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Are studios good investments?


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My experience is there are two basic ingredients.

 

1. Putting together a good studio. That means a pleasant place to work along with your ability to get good results.

 

2. Bringing the work into the studio. It helps to know people in an area and have a good reputation and all that kind of stuff. Being connected so to speak.

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Stop it, you're killin' me...

 

Seriously, I can't think of a worse investment.

 

This has always been a tough busines, but I don't think anyone has any idea how tough it's going to get in the next few years.

 

You can get world-class rooms for about half of the hourly rate you paid ten years ago. I really don't know how they can afford to keep the doors open.

 

Add to that the constant nibbling from the PTLE/basement crowd and you're getting hammered from above and below.

 

You could possibly do OK if:

 

1. You were an amazing engineer/producer.

 

2. You find a cheap, great-sounding space in LA, Nashville or NYC.

 

3. You have a wife with a good job.

 

MG

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Not so far!!! :D

 

Seriously, it can be, but you really have to study your market, etc.

 

That said, there's far better, easier ways to make money than owning a studio, especially now that everyone thinks, "Hey, I've got a PC, some cracked plug-ins, and a cheap interface - why should I go record somewhere when I can do it at home?"

 

I've got a really great situation here because I have a home studio that is primarily for my own recording, but I get awesome recordings that quite frankly sounds better and fuller (and because of the comfort of being in a home, have better performances) than a lot of commercial studios, so other people want to record here as well. I make extra money from this AND have fun doing it, choosing the projects I want to do. The extra money enables me to buy new gear and go backpack in fascinating countries in the summer. That's hard to beat.

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Originally posted by Kid Klash

Listen to Mark.


Studios are BIG bottomless holes to throw money into.


They're one of the most devastating side-effects of being a musician.
:freak::cry:;):D

 

Well lets not generalize here.

I own a studio and don't even try too hard, and i make money at it.

Meaning i don't advertise or actively seek out clients.

Market is a big factor, but most of my clients are return clients because i make them sound better than they actually are(people like that).

 

Of coarse you have to look at certain things like how much money are you gonna limit your self to spend on gear. Functional good gear that will get suitable results for your market.

You don't need to spend 200 grand, maby 60 or 70 grand max on the right stuff or less if you are just doing low level stuff.

But lets get real, that is the easy part.

There is of course lifetimes worth of skill in music itself, engineering and producing to be learnt, and ...............soldering, oh yeah lots of soldering!

 

Myself, and many others no doubt these days, don't always look at a studio as a profitable business venture.

It is a hobby we would do anyway and bringing in some cash to pay for our toys is pretty sweet icing.

 

nodeumsang?;)

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Originally posted by halljams

...most of my clients are return clients because i make them sound better than they actually are(people like that).

 

I know what your saying. Only I use my skills to make myself sound better than I am. :D

 

I'm still the m/f/n best, but you nodeumsang, right? :eek:

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there's an old joke:

 

How do you end up with a million dollars in the studio industry?

 

Start with 3 or 4 million.

 

If you want an investment, buy a hotel. Everyone needs somewhere to stay when they go out of town. Not everyone needs to spend 10-30 days recording their rock band's album, because, well, WAY less people have rock bands.

 

Especially in bigger cities, owning a recording studio is like selling air conditioners in Alaska.

 

I did the owning thing. Kept up with all the bills, booked all the sessions, delegated sessions to various engineers, did all of the repairs, handled all monetary stuff, bought all the gear, sold all the gear. All the ownerly stuff. IT WAS THE WORST TIME OF MY ENTIRE LIFE.

 

Keep in mind that if you're looking for any kind of legit setup with a large format console, tape machines, and PTHD, we're talking HUGE lease payments every month (certainly not small ones), PLUS you need to make rent. This puts your monthly "nut" WAY above what most studios could ever make. There's only 30 days in a month. Even if you're booking at $1000 a day, that's roughly $30,000 a month IF YOU BOOK EVERY {censored}IN' DAY. Minus $80-100 a day for a good assistant. Minus the $150-300 a day any of my engineers are making. Minus console lease. Minus credit card bills for all of the other gear. Minus repair and maintenance charges. Minus electric, water, and rent.

