Music in a multipurpose venue can be a tricky thing. If you’re a restaurant that turns into a lounge at night or a lounge that turns into a nightclub late night, you need to have a multifunctioning system that can take you from one portion of your evening to the next with ease. Enter EL Media.
The group is helmed by Ernie Lake, a former Grammy-nominated record producer who now runs the one-stop musical and audio shop, and Josh Katz. From designing and laying out the plan for a room to installing speakers and other requisite equipment to streaming a private, personalized playlist to those speakers via the Internet, Lake’s dedicated team can meet any request or need. Their client roster is impressive: STK, all of the Dream Hotels, Nobu, 5 Napkin Burgers, TAO, LAVO, even the entire Jetblue terminal at JFK airport, among a slew of other high-profile places.
The company offers two proprietary musical-system-management choices in the form of a digital player smaller than the average book. The player, which costs $469, either plugs into a monitor for operators who want the most control over playlists or skips the visual step and plugs directly into the sound system’s input, playing music automatically. The bulk of Lake’s clients opt for the second option, because most owners don’t want staff to have any control over the music.
“Everything’s managed on our end,” Lake explains. “We automatically stream preset playlists loaded with files the owner’s signed off on.”
The automatic-streaming option costs anywhere from $49 to $150 per month, depending on the licensing fees for the selected songs. On the less expensive side, Lake has 5,000 personal tracks, most of which are chill or lounge tunes. Customers also can opt for Top 40 hits at a higher cost. Once the list is set, the client doesn’t have to do much except plug in and play.
“If they have an issue, don’t like a song, or want some special music for a special event coming up, they call us, we upload it and program into the system.” That process is very quick, too. “We can change or tweak immediately. Clients can call us up until 11 p.m. and have it done in minutes. We have clients that sometimes call at 2 or 3 a.m., and if someone’s awake we will get right on it,” Lake says.
For clients just starting out with El Media's music programming, Lake believes in multiple site visits after everything’s installed and running.
“It may take a month or two to get it right,” Lake admits. “With a new venue, you don’t know what the crowd will be like. Our guys are DJs, and they’re educated about music. They’re actively out and about. We’ll go to your venue once a week for the first month to check out the vibe and see how it’s working. We’re not a channel, and that’s the beauty — we can go in customize to the needs.”
Plus, customers can move from a music playlist to a DJ or a live performance with the flick of a single switch, or change playlists at a preprogrammed time. So the dinner rush is over and it's time for the music to change tempo? It'll go automatically.
The New York City-based company does a decent amount of business in town, but also enjoys servicing venues across the country.
“We have A/V partners all over the nation. We’ll go do a site visit and then, with the A/V partner, go over the plan with the construction crew. We use electricians onsite to run the wires, but we send the wires and our guys to install the speakers and plug in the system,” Lake says. “For us, it’s about two or three trips to the location, and the A/V partners manage locally if there’s an technical issue. We’ll also overnight them a new box if there’s an issue. But they can email or call us in NYC to get updates to the music.”
Which is always music to any nervous owner’s ears.