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Thoughts and Opinions on upgrading to new studio

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by kmetal, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    hey all, my boss is a berkley graduate (audio production), has been recording professionally for over 20 years, full time. i recently built i studio for him in my hometown, with the idea of tapping in to a new market. so he's running 2 studios. the one i built came out better than we expected, and much better than the first location, which was not built from the ground up, and is located in a noisy, band rehearsal facility.

    having grown understandably frustrated, with the conditions, he's thinking about moving out. The opportunity has come up to lease a studio that has been closed for 3 years. it's is in it's own comercial building, and was re-built 3 times, in the heyday of the late 80's early 90's. it has been in mix magazine, and was professionally designed by an acoustician. this was a no expense spared built, for a grammy winning engineer.

    the lease would increase current rent to about $1500 per month. it has living accommodations for 6, a faraday cage, 2 large booths, reception area, and an office. My question is in this current state of the art, what are you guy's feelings on this move.?

    there is no way we could afford to build a place to that extent, but to me this seems like a very good opportunity to have a high end professional recording studio, in a relatively affordable way. our hope is that we'll be able to attract higher level clients, and do more label work. there have been numerous top ten hits recorded at this studio, and the engineer/producer who recorded them is onboard to work there if this goes thru.

    is this a bad idea? what other options should i be considering? i'm going friday w/ my boss, to see what kind of construction repairs need to be made, and put together a budget.
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    well, as an engineer, I'd say it sounds like a nice place to work. However, as a businessman, my first question is always "will the business/income be substantial enough to make it worthwhile?"

    Back when I was running my mid level facility - and I had a pretty nice place for the market I was in - anytime I would consider any major equipment purchase, I would always ask myself if the clientele in the area would be able to afford the cost mark up to justify those major purchases. Sure, having an SSL, Neve, Harrison, etc. room is what every engineer likes, but as a business operator, you have to make sure your demographic can afford the rates connected to the caliber of the room and the gear.

    For the demographic I was working with, in a blue collar town back in the 80's and 90's, most of my business, I'd say 98%, didn't know a Neve from a Peavey.

    Although, the situation you are describing is far different. The room has already turned out hits, it has already earned a reputation, so you know that, at least at some point, the facility did attract upper level clientele who not only didn't mind paying higher rates for higher gear and a nicer room, but probably expected to.

    You and I both know that many of the big rooms are hurting. Several popular ones that were the basis for many hits over the years have closed their doors in recent years.

    But, if you think that the upper level business is there for the taking, and the market/area is missing a high caliber room for those high caliber clients, then that should be your criteria.

    Questions I would ask as a business operator:
    Are we filling a need that's already there and untapped, or hoping to create a need? There's a difference.
    What's the competition like, in that caliber, within a radius of say, 100 miles or so?

    Compare apples to apples. There's no point in comparing yourself to "Joe's Studio" down the street who charges $15 an hour.

    Absolutely take Joe's business away if you can, but Joe's clientele is probably not the demographic you are looking at anyway, because the bulk of his clients are karaoke singers paying a cheap rate to sing another hacked up rendition of I Will Always Love You for their boyfriends or girlfriends. They probably can't afford you anyway.... and they don't care about the Faraday cage. LOL
    What's the current/average rate commanded (and being paid) in those upper level rooms in that geographic area?
    Is the upper level clientele that the room used to attract still there?
    Is there a corporate base in the immediate area who would use the studio? Ad agencies, multimedia companies, etc.
    Why did the business close and stay closed for three years? It may be that the old owner couldn't afford it any more because of a down-turn in business. Then again, it could be that it was mismanaged, or a death in the family, or that the previous owner snorted the profits. It would help to know why the business closed in the first place.

    $1500 per month is for the lease. Now, add the gear. Now, add the downtime necessary to get you up and running, as bug free as possible. Now, add the utilities; electric, gas, water, etc. Now add insurance. Now add security.

    Add up all the foreseen expenses (but don't leave out the unforeseen, either LOL, 'cuz it's the unforeseen that will bite you in the ass everytime ;) ) and do a profit/loss projection based on all the information you can gather. Sure...If you get the right project through the doors, you could pay your monthly nut in one or two days... but you have to make sure that those types of projects will keep coming in.

    just a few thoughts.