 

Yeah...you can break even. If you work every day and stick to your guns on your rates.

 

Then I tried holding down a "staff" job as an engineer at someone ELSE'S room. I found that it's STILL HARD because you DO worry about what's going on financially, since you can't go anywhere else.

 

Now I'm freelancing again. I have not a care in the world, except getting work for myself. After I get work for myself, I can take it to any studio I damn well please. I don't care if the owner is gonna make rent or not, because I'll be at another studio in 3 weeks, and I'm getting paid separately.

 

Freelancing is where it's at.

 

Will I ever build, own, and operate my own shop again? Probably. In the next 5 years, with the way the music "business" (or lack thereof, really) is right now? {censored} no. I'll stick to hopping planes to various other studios.

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I'm surprised none has mentioned other activities besides recording.

 

In my case, recording bands is what I do less. I have not actually recorded a band here at my studio -but my own projects.

 

What do I do?

 

* Music for TV, Radio and lately local advertisement in the movies (surround projects)

 

* Music for singers. They need only one song or a full 3 hours show, We negotiate the rates. If those are "covers" they sign a release. If those are originals, well,, that means more money.

 

* MIDI tracks. Many bands do not want to record actual drums, so they ask me to produce a MIDI track -which may include loops and MIDI data-

 

* Mixing. They bring their material, I upload it into Pro Tools and voil

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That is exactly the key.. Expand your horizons..

 

I do the same thing. Voice over work for radio ads, singer songwriters, Karoake singers, small acoustic acts, live recording, rental PA's, band demo's, full CD projects, etc.

 

I have a group of clients that are court reporters and I convert their cassette tapes to CD, I remaster vinyl, cassette, etc. and I do short run CD duplication.

 

To me, the key is to let the studio pay for the studio. I never buy anything unless I have already earned the money to pay for it.

 

Of course.. that's because of my wife's rules..

 

I joined the local Chamber of Commerce, do networking, hand out cards all over the place, etc. and now have a pretty decent repeat business. I'm not getting rich, but I make more than I could working 9 to 5 at some mid level job somewhere.

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Sort of aggre with Gus Lozada. You really have to hustle and be versitile.

 

I've found a niche with pre production, consulting, and technical production.

 

All of the big studios in my region now only service corporate clients, and they bring in Millions according to the regional media trade magazine.

 

The one profitable studio that catered to bands only, had a yearly income of $70,000-$80,000.

 

For my business the two or three coporate jobs I get a year finance hardware and software. Also allows me the freedom to work with people I respect, and I don't have to allow bad music from bad bands into my realm.

 

Most of the work is not pure music, there are more budgets for corporate training DVDs and videos.

 

Get paid then do what you love.

 

:cool:

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I can't imagine (well, I can, but...) just starting from scratch and putting a studio together ex nihilo. The market for gear owning newbies is sooo flooded right now... I was a full-time musician from 1982-1999- yes it was lean, and I am a piano tuner, but all that time spent playing clubs and generally "in the biz" was a learning process for what I do now. A little notoriety, some recognition as a band, and I was able to get my record company to advance us enough cash to buy a good digi mixer, monitors, and a few other odds and ends (remember how cool it was to actually own a DAT machine?)- but I also kept almost every other piece of gear I ever owned. Mics, rack units, guitars, amps, PA stuff- it all adds up. Then you sell your PA and buy- that's right- studio stuff! Record everything that you write as demos, record some friends for cheap- and build a reputation. Still, as an investment- what these guys said about diversity in what you can do is great- and if you can play and sing, well offer yourself as a musician to clients that need it. BGV's, too... People skills are a MUST. I do this full-time, with about 20% of my income from piano tuning, and support my wife and 3 children no problem. I little frugality goes a long way.

