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Funding for Recording Studios

Discussion in 'Recording' started by MsTeeree, Nov 3, 2004.

  1. MsTeeree

    MsTeeree Guest

    I am trying to obtain some information on funding sources for recording studios (how to obtain grants, etc.. and where to obtain them from).

    If anybody associated with recording studios has anything they can tell me that will lead me in the right spot, I would greatly appreciate it!

  2. EricK

    EricK Guest

    What is your focus? Are you looking for a grant to do restoration work, or you planning recording the dying song of some soon to be extinct song bird?
  3. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Now that's FUNNY.
  4. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    MsTeeree... best of luck with it. Write a business plan, go to the SBA [Small Business Administration] and try to get an unsecured SBA loan [which since the Savings and Loan debacle of the first Bush administration has been harder to pull off... but not impossible].

    I will also tell you a terribly true old joke in the studio building industry...

    Q) Know how to make a million dollars with a recording studio?

    A) Start with 3 or 4 million.

    Best of luck to you... I hope it all works out somehow.

  5. MsTeeree

    MsTeeree Guest

    In Response......

    To EricK -- My focus is to relocate an existing, rapidly expanding recording studio in Illinois to another part of the State..and to update equipment.

    To LittleDogAudio -- and just why is that so FUNNY??

    To Fletcher -- THANK YOU very much! :) It's nice to know that there are some decent individuals left in this world who will give free, friendly advice. It is greatly appreciated!!!
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    They were all good responses...Its funny because as Fletcher pointed out, theres very little money to be made in a recording studio, and the other is funny because we all pray that there is actually some place out there that will give us that kind of money for doing this.

    Dont be offended, we're all in this together....this disease of the gear...
  7. MsTeeree

    MsTeeree Guest

    Davedog -

    I guess the reason I didn't see it as being funny is because it's not MY studio -- and I'm not the recording artist/producer (therefore, I don't know the "ins and outs" of the music industry). That person is one of my very best friends; I'm the financial advisor of the deal (that's my profession and I'm using my talents and abilities to help him out). I have written grants (and obtained millions of dollars) for cities, towns and counties across my State. I know where to look for these type of grants. However, the music industry (recording studio) is a whole new ball game for me. I just thought, "What better person(s) to tell me more about it/give me information that someone who has experienced it themself".

    I'm not offended -- and I truly appreciate any/all information that anybody has.

    I'm very dedicated to this, and I'm going to do the best I can to help my friend obtain the funds he needs to accomplish his studio goals.

    I'm really not sure of all the things his studio does. but I know that it's not a little bitty "general purpose" studio. I can tell you this -- This is his 'smaller' job (in another State). He went on to RCA Records as a Producer, was there for a few months, and went to Sony where he is now an Executive Producer. He does not want to abandon the studio in his home State; he told me that as he moves along, he is trying to expand the scope of practice (at the studio) into design, consultation and seminars on sound reinforcement. In order to do this, he needs to relocate the studio and update equipment.

    Thank you for your comments. I very much appreciate it! :)
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Hi Tina;

    With all due respect and sympathy, most of us here know exactly what you and your friend are dealing with, and we do at times tend to find "black humor" where it fits. The industry is changing (HAS changed, more accurately) and a lot of what used to work (make $$$, that is) no longer does.

    According to keynote speaker Ron Fair at the AES opening ceremony 2 wks ago in San Francisco, the music industry is DOWN by 40% since the whole CD/Fileshare/theft/MP3 hoo-ha cataclsymic shift in our world. AND, it's not coming back - not in the way we knew it, anyway. That's the good news, actually. What has to change is the way we do business and how the content is delivered, but that's another whole topic for another forum.

    In the meantime, it's not news at all to state that all of the industry, including mid-level studios, are facing serious market "erosion." (Hows ThAT for a euphemism, eh? ;-) Honestly, most of that market is beyond eroded; it's GONE. Unless you're in a major market (like NYC, LA, NASHVILLE, etc.) you're going to have serious trouble making ends meet the old-fashioned way: Walk-in clients looking to cut a record. The age of home DAW's and Pro Tools (et al) has changed all this forever; like the Edsel, it's gone and it's not coming back any time soon. Not the way we knew it, anyway.