  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    D, as usual a thought full, honest, straightforward response. cheers buddy. faradaycage 'that's where you keep the chimp right? hehe.

    ya know this is just such a twisted topic. the negation going into the lease is that we need to get the facility into even rentable condition, so this should appeal to the landlord, as he currently has an almost unmarketable product, besides to my boss (who i'll refer to as tony). so part of the consideration is what kind of rent break we're getting. the purposed plan, so far, is to start low, w/ a 5 year lease, that increases 100 more per month each year.

    the studio closed for many reasons. here's a quick rundown. talented guitarist gets into touring band (open for alman bros yadayata). gets into engineering, becomes good at mixing, maintains contacts, gets hits, in the pop boy band market, post micheal jackson. gets to go all over the world to record/mix, but lack of self control, and sheer madness, causes him to just keep spending his 7 figure account. meanwhile starts dicking people over. re-builds his hit making studio 3 times between 80's/late 90's. this dude is serious, crazy man or not, he knows sounds, equipment, and acoustics. so the last build was pretty much all out, for the pics i saw and the stories, lets call it an easy 250-400k build. not a DIY situation. but he never BOUGHT the building. owned a million in ****ing gear, but still had a landlord!? no good, bad move, he needed a better accountant lol. ok national work starts drying up, he's getting towards retirement age, and fed up. retires, liquidates, and has a bank account that takes an average American 15 to 20 yrs, just to earn, lump sum. STILL lives like a rock star. runs out of money, starts working for tony around when i started a few years ago, as tony had just commissioned me to construct a nice mid-level studio, in my home city, of which there are no professional studios.

    the dude who bought the established studio off the retired guy, sucked at recording. blew the studious rep, and went outa bizness three years ago.

    Enter us... there is a studio nothing like this place, or should i say 'better' than this (within a 3 state radius) unless you go to new york. this is the kinda studio areosmith members have gone to. still there, but beat up. the mid level place i built in my city is slow, and the market for it is very, very one person at a time, much different than i expected. if you build it, they still don't know it's there. lol. i'm getting killed by the 20-25 and hour residential studious. i have alot to work to do on that front, cuz everyone who comes thru, isn't going anywhere else, (our service is very good), but getting them in there, is like whoring out my talents. anyway thats a different post.

    tony has a modest but decent level of gear, and is a good engineer, his current studio (the one in the practice space) is just not good enough. it's a project studio. and not even a great one.

    enter the guy who is gonna get gigs. there is an artist management company that handles real deal stuff, christina auguila, beach boys, ect. tony has known this guy for a long time, and this guy gave tony and the 'famous' mixer, alot of work in the heyday, but w/ the closing of the studio tony moved to the project area, other dude retired, promo guy, kept growing.

    so the quandry, is that promo dude will give us gigs, but neither tony's current area, or the studio he built in my city, would merit national acts. so now it's the risk factor.

    i think that offering a high level facility that has sleeping accommodations for 6, in a quaint town, between two state capitols, would fill this role again. and allow the studio in my city to charge more competitive rates, as my city is pretty urban, and relatively lowish income. we're talking 35-150k per yr.

    since we wouldn't have the overhead of construction cost (ground up), it would allow us to offer reasonable rates, at the place under consideration. bread and butter budgets would be 5-10k, more or less. i'll see it in person in like 8 hours, so the state of degradation is really the hinging factor right now.

    but do you think this sounds more like a pipe dream, than, 'reasonable' idea. well as reasonable as having a high end professional studio could be this day. i think that technology has actually helped us afford better rooms, but there's always that balance. IMHO room first, upgrade equip. ya know we've got some neve,api, the c-12,ect it's not like we got nothing, but certainly don't have a 10k signal chain on the high hat, ya know?

    lol so thats the short version of the story. i'm gonna print out your questions d and go over them w/ tony, very considerable points there!
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Using my best Gene Wilder / Doctor Frankenstein voice (That's Fron-ken-steeen) LOL.... "It.....could....work!"

    Facilities like this are rare these days. Yeah, there were more than a few of them back in the glitzy, coke-fueled 70's, where label budgets had virtually no ceilings and Bulgarian Caviar was as much an obligatory request on the studio rider as a Lexicon PCM was.... but most have faded away.

    Your situation could work.

    And I'm not quite sure it really is a pipe dream, but... it's gonna have to be one of those situations where all the cosmic tumblers kinda fall into place at the same time ...and in the same direction.

    Now, I need to be careful here, because after all the advice I gave in my previous post about not thinking like an engineer or recording artist and thinking like a businessman, it's still hard for me to not get excited when I hear of a facility like this possibly being in the works.

    But from a business standpoint, one thing I didn't mention, and I should have, is the unique nature of the scenario being a valid selling feature. Many artists like to get away from the distractions that bigger metro areas have.

    This is one of the reasons that places like Caribou Ranch was so popular back in the 70's and early 80's, because it offered the artist a choice, an option to the frantic vibe that big metro studios had.

    People can laugh at the notion and scoff at the idea that this kind of thing matters, but, IMO, it does. You can either wake up in the morning to the sound of a subway, traffic and jackhammers, or you can wake up to a view of the Rocky Mountains in a quiet peaceful setting. Personally, I think that creativity would flow a little better in the second choice...

    The other thing is that - with the exception of the gear - this place is pretty much turnkey, right? No construction needed, no "from the ground up" builds of any kind, so with the possible exception of new carpet, a new coffee maker and a few cool pictures on the wall, you're pretty much ready to go once you install your gear. So....unless you go to see this place only to find out that it's infested with raccoons or mold, or whatever, you are basically ready to start installing gear. That's no small thing. Whomever was dumb enough to put 400 large into a rental space has ended up being your benefactor. His misfortune is your gateway.

