Music Lab

Recording studio becomes multimedia business

Music Lab started out as a recording studio and rehearsal space, but that is actually a small part of its business today, owner Danny Cabela said.

These days, Music Lab offers equipment rentals, video editing, CD/DVD duplication services and audio/visual installations for businesses and museums.

"People just needed things, and we tried to be a place where they could get everything," Cabela said.

Music Lab itself was born out of a need for rehearsal space.

The late 1980s and early 1990s were a boom time for Austin's music scene. Stevie Ray Vaughan and local bands were building Austin's reputation as what would later be called "The Live Music Capital of the World."

"We kind of followed the whole growth of that," Cabela said. "It was exploding back then."

Cabela, a University of Texas student and working musician, was leasing space from a rehearsal facility when it went out of business. Rather than move, Cabela assumed their lease and founded Music Lab in 1991. Cabela brought on his brother Joe as co-owner soon after starting the business.

"A lot of the reason why I started my own facility was not only the ability to charge for our services, but to do my own work in my own environment," he said.

Music Lab caters to musicians, and one can see their preferences in the business model. The recording studios feature ProTools software, the facilities are open until 3 a.m., and they have a retail store and coffee bar available.

"It's very busy here at night," Cabela said.

Musicians can rent replacement gear from Music Lab if their instruments break before a show, he said.

Cabela said Music Lab works with all types of venues, including temporary facilities during South by Southwest Music and Media Conference.

"Some of those venues don't exist except for during that week," he said.

Cabela said he spends much of his time with his design immersion division.

"We do museum and wildlife audio and video installations. It's pretty specialized, but it's popular and creative," he said.

Famous clients

Music Lab has worked on concerts, rented equipment or provided services to the following acts:

  • Blue yster Cult
  • Blues Traveler
  • Cheap Trick
  • Dixie Chicks
  • Joan Jett
  • Los Lonely Boys
  • Ludacris
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Slash
  • Steve Winwood

Music Lab, 500 E. St. Elmo Road, 707-0560, 1306 W. Oltorf St., 326-3816,, Twitter: @musiclabaustin

By Joe Olivieri
Joe covered Southwest Austin news for Community Impact Newspaper from January 2011 to April 2015. His reporting focused on new businesses, development, transportation, industry and Travis County issues. He was named the paper's managing editor in April 2015. Joe hails from New Jersey.


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