Joshua and Alicia Southern are introducing high-quality media production to East Lansing.
Next Up News was recently granted exclusive access and an interview with owners of newly opened Risky Studios in East Lansing, MI.
LANSING - The term Risky is one that entrepreneurs would normally shy away from. However, Joshua and Alicia Southern of Lansing, MI, coined it for an idea they founded a long time ago, “Risky Music Group is my Christian Hip-Hop label that I’ve pretty much had for about four or five years, starting in Murfreesboro, TN.” Joshua explained. It was a hobby that led Joshua to begin making and selling beats, a precursor to eventually making his own songs. In 2021, now living and operating in Michigan, Joshua’s Risky Music Group signed artist C-Mighty, an expansion that, as Joshua explains, led to immediate moves, “We made an album, then made another EP. Had some traction and did some shows.”
As 2021 would progress, music traffic around the Southern home was a little too much for comfort. The married couple and their two children needed space, as did Risky Music Group. The Southern's decided to invest in two things: themselves and their community. Joshua explains, “The want and need to collaborate stemmed from [Risky Music Group traction], but we couldn’t have all these people at our home.. So, we were like, ‘hey, let’s make this investment in ourselves and the community that we live in’, and we opened up Risky Studios.” From there the foundation was set for the couple to work towards a media hub for not only Risky Music Group, but for the entire community of creatives in East Lansing and Lansing itself.
The more pressing matter, however, was location. They needed a location that was “Prime,”...
Charting a path to opening a state-of-the-art media production studio is daunting in 2022. Any reasonable research would outline a long list of challenges. First among them would seem to be the technology itself, which is expensive beyond belief for quality equipment. Despite this, Alicia Southern chuckled, “A lot of this stuff we had at our house already,” when asked about their start, referencing some of the equipment throughout the studio. Finding an ideal space created another challenge. As with any business looking to buy something, budget was an immediate and constant factor. The more pressing matter, however, was location. They needed a location that was “Prime,” as Joshua stated, that would bring in foot traffic and cater to a specific community. After identifying East Lansing as a possibility early on, the couple came to realize that the match was made in heaven. East Lansing offered a large base of creatives, certainly is the most foot-trafficked place in Greater-Lansing, and Joshua’s market research led him to identify a key factor about media production studios in East Lansing, “We know that Lansing has some studios there, but East Lansing didn’t really have that. So when we looked at spaces we definitely looked at East Lansing,” Joshua stated. After a rollercoaster hunt, they went all in on 301 M.A.C Ave. ste 106 East Lansing, MI – a location Joshua could certainly term “Prime”.
The studio sits smack in the hotspot of Spartan Country with a diverse mix of businesses, activities, and people, swirling around daily. After a short walk through the building Risky Studios occupies, you’ll find yourself at suite 106. Black and yellow signage and decorations highlight the exterior, but a purposeful clouded tint on the windows prevents you from seeing the beautiful studio from outside its doors. Once inside, the black and yellow color scheme continues – this being a nod to their fandom for Pittsburgh, a city with three professional sports teams that all don the two colors; it's also the hometown of Alicia Southern's family. The white ceilings in the studio are cut with black beams, and the heavy presence of black technology and furniture against yellow accessories works perfect. A neon “Risky Studios” sign greets you in the entry area, from which you can see down to the photography wing. The studio is sectioned off; there is a podcast station and a photography studio, then a production wing and a recording booth beyond a door. All rooms are furnished with updated technology to fit the needs of their customers.
The Southern’s are proud of the early success and reception of Risky Studios. They take their role in the community serious; not just as gospel group Risky Music Group, but as black entrepreneurs in their industry. With their children at the studio watching Mom and Dad, as Alicia put it, “do some pretty cool stuff,” they also know that the scope of their children’s world widens when they expose them to this type of life. She went on to further articulate their role in other youth as well, saying “I think it will definitely foster more entrepreneurs and more youth that want to go into something else [other than the traditional].. Maybe even other than the traditional college experience.” A statement already ringing true with collaborations of all sorts happening at the brand new studio.
A video tour of Risky Studios is available on Next Up News social media pages! Full interview between the Southern's and Next Up News to come.