    This is crucial, K. You and I both know it. Having that accounts guy, the guy who has all those contacts that can put high dollar clients into the room. Without him, you're gonna be just another very nice studio that will eventually fold, because you're not gonna get those "karaoke walk ins" at this place... not at $200 an hour ( or whatever the competitive rate is these days on high dollar rooms). This place is gonna swim by having those high dollar projects coming in, along with a corporate business base that will end up being a continual monthly thing. It's gonna sink if you rely on wannabees and club bands recording demos. Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying to turn those sessions down, because every little bit counts, but we both know that these clients alone won't keep the lights burning.

    Keeping those clients coming in is more your job, or whomever the studio manager or head engineer is gonna be. All it really takes is for one, just one big client to work and enjoy their time there, to have a great sounding final product, and then telling all their friends, or having the studio's name end up on the liner notes of an album that sold well. Word of mouth is your key here, K, you and I both know that a Yellow Pages ad or Wix website ain't gonna cut it.... it's the reputation in the right circles that's gonna count.

    The sound of the final product, the skill of the engineer(s), the staff being easy to work with, the general "vibe" of the facility; all of these things are going to come into play and count in a major way towards keeping the studio working.

    Please keep me informed on what you find out. I hope it turns out to be a doable thing. :)

  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    No matter what the quality of the facility it all comes down to the people who run it and use it. If you can attract good quality people to record there and they can pay their bills on time then you should have no problems. With more and more people deciding to DIY everything themselves and less and less money being made by most musicians this may also not work due to the realities of the music business at the present time.

    There were two very good recording studios located in Cleveland Ohio. The one studio went belly up about a year ago and the other studio is renting or leasing out two of its three studios to help pay the bills. The studio that went out of business was owned by a very savvy business person with lots of contacts in the music business and everyone thought he had everything going for him. Obviously there was something not working for him. He sold off a lot of equipment and did a name change just before he closed and has since moved into a smaller facility on the outskirts of town. Both of these studios were well designed and well built and had a lot going for them but the reality is you still need people who need to use the facilities and who can pay for the studio time.

    I personally think that the days of the midsized studio catering to musicians that want to record is going no where fast. Lots of midsized, and larger studios, are hurting big time and lots are closing their doors.

    The first thing I would do is write up a business plan. Ask all the hard questions and then prepare a report listing all the positives and negatives of what you are proposing. Many banks today have people on their staffs that can help you decide if your proposal will work. I would sit down with a bank representative or a local COSE member and show them what you are thinking about doing and how much success they think you will have. One thing to do when preparing the report is to be very truthful. How much will the facility cost me in terms of rent and utilities? How many real hours will I be able to use the facility for recording or mixing? How much will I have to invest in new equipment? What is the local music scene like and how many bands or artists will realistically be willing and able to use my facility and how often will they be "in the studio"?

    A couple of years ago we were looking to move up town form our home based video production business. Ours is a small town in the middle of a cornfield (literally) but the rents are very high because the space for businesses is limited. The site we were looking at was a "1000" square foot facility that was located next to the town library. In reality the facility was only 800 square feet because a bathroom, utility room and lunch room took up 200 square feet and the landlord wanted $1000 per month with a 36 month lease. The utilities would have added another $200 per month to the cost. The utilities would have been heat, light, water, sewage, trash collection, telephone, internet and alarm system. The extra exposure and walk in access would have been nice but probably would not have paid for the additional cost. The landlord was GREAT and I have known him for a very long time. The building was originally used as a spa and still had plumbing hookups in the middle of the floor which would have to be removed. Also the whole place needed some general updating and the landlord was willing to do somethings but not others. I finally decided against the move. It proved to be a good decision. The facility had been vacant for over two years and is now a beauty salon and they are having a rough go. The place next door was run by the landlord's wife and since the beginning of November the store has had a 50 to 60% sale going on and I saw that the place has closed as of the 1st of January.

    It is your money and only you can know what is best for you. If you think about this logically and coldly and go into it with your eyes wide open you should be OK but this is a tricky time in the music business and I would be very truthful with what decisions you are making.

    Best of luck!
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    well i spent an hour and a half w/ tony, looking around the building, and had a meeting w/ the landlord. UTTER DISREPAIR! mold in spots, buckling floors in some spots, water damage in numerous areas, nobody even knew how to turn on the ac system to try it, not even all the lights turned on, ripped fabric, hacked in 'bright idea' acoustic appointments. this place is a straigh up dump. whoever had it last, just let it go to crap :( man, not the place that i was picturing, even it it waqs in good shape. i think the stories i heard not (not shockingly) were completely exaggerated by the original studio owner, who made it sound like the power station lol. not good. i think this is a bad, bad investment, unless the landlord is willing to fix everything!

    it's not my money, i'm just a staff engineer for tony, as well as resident carpenter/handyman. the sloppy acoustic appointments could be fixed w/ budget, as well as the cosmetics, but this depends on how much damage has been done, and while i'm capable of profession level carpentry, i am not qualified to evaluate comercial buildings damage.

