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finding a place to put a recording studio

Discussion in 'Recording' started by stickers, Dec 9, 2006.

  1. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:
    I really need a space to open a studio. I'm getting tired of lugging gear. I am also tired of not having a legit studio space to market myself better. If I had a spce I could at least invite potential clients down to showcase and hang or whatever. I live in a condo right now. I'd prefer not to move but will if necessary.

    At this point moving to another part of the US with lower realestate prices seems to be the only option for me.

    I guess im just venting.
  2. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    I feel your pain!

    I have everything here except a set of drums...which won't fit. I'm in a large 2-bedroom, and have PA equipment in the kitchen, a Hammond in the living room, numerous small guitar amps in my bedroom, and wall-wall amps and recording equipment in my spare.

    I'm not particularly wanting to open a "studio", (I have to learn to record myself properly, first :roll: ) but I would like to have all this in a dry, clean, finished and slightly modified basement...to help keep outside noise out, and allow me to crank things without bothering the neighbors or advertising "Stuff to steal! Come on in!" to the neighborhood punks.

    Unfortunately, housing prices here are way over-inflated. I wasn't going to pay $230K for $130K worth of house. Fortunately, I didn't get caught up, when I looked a year or so ago, in those risky mortgage schemes (scams) to get myself included in the statistics of the record-breaking foreclosure rate. (Loan officer: "Well, sir, we can offer an interest-only, or an option ARM...and your payments will be affordable". Me: "Are you CRAZY? Do people actually DO this?") Apparently, yes. Anyway, The prices are starting to fall, but they are still over-valued, and mortgage rates inching slightly higher wipe out any lowered price.

    Like yourself, I'm looking to move to another state.

    Good luck to you.

  3. mercurix

    mercurix Active Member

    Feb 21, 2006

    Indeed this studio space problem affects many of us. Although here in Austin, TX real estate prices don't seem to be THAT bad, I'm looking for a place that has the right specs. Plus, I don't want to put my studio in my home...I have a thing with sleeping right next to my office.
  4. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    May 2, 2005
    Portland, OR
    I heard Idaho and Kansas were good, well for property and housing...and raising cattle :roll:
  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    A couple of years ago I looked around for a suitable location for our mastering studio (it is currently and always has been in my house as a separate, purpose built room).

    I live in a small town near a large city and I wrongly assumed that the cost of commercial real estate would be cheaper in a small town but that was not the case. Most of the rents for even the smallest space would be a monthly financial burden for me and averaged about $2000 for a 750 to 1000 square foot space. And the space would be AS IS with no walls, no acoustical treatment and ancient plumbing and electrical wiring. If I wanted something done to the space I would have had to sign a long term lease AND would have to have paid to have the work done by a licensed contractor as per the landlord's demands.

    I looked father afield and found that I could get some really good sized space in the larger city but it a less than great area with high crime rates and shootings and muggings going on daily. I also looked in the surrounding suburban areas and either you got a room with nothing in it or the landlord wanted you to pay absorbent prices for any modifications that would make it suitable for a mastering studio.

    I did see one place that would have been GREAT and the rent was very reasonable and the landlord was also very easy to work with BUT it was located in a part of town that was directly under the airport traffic and about every 5 minutes a very large jet would come over and you would have to stop talking until it was in the distance. Not a good place for a mastering studio.

    I concluded that I would not be any better off going to a commercial space and for the bottom line the costs would far out weigh any benefits of having the studio somewhere else.

    Your town maybe different and you may have different financial needs but today renting or leasing seems VERY expensive to me and unless your studio is doing VERY WELL you probably should do some serious thinking about the costs versus the benefits.

  6. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    We've been having a similar discussion elsewhere here about finding work for one's studio, and some of those concepts apply here.

    Before you consider moving, or buying or renting an outside location, consider carefully what you're looking to do and what your potential client base will be. If you're going to buy/rent, build and then hope to attract clients in a free-standing facility, you've better have a good game plan in place first.

    First of course, is funding - do you have the cash to cover the gear, the manpower, the plans and the materials lined up to "Build" something inside of an already existing space?

    Second is clients - do you have enough in place to get started and cover your new, big and shiny overhead? God knows youll have enough on your hands from building and moving into the space, let alone doing any business to attract clients. It will be a money-pit for the first few months.

    Third is funding (again!) you're going to need some cash to float yourself while the work builds up. Even if you start out with people lined up to come in and work, there will be a down time of 2-4 wks before you really start seeing any cash. (Unless you're able to make everyone pay BEFORE they start, which I'm guessing isn't any more likely in your world than it is mine! ;-) )

    Take a careful look around at all of the studios that have folded over the last couple of years, and then think about WHY they went under. Unless you've got some serious record label or commercial company backing, the days of running a big studio and making $$ are about over.

