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Ozark Sound Studios pairs creativity with business

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by Carrie Groves

SBJ Contributing Writer

Ozark Sound Studios' new advertising tool really hits the spot, according to owner Nick Sibley.

"No one else is doing this yet," Sibley said with delight, brandishing the liner of his newest CD, "Spots on the Spot."

The disc, created by Sibley and freelance musician Ned Wilkinson, is a compilation of some of the advertising jingles the two men have co-written in the past. Sibley slides the CD into the player to demonstrate it. Each jingle is presented first in its original form, a single voice singing against a simple guitar background. Then the volume swells and the finished jingle, complete with professional singers and full instrumental accompaniment, fills the room.

The disc is Sibley's newest advertising tool, designed to provide clients with dramatic examples of how the duo's initially simple jingles will sound fully produced for commercial impact. Sibley and Wilkinson offer the disc to radio stations. In turn, the stations play the disc for their advertisers. When a potential client agrees to meet with Sibley and Wilkinson to talk about a jingle, they all get together at the radio station.

"We sit down together and discuss the client's business needs and their goals. Then the client goes off for a while, for coffee or a tour of the station," said Sibley with a grin. "When they come back, in half and hour or so, they get to hear a custom jingle. We write them on the spot."

The advertiser can immediately critique the jingle and discuss it with the duo. Words are rearranged, and tunes are rewritten. Once the client signs off on the piece, Sibley takes it back to Ozark Sound Studios to be produced. Professional singers are hired to lay down the vocal tracks. Sibley plays guitar or keyboards, Wilkinson adds all the other instruments, and a commercial is born.

Sibley said that writing and producing jingles looks deceptively easy.

"You've got to be able to play a lot of different kinds of music to be successful in this field," he said. "One day you might be doing something Spanish in feel, and then the next day it's rock 'n' roll or jazz."

Giving that versatility a workout, Sibley took a week off from the studio in March to do something different: he traveled to Lima, Peru, as band leader for the "Idols on Tour" concert, an evening of Elvis and Roy Orbison music by two impersonators of those artists.

Why would he do such a thing? "Because it's just so weird," he said.

Sibley began writing jingles when he was a marketing major at SMSU. He discovered he enjoyed it, and that he had a knack for the work. He bought his first tape recorder and began his business from his home. "Then I bought a bigger recorder, then more equipment, and in 1982 I bought this abandoned hardware store here on South Campbell and opened the studio," Sibley said. He's been working steadily at the same location ever since. These days he works on six to eight jingles at any one time, usually completing four of them a week.

Blending business acumen with musical talent has enabled Sibley to become one of a rare breed; a musician who has a day job he enjoys. The studio is busy all day long.

Sibley writes jingles, meets with clients, answers phones, greets visitors and dubs tapes for his customers.

Musicians and local bands stop in and rent recording time to create their own demo tapes.

Last year the Ozark Mountain Daredevils recorded their CD "13" at Ozark Sound Studios.

On weekend nights, he plays at McSalty's Pizza Cafe on Battlefield with Wilkinson and Ruell Chappell as Nick Ruell and Ned the Band.

His music partner, Ruell Chappell, is also an old friend and friendly competitor. Chappell is one of several other jingle writers in town.

Sibley says there's enough business around to keep everyone happy, and that the competition among the writers is good-natured.

Sibley has written and produced jingles for Bass Pro Shops, KY3 TV, Mazzio's Pizza and O'Reilly Automotive, among others. He estimates that he has 50 clients, but adds that eight of them probably give him 90 percent of his current business.

He and Wilkinson anticipate that their new advertising CD will bring them business from radio stations both locally and in surrounding states.

"Meanwhile," Sibley said, turning on some recording equipment with one hand and grabbing for the ringing phone with the other, "there's always work in progress here. It's a busy place."

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