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Starting a professional recording studio...am I crazy?

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chalkoutline
(@chalkoutline)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Ok, here is the business plan in a nutshell.

Find a large building. Preferably an older masonry structure with lots of mass to get a leg up on the soundproofing issues.

Subdivide the building into recording studio along with various sized soundproofed rooms that could be leased by the month/day/week, etc. to local or touring bands as rehearsal space.

Locate it so it is close to the musical center of town (that being downtown in this case).

I know that there are already 2-3 recording studios in town. I will need to do some market research to see if a town my size can support another one.

There is a lot more to it than that. Getting a proper studio design (I am an architect with some acoustic design experience, so I think I can hook that up), hook up with some quality recording engineers, etc.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Tell me im crazy? LOL

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Scrybe
(@scrybe)
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It's certainly doable, if you have the cash to invest in it. The question is how much is your heart in it? A business like this is probably going to hinge on how much you put into it.

Have you checked out the forum gearslutz.com ? There are a lot of experienced guys over there, many of whom have done what you're planning, so you'll no doubt get a lot of help. I'd also recommend the forums (and articles) at soundonsound.com - there' a even a section in their forums on building a studio from scratch. I recall SoS did an article on designing a studio around 12 months ago too, very informative on creating floating floors, and soundproofing doors and windows and the like. The forums are packed with useful info on this too.

What kind of gear are you planning to have there? Remember that, no matter how well designed your space is, if the guy down the road has much better gear, most people will go with the guy down the road.

By "some acoustic experience" what exactly do you mean? Because there's a big difference between e.g. designing acoustics for a concert hall, and designing them for a studio (you generally speaking want a studio to be a pretty dead place). Not trying to knock you there, just pointing out that the experience you have might not be very appropriate for your plans. But being an architect, you're probably a lot better placed than most musos to take on a venture like this. Good luck with it, I hope it goes well for you (and do keep us updated on your project).

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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Moonrider
(@moonrider)
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There is a lot more to it than that. Getting a proper studio design (I am an architect with some acoustic design experience, so I think I can hook that up), hook up with some quality recording engineers, etc.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Tell me im crazy? LOL

A friend of mine is building his own studio. He started five years ago, and is finally coming close to being ready for opening. You can read his blog and see the stages he's gone through. It's a real eye opener.

Here's the link: http://www.dmmobile.com/

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


   
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Chris C
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Thoughts? Suggestions? Tell me im crazy? LOL

OK. You're crazy. :)

They say that there's a sure fire way to make a small fortune out of setting up a recording studio..... and that's to start out with a large fortune. :wink:

But seriously... The danger with the plan is that it may already be outdated. If you check the Sound on Sound forums, as Scrybe suggests you should be able to find any amount of discussion about the technical side of building and equipping a studio, but also some gloomy talk about the business prospects, including the oft repeated advice that studying to be an engineer in a studio is pretty much a waste of time because there aren't any advertised jobs going in the industry currently.

The main reason the existing studios aren't hiring is that there isn't exactly a surplus of work for that kind of studio. These days every other local band has their own 'studio' in a mate's shed or backroom, because the software and equipment available at home recording level is so good now. Drop into any local music shop and chat to the guy(s) in the gear section and they'll almost certainly tell you all about the CDs they've made for the bands they're involved with on the weekend. On top of that there may well be some professionally successful bands not too far away whose own 'shed' is just about as well featured as a pro studio and possibly available for rent by other bands. The computer I'm typing this on has more sophisticated software on it (Logic Studio 8, plus Cubase) than was used for the Beatles albums, and I'm just a hobbyist.

There's also a missing line in your business plan. The one which goes:

. Get money off musicians.

Which can be tricky. :o

(EDIT: Apologies if that comment looked disrespectful to musicians, it wasn't meant that way. It's just that the percentage of rich musicians is dwarfed by those who make a more precarious living. Most local bands that I know have ongoing struggles to find the cash to buy their gear, recoup the costs of traveling and touring etc. My friends who are teachers all rely heavily on the cash-flow from kids having lessons which are paid for by the Mums and Dads. )

My guess is that you could possibly make it viable if the space was big enough, and conveniently enough located, to serve more than one purpose. If you could get some dependable cash-flow from hiring out spaces for teaching and rehearsing, and maybe even something like gear repair, then you might be able to set up a centre that was a 'go to' place for a number of reasons, all of which could help keep the wheels turning. But I'd be wary about putting too many eggs into a studio basket until you'd done a pretty good analysis of where the paying work would come from. I.e. not just are there enough bands, but how much other commercial studio work, such as ad jingles, soundtracks, etc could you hope to score from a cold start?