    Just for a reality check, write a proposal or 5 year plan and show it to potential lenders (and brace yourself when they laugh out loud at you). If you have no luck there, maybe you can get some partners to help with the funding. (But be careful, and get it all in writing, so everyone knows what the real deal is, and how long it may take to get their $$ out of it.)

    Or, to come back to the idea of working in one's own home, consider a few other options as well. They say that if you're looking to maintain your home's re-sale value (say, 10-20 yrs from now when you move to LA or the Rockies because of all your success ;-) ) , then building a free-standing structure (out in the backyard, etc.) isn't a good return on your costs to build. Most new buyers aren't looking for their own sound-proofed "Shed" out back and the investment is worthless in terms of added resale value.

    Converting a room in your home (basement, garage, additional ATTACHED room, etc) is a smarter way to go, IMHO, because you can easily empty it out when you move, and voila! instant spare family room, home theater, granny apartment, etc. You can make a separate entrance, add a private powder room (just for the clients) and keep it almost entirely separate from, yet attached to the house.

    Of course, you have to consider the amount of foot traffic and potential problems with neighbors complaining, etc. (Esp if you 're doing scary goth-tracks with rough-looking bands coming and going at all hours of the night!) In my case (and I suspect much like Tom Bethel's), we work mostly on post production and tracks that have been recorded elsewhere. We often edit, occasionally with the client present, but it's not 24 hr round-the-clock rock, rap or metal sessions going on as would be in a commercial facility.

    But whatever you do, think long term. Assuming you got what you wanted in a facility and everything went the way you wanted it to go, make sure it's what will float your boat and let you have a real life away from it. Being chained to a never-ending-costs commerical facility - with ALL the responsibilities that go with it - just to make music - seems like a very outdated idea these days. With today's technology, you can do a lot better, often right there at 'Home", and rent elsewhere when you need something bigger.

    I know it's frustrating when starting out, but a project studio (even just a mix/editing space) in your own home may be the better way to start for now, to build up what you've got, and then make the jump when the timing is right.
  7. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    All excellent information. Plan. PLAN. Did I say PLAN?!

    Advertisement: I do business planning/strategic planning, for those who want to go this route. Just a thought. CV available. Client list growing. (Still in infancy.)
  8. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Joe H,

    Always good advice.

    Without a business/construction/contingency plan you are going to be VERY surprised and probably not pleasantly surprised when the construction gets weather delayed, all your clients want their stuff done NOW and you are still wiring the studio and your biggest client says NOW or NEVER. You better have some plans in place and be ready for lots of cash flow problems.

    When I started into mastering full time I did a business plan and showed it to my banker and my lawyer and they both gave me lots of good FREE advice (yes my lawyer did give me some FREE advice). There are a lot of things you just simply do not think about when you are planning a new facility or change in employment from full time for someone else to more than full time self employed. They made me realize how really naive I was and how many things I just took for granted.

    I also did all my homework with the city and the surrounding neighbors just to make sure their were no problems. I assured my neighbors that I was not going to do live in studio recording and that there would never be a whole lot of cars or people at my house at anyone time (both of these were easy for me to stipulate because of the kind of work we do)

    After we constructed the studio from an existing room in my house we had a few problems that we did not foresee such as my next door neighbor retiring from GM and having too much time on his hands and access to too many powered lawn equipment devices which he sometimes runs for 4 hours per day 7 day per week. We also had to upgrade the HVAC and the electrical power after a short time in business.

    The way my mastering studio is constructed it could become a children's playroom, a granny apartment, a multimedia room or an extra bedroom and there is a 1/2 bath that the clients use and the kitchen is part of the studio area so it is a no brainer that it could be used for lots of different things once I retire, sell the house, and move to somewhere nice and quiet.

    We do only post production video and audio mastering and restoration so there are no loud amplified instruments and with my speakers playing at about 115 dBSPL you can not hear them with your ear pressed against the wall outside so we disturb no one.

    There was a studio here in town that opened in someone's back yard out building and was immediately closed down because the walls were paper thin and the group did nothing but heavy metal and punk recording and they really pissed off a lot of their neighbors.

    If you are going to be in a private home in a residential area it would be best to fess up with the town and your neighbors early on in the process so you don't ruffle too many feathers later on.

    Best of luck on your endeavors and I hope you take the advice that JoeH has given you and it all works out for the best.....

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