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Originally posted by Picker

I guess it would depend on what you consider "Worth It".


Will it make money? ... probably not.

Will you enjoy having a studio and making some music.. absolutely.

 

 

See... that's what I thought was gonna happen... but after a while I realized that I really didn't enjoy working on other folks' music anymore. I'd find myself there feeling claustrophobic and trapped... like I used to feel working the {censored}ty jobs I had back in my college days... but at least at the warehouse I never had to hear the same song over and over and over and...

 

So I went back to my "unglamorous" dayjob and reserved my little project studio for my own music. And I've been a lot happier.

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That's interesting. I sort of had the opposite reaction. I absolutly LOVE the diversity of clients I have.

 

I never know who is going to show up doing what and that keeps it fresh. Since I know every project has an end, it's pretty easy to not get burned out..

 

Plus, I usually have three or four projects going on at the same time and if I get tired of working on something, I just do something else. I love the challenge..

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Owning a studio is about as profitable as owning an old sailboat!!! I actually own both. Yikes.

 

But really as an all things being equal business it is not a very good idea,or more accurately its a bad idea. There was a time when that was different but times have changed. There are a few of us that can do it, but its because we have been around for a while, and really this is a people driven business. I am able to charge people more to work at my studio than other studio have have half a million dollars more equipment than I do, just because I have made some records a few people have heard of and the other guys have not.

 

At the end of the year, most studio owners make less money than kids flipping burgers at McDonalds.

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Originally posted by Ronan Murphy

Owning a studio is about as profitable as owning an old sailboat!!! I actually own both. Yikes.


But really as an all things being equal business it is not a very good idea,or more accurately its a bad idea. There was a time when that was different but times have changed. There are a few of us that can do it, but its because we have been around for a while, and really this is a people driven business. I am able to charge people more to work at my studio than other studio have have half a million dollars more equipment than I do, just because I have made some records a few people have heard of and the other guys have not.


At the end of the year, most studio owners make less money than kids flipping burgers at McDonalds.

 

 

Well.....I built my own sailboat so......I thought.......maybe......

 

There's a studio in a music store here in the Cleveland area. The guy runs it at his convenience and gives lessons, too. I doubt if he makes much on it but the space isn't too much because he took over a storage area. There is a place called the Cleveland Bop Stop that is a studio/music hall. A real cool place where people play AND record. But it's a multimillion dollar enterprise.

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Here is my PLAN

 

I started buying gear when I was maybe 21... now i'm 23, I have probably getting close to 8,000-9,000 in gear... and lately I only buy with money I get from recording... its a very part time thing for me as I have a full time job that pays me very well (considering I still live at home)

 

So when I do have my own place the basement will be renovated into a studio... by then I hope to have all the main gear I already need... and then since my gear is all paid for and the money is forgotten about.. all I need to do is pay for the construction of the room...

 

still keep my day job, and work on recording more and more... and then when I finally have the reputation and the client list the jobs will switch... I will record full time and probbaly work part time... yes still work somewhere part time i'm not totally niave about this...

 

 

If your not gonna do it from home, its MUCH harder... and if your going to go all out with a large console, and have to buy all the gear at once... i couldn't picture it working out for you...

 

Brandon

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It's really marketing ---we could not survive in a big city. In our area > a client will pay more for your talents ~ than the gear sittin' in the rack. These days you could spend , as little as, $10k on used gear --and be supplied with plenty more, then we operate with.

Had this studio doing well ~ over 15 years. But we specialize --solo/duo artists--no live drums..so we need less space/gear to operate at a profit.:idea:

Hey, its Carmel ~~ think of the morgages in this little town I'm just glad the studio ~ is in our attached garage... The average mortgage *per day* is well over $125...Plus you gotta eat, and turn on a light! You need 250k, for a downpayment, in most the creative financing that goes on around here

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