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  #1  
Old 09-18-2003, 01:41 PM
storm-01 storm-01 is offline
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Default To build or not to build? Money is the question...

This is for all of those that have built or are currently building a semi-pro to professional recording studio. I'm not talking about having just a 001 or 002 rig in your basement or spare bedroom with a few other toys, but instead to have a semi/pro recording studio in or away from your home... I'm talking about having gear out the wazzoo with seperate/isolated recording rooms/booths. A studio with a seperate, no-makeshift control room. I'm talking about a studio that you could easily charge $40 + per hour.
I ask because a friend once told me that having your own professional studio is like having a Ferrari that you have to rent your entire life. Basically, it's cool and a lot of fun, but you have to constantly upgrade and pay for the studio. A seeming daunting, neverending task.
My question to the bigger cats out there is, is opening your own "professional" recording studio, whether it be in your basement or elsewhere a good idea? Would it be better to pound out a scratch session on your 001 rig and then rent a studio for each project? Is my friend right in that you feel like your always behind the times and your bank account never really grows? I would assume that it would be like most free enterprise... you won't see any real gain for several years. I ask because I am seriously thinking of opening a small studio, but I wanted to hear from the guys that have been there and done that. Or those of you that know someone in that position and have heard good and bad things about owning a studio.
What are some pros and cons? What should I look out for? How do you figure out how much to charge each client? Is is per hour, session, number of songs? How much time do you devote to each song? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg, so ANY input from you would be great (especially from those that have delt with owning a large studio.

Thank you,
Stormy
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  #2  
Old 09-18-2003, 02:38 PM
georgia georgia is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...


If you want it for yourself and you might rent it out once in a while to friends or the occassional local band... Go for it. If you're thinking of making any money in the business, unless you've got serious chops and a bit of history... forget it.

Besides, the economy sucks right now. I don't think it's a good time to toss money down a never ending hole. A lot of pro and semi-pro facilities are dying and going under right now. In fact, you can probably find a *lot* of used gear floating around, as well, as even potential long term rental space in existing studios, due to the drop in work.

Either way, good luck and do what makes you feel good. Life's to short to waste time.

cheers
georgia
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  #3  
Old 09-18-2003, 02:38 PM
Allan Speers Allan Speers is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...

"a friend once told me that having your own professional studio is like having a Ferrari that you have to rent your entire life. Basically, it's cool and a lot of fun, but you have to constantly upgrade and pay for the studio. A seeming daunting, neverending task. "

You have a very smart friend. I suggest you listen to him!


"I ask because I am seriously thinking of opening a small studio..."

As a business? ROTFL..... If you don't already have steady corporate, commercial work, or an uncle who driects TV commercials, don't even think about it.
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  #4  
Old 09-18-2003, 03:35 PM
storm-01 storm-01 is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...

Just to clearify, I'm not saying that a big studio will bring clients rushing through the door or that it makes you a better engineer. I think we all do our best with what we have. I am not trying to bash anyone that uses the lower end digi gear such as the 001. I use the 001 myself as well as the 888 i/o systems.
I just wanted to know if anyone has personally tried to build or has built their own studio and what were some of the pros and cons? Is it a real headache? Would you do it again if you could, or would you go with a smaller setup, maybe around $10K, or less even? A kick ass studio does not have to cost upwards or $100K in my opinion. So when I say have built your own studio, I mean a studio that has some really nice toys to play with. Something that is a little more hi-tech than my 001 rig running through a Mackie 1402 and a couple of keyboards.


You both make excellent points. I think more than anything I'm having another pipedream moment. I do have a small reputation around here, but I know that it is nothing close to what it needs to be. I really like my home setup even though it is still small for me. I would like to think that I do well with the equipment that I'm given. At least the people that I have done demos, EP's or albums for seem to like my work.

Anyway, I just wanted to clearify and thank you for your respones. I think for now, I will keep my setup cozy and continue to have fun. Who know's, maybe in 20 years things will be different.

Stormy
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  #5  
Old 09-18-2003, 04:02 PM
Lee Blaske Lee Blaske is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...

Quote:
Just to clearify, I'm not saying that a big studio will bring clients rushing through the door or that it makes you a better engineer. I think we all do our best with what we have. I am not trying to bash anyone that uses the lower end digi gear such as the 001.
I think you need to do more research (http://www.osxaudio.com/ is a good place to start). There are a lot of options. If you can afford a large Digidesign TDM system - fantastic. The low end native Digidesign is also wonderful if you need to collaborate with others using Digidesign systems. If, however, that was not a consideration, and you wanted to have an extremely powerful system on the cheap, other competing products will kick the 001 around the block because they'll let you do anything and everything your computer's processor can do. There are no arbitrary limitations on tracks with many other reasonably priced products, and the freeze function popping up on other applications can really stretch the DSP you have. Digidesign needs to lift track limits and add offline processing to truly compete in the native arena.

Lee Blaske
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  #6  
Old 09-18-2003, 04:09 PM
zoggied zoggied is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...

