The question “What do you do?” just doesn’t cut it for Rick Carson, CEO of Make Believe Studios. A man more than his title, Carson is also a mixing engineer, producer, delegator, manager and the man with a vision for the company. With 11 years experience in the music industry, Carson is taking the company beyond Omaha’s music scene.
Hailing from “Mitten State” Michigan, he drew inspiration from the music he listened to growing up. Artists that made an influence on Carson are quite the variety, from rock to indie to pop. It was the way the records sounded and components of a song, that pulled Carson into the world of music. He would hear Led Zeppelin and compare and appreciate the unique differences to Michael Jackson’s music.
From being influenced, it didn’t take Carson long to become an influencer. One of the first records he produced when he moved to Omaha set an example of impact. Although the band decided against releasing the album, he left a mark with his ear for detail.
“They were making pop/punk and they had sounds in background that were more indie—an epic kind of sound. They wanted to be pop/punk artists. Now, all of those dudes play indie music. While they didn’t like being pushed in that direction, they ended up there anyway,” said Carson.
The music industry is a competitive business to be in. Amid the doubters, there are people backing Carson and attesting to how valued his work is. Carson has come a long way since his first record and he appreciates when clients reach out with positivity.
“When I have Grammy winners saying I’m the cure to people’s mixing problems, I know I’m doing things right,” said Carson.
Make Believe is more than a studio and creative space for artists to record. It’s a multifaceted operation with affiliate companies such as Make Believe New Media (MBNM) and Make Believe Recordings. The future of the Make Believe Company is a second home for the artist.
“What I envision is the label will be a home for the artist that we’ll love and adore to spend our Saturdays and Sundays with,” said Carson.
The downtown Omaha studio, with its world-class equipment and specialized staff has made experiences memorable for artists both locally and nationally known. In the future, Carson wants the studio to provide opportunities for freelance producers throughout the Midwest by providing all the resources through Make Believe Studios and MBNM.
Fun fact about Carson: His passion for music isn’t new. When others his age were just finishing up growth spurts and mastering driving lessons, he was sprouting his career at just 16 years old.
“My band went in to make our second record and the guy [mixing engineer] showed me how Pro Tools worked. He told me ‘This is the industry standard. If Mariah Carey were to make a record, it would be made in Pro Tools,’” said Carson. “I bought a Dell and five months later I was in college at Full Sail University.”
Carson invests his heart and many, many long hours in the studio to bring about success. In the future, to celebrate, Carson’s got his eye set on an island. A bit contradictory as he’s not fond of sand or the beach, but he’s always wanted a piece of land smack-dab in the middle of the ocean.
“Who doesn’t want to own an island?” said Carson. “Have you ever seen Necker Island? My buddies can build their own houses and mansions and I’ll have a little Millennium Falcon and I’ll fly by and talk on megaphones to have them come outside. Right now I’m having visions of me on my island perch.”
Behind the wit and straightforwardness is the brutal truth. Carson is the friend that gives it to you straight. In terms of entrepreneurship, Carson has one last piece of vital and honest advice that’s applicable to all areas of business.
“There is always someone younger, faster, smarter, more likable and more intelligent, lurking right around the corner. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t see you. I’ve found myself in both those positions before,” said Carson. “I’ve invested in myself, my education, the tools, the space I occupy and the people I surround myself with. If people don’t understand that I’ve invested in myself, into my dreams and into their dreams then I will not continue [to do business] with them.”