    IMO the landlord needs to highr professionals who are qualified to assess water damage, electrical, hvac, plumber, the whole 9. it's such a shame cuz the main room is in pretty nice shape (on the surface at least), w/ a very nice reverberant sound, nice looking, and decent size (31x19). but man, this place is rough overall.

    i just don't want to see my boss get burned. i feel bad enough the one in my city is slow (although his other one is booked pretty much full time). so i guess it;s going to come down to what the landlord is willing to put into this, to make it move in ready, and we'll do the studio related fixes.

    i don't have a good feeling about this...if it were me i would turn and run. especially given the state of the commercial studio business these days. now, if the landlord on the other hand was willing to FIX EVERYTHING, and keep rent in the ballpark of what tony is currently paying, than it could work, and actually be a good upgrade. Given that he has a client base big enough to fill a studio, and the connections w/ the agency to bring bigger budgets.

    I just don't see this happening. if the landlord had kept the ac/heat systems running reasonably, and actually fixed the roof when he knew it was leaking, well he would be in this situation. we all know re-work is 3x as expensive.

    ya know you guys are right about it's the people, not necessarily the studio. the clients i have booked at the studio in my city (the wave cave), have all complimented me on my professionalism, and the fact the they just felt comfortable. they are usually impressed w/ the facility itself, but i don't think thats really why they come back. guess i'm gonna have to keep honing my craft so i can get some complements on my work lol.

  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It's your job to talk your boss about walking away from this one, K. He sent you to check this place out because he trusts your judgement, to make a thorough and honest inspection of this place, and you have to be the one to say "pass" if you feel he's got "go fever" on this and wants to do it anyway.

    It's not likely that the landlord would pay for all the repairs and keep the rent the same, (stranger things have happened but I'm dubious based on my own experience with commercial landlords) but they might consider doing so if a long term lease was signed and the rent was graduated accordingly over time to cover those repairs... but you need to honestly ask yourself if, even if that were to occur, would it still be a good investment for your boss?

    If a deal was struck, the rent may end up being in the ballpark of 3 to 4 grand per month 3 to 4 years years down the line, and while no one has a crystal ball, do you feel, based on your experience and knowledge in this field, that 3 years away from now the big commercial studios will still be successful, particularly this one? I'm not saying it won't be. I'm asking what you think, based on your knowledge of the market and demographics in your area.

    By the same token, 3 to 4 grand a month isn't bad at all for a room like that working at its optimum .... if you have 15 to 20 grand coming in every month in accounts receivable, which isn't an impossibility with the right clientele... label caliber projects, corporate audio, audio for video, etc.

    Now.... cosmetics aside, I have one huge concern about this place and that is this: the mold.

    This would be a major concern for me. Remember, you're gonna be working in there for long hours, and you're gonna have people singing in there... and mold is nothing to screw around with.

    You can get really REALLY sick working around or even just being near that stuff.

    Yes, of course it can be taken care of. There are companies out there that do nothing but mold treatment. But, mold mitigation isn't cheap. And, in most cases, if it's growing where you can see it, it's growing even more where you can't, which means that it's possible that entire walls and ceilings would need to come out.

    Pal, I'm not trying to be the nay-Sayer or the bringer of bad news here... I'm just bringing some things up that you might want to think about and discuss with your boss.


  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Which ones, Thomas?

    Just curious....

  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I have seen similar situations with commercial buildings and the outcome is just about what you would expect. The landlord will want to do as little as possible, charge as much as he possibly can and you will be left with lots of problems and a big rent check due at the end of every month. If you or your boss are expecting him to do more - good luck. The roof problems, the mold and the electrical services are all BIG worries for a studio. The original owner may have had the skills to do most of the work himself or trade out service work for studio time. The original owner may not have had the construction skills but still done everything himself to save money and you maybe looking at some major structural problems as well as electrical and HVAC problems.

    I would tell your boss the truth and if you boss wants to go ahead I would suggest he get someone who is skilled in the trades to come in and asses the situation. Then you can sit down with the landlord, tell him the "facts of life" and try and get him to fix the problems without hiking up the rent.

