Matt DeSear, a 30-year-old sixth-generation Bradenton-area resident, grew up loving music and wanting to have his own studio one day.
A graduate of Manatee High School, DeSear worked toward his dream by attending Manatee Community College, later renamed State College of Florida, and earning a BA in commercial music production from Florida State University.
He came to Audio Images, operating out of a Bradenton-area industrial park at 6003 28th St. E., as a session bass player and intern. Eventually, DeSear became an employee for Michael Badalamenti, who started the business in 1991.
DeSear bought Audio Images in 2015, updated the digital equipment, added a new grand piano and renamed it Burnt Orange Sound Studio.
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A hidden gem.
Dan Shafer, orchestra director at Lakewood Ranch High School, on Burnt Orange
The inspiration for the Burnt Orange name came from his wife, Moira DeSear, who suggested it when the couple drove past the Tropicana juice plant and smelled the scent of citrus.
“I told Moira, ‘That’s a great name.’ It’s sunny, it’s Florida, and we have a lot of snowbird clients,” Matt DeSear says of the name change.
At the same time that DeSear was updating the studio’s digital equipment, he maintained Burnt Orange’s vintage analog equipment, including preamps and microphones for the pure, warm sound they produce.
The music business has gone through many changes since Badalamenti launched the studio.
In the old days, the studios would pay for the sessions and recoup their expenses from album sales. Now, many bands and others who book studio time self-finance their projects, similar to authors who self-publish their books, rather than going through a major publisher.
Burnt Orange provides recording, mixing and mastering services.
“At the end of the process, we provide a master CD to the artist,” DeSear said.
Artists no longer have to try to get their music into stores, but can instead take it to online services such as iTunes, Amazon Music and CD Baby, DeSear said.
Among those who have used Burnt Orange facilities are jazz artists, punk rock bands, country musicians, hip-hop artists and more.
Commercials and audio book recordings account for a growing part of the business. Anyone from horror author Stephen King to unknown aspiring authors might book time to read their latest books into a microphone.
Among other recognizable names who have used the recording facilities at Burnt Orange are Brian Johnson of AC/DC, sportscaster Dick Vitale and jazz pianist Dick Hyman.
“A hidden gem” is what Dan Shafer calls the studio.
Shafer, orchestra director at Lakewood Ranch High School who also serves as an engineer at Burnt Orange, said the studio “showcases a lot of talent we have in our local area,” and is also a resource for nationally known performers who visit Bradenton-Sarasota.