Michael Freeman, after moving from London, England to Chicago, Illinois in the early 1970’s began his music industry career as an Artist/Tour Manager, working with popular bands such as “The PezBand.”
While cutting his teeth as an young tour manager he worked along side his artists on the road. He learned the ropes of the touring band: long hours, hard work and the hardcore dedication it takes to be a successful touring band; a band with well-written, well performed and well-produced/engineered and publicized music that can lead to selling records and sets the bar high for the competition on the road to success.
Freeman understands and respects today’s independent artists, who are capable of recording and creating their own recordings through many technological advances such as digital recording programs readily available for use with home computer systems, self-promotion via electronic media kits, websites and the use of social media. All these mediums rely on the talents, monies and work on the part of the independent musician, often drawing in a large fan base. But, Freeman is realistic when he asks himself: “How many of these determined and often times, very talented, musicians will ever be heard by a much larger majority of the public, who appreciate their genre, than they can reach on their own?”
He is honest when he acknowledges that to open just the right door and obtain the attention needed to potentially hit the charts is tough. He understands the pros and cons living in a highly technical and competitive society, where even the best artist can get lost in the millions of musicians driven for success. It’s the old face it folks, sometimes, it’s just who you know, and that “who you know,” doesn’t always come easy or without sacrifice; sacrifice such as Freeman has made spending his life always traveling and always at the helm, learning and working in almost every aspect of the music industry.
One thing he does know for certain is that an experienced team behind the talent, who believe in the artist can potentially take that artist to a new level. Yet, he is realistic when he tells up and coming musicians that much of the success they see in Grammy Winning Artists is due to their own drive and ambition; their willingness to work independently and without hesitation hit the road and take their music to the public.
No matter how talented the artist or good the product, if the band is in the living room instead of on the road, Freeman believes their chances of ever achieving their goals lessen in the midst of that steep competition. Although not a musician, Freeman, has in his own rights as an highly respected music industry professional, paid his dues on the road, so-to-speak, and continues to travel to get his job(s) done, on a regular basis, just as he has taken on a variety of musical challenges over the years.
For example, in 1975 he took another step into becoming even more familiar with the world of music. However, this time it was on the print side.
He entered the world of journalism, publishing a local monthly music magazine aptly titled Stage Pass where he garnered in-depth experience in publicity; acquiring the ability to understand what it takes to get the word out regarding musical events and articles of interests, for everyone from musicians, venues, advertisers, sponsors and more.
Freeman learned what it takes to grab audience attention, all the while getting to know and cultivating life-long music, business and community relationships; relationships which spawned new opportunities and new friendships with many respected industry professionals and businesses. He continues to build and maintain new industry relationships on a regular basis.
His strong musical sensibility and experience allow him to easily adapt to the ever changing face of music and business, whether it be through electronic mediums or standard print, each of which appeal to particular audiences.
His talent, ability and just go with the flow attitude when it comes to change while retaining what he knows has worked in the past and integrating the two ideals affords his artists an edge. He also knows, from experience, the importance of retaining and working with a reliable, experienced staff of individuals, who share in his vision on the future of music and the needs of today’s musicians.
This work ethic was adopted early on in his career when in the late 1970’s he was working in the Chicago area recording community and was asked to manage a seminal studio complex in the Chicago suburbs initially named Hedden West and later named Remington Road Studios. The complex included two multi-track studios, a state-of-the-art mastering room, a recording school and a duplication facility.
While at Remington Road Studios he accumulated experience and credits in many different musical genres – R&B, Soul, House, Blues, Indie Rock, Classical and Americana and established himself as a prominent figure on the Chicago recording scene. He began to amass an extensive discography. During his time spent managing the studio, he learned the art and craft of record making and after a nine years, in 1986, Freeman headed out to attain success as a respected Independent Producer/ Engineer.
Michael Freeman’s work to date as a Producer and/or Engineer has received three Grammy Nominations, one Grammy Award, five Blues Music Award Nominations and one Blues Music Award, as well as, being presented The Blues Foundation prestigious “Keeping The Blues Alive Award – Producer” in 2011.
This impressive career spans over five decades and includes a discography of over two hundred albums. On many of these projects he had the honor of working with and/or producing a number of highly respected, world renowned musicians and recording artists. Sixty of these recording are in the Blues genre alone.
His extensive experience in recording studios all over the United States and several countries has led to projects which include work as a studio consultant. One notable is his most recent work for Terminus Recording in New York City. Terminus clients have included Philip Glass, Liza Minelli and Michael Feinstein, rapper Icon and several NYC based A list engineers among others.
In 2014 Michael began collaborating with The Grzebik Design Group bringing his knowledge and expertise in design, operations and management of recording studios to the highly esteemed team of industry experts.
During his career he has served as Governor, Chapter President and National Trustee for the Chicago Chapter of The Recording Academy (NARAS) and he currently serves as a Governor and committee chair. He has also chaired several national committees for The Recording Academy and serves on the advisory council for their Producer & Engineers Wing.
Micheal is also a member of AES – The Audio Engineering Society and founding member of EARS – Chicago’s Engineering and Recording Society.
Due to his passion and dedication to his craft, Freeman proudly serves as an adjunct professor, teaching master classes in recording (teaching the art and craft of both analog and digital mediums) at Columbia College in Chicago.
Michael Freeman currently sits on The Board of Directors for The Blues Foundation in Memphis.