    In one case, years ago, we were looking at a building. The outside looked in good repair, there was plenty of parking around the building, the facility had been used as a studio before but it was in a not so good part of town. The inside of the building looked like someone's basement remodel and even though there was a facade of a real studio lots of things had been done very cheaply. All the glass was single pane with no sound blocking. The wall were just studs and wall board with no sound proofing, the lighting was on really cheap dimmers with lots of RF problems. The owner had simply bought mic snakes and threaded them thru the walls and then tried to make some gaskets around the multicore snake to hide the fact it was simply a mic snake. The control room had a cement floor and was about 10 feet off the floor of the studio. The back wall had glass blocks where the original windows had been and the ceiling was a grid with drop in panels. There was a roof leak and some of the drop in panels had been damaged. I took a ladder and popped up a ceiling tile and it was a real "rat's nest" of electrical cables and HVAC flex duct. When we turned on the AC it sounded like a jet plane getting ready for take off and there was funny smell (think burning leaves) coming from the ducts. The place had a nice office and a bathroom complete with a shower. There was also a lunch room/break room with all the appliances one would need to cook a meal and clean up afterwards. The vocal booth was nice as was the drum booth but again no sound proofing and you could talk to someone in the studio from the drum booth, the vocal booth and the control booth with no problems. It looked like whoever designed the studio was more concerned with "looks" than with making it a real studio. The ceiling in the main studio, which was about 20 by 30 feet was 20 feet high.

    The landlord wanted some astronomical rent because it was a "recording studio" and was unwilling to do any repairs or modifications unless we were willing to sign a long term lease and we decided after talking among ourselves to pass.
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Yup. I know exactly what you are talking about here, Thomas.

    I once checked out an empty studio I was interested in leasing and it looked beautiful, aesthetically.

    For example, the carpet was a one piece custom cut milled job that didn't have any seams. The front entrance/foyer was teak wood flooring. Brass rails eparated the reception area from the interior welcome area. The lounge looked like a knock off of a fancy restaurant like The Russian Tea Room or something. Cosmetically, the whole place was beautiful.

    And then the real examination began...

    I popped a ceiling tile next to a wall, and realized that the walls in the studio didn't even go to the ceiling... they just went up to about 6" or so above the drop ceiling. There were two people on the other side of that wall in a hallway talking. I could hear every word they said.

    The lines in the studio were all cheap grade XLR and 1/4" snake cable, with plastic ends ... on both ends.

    There was a separate room off of the control room for power amps and power distro, with absolutely no ventilation whatsoever. Man, it was hot in that room. ;)

    The floor of the control room was hollow. Yes, Sir, I'll say that again to strike home the point. It was hollow. Whomever was mixing was actually sitting on top of a 160hz tone generator. LOL.

    The glass was standard household window glass. No lamination of any kind, and... while there were two panes, each pane was set in parallel to the other.

    So from an acoustics and soundproofing standpoint, along with cheap plastic ends on cables and a patch bay that looked from behind as though a third grader was having fun with a TIG welder, the place was a mess. But hey, man... it sho 'nuff did look good!


  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    so you guys have lived thru what i'm experiencing it seems. the water damage/mold is the most frightening thing to me. especially because above the drop ceiling (i'm noticing a trend here), is the building's wood framed joists. i popped up one of the water-stained tiles, and didn't notice any mold. BUT that quick look in one spot is nowhere near comprehensive, and while i can build basic acoustic spaces reasonably well (i just follow the prints in rod's book to the T), it's way beyond my expertise to evaluate commercial properties for structural integrity.

    land lords. couldn't agree more. i worked for a home improvement company for a couple years, and i know how they work. i've had to "cover up" horrible things, like mold w/out bleaching and water damaged lumber. For some reason they don't understand that when it finally gives in, it will be 5 times more money, than just keeping this up to snuff. Or like re-using lumber so save money on a build. I quit cuz it's against standards. i'm not saying they need to build the taj mahal, but at least adhere to a minimal standard. I'm no master craftsmen, but i know the basics pretty well. And i know covering up problems just make it worse. I'll never forget the landlord would not fix/replace a low-income familes stove when it broke around thanks giving! i witnessed the foreman saying "there's nothing we can do, we should have it in a couple weeks" can you imagine that! well... you probably can.

    the only thing we have going for us is the landlord seems despite to rent this vacant building of three years, but that is almost moot, until we know the extent of what's wrong, and what he'll fix, and how that will relate to us.

    and still even if (a big IF) it all miraculously worked out, it's the industry like ya said d. i honestly imagine fewer, and fewer clients w/ budgets of even 5 k, looking for studios, in any given area. My personal prediction (although i wish it wasn't) is that the gap between 'world class' places like the hit factory east-west ect, and nice garage project studios is going to continue to grow as mid-to-high end professional studios continue to demise. i hope i'm wrong, but i don't think i am. altho only time will tell. I just keep racking my brain to figure out what could really bring the 50-85 an hour studio back to life. sure we may have more experience than the 20 guy, but is that enough to make people want to pay 4x? eh doubt it not being negative, just trying to be objective. How could such a room compete w/ Gigantic mutli room places w/ reputations decades old, and racks taller than my house (lol), mixers that cost more than the whole 75pr hr studio? what would make a multi platnuim artist want to work, w/ an engineer/producer who never had a hit? i'm sure it has happened, but i dunno i remain skeptical.