    While even the big studios have trouble staying competitive and surviving, there are ways. (Major Label recordings, film scores, TV shows, etc.) I wouldn't even begin to tell you what/how to go about funding in a small market with a generic studio for hire. Most banks will show you the door quickly without a proven track record and client roster. A well-thought-out five year plan won't hurt, either.

    If your friend knows that much about the biz (working for SONY, etc.) he probably also knows that most of his equipment in this "Smaller" studio may in fact be outdated and no longer desirable in today's computer-savvy market. (Notice I said: Desirable, vs. usuable. Clients (kids?) tend to want the newest, bestest, hottest gear...it's a never ending struggle to keep up, even with today's ridiculously afforadable digital workstations.) You may have a vintage Trident, NEVE or API board and a Studer 24 track, but some knucklehead is always going to bust your booking agent's stones with a request for PT HD with all the bells and whistles, or they'll go to his brother's bedroom with PTs on the other side of town - in trade for beer and pizza. :) (Ok, maybe that's extreme...maybe not! )

    Keeping even a midline/small studio alive and flourishing is a full time business in a cutthroat market. (You may want to ask around with a few banking friends of yours to see some biz plans and loan apps., while you're at it find out who survived, and who didn't...and WHY.) If your friend is away most of the time working for RCA or Sony, this doesn't paint a good pic of a struggling studio trying to reinvent itself and survive. (Maybe he should just let it go this time?)

    I don't mean to paint a bleak picture for you, just an honest one. Take a good hard look around the market's you're considering moving to (find out all the OTHER studios there, too) and see what it will (or wont) support. You (your friend?) may have to separate emotion from cold hard reality. Unless you're offering something really special in a unique market, you can have the best studio in the world, but with no clients.

    It might be a connection to a local TV station, ad agency, arts center, cable supplier, Audio Visual contractor, etc., but it never hurts to have more than one pipeline/source of clientele. Until you find your new niche, you may want to diversify as much as possible.

    What I really see in this is the question of what your friend intends to do next: Come back and run the new facility in a new location, or continue to treat it as an investment...like a car or a piece of furniture? (Cars need regular maintenance, and antiques are valuable only when they're REALLY old...)

    One path is to sell it all, as fast as you can, for whatever $$$ you can get - on Ebay or through a professional auction company, OR: Brace yourself (and get your friend TRULY onboard) and dig in for the long haul. It's not gonna be easy, and you'll spend a lot of dough for upgrades, moving costs, renovations, and (most importantly) trolling for new clients.

    You mention you're savvy at grants, loans, etc. You probably also know that the best way to get these are via non-profit status, community funding, schools, etc. etc. Many of my clients are in the Arts, and get their $ through local, state and funding like the NEA. Perhaps, should you move the studio and survive, you may want to refocuse on groups that have their funding built-in already, and come to the studio with specific projects in mind, with $$ in hand, ready to go.

    Best of luck, however you go!
  9. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    If you're going for "grant" money [oy!!] then you'll want a nice flowery proposal based on the indigenous folk music of southern Indiana vis a vis the part it has played in the inner city development of Gary or some load of happy horseshit like that.

    If this is really for a friend, make sure you get a taste of the money... once your friend has a studio, if your friend is doing this anywhere near the right way, your friend will be working 100+ hour weeks, and reinvesting all their money into the improvement of the facility... or will be bankrupt within a year or two... either way, unless it's one hell of a great friendship... color it gone.

    Friends don't let friends build studios... especially in the environment that currently exists where every keyboard and guitar player can buy $3,500- worth of crap at their local music store and pretend they're George Martin [I'd a said Geoff Emerick, but not being "industry" you wouldn't have known who that is].

  10. EricK

    EricK Guest

    That is what I was trying to say. Somehow Fletcher always seem to have a better way of verbalizing things.

    Thanks Fletcher.
  11. MsTeeree

    MsTeeree Guest

    JoeH, Fletcher, EricK -

    You guys are great......thank you so much......and yes, Fletcher, this is for my friend. I'm the FA on the deal and I'm just trying to help him out.

    I appreciate all your comments. :)
  12. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Actually the best way to update the studio is selling the existing one (if you can find a buyer) and using the money to start a new one slsewhere. I had a commercial studio (the recording local bands type) and wanted to get out because I could never find a competent engineer to run it when I wasn't there and to make any money at all you really gotta get it going 24/7- I put an ad in the paper and what do you know, a buyer showed up and met my price- I came out a lot better than if I had sold the eqipment on e-bay as it was a working studio with a costumer base and all the equipment wired and in place- The buyer resigned a lease with the landlord and that was that!

