A cave-like room with electric red walls and blue light fixtures is the new home to the $100 million podcast of new Austin resident Joe Rogan. And who would Rogan trust to construct this room? None other than his fellow Austinites.
Rogan, a mixed martial arts enthusiast and comedian, entrusted two local businesses—Sound Shed Studios and Wrightsmith Studios—to construct his new podcast studio after recently moving to Austin from Los Angeles. In just under three weeks, the two Austin companies scrambled to complete the project of their most high-profile client yet.
Timeline of Joe Rogan moving to Texas:
Sound Shed Studios, a local audio and visual business, was a side project Matthew Alvarez started 10 years ago, transforming a storage unit into a recording studio. Getting laid off from his full-time audio engineering job due to the pandemic and seeing the outcome of the Rogan studio, Alvarez has since decided to run Sound Shed Studios full time.
Alvarez began working with Rogan after getting a call from an old friend he had done some work for who said he wanted Alavarez to meet the person who had hired him for private security—Rogan. Alvarez met Rogan the next day, and the two had a thorough discussion about the studio design.
In an interview with Austonia, Alvarez said when he saw the room, he knew he had to make some major changes for it to be podcast ready, and when he told Rogan, Rogan responded with, "Hey, I trust you, I like you, build this out as if it were your own studio."
Alvarez, who usually works alone, gathered some friends—Jacob Rangel, Nate Laningham, Richard Castro, Nick Fette, Justin Contreras and Christopher Spikes—to jump on the project with him on a tight two-and-a-half-week deadline. Together, they sound proofed the inner walls with open core polyurethane foam, adding double doors and treating the finished room with sound dampening panels.
Rogan gave Alvarez the creative freedom—and budget—to make a stunning studio with input mostly on the color scheme.
At the completion of Sound Shed's part of the studio creation, Alvarez said he sent Rogan a photo of the studio, to which Rogan replied, "Fucking sick."
But it wasn't until Rogan saw it in person that Alvarez received the validation that the project was a success.
"He didn't really say much. I could tell that he was really absorbing everything, and he gave me a knuckle bump and [said], 'Matt, you killed it.' To hear that from him in person … I knew that we had something to be proud of," Alvarez said.
And what's a podcast room without the right table? For that, Rogan brought in a recommendation from another famous podcaster in Austin, Adam Curry—the first guest on Rogan's Austin podcast.
Drew Teague, founder of Wrightsmith Studios, is a friend of Curry's and was in the process of designing a podcast table for him when he was asked to put that project on hold by Curry to complete Rogan's Austin studio table.
While Wrightsmith Studios is only officially about a year old, Teague has had lots of experience building and fabricating unique furniture pieces, especially for studios.
After speaking with Rogan on what he wanted, Teague came up with a design. Usually clients will request tweaks to the design Teague said, but at first glance, Rogan said, "That's the one, build it."
On the same schedule as Sound Shed Studios, Teague also brought in outside help to complete the project on time, as he usually works all on his own.
Teague and his team made a 500 pound white oak discussion table with a specific frame for enough leg room for podcast guests.
When Rogan saw the table for the first time in person, he reached out to Teague and told him how much he loved it.
"[Rogan] is outstanding in every way," Teague said. "From the first meeting, he was friendly and down to earth; he was very encouraging."
When Rogan posted the almost-complete podcast room to Instagram, tagging both Sound Shed and Wrightsmith studios, the two accounts were all of a sudden in the public eye. Both accounts gained over a thousand new followers with direct messages asking questions about the studio and requests for their work.
Rogan is up and rolling in the new studio, and the two businesses behind it know their work payed off.
He could literally have anybody come in to [complete the studio] from anywhere, but he decided to find local guys who were already doing it in town at relatively small businesses," Teague said. "It says a lot about Joe's character."
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Airbnb is moving to make its COVID-induced ban on house parties permanent—but from the affordable housing shortage to
"Under 25" bans, the short-term rental service may be losing its shine in Austin.
In 2019, the company moved to prohibit “open-invite” parties that were advertised on social media and “chronic party houses." By 2020, its ban broadened to all parties and events "until further notice," which was officially coded into policy Tuesday.
From August 2020 to January 2022, Airbnb denied over 48,000 reservations in Texas from serial party offenders, and around 3,300 reservations were declined through the "Under 25" system in Austin.
For some Austinites, the party ban may be the last straw.
Society has progressed past the need for Airbnb's https://t.co/44rTBDQPX1
— Caleb (@ipleadthef1th) June 20, 2022
But Airbnb has already caught plenty of flack for its possible contributions to the nation's housing shortage.
In Austin, short-term rentals are required to be registered through the city. And while the city reports around 1,900 rental units in the rental registry, according to city demographer Lila Valencia, data collection site Inside Airbnb has tracked close to 12,000 in the area.
Inside Airbnb founder Murray Cox said that too many Airbnbs in Austin could shrink the available housing market.
"If the housing units (have) been taken off the market, that's displacing people, it's making housing more scarce. And it's probably driving the cost of housing up," Cox told Austonia.
Short-term rentals could also eat into new housing in Austin, from apartment buildings to accessory dwelling units on single-family properties.
"If new housing has been built, and it's being tied to Airbnb, that's also really just servicing the tourism industry as opposed to the housing needs of the city," Cox said.
Because a large portion of its customers are tourists, Airbnbs may also tend to crowd around desirable areas, such as downtown or South Congress. South Congress's average rent now rivals New York City, according to Austin Business Journal.
"When that happens, you're taking away housing units in an already densely-populated area where there is more of a shortage of housing," Valencia said. "And so then the people who historically once lived there are no longer able to afford to live there, and the unit itself isn't even going to somebody who could afford to rent it on a more permanent basis, but rather to people who are coming in and visiting for a weekend or two."
Despite the pandemic—and growing frustration among homeowners and renters—Airbnb saw a record year in 2021. But two of Airbnb's billionaire founders have quietly sold $1.2 billion in company stock in the last year, a possible premonition of what's to come.
And while some have created an Airbnb "empire"—one company owns 338 available listings in Austin—many priced-out Austinites are fed up with big investors' influence in the tight housing market.
These are not imperialist conquerors; they’re over leveraged milk toast millennials who probably borrowed money from their wealthy boomer parents and be bailed out by the same #housingmarket#airbnb#recessionpic.twitter.com/K6DM8bT730
— Texas Runner (@OGtexasrunner) June 21, 2022
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