    My feeling on this current studio is that nothing at all can be determined until professionals have determined the state of the components, hvac, structure, electric, ect. I'll have to ask the original owner who/how it has built. i know he didn't build it himself, but i wonder if it was a commercial company, or a weekend warrior. the guy knows his stuff, but from what i could gather i highly doubt there was a 'blue print', and then execution. it seems more like "okay i want this here, that there,".

    ya wanna laugh? the guy he sold it to must took the glass from the CR window (4x8). and there is double paned plexi-glass on one of the booths! as is plexi isn't bad enough it's not even one full sheet per side. it's got ducked tape right down the middle on both sides. it's dat "stc cell phone speaker" and that's being generous.

    i really appreciate you guys taking the time to share your experiences, thanks alot. i make enough mistakes on my own day to day, any time i can learn from other people's experience, i take it to heart. I should know more about the situation this week.
    -edit- i think a good question for my boss is 'if this all works out and you lease it, would your current steady bookings cover costs, and turn enough profit to continue living comfortably?'
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    friken music business , what the hell happened is all I got to say...
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    And the thing is, K... even the Hit Factory is gone now... both of them, if I recall correctly...

    It's gonna become tougher to compete against those $20-$30 per hour rooms... you and I know the difference, but very few "civilians" do. And even the corporations are starting to do more and more stuff in-house.


    For years, one of my staple contracts was a sound designing gig for toys, with a HUGE manufacturer of toys. Huge. Put it this way... The company's name began with "Little" and ended with "Tikes". Their parent company was even bigger... Rubbermaid.

    I did a lot of work for them - good work too... and their budgets were seemingly endless, because their profits were so high. We did sound design and audio consultation during the R&D phases of new projects, we even acted as technical consultants to the Asian companies that they were using at that time to burn EEPROM chips... Things were good. Solid contracts by them and other clients.

    Fast forward 4 years, add a new company president, who decides that his new son-in-law with a computer and a copy of SoundForge can now do the job for $6.50 per hour and POOF!
    That steady contract disappeared faster than a fan sitting in the bleacher seats during the fourth quarter of a Cleveland Browns game LOL


    IF you had a special niche'... or a certain blend of synergy and magic happening at the new place - the perfect mix of talented people, the right acoustics, gear, special skills or specialty services.....hell man, even just a particular "vibe" that people found pleasing to work in and around, this thing could work. But, my brother, that's a whole lotta "ifs".... in a market that is, well, unsure at best these days.

    Add into that mix the current problems the room has... dare I say it, I'd walk away from this one. Yes, of course, I'd wait to see what the professionals think in terms of bringing the place back to code, but even then you really need to think about all the things discussed. Please understand, I'm not trying to rain on your parade. I'm saying, based on my own personal experience and my own humble opinion, that based on what you know now, along with the many other things we don't know, that maybe it's best to let this one go.


  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I am in an extremely precarious position today. A good colleague of mine who's studio I have been involved with for over 20 years and who just sunk another 60-$70,000 into rebuilding his studio and control room and building a completely new larger studio and control room, just closed his doors. The lease is 2000 per month and there are additional new offices constructed upstairs. I want this place really badly but there really is not the business in the Washington DC market to support this place. Unless you have contracts in hand, it's not a wise choice. The top engineers who would have won the most Grammys, who have the most gold and platinum records on their walls all had studios that closed. And their contact base and reputation was slightly more significant than yours. I don't even have a room anymore from which to record from since I used his studio for studio jobs. And my remote truck business, where I have the finest equipment you will find in the finest top shelf studios in the country, makes no difference. Again as indicated, most folks don't know the difference between a Neve or a Behringer and I have the Neve and I have the API's and I have the 1176's and the DBX 165 A's and the vintage Neumann tube condenser microphones and RCA ribbon microphones and it doesn't matter if there isn't enough work. So it's a huge risk signing a lease for a building if all your ducks are not in a row. I mean it's killing me knowing that I could go into this building and install two lovely control rooms and be operational within one weeks time. All of the microphone panels I wired for the various studios are still installed and ready to plug-in. I have enough stuff for an analog control room and a digital control room. But there isn't the business in the DC metro area to support it. The other largest studio in town is only open because they started a school. The other two large studios are both struggling to keep their doors open. And where I thought Bruce's studio would be the next hottest place in town? I guess I was wrong? He has the gold records on his walls and it didn't make any difference. The music business ain't what it used to was.

