about acquiring the needed building materials to get started.  That's when another member of Joe's church stepped in and offered to help.  Though he was a firefighter by trade, Joe's friend was also quite an accomplished home builder, (as he had built a very nice house for himself and his family.  He didn't pay to have contractors build it.  He literally built it himself!)  So after learning that, Joe had no doubt this man was well qualified to help build the studio!  So now that there was money for the materials and the design was on paper, away they went at it!  This studio was to be like none of the others.  This studio was built like a studio should!  Staggered stud framing, ultra thick walls, double drywall hanging on resilient channel with Greenglue sandwiched in between layers, stone wool insulation, floating hard wood floors, solid core doors, 1 & 3/8" thick windows... the works!  While the construction was coming along, Joe got another grand opportunity.  Another studio in another nearby town was going out-of-business and had advertised the sale of their equipment.  Joe was fortunate to be the first responder, and after meeting with the owners he gave them an offer to buy everything... and it was accepted!  Because it was a "buy everything deal", the actual cost of each individual item was deeply discounted!  Even though not everything was something Joe needed, he knew those items could be sold and he knew the overall value of the deal was just too good to pass up!  Two 10' x 12' bedrooms were filled, one literally from floor to ceiling, with the gear Joe acquired from that purchase and a few other great deals he found from other sellers in the local area.  Finally, in October of 2012, the new studio, that is Project Won Studios # 4 was complete!  All that was to be done now was for all the gear to be moved in and hooked up!  By early November of 2012 the studio was ready for business and the first session was booked!  By the end of November, two sessions with two different artists were already a part of the new studio's history.  Since then, more and more new clients have found their way to Project Won Studios.  Once again we're busy, and Joe is catching up on his dream of helping artists succeed!

 

The Future

With all the set-backs the studio received over the years, it may not be hard to understand why the greater ministry - that is the organizational and networking aspects and the Boat Rocker Record label has not really had the chance to take off... until now!  Having a physical location and the means to directly offer artists services is the foundational key component to this ministry/business.  But it's just the beginning.  Now that the studio securely exists and is by far the best we've ever had, where can we go from here?  What kind of impact will we have?  We believe the sky is the limit, and we're really just getting started!  By now you might be wondering, just who is "we"?  Well, "we" are Joe Nicholson, his wife and two young adult children.  "We" are college or recently graduated interns who help out on occasion.  "We" are the several individuals who helped finance, sell items at discount, give away building materials and helped build the studio!  "We" are Joe's Church, Northshore Christian Church, The Voices of Praise Choir, and others there that support him.  "We" are other ministries like, "Tears of Praise", "Rock The Church" and Grapevine Ecclesia which have shown their desire to help this ministry.  "We" are the other Christian owned recording studios in the Seattle area and even some of the secular studios that have helped support our ministry.  "We" are a few record labels that have expressed their willingness to help. "We" are a few CD manufacturers and promotional companies that offer their help.  "We" are a healthy list of professional session musicians who have signed up to help.  "We" are the churches, industry providers, radio stations and booking agents who are eager to help.  And "we" are the all the artists, past, present and future who have been, are, and will be a part of this ministry, both receiving help and willing to offer their help!  And most of all, "we" could be YOU!  Would you like to be part of something significant?  Would you like to be part of something that COULD be big in the eyes of the world but is ALREADY big in the eyes of the Good Lord?  Then let us know!  There are many ways you can help!

 

Studio History Photo Tour

A photo journey back to our studios of the past

For a larger view and brief description, just click the picture, (each click will open a separate window).

The Bedroom Studio

 

Project Won Studios #1

 

Project Won Studios #2

 

 

Project Won Studios # 3

No pics available yet, but we'll post 'em if / when we find 'em! 

(We know we took some, but where we saved them remains a mystery!)

 

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Project Won Studios #4 (Our Current Studio) - Construction Pics!

(Sorry!  No larger pictures available for this set)

 

JC Music Connection   ●   Project Won Studios   ●   Boat Rocker Records  

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