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Starling Portrait Series – Cobra Music Studios: An impressive pandemic performance

More often than not, business is about looking at how things have been done before and having the courage and imagination to reinvent the rules. That’s what Anne Boden did when she created Starling Bank, a digital bank for personal and business current accounts. Starling was born out of her determination to give customers control over their money, and provide a real alternative to the banks of the past. Starling strives to be fast, friendly and supportive – just like a murmuration of starling birds.

In this series, we’ll be shining a light on other Great British entrepreneurs who, just like Anne, are pioneers of change.

Our next entrepreneur is Starling customer Jordan Day-Williams, Founder of Cobra Music Studios.

If you happen to find yourself wandering near The Riverfront in Newport, your ears might just be graced with the pleasing sound of contemporary music emanating from Cobra Music Studios.

An art form that is arguably less appreciated is still going strong thanks to Jordan Day-Williams, who founded the recording studio that focuses on contemporary music, concert recordings, voice overs and audiobooks as well.

Class to brass

Jordan initially discovered his passion for choral orchestral and brass music in his third year of a Sound Engineering degree at the University of South Wales. “I was brought up in an orchestral world, that made me who I am,” says Jordan, attributing his passion to his upbringing. Jordan even went as far as adopting some of his favourite genres into his now business name, COBRA, which stands for “Choral, Orchestral, Brass and Recording Artistes.” 

Founded in 2017, the business is now booming, and since finishing his degree Jordan didn’t waste any time in establishing what is now a valued resource for  small and solo artists in the community. Though initially being an on-location recording company, Jordan and Cobra have found their niche amongst larger ensembles and individual artists. 

Opening their first recording studio in 2019, the business and Jordan’s passion only grew from there, propelling the brand into what was looking like  a promising new year. “I absolutely love working with choirs and brass bands and it’s exactly that, that makes me love what I do,” says Jordan.

 

Pandemic Pandemonium

COVID-19 brought everyone and everything to a grinding halt, businesses stopped dead in their tracks and we’re still feeling the impact of the virus today, even after almost two years. Jordan and Cobra Music Studios were no exception: “April 2020 was set to be our best month to date, but with the world coming to a halt, all of our location bookings were suddenly postponed” he says.

With things looking bleak, the music had to be  stopped. With many important upcoming events for Jordan and his business postponed, and the additional challenge of lockdown preventing the very building Cobra was based in from reopening, he was at a loss. “The restrictions were extremely unclear on what we could and couldn’t do, so we had to close the doors for the foreseeable,” reflects Jordan. 

Assembling the ensembles 

Despite things looking their darkest, a chance for an encore began emerging. Virtual ensembles started to surface as a new trend and provided  a solution to the issues Jordan and his business were facing: “It was a huge learning curve for us,” he says, mentioning how his usual environments, being comfortable and acoustically efficient recording studios and vast cathedrals had been turned  on their heads. He was now faced with hearing individual artists and choirs alike perform their pieces through phones and webcams.

What was even more surprising for Jordan – more so than viewing performances through  grainy phone cameras, was the scope which was brought along with the new trend.

“It allowed us to work virtually with ensembles overseas in America,” says Jordan. Creating what he describes as “magical virtual videos,” Cobra Music Studios reached hundreds of thousands of people with their increased  brand presence on a variety of platforms. With the business hosting Facebook quizzes weekly covering a variety of music related topics, it was an astonishingly successful pivot for Jordan and Cobra in an industry that otherwise suffered immensely due to lockdown closures.

Despite now being back in the studio since August, Jordan even attributes some success to the lockdown: “it enabled us to work with voice over artists who would usually travel to studios in London to record, but instead we would connect virtually to the studio in London and even with producers from overseas,” he says, “This is something that is now continuing too which is very exciting!”

Passion for percussion

With some astonishing achievements under his belt, in the toughest of times, plenty may wonder how Jordan and Cobra powered through the pandemic whereas other, bigger businesses were failing. What makes Cobra, and by extension Jordan, so successful in ensuring the show must go on?

“My main ethos is that I treat all my clients like family,” Jordan states confidently, he attests a large portion of his success to his passion and attitude towards the work itself, which he says “doesn’t really feel like work at all.”

Jordan’s enthusiasm is admirable and supports the age-old adage by Confucius: ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ 

Jordan further expresses his love for the work and his ‘family’: “Whether that be a choir that have been together for 50 years making a celebratory album, a songwriter who has never been into a studio before, or an author narrating their debut book – it is a privilege to be able to work with each and every one.”

The show must go on

After all the hurdles, Jordan and Cobra Music Studios are still going strong, so what’s next for this  astoundingly adaptive business?

“Creating a brilliant partnership alongside a fantastic video company and packaging up some incredible recording offers is something I am currently working on,” says Jordan, clearly not letting post-lockdown be a slow-down. 

Gradually returning to normal, Jordan goes on to say “The studio has been busier than ever as people return to the world of music, with some exciting projects coming up for the rest of the year,” further commenting that he has some big plans for the end of the year too: “I’ve been lucky enough to have some great conversations with larger ensembles regarding 2022 recordings, so I am very much looking forward to getting started on the planning stages with them.”

Whatever comes out of Jordan and his business in 2022 is bound to be yet another huge step forward for the brand. Their pandemic pivot was nothing short of amazing especially for a business in such an affected industry. With such an impressive drive, we’re bound to see a continuous stream of symphonies put out in the world thanks to Jordan, his passion and of course Cobra. 

Find out more about Starling Bank here.