I actually had a similar opportunity last year. A large and well located building came up for sale in a nearby industrial estate. A couple of friends who run separate music related businesses (including a shop, lessons for students, and a small studio) expressed interest in using such a space, but neither could afford it on their own. I briefly looked at the possibility of the proposition, but it didn't need more than a few figures on the back of an envelope and a quick look at the locals who I'd need to be relying on to provide the money to pay for it all, week by week, dollar by dollar, to quickly decide to pass on the option.

I wish you the best of luck with it - and I'd love to be there when you go shopping for all that lovely gear, but I'd definitely do a lot of hard-nosed research before sinking any money in.

Cheers,

Chris


   
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chalkoutline
(@chalkoutline)
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Topic starter  

By "some acoustic experience" what exactly do you mean? Because there's a big difference between e.g. designing acoustics for a concert hall, and designing them for a studio (you generally speaking want a studio to be a pretty dead place). Not trying to knock you there, just pointing out that the experience you have might not be very appropriate for your plans. But being an architect, you're probably a lot better placed than most musos to take on a venture like this. Good luck with it, I hope it goes well for you (and do keep us updated on your project).

I know what you mean. During my years I have been involved with concert hall design primarily. Although some of it included small "dead" rooms for practice and small scale recording. I know in my business a good consultant is worth their weight in gold.

This idea has been rolling around in my head for a little while now. Before I invest any money in it whatsoever I want to do some market research and talk with musicians and bands in the area and get a good feel for what kind of needs are out there.

I know the monetary investment end of it is going to be big. I know a couple of venture capatalist in my area that would be willing to back it as long as I have put in the market research to show it viability and put together a good business plan. It doesnt hurt that some of these potential investors are musicians.

I do feel that it would be a mixed bag of offerings. Recording studio(s), rehearsal space for bands, rooms for musical instruction, etc.

Thanks for all the advice!

Interview guy: What is the source of your feedback?
Neil Young: Volume.


   
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lazysinger
(@lazysinger)
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Sorry to be such a downer, but I really don't have much faith in these things working out. Everybody today practices at home and has their own recording studio. Like others have said, it's hard to get musicians to pay for stuff other than their own gear, which is expensive enough.

I think if you got some cash and want to invest, capitalize on the ailing real estate market now. Buy cheap now and watch it grow :mrgreen:

Other than that, if you still want to build a studio, check out other forums, read articles on SOS, Audiofanzine, Music Radar etc. And good luck!


   
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hueseph
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Start here and read on. That thread starts from the ideas until now which is the final stages of the interior construction. There are a lot of heavies there so look out. Rod Gervais who is an author on studio construction has a lot of input. You are in for an adventure I think. It's no minor undertaking. Gear is the least of your worries at this point. :shock:

Incidentally. Studios are not deadened. If you walk into a studio sound room you will find there is a dead end and a live end. In fact there is generally a good amount of hard surface in a decent studio. Usually hard wood floors. There may be a vocal booth which is dead but no one wants to record in an anechoic chamber. The room is part of the sound. The tricky part is control. Some people say splayed walls is better and others say even walls offer more control. I've seen both types and personally, I think it's easier to deal with standing waves in a room with parallel walls. You'll probably end up using bass traps in the corners and diffusers anyway so that should make things easier to deal with. Splayed walls can be awesome but they can also cause some odd flutter echo which is not nice and you'll find yourself working around certain areas of the room to avoid it.

Okay. Sorry for rambling.

https://soundcloud.com/hue-nery/hue-audio-sampler


   
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Moonrider
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Start here and read on. That thread starts from the ideas until now which is the final stages of the interior construction. There are a lot of heavies there so look out. Rod Gervais who is an author on studio construction has a lot of input. You are in for an adventure I think. It's no minor undertaking. Gear is the least of your worries at this point. :shock:

Yup that's the studio I mentioned in my earlier post. I've been down a couple of times to help Max out with construction, and watching the place come together is just amazing. Last time down, I spent time just sitting on a bucket in the "sweet spot" of the control room, and my hearing damaged ears found it awesome even with no treatment! Now that he's got some of the room treatments up, and the big window in, I can only imagine how nice it sounds in there. The big room promises to be a treat for the eyes as well as the ears, and the red cedar in the vocal booth is simply gorgeous. You can find tons pictures here . . .
http://www.dmmobile.com/

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


   
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