The Producers & Engineers Wing of The Recording Academy has released a list of safety considerations that recording studio owners and managers should keep in mind as they begin to reopen after the prolonged shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To quote the Academy:
“Directives for opening are, of course, on a state-by-state and city-by-city basis. In the meantime, we have spoken with numerous recording studio owners, engineers and others around the country. Based on their suggested protocols, we’ve compiled a list of potential safety measures.”
SAFE STUDIO CONSIDERATIONS
Evaluate rooms in the studio facility and make necessary adjustments to ensure social distancing (a minimum of six feet). In areas such as hallways where six feet of distance is not possible, stagger the use of the spaces to keep distance. Do not congregate in hallways, elevators or other spaces.
Until further notice, consider requiring individuals to wear cloth face coverings while inside the entire facility; in some parts of the country, face coverings may be required by law in outdoor areas as well. Ask clients to bring their own face coverings or masks, but consider having additional disposable masks, washable face coverings and disposable gloves on hand.
Have vocals or any instruments that cannot be performed with face coverings take place in an isolation room or an otherwise empty studio. No vocals in the control room if there are other people, including engineers and producers, in the control room.
Consider limiting studio access to essential personnel or, at minimum, limit the number of visitors. Limit the number of people allowed in the control room and/or performance spaces so that people can be at least six feet apart.
Consider having clients and engineers sign in electronically upon arrival each day. You may choose to require clients, engineers and others to have their temperature taken with an infrared thermometer upon entry to the facility. Either in combination with taking temperatures or as an alternative, consider whether to require a simple questionnaire/self- declaration with date working at studio, information on any recent travel, contacts and symptoms. This can be done online from the person’s home earlier in the day of the session using an app so it is touchless at the studio, or on a tablet that can be cleaned between visitors. Payment should be as touchless as possible as well.
Send a copy of your COVID-19 related protocols to clients in advance of their session and post in various areas around the studio as reminders.
If your building has elevators, limit the number of people who are allowed to use the elevators at once and consider requiring face coverings in elevators.
Consider whether there is a way to limit touching surfaces (e.g., buttons) in elevators and whether to require people to use tissues or gloves to do so.
Consider disinfecting footwear, or providing over-the-shoe booties for those entering the studio. Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds upon arrival and frequently throughout the day. Post proper handwashing reminders in bathrooms and other areas.
The facility’s engineers should wear facial coverings at all times and gloves whenever they need to enter a performance space. There may be times when an engineer briefly needs to be within six feet of a performer, so it is imperative that facial coverings are worn by all. Consider acrylic face shields when it is necessary to be within six feet of another person.
Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, handrails, and doorknobs. Designate a staff person to be in charge of this and consider posting the schedule of cleanings so all are aware. Have sufficient cleaning and disinfecting supplies available. Regularly disinfect all surfaces after all sessions: consoles, workstations, gear, seating, restrooms, offices, door handles and push panels, etc. When cleaning/disinfecting, use appropriate products based on guidelines by the CDC and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
See the CDC guide to cleaning and disinfection here.
See the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of disinfectants effective on COVID-19 starting on page 12, here.
Microphones should be monitored and cleaned before and after all sessions. Consider requesting that musicians and vocalists bring their own personal pop filters and sanitize them themselves. Isopropyl alcohol is recommended for cleaning.
Provide tissues, paper towels, no-touch trash cans, and hand sanitizer (recommend at least 60% alcohol) in bathrooms. Request clients and staff to wipe down counters, faucet handles, toilet seats, and handles with sanitizer after use.
Provide visible hand sanitizer in various other parts of the facility, including control rooms, studios, bathrooms, kitchen, etc.
If possible, request that musicians and vocalists bring their own personal headphones with 1⁄4-inch jacks and sanitize them themselves.
Consider no food or drink to be served by the studio and no runners for food or anything else available until further notice. Ask clients to bring their own coffee, water (bottles refillable at studio) or other beverages and food. Meals may also be ordered by delivery using apps of their choice with a “text or call upon arrival” and a pickup outside, if possible, wipe down articles with disinfectant before bringing them inside. Consider kitchens being “one in and one out” to maintain social distance.
If possible, if there will be more than one session happening at a time, consider separate entrances and bathrooms for each session.
Consider HVAC filter cleaning and replacement.
At some studios, it has already been standard practice to clean and sanitize microphones and other equipment with high powered UV light wands after each use. Others have UV filters on air conditioning. To date, UV light has not been proven to specifically kill the COVID-19 virus, however it is used in some hospitals for general disinfecting and is being tested elsewhere. UV light wands, etc., must be used with great care. More info here.
Consider remote work stations with staff at “safer at home” locations where practical to facilitate some services: editing, cleaning, mixing, bouncing stems, etc.
Shift staff and/or session schedules where possible to maximize social distancing.
Of course, before taking any action studio engineers, managers, and owners should consult the guidelines provided by their local and state officials, as well as the CDC (in the US) and the WHO.
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