Métier Mastering & Recording: Relax ...Make Music
by Shelby Berry
Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the award-winning Métier Mastering & Recording Studio produces some of your favorite artists. But it didn’t become a success overnight. And it all started with one man’s dream – Will Shenk.
Will’s musical entry began in band and orchestra where his love of music and musicianship ultimately led him to a career in the music industry and eventually to Métier Mastering. Almost three decades ago, after being advised on the best path for his career, Will earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Shenandoah University’s Conservatory of Music.
“When I got scholarships for college and saw they had a degree in commercial music, I wanted it so bad. I wish from the beginning that I had gotten that degree. I was really always focused on music and not teaching,” said Will.
He returned to school in 2001 to complete his degree in studio recording and system technics. There, he studied all about music production and recording system techniques. He kicked off his career by producing radio content for Human Life International. Later, he accepted the position of Chief Recording and Mastering Engineer at National Media Services, an all-encompassing business that helped musicians, businessmen, and filmmakers with everything, from recording and mastering to CD duplication, printing, and packaging.
National Media Studios focused increasingly on recording music, expanded their studio and equipment, and eventually began working with some of the biggest names in the music industry. While they worked with every music genre, they worked quite often with bluegrass artists, earning them some awards, hundreds of bluegrass song recordings, and a spot at IBMA for 10 straight years. A National Media client, whose albums were mastered every month, contacted Will about a friend that needed help building a studio.
That friend was Jim McCoy, Patsy Cline’s first guitar player.
“I would leave work a few times a week and drive two hours to Jim, teach him how to use the equipment, and do some mixing,” said Will.
Little did Will know that Jim would become a major inspiration for his career path. Will continued to work with Jim for many years in his Troubadour Studios until he died in 2016.
“Jim inspired me more and taught me more than I ever learned in school,” said Will.
In spring 2019, Will left National Media Services to pursue his lifelong dream of owning a musical recording and production studio. Will had first wanted to call it Forté Mastering & Recording Studio, but an Australia business had already claimed the same name. After looking up synonyms for forté, a French word which as a noun means a person’s strong suit, but as an adjective means loud in musical composition, Will decided on métier to signify niche or something you’re good at. Métier Mastering was born.
“It was my lifelong dream to own my own studio,” said Will. “My boss even recognized that. I was already doing a lot of the post-work at home in my own studio already. I was able to leave in 2019 after my wife was offered a great job that allowed me to move to my own studio. It’s just that simple – it was always my dream.”
Before officially opening the doors of Métier Mastering in 2019, Will had already earned tremendous credibility in his profession. He contributed to the production of 26 award-winning and nominated projects and had a hand in producing over 120 charted songs and albums, working with artists like Trinity River Band and Nothin’ Fancy.
“Will’s recording capabilities and equipment should be a first choice for anyone’s next project. Good vibes and tones abound! I enjoyed working with him and would do it again anytime,” said Chris Luquette, guitarist for Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen.
Will maintained his close relationship with National Media Services, and, with Will’s departure, the owner closed the doors to his studio and made Métier Mastering their official partner for mastering and recording. While the two businesses are separate, they send artists to each other and support each other in the best way possible.
Métier Mastering is a full-service recording, mixing, mastering, and restoring studio complete with the same superior equipment he worked with at National Media Services. He has also partnered with Prime Acoustic to install treatments in his studio to create exceptionally tuned rooms.
“With amazing equipment and better-tuned rooms, the same guitar sounded even better than before,” said Will. “And I made it comfy. I had someone tell me that it was a very relaxing place to make music.”
Will credits the most rewarding part of this business to the artists.
“I love when someone calls me and wants to go in again! Repeat customers are great because that means that they love what they got last time. My clients are my friends, every single one.”
In the future, Will would love to expand Métier Mastering into a recording retreat where bands could come and stay and record their music.
“I would love to have retreat packages and make it kind of like a vacation. Overall, I would also like a Grammy nomination for my clients because they deserve it. God has been so good to me.”