    With the proceeds from the sale I was able to not only pay some serious bills I had, but also to buy new equipment for my home studio. Here at home I just work on my own stuff and produce a few people, which for me is a great improvement over trying to keep the studio open to pay the rent.
  13. MsTeeree

    MsTeeree Guest

    maintiger -

    Thank you for your sharing your comments. :)
  14. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    My pleasure, Teeree. Please let us know what you guys finally decide to do- (And if you find some grants out there, by all means share!)
  15. MsTeeree

    MsTeeree Guest

    maintiger -

    I most certainly will. Thank You once again! :D
  16. This is fantastic rant/post. Is there anyone (other than Right Track or Hit Factory) able to make a nickel in this business.

    I see the studios closing doors left and right... but is that due to the fact that they haven't evolved?
  17. nandoph8

    nandoph8 Active Member

    I think studios are closing down becasue bands "think" they can record everything themselves now with the affordability of digital. And some do a pretty damn good job.
  18. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    in one sense, it had to happen.... recording tools got more affordable, musician's got more savvy, CDs got stupid-easy to copy, file sharing crept in, it all came together eventually.

    From the early days of the porta studio (and Tascam's 3440 before that), musicians turned practice studios into recording studios.

    In some ways, though, they really weren't going to spend that money in a real studio. Not in the long run. Granted, the industry we knew has essentially imploded, but eventually something had to give; it couldn't go on forever. As the technology expanded, so did the skills and basic abilities of the end users. (It's the same with photography and graphics. People can shoot gorgeous video right out the box with DV cameras, but few are making the next masterpiece to rival the big studios. )

    I take the high road and appreciate the fact that many of my clients are more educated about the whole process now. I work with a lot of older clients (Classical musicians, soloists, conductors, etc.) and most even have DATs (or now CD recorders) and of course just about everyone has a computer of some kind, so the bar is raised. There are still some precious few who are total luddites with recording but that can be just as troublesome in that they have to be lead through everything, in excruiating detail.

    Some clients record their own material and bring it to me for sweetening, editing and mastering, while some want us to do it all from soup to nuts. Everyone's a bit different in what level they operate at; and we try to go whatever way they want. But make no mistake; the whole approace to recording has changed from the "old days" where folks wandered in dazed and confused, hoping to "cut a demo", find an agent and get signed via some pipe dream. With the web and everything available, few are even looking for a major label contract. (Whatever it is that constitutes a major label anymore!)

    Most folks know what to expect from doing it on their own, with or without us, and fortunately, not everyone has everyTHING they need to do the entire project. Eventually, the smart ones know what they need to finish it professionally.

    It's a new mix of services we all offer, and as one door closes, another opens....somewhere! ;-)
  19. MsTeeree

    MsTeeree Guest

    michael_midfi, nandoph8, JoeH -

    Thanks, guys, for all your comments. I'm learning soooooo much about the music industry. This is actually "fun" to me, to be able to help my friend try and find grants and/or other funding sources for his studio that he is trying to expand/relocate.

    I appreciate everyone's time, and especially their two cents worth!

    JoeH -- I loved the "soup to nuts" part!

  20. yo.... I just wanted to tell you that what JoeH said is truer than some think... I know several artist like myself who don't want the headache of working with some jerk engineers (or spending the time to find a decent one) so they just decide to do it themselves and educate themselves with recording like I have. They have all come out with some pretty nice albums of their own and promote them online... There is a HUGE market online for artists like me, a great way to get your name and music out there. I feel for the professional studios out there because I am kicking around the idea of opening one in co-op with the local music store here... but will just stay with my home studio for now and see how that grows... the thing is this... --- Artists that have good music and good ears (+ the sound education) can put out very nice recordings because they are prone to hearing things that others wont. I write, sing, and play the guitar and piano for my own stuff and it's easy for me to hear things that nonmusicians just will never get I believe.

    there are however like Joe said plenty of ppl out there who are just lazy or ignorant about doing it themselves... I would venture to say that musicians in the future who have the talent to write will make it a part of their music to own and record with their own eq!....

    (I do seek professional's insight on finishing a project) (y) good luck

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