    I'm not what I used to was
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    yeah man, i agree. i really do, it's very hard to convince by boss of that. i think he's not thinking like the practical man that got him his living in the first place. Your not raining on my parade, man, we're already walking in the rain, and the forecast doesn't look good.

    whoa little tikes!!!! too cool man! that's insane!

    seems to me the only viable bigger contracts are for video games and movies, and even those budgets aren't close to what a mid 80's rock band would have. and that comes w/ it's own specialized requirements of surround sound standards, and video capabilities. certainly ain't your average punk band coming in to bash out a few songs.

    honestly if i were in my bosses shoes, i built a large shed, or 3 car garage, make a nice project studio, and be competitive. after all he's gonna have two studios anyway. the one i built has a pretty 'big sounding' drum room thanks to the reverb chamber/hall. to me a nice home studio is where it's at right now, and for the foresee-able future.

    i'm afraid his enthusiasm may be clouding his judgement, i keep saying what terrible condition it's in, and is it worth it, to no avail. i'm really gonna have to be blunt about the realsitic client base we can expect, when i talk to him tomm, i'm gonna have to really get into a very serious talk about the finances of his business. after all i'd like to keep working :)

    he's been burnt before. he built a place to the hilt. big mains, two full studios, electronically dampened hvac, lounge, ect. the real deal. but it was on rented/leased property. guess what the mill closed. there's a full blown studio, just sitting there, probably rotting. maybe he needs a reminder.

    ya know d, if it were just a few people saying oh man it's not a good idea, (which i agree w/) then, i'd say oh well maybe ya had bad luck or screwed up. But nobody has told me about any success stories, that aren't at least 15 years old. Huge studios outa biz cuz they're worth more as luxury condos, or can't cover there extensive costs.

    Im gonna do my best to try to make tony see beyond this current state of 'love struck'. to me the fact that there are no other high end studios around, doesn't mean there's a hole in the market for us to fill, it means there's just no market. (sigh) sad but seemingly true.
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    hey remy where ya been lately? i guess maybe it could work if say 5 people partnered up, and paid 400 a month, so it wouldn't really matter what kind of a profit you all made, it'd just be a labor of love, and fun to record in such nice rooms, and not break the bank. but that's a different business plan then lets go make some great records and a nice living while we're at it. Sh-t, a dude who works w/ us has gold and platinum. he makes 5 bucks more an hour than i do. i have cd-r's of local hardcore bands in a cd wallet. lol. i can understand my bosses frustration w/ his current place, the noise and lack of it being constructed right, but i think he's thinking of a bad move. the one i built for him is a big step up from his main digs, it just sucks for him that it's a 45 min drive, but still, it's better than getting into financial trouble. it was on purpose that it was so far away it was supposed to serve a different market than his place in Rhode Island. i think i'd try to be happy w/ what i got until something more practical came up.
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Remy, K, Chris, et al....

    There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about jumping back into the game, full tilt.

    While I don't have the gear anymore that Remy or Chris has, and I don't have the financial backing of a boss with "go fever" like K does, LOL... I still think about it - every single day.

    And I ask myself all the questions:

    Can I make it work? Yes...Maybe...I dunno. I suppose, if I resign myself to the fact that at least 50% of my client base would be those "karaoke stars", and I'd be happy recording those types of sessions, then perhaps. I don't need a Neve, SSL, or a rack of vintage processors for that. Would I be happy doing this? I don't think I really need to answer that question.

    Can I offer something that another studio can't? I think so... My specialty during my "salad years" is still my specialty now; because I'm pretty fluent on drums, keys, guitars, vocals, arrangement and production, I can take a solo artist's ideas - often nothing more than a melodic line and some lyrics scribbled on a cocktail napkin - and send them out the door 15 hours later with a full blown production and a finished record that thery are ecstatic with. I had a niche' that worked, at least in those days, but of course that was before everyone and their dog had a computer with Pro Tools, Sonar or Band In A Box.

    Can my area support another studio? I don't know. Because, as I mentioned above, it's not just other studios I'd be competing against. It's every bedroom/basement/attic as well, and we know there are hundreds of them in any given ten square mile area, no matter what part of our respective countries that we all live in.

    And finally...

    Do I really want to? The quick answer and knee-jerk response is, yes. Of course. Like all of you, this is what I do. There's a certain pride to unlocking the door to your studio in the morning, walking into your control room, seeing what you have built through hard work, reputation and motivation, helping others obtain their dream through your own experience, knowledge and skills. Then I start to remember that the bulk of my scheduled sessions were tone deaf karaoke singers, or bands where tuning was a foreign concept, and the percentage of truly cool and magic sessions with bad ass players laying it down was very low in comparison to the daily grind and high percentage of no-talent hacks that I had to deal with.

    And then, on top of that, the business end of the concept starts knocking at my brain... and I start thinking about all the things that are required to make a business work: profits and losses, continually buying new gear to keep up with the competition, wearing all the hats - PR/advertising, accounts payable, book keeping, taxes, employer, employees, corporate contracts, etc. etc. - and it's at this precise moment in the thought chain where the wheels come off the wagon for me. I already did this... I already went through this, for more than 25 years. Do I really want to do this and go through all that again? And that's usually where I break out in a rash, start to sweat and reach for a Valium. ;)

    I've come to the conclusion that - unless it's a studio built for my own uses alone, with no regard to profits, no regard to being an actual business, - that I simply cannot go through all that again, and, it's a much different world now than when I walked away in 2004. Much different. Anything I do from here on out in regard to building a dedicated studio again will be for myself alone, and from a labor of love alone, and, yeah, sure, if the opportunity arises where I can make a few bucks along the way recording other outside projects - without having to chase the almighty dollar on a daily basis to keep the lights on - then, yeah, that's fine.

