Starting a small studio business

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coplinger
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Starting a small studio business

Post by coplinger » Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:30 am

Not sure if this is the proper forum, but I'm considering starting a small recording studio and was wondering if anyone could point me to good articles, Tape Op or otherwise, or other posts here on starting a business.
Thx
Chris Oplinger

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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by Magnetic Services » Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:35 am

https://www.workingclassaudio.com/ <---------This

Also some unsolicited advice: maybe wait a while and see what things are like post-Covid. It may take a long time for in-person sessions to be viable again, or artists may shift even more to home recording (this is what I see happening). Definitely start with a solid plan and keep re-evaluating that plan every 3 months or so. Grow your business slowly and manageably, and decide which projects and relationships are worth pursuing and which are dead ends.

I went through the whole process of building a studio and made some cool records there, but ultimately it was just a bad business model and not sustainable. I can't even imagine what studio owners are going through now! Since then I've moved out of the studio, shifted to 100% remote work, and diversified into sound design, composing, game audio, and freelance writing (about audio) and it's working so much better.

And yes, you have come to the right place, my friend :)

MoreSpaceEcho
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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:19 am

Avoid debt. Pay cash. As much as possible.

Forget fancy gear for now. Make your rooms sound really good. Make the live room a place people feel really comfortable in. Make the control room as accurate as you possibly can (spend your money on room treatment, not compressors).

A really good month doesn't make you a business genius. Don't spend all that dough on a big fancy whatsit. Put the money in the bank.

Likewise/conversely, a bad month doesn't make you a failure. That's what the money in the bank is for.

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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by Magnetic Services » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:25 am

Buying gear and plugins is fun, but it feels sooooooooooo much better to pay rent or bills with money you made from your passion rather than sinking that money right back into the studio. In my opinion, that's what makes it a career instead of a hobby.

coplinger
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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by coplinger » Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:35 am

Thanks for the great suggestions! Thankfully I have a lot of the gear I'll need already. The rent is cheap and I'll be attached to two teaching studios (guitar & drums) and a small retail shop. Also, there doesn't seem to be many other small studios in my market and the ones there focus more on beat production & rap. I'm looking more to get younger songwriters & bands. The room is small, so the main thing will be treating the room to get it to sound good and not bleed too much into the other studios. I figure a year at this place with affordable rent will let me know whether this is viable and if so, I can move to a larger room. First year focused on getting some good recordings & building client base.

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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by drumsound » Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:14 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:
Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:19 am
Avoid debt. Pay cash. As much as possible.

Forget fancy gear for now. Make your rooms sound really good. Make the live room a place people feel really comfortable in. Make the control room as accurate as you possibly can (spend your money on room treatment, not compressors).

A really good month doesn't make you a business genius. Don't spend all that dough on a big fancy whatsit. Put the money in the bank.

Likewise/conversely, a bad month doesn't make you a failure. That's what the money in the bank is for.
THIS all day.
Magnetic Services wrote:
Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:25 am
Buying gear and plugins is fun, but it feels sooooooooooo much better to pay rent or bills with money you made from your passion rather than sinking that money right back into the studio. In my opinion, that's what makes it a career instead of a hobby.
Also this.

Once you've got what you need to make records, then make purchases based on need. So, if you find that clients tend to lack something, get that thing. Don't just buy for the fun of it. Or to have shiny baubles.

Make the place inviting.

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roscoenyc
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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by roscoenyc » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:52 am

If you are going to charge money for your studio.


1. Keep the place clean. Nothing says "I don't really care about your music that much" like pizza boxes in the trash from the session before.

2. Stock up on incidental supplies. If you don't have a proper coffee rig you don't have a recording studio. Paper towels, TP, cleaning supplies, water/Britta etc.

3. Don't rely on outdated software or cracked plugins,

4. If something isn't working in your place, get it repaired immediately.

5. If you have gear in your studio that costs extra or that people can't use either put it away and keep it off of your website or tell people when they are booking your place.

6. Know your area and be able to refer players, techs, suppliers, shops, restaurants and bars that would be helpful to your clients.

7. Label storage areas so someone new can find things.

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alexdingley
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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by alexdingley » Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:52 am

Here's a couple of questions that I wish someone had asked me, when I was 22, and I tried to start a studio:
Are you attempting/planning to do this just because you want to, and because you think it'd be great to run a studio? Or are you taking work and serving a list of clients, already? And if so, is doing this work from home (or renting other facilities) starting to stand in the way of doing it to your own (or the clients') level(s) of satisfaction?

I'll second workingclassaudio's site/podcast... it's great! also — if you end up liking that podcast, you might even consider investing a little money in the creator's "premium" subscription. He used to do this through patreon; but now uses another platform... The podcast is free, but you have the option to subscribe to his content with a fee, and at a certain fee-level, you get a monthly consult from him. He's been through all of this / and interviewed a couple hundred other engineers about how they run their business / manage their work-life balance. The podcast is a wealth of knowledge, but for (what I had been supporting him at) roughly $40/mo... I got a roughly 30min zoom call with him each month to bend his ear and pick his brain. Very valuable ideas came from that, for me.

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A.David.MacKinnon
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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:59 am

roscoenyc wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:52 am
If you are going to charge money for your studio.


1. Keep the place clean. Nothing says "I don't really care about your music that much" like pizza boxes in the trash from the session before.
^^^^^^ This is huge. Clean the bathroom before every session. Vacuum. Take out the garbage. Wash the dishes.

I would add -

Mare sure the gear is patched, and well labelled. If something in the rack is broken pull it and get it fixed. If that's not immediately possible make sure the non-working items are labelled as such.

Think about flexible talk back solutions. If there are band members or producers sitting on the couch give them a way to talk to the people on the live floor without you having to be the talkback jockey. Think about ways to have talkback if people on the floor aren't wearing headphones. Players have a habit of taking phones off after a take and not hearing anything you say.

Get insurance. Theft and liability.

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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by Magnetic Services » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:05 pm

alexdingley wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:52 am
I'll second workingclassaudio's site/podcast... it's great! also — if you end up liking that podcast, you might even consider investing a little money in the creator's "premium" subscription. He used to do this through patreon; but now uses another platform... The podcast is free, but you have the option to subscribe to his content with a fee, and at a certain fee-level, you get a monthly consult from him. He's been through all of this / and interviewed a couple hundred other engineers about how they run their business / manage their work-life balance. The podcast is a wealth of knowledge, but for (what I had been supporting him at) roughly $40/mo... I got a roughly 30min zoom call with him each month to bend his ear and pick his brain. Very valuable ideas came from that, for me.
What platform is that through? I can't seem to find any mention of it. My guess is he's overbooked and stopped offering new subs at that level.

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alexdingley
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Re: Starting a small studio business

Post by alexdingley » Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:22 pm

Magnetic Services wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:05 pm
What platform is that through? I can't seem to find any mention of it. My guess is he's overbooked and stopped offering new subs at that level.
I'll message him on linkedIn and find out. I don't see it on the WCA site, so maybe he's momentarily not doing those consults.

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