A new music studio is setting the stage for a launch in downtown Richmond in the next few months.
Defiant Recording Studio, a hip-hop recording venture owned by Milan Modi and Gabriel Williams, is plugging into 306 W. Broad St.
The duo recently signed a five-year lease for the 2,400-square-foot space, paying $2,400 in rent. S.L. Nusbaum Realty’s Nathan Shor and Zach Hernandez represented them in the transaction. Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer’s Reilly Marchant represented the landlord.
While renovations are expected to last months, the two say that one of the four studios that the Broad Street space will house is nearly ready for use, and they hope to start recording out of it in a matter of weeks. That studio, which they are referring to as the “A-Room,” is larger than the others and currently is planned to book out at $70 an hour while the other studios are planned to book for $50 an hour with other production costs priced at $30 an hour.
Modi and Williams each have several years of experience in the hip-hop recording scene — with Williams working as a sound engineer and Modi working as a producer — and both have roots in Richmond while also working out of other hotbeds like Atlanta and Los Angeles.
The two met four years ago and had worked together on and off throughout those years. Williams started looking to go into the recording business himself when Boombox Recording Studio, the studio he had been working out of, recently closed its location at 6290 Old Warwick Road in Midlothian.
“He would come through and do a lot of sessions with other artists and I would be the one engineering the sessions so we had a good relationship from that,” Williams said about the two’s past work before their recent partnership.
When Williams decided he wanted to start up another studio in Richmond he mentioned it to Modi, who was looking to make an investment.
The two are the only owners in the venture, with no outside investors. They declined to say how much they’re investing in the Broad Street space, which was previously an office for a radio station owned by 4M Communications. Tyler Construction Group of Northern Virginia is handling renovations of the space.
They’ll look to hire at the studio once it’s fully operational, likely for sound engineers and interns, ideally employing around six people in the near term.
Aside from both having lived in the Richmond area in the past, Modi and Williams chose to set up shop in the city for income potential, local talent and a lack of a concentration of major competition.
“I was in a lot of good situations in Atlanta, but nobody was really paying. I started working with a lot of independent people in Richmond and everybody was paying,” Williams said.
“Just from my personal standpoint, as a music professional, I’ve been able to generate more income here than anywhere, and I’ve been to New York, I’ve been to Houston, Atlanta, North Carolina and Charlotte,” he said. “As an independent entrepreneur, there’s a lot of income in Richmond.”
“And it’s an easy market out here because there’s not much competition,” Modi said.
Williams said his confidence was boosted by locals who would ask about recording space after he stopped working for Boombox.
“I heard about Forbes calling Richmond one of the biggest underground music scenes and thought that was interesting,” Williams said. “Everybody is trying to break into the scene here right now, and I’ve got my eyes on a few of them.”