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Manhattan recording studio, New Jersey waterfront apartment

by SuperiorInvest

Since moving to Weehawken, N.J., last fall, Stanley Brown has adopted a nocturnal habit: He works long hours at the recording studio he runs in Midtown Manhattan and usually takes an Uber home at 2 or 3 in the morning. When he arrives at his apartment building, which sits along the Hudson River with an unobstructed view of Manhattan, he takes a quiet walk along the waterfront to process his day.

“I take the walk religiously,” said Mr Brown, who lives alone. “At night I have conversations with the city. I want to see what it is, what I’m buying into, or what I’m building there. It’s time to think about what’s happening and what’s coming tomorrow.”

Mr Brown, 54, has worked in the music industry since he was 20 years old. He grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where he played drums and keyboards in church. In his 20s, he met members of the hip-hop group Run-DMC and began playing keyboards for them. (You can see him in music video for “Pause”, decked out in the group’s signature rope chains and playing a keytar solo.)

Early on, mentors like Jam Master Jay and producer Hiriam Hicks taught him the finer points of production. Since then he has written and produced for a number of R&B and gospel acts. He has collaborated with artists including Salt-N-Pepa, Dru Hill and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child. He also served as senior director of artists and repertoire for RCA Inspiration, a label under Sony Music, and recently signed a distribution deal with Roc Nation.

In 2004, Mr. Brown purchased a two bedroom home in North Hills, NY. He built a recording studio with a vocal booth in his basement, which was frequented by musicians and other producers from New York. But those trips out of town usually meant a two-hour drive back after recording.

Last year, when the pandemic heated up the Long Island real estate market, Mr. Brown realized he could get a good price for his house and headed to Stroudsburg, Pa. He had two good friends who lived in a gated community there, where he figured he could build a house with a recording studio and host songwriting camps.

But there are no trains to facilitate the commute between New York City and Stroudsburg. Mr. Brown’s friend, producer Rodney (Darkchild) Jerkins, pointed out the holes in his plan. “He was like, ‘You’re going to be alone up there,'” Mr. Brown recalls. “No one goes there to work.

When doubts arose, a new opportunity materialized. A friend called to tell Mr. Brown that a recording studio had opened in Manhattan: Did he want to rent? The answer was a clear, immediate yes.

$3,500 | Weehawken, New Jersey

cast: Music producer

His weekend hobby: “I’m a biker. I ride my bike really hard. But it’s always on open highways, so it’s safer. I will go to Jones Beach or the Hamptons with my friends. [Interstate] 495, at the right time of day, is wide open.’

About days off: “I don’t mind working weekends, but I don’t like killing my engineers. So I give them weekends off. I work on Sundays because I am at my church in Jamaica, Queens. I head the music department. I’ve been there for 21 years.”

For Mr. Brown, having a studio is “like water to a fish — I need it to exist,” he said, laughing at his accidental rhyming. “Music is all I know. That’s all I’ve ever done. And when I have a studio, I can always write, I can always play music, I can always play with other artists.”

A plan emerged: He would use the money from the sale of his house to invest in a Manhattan studio, which began as a few rooms and quickly expanded to an entire floor as Mr. Brown created suites for some of the producers they worked with. him. “Now we can create continuously and we don’t have to share space with strangers – you can keep your energy,” he explained.

When the Long Island house was sold and the Pennsylvania plan canceled, Mr. Brown began looking for rentals. At the turn of the millennium, he was living in Edgewater, New Jersey, and began looking around the waterfront in nearby Weehawken. The second building he looked at, a waterfront property owned by Veris Residential that was a stone’s throw from the Port Imperial ferry terminal, immediately felt right.

“The energy was great,” Mr Brown said. “When I walked in, it felt like a hotel. I liked that it was new. And the view played a big role.”

He moved into a $3,500-a-month one-bedroom apartment there last October after putting nearly half of his belongings in storage. This fall, he will be moving into a two-room room with a balcony in the building. When he’s not in his Manhattan studio, he’s often on the roof of his building, sipping his morning coffee and making a few calls before heading out on the town. The deck and pool make the place feel like a luxury hotel: “It’s like I’m staying at home every day,” Mr. Brown said.

The building also gives him an enviable commute. When he sees the ferry approaching from the floor-to-ceiling windows of his apartment, he knows he has eight minutes to board. From there, it’s only six minutes to Manhattan and a short shuttle a few blocks from his studio.

For someone who works long hours, such ease is a luxury. “I just feel good about what I’m doing, where I’m at,” Mr. Brown said. Like many people, the pandemic offered an opportunity to prioritize what matters and discard the rest. Being in control of his living space and time allows him to focus his creative energy on the work that feeds him and that has defined his life, he said.

The studio is a dream come true, but expensive. “I have to pay for it, so I’m out there every day, working and writing, always looking for new writers and engineers to keep it going,” Mr Brown said. “It’s an investment. But at this point, if I’m going to roll the dice and bet, I’m going to bet on me. Because I have no intention of losing.”

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