    But I'm certainly not in a financial situation that would allow me this luxury at this time.

    Anyway, that's what I think.


  18. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Sorry to hear Remy. It is like that for a lot of people today but that does not make it right. People who have been in the music business for years and doing well all of sudden finding themselves out of work or closing down their studios because there is no business to sustain them. I see a lot more posts with some real horror stories about what is currently going in other forums. I also see a lot of people who are trying to make everyone believe that everything is rosy and then you see them selling off some of their top gear in the next post. I don't think anyone today is doing anywhere near as well as they were say 15 years ago and certainly a lot worse than in the 80s and 90s. I keep wondering how low this all can go before there is no "music business" anymore and everything that is being produced is being done in people's basements and bedroom and it all sounds like crap.

    I am all for people doing their own thing but the problem is they have nary a clue as to what they are doing and they think once they have put something up on the WWW they have "made it". Of course nothing could be further from the truth but they seem to think that everything they do is GREAT because from the time they were born they were told that everything they did was GREAT even if it smelled like yesterday fish entrails. It also seems today that many musicians have lost or never had the ability to self critique what they are doing. They learn 4 or 5 chords or how to do some rudimentary beats and they spend the next couple of days trying to "fix the problems" in ProTools and then when everything is so over done they self master their "masterpiece" and make is so distorted and over blown one cannot listen to it for more than 20 seconds without getting a headache. This is not MUSIC this is simply NOISE being sold as music.

    End of Rant...

    Again sorry to hear about the studio and I am sure it will not be the last. I expect to see the New Studio edition of Mix to be a lot smaller every year and we may reach a stage where the only real pro studios that are open are in major cities and everything else is all done DIY in people's homes. Not a good scenario for professionals in the audio profession and not good news for people who have just graduated from an audio school and are looking for employment.

    By the way a lot of post production is being moved into "boutique studios" (read home studios) and the larger pro post production studios are closing or downsizing. It is not just in music recording business that people are having problems finding work.

    I hope and pray that somehow all this gets settled out and we can get back to doing what we all love to do and making enough money to support ourselves and our families.
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, here in the Washington DC area, I saw all of the fabulous video postproduction houses fail first. One of the last is right up the block and I just noticed today for lease sign now on the side of the building. And they did all sorts of Discovery Networks, National Geographic work for many years. They had a nice Fairlight system. Only a few months ago, they put up a sign that said "film school". Guess they didn't get enough takers? One of their audio guys showed up at my truck while I was doing one of my jobs some years back. He thought my truck was awesome. I thought so also. It was definitely my Roaring 90's. 10 years is a good run for any roadshow. Business started going downhill as we entered the new millennia along with my health. I was out of commission between 2003-2005 until... brain surgery. And then I got to try and start again all over again. The only thing that has gotten better is my brain... I think... with the help of Recording.org. I'm extremely indebted to this site that really aided in my recovery of self. My truck is currently starting to resemble a dead cockroach. It's my baby, my only child. I mean there are still good musicians that want to be recorded with good equipment by really good engineers. DC Metro & Baltimore, just ain't the place. I got really spoiled working in NYC & Ft. Lauderdale/Miami with the best of the best every god damn day.

    I've actually pondered the thought of a small modification in the truck to turn it into the most unique karaoke experience anybody could possibly ever have? Put them in front of a chroma green screen, put up that $3000 microphone, run the band with the bitchin' sound in performance and put the karaoke client right on stage. They get the DVD and CD as they leave. But that will require extra insurance and permits and a generator. But they get to experience a real hit making control room and walk away with an awesome video of themselves all pitch corrected, quantized. An experience they'll never forget. I just have to come up with the right MacDonalds recipe. How to get them in and out as fast as possible to keep the line of folks moving. And so maybe I could make 250 bucks a day without having to set up a whole crap load of equipment? And all at the beach! Where I don't care if most of my console fails as long as I can keep three inputs working LOL? And when those fail, I'll just have to use the API's LMAO. No need for any maintenance ever again! Perfect plan. And all I need is my laptop with Sony Vegas. Where there is a winner with every roll. So I'm not dead yet even though I am.

    Studio of the walking dead.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    There used to be a Studio101 ( I think ??? that was the name) In the West Edmonton Mall ( The worlds Largest Mall at one time ) back in the 80's. It was packed! I should have seen that coming. Well I did in a way because I was already seeing Karaoke in every neighborhood bar in every friken city up here. So, the kids played Star in the Bar and when they got good enough, they went to WEM and recorded it at Studio101.

    The 48 channel console in the window brought everyone to the door.

    Its a good idea! And giving me an idea to setup an earbud studio in the mall here lol!

    audiokid Earbud Recording and Facebook Mastering Services!

    We make it LOUD!

    duh smoke hmm make money, go crazy, make money, go crazy...

    It is a thought...

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