Quote:
I just wanted to know if anyone has personally tried to build or has built their own studio and what were some of the pros and cons?
The room I work in cost 200K+ and hasn't come close to paying for itself a year after it was opened, sad but true. Of course, it's also a project room and is used primarily for producing projects of self-interest (we started an equally profit-less record label ). Paitence is the key for us, success will come in time after all.
That said, we all have day jobs, record every day and have even managed to fit an employee into the cash flow, not a bad deal...
Business plan wise, I would say either concentrate on renting your room out full time or settle for a little extra income from time to time between your own projects, it's difficult and frustrating to do both and the first projects to suffer form lack of booking time are the ones that don't generate immediate cash. My number one dolop of advice is to involve yourself in the particular recording field you want to pursue and build contacts/production credits for a few years before comissioning a studio. Acquiring demand for yourself is much easier when you don't have an expensive room to support, a lot more fun too! I love my room but would never dream of entering the rental market without a seriously fat PalmPilot full of names and #'s


Oh yeah, and if you happen to have a good buddy who loves music, has an extra building in the backyard and has $$ to burn...
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  #7  
Old 09-18-2003, 05:11 PM
analog8 analog8 is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...

DAW's have changed the economics of the studio business.

At the rate pro studios are going bust, you could probably find a local one you could buy for much less than you could build the same...
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  #8  
Old 09-18-2003, 06:52 PM
doug_hti doug_hti is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the questio

I think it will be VERY DIFFICULT if you do not have intellectual property and skills (THAT PEOPLE WANT) to bring to the table beyond your project studio, i.e. programmer, songwriter, producer (with experience...a lot of experience...real experience...), mixer, world class engineer, etc. You have to offer something that seperates you from the rest, and 3 lava lamps instead of 2 won't do it.

I know things are a lot cheaper now days, but less than 100k can still leave some gaps in the many hidden costs...whether it's recorder, microphones, acoustics, wiring, processing, HVAC, insurance, etc...

However, as a (private) project studio owner myself, I have built it because it saves me money in the long run and short from having to rent out another studio and follow their schedule....I'm also aware of our limitations and when I need to go outside.

In my opinion a person should ideally create a studio (of that size and finances 100ish), because it will save you money from having to rent another $600-$2000/day studio, and not with the intent or hope of attracting money/clients.

If this is the case, than a business loan that is a few grand a month is nothing in comparison to 20x $1000 days a month in another project studio....If you're having to pay a few grand a month hoping for clients/work, then I would be nervous.


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  #9  
Old 09-18-2003, 09:01 PM
Natural Sound Natural Sound is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...

There's 2 schools of thought
1-Build as you go.
2-"Build It and they will come".

Build as you go
Find an office or warehouse for rent- Set up your 001 or whatever, provide superior SERVICE than your competition and have great competitive rates. If you're good, the word will get out and you put every cent back into the biz-. BET when biz is good - HOLD when things are slow and FOLD if the bank account is empty.

"Build it and they will come"
Research the competition, find a niche that's missing. Get a $500K+ loan from the bank,
Buy a warehouse. (don't rent)
Hire acoustic contractor to design studio.(takes about a year)
Get plans approved by your county's building and zoning. (another 6 months or more by the time you do 30 revisions to make the county happy)
Build studio (another year)
During all this time you are paying your monthly mortgage.
Charge a premium rate - Sit back and rake in the funds. (hopefully)

I took the first approch over 20 years ago- I didn't take home a pay ck for 3 years. (but I did get free studio time- woo hoo)
After that , things took off and while I haven't made a fortune, (I'm not even sure if I've boken even yet) It sure does beat makin' fries.

Oh, and yes, you spend half your time researching upgrades necessary to stay ahead of the curve and the other half of your time getting things repaired, and the other half (yeah I know) of your time changing lightbulbs.and the other half of your time trying to find ways to cut expenses.

Go for it and enjoy (oh y eah, and you'll learn a few things along the way too)


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  #10  
Old 09-19-2003, 12:29 PM
JNS JNS is offline
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Default Re: To build or not to build? Money is the question...

My advice would be to get employment in a field where you can actually make real money and then you can buy all the audio toys you want and really enjoy them rather than wondering how the h--- you are going to pay for food and house each month. Hobbies turned business can be alright if it just so happens that your hobby is of a type where people are willing to pay good money for it (i.e. accounting, plumbing, auto repair, etc.), but if it's one that people consider to be fun and interesting (You know, you've heard the comment: "Oh, I would love to be able to do what you do. It would be so much fun!") then forget it, you won't make money and especially in a high-capital investment business like a studio. Generally, rates have been stagnant or going down for quite some time now. I've been in the business for over 20 yrs. and it has definitely changed and not for the better. And remember in a high-tech business, the new kid always will have the same or better equipment and for less than you paid. And since yours will have depreciated so quickly you can't ever come out trying to keep up and constantly upgrade. And the DAW situation has just made matters that much worse for the commercial studio. I had been warned. Unfortunately, I'm just now finally seeing the light. Nobody likes to give up on what they've always loved to do. It's a little too late for me to be changing horses now, but I am getting ready to completely change my business strategy and hope it works until I'm ready to retire.

Sorry to be so negative, but having observed things first-hand and read a lot of posts and articles about the business, this is about the only conclusion I can come to.

Good luck with your decision.
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