The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the live music and production industry. While fans may miss seeing their favourite artists perform, and the fun social aspect of a live show experience, the unfortunate reality is that an entire industry has been sidelined along with our concert fun. But what has come out of this pandemic has been some inspiring innovation around bringing live music back to life and to fans, safely and virtually. THE HUB in Toronto is another new example of that innovation.
THE HUB is a full broadcast + content capture studio in the heart of Toronto at The Opera House. This space is a multi-faceted solution for all areas of the Creative, Entertainment and Corporate spheres. THE HUB was formed from a partnership between Toronto event production powerhouses Production Resource Group (PRG) and Lemmon Entertainment. The team actually loaded in one year to the day of the last show at the Opera House, and the sights and sounds of live music have one again echoed between its hallowed walls.
We caught up with Jessica Lemon, from Lemon Entertainment, and Erik Paquette from PRG to talk about how THE HUB went from idea, to reality, and how soon we’ll hear some music from its stage.
Where did the idea for THE HUB come from? How did you bring it to life?
Jessica Lemmon: The original genesis of this idea came from Erik Paquette of PRG, the world’s leading provider of services and solutions in entertainment and events. He, like so many of us in the entertainment industry, was tired of seeing friends, colleagues, venues and suppliers unable to work during the pandemic. After seeing months of performances with artists in their basements, performing with substandard gear and having terrible streaming experiences the stakeholders were determined to provide a counterpoint to that. Erik came to the team at Lemmon to partner on THE HUB, working on the production aspect while building an overall structure and team to support the space. The purpose of the space was to help rebuild the fractured music community that had been decimated by the pandemic.
This studio could have been anywhere but there is a reason it is in a historic live music venue and specifically one that is owned and operated by a strong woman, Athena Towers. The Opera House has been family run for 31 years, Athena’s daughter Jessica is part of the marketing team for Lemmon Entertainment and THE HUB. The team behind THE HUB want to see our venues, crews and artists come out on the other side of this. The team knows that anything could happen on this stage from comedy to product launches, keynotes, weddings to awards ceremonies but we’re all very excited by the new funding opportunities that will hopefully see more concerts from live bands on this stage again!
Take us for a verbal tour of the studio, what are the different spaces and ways to use them?
JL: The main stage is our primary spot for content capture, with the digital wall, our expansive lighting rig and our highly qualified team we can transform the space to suit any needs. The Opera House dressing rooms have been updated and outfitted to create safe spaces for talent to receive hair and makeup, rest between sets or taping or even provide testimonials off stage. Our team is currently working on designing photo backdrop friendly sets within our second floor balcony. Currently with ministry of health guidelines we’re unable to provide hybrid (mix of in person and broadcast) events and safety is the utmost concern and priority but as we move into different zones we will revisit with new guidelines.
An epic space like this must have some epic equipment. What kind of technology can artists and content creators expect to be working with?
Eric Paquette: The traditional opera house AV rig has been temporarily replaced with an outstanding set-up valued at 3 million dollars. THE HUB studio comes outfitted with a full HD camera package that can be augmented to suit any project, with the ability to be sent to a wide variety of streaming platforms. We have 70 top of the line moving lights and a design by Curtis LeRoux of Ultraviolet Design, which enables us to create a broad spectrum of looks from full EDM Mother Ship to a classy lounge look. Our 13’ x 32’ LED wall paired with our powerful content servers allows even further creative freedom. Audio is being captured at 96k high definition for the best and most immersive listening experience.
What was it like to see live music come back to the Opera House stage, for both you and the artists involved?
JL: The HUB was finally brought to life on March 13th, 2021. This marks exactly one year of Canadian venues being closed, so it was a very surreal feeling for all of those involved. The thrill and happiness amongst the entire crew was truly indescribable. Even with the long, exhausting shoot days, the excitement never faded the entire weekend.
Not only was the crew ecstatic to be back, but the artists were blown away by the studio. It is no secret that the production is the best out there. Between the immaculate sound, lighting, cameras and streaming, the possibilities are endless.
Music lovers, fans, and anyone who’s into a comeback story can see THE HUB in action very soon. The results of their first livestream will be broadcast for free on March 25th at 8 PM. Visit losttapeslive.com to register and stay tuned for more news on that right here at www.weraddicted.com
For more information on THE HUB, visit www.thehub.lemmonent.com.