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To build or NOT to build - THAT is the question

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Franktierno, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    I am at a crossroads and need some sound advice (pun intended):wink:

    I am a weekend musician and have been all my life. Had a few small recording studios as well over the
    years. I still have the bug. I'm tired of the IT business and if I don't get out of it soon the stress will
    probably kill me. So......I'm thinking "recording business" again. My friends and famiily say "Oh no not again"....but I've narrowed down my choices to three possibilites:

    1) Convert my garage into a studio and work from there.
    2) Get a commercial place(had 2 of them)
    3) Get a shared place in Manhattan (expensive)

    1) My garage would need a sizeable investment but it's detached and pretty big (15x34) and of course
    there's no rent.

    2) A commercial space if cheap enough could work too and I could supplement the recording revenue
    by offering rehearsal space.

    3) A shared Manhattan studio is also doable. Will I get business? Commuting is tough? Competition?

    Is a small studio properly equipped (or should I say decently equipped) still a viable business these days? Or should I run like hell? I am in the Central New Jersey area which is about 40 miles to mid town Manhattan. I know a lot of musicians naturally.....

    Ideas? Suggestions on getting started?

    I should also add that whenever I'm in a recording studio I get this feeling that this
    is what I was born to do. Nothing....and I mean NOTHING ELSE ever makes me feel like that......
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    You and 10,000 others have the same questions. I don't think the economy has hit the bottom but I do think music has ( sound wise that is). Its starting to sound better and I think musicianship is on the increase so that means better ears are listening and will expect better recordings.

    But I also think more virtual studios will grow and more and more home studio will be as good as " Pro Studio"; to a certain point. We are all gaining knowledge in acoustics which has been one thing that has seperated the pro's for the amatures. Get room acoustics right and a nice sound... what more do you need?

    I wouldn't invest a dime in this business to make money but I would invest everything I have left in me, to do it for the rest of my life. I was born to be in this business but so sadly, I do other things to make money now. I am investing in vintage gear and planning to build my dream studio on a lake shore property I hope to own free and clear one day.

    I don't care if my family comes with me or not, thats where I going to end up if it kills me. But I'm doing it for me. If I'm happy, I will hopfully live longer and be a better person.

    Good luck!
  3. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    If you have the money (without loans or debt) and the time (24/7) and can take the hit when it doesn't make much money or last for 5 years then I say go for it!
    It's a huge risky "business" with little room for sucess in this environment.
    A job in IT at least exists and has jobs!
    Sorry but I would say that to someone who had all the permits in hand and 10mil to spend on construction and equipment!
    So yeah the garage is obviously your cheapest and easiest venture, but I'm sure it's not zoned for commercial use. So keep that in mind.
    You will need to be ready and willing to record anything and anybody that walks in your door at any hour (and that would include your garage)!...so that might create or involve family and neighbors and all the drama and issues that will ensue.
    You've done this before so you probably already know some of the pitfalls (because apparently neither of them were successful) the type of people you might have to deal with the hours involved etc.etc... But if you like the "feel" of being in a studio and recording other people for a living, well then you must have dug deep into your being and soul and asked yourself seriously a lot of these questions already. Why not get a job in a working studio?!...having your own business is still a job after all.
    Unlike working for someone else though it's all hands on deck 24/7...eat sleep and worry...
    Maybe you really just want your own space to lay down music in...which is something entirely different than trying to run a business or make money and a living....as far as garage studios go...think about it...I don't think that ever makes a business....a hobby maybe but not a business or living.
    It's something you need to think about. Business isn't about emotional feelings it's about getting the money out of somebody's pocket into yours....
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Do some serious thinking and make up a good business plan. If things don't look good on paper then do some more thinking. Today most home studios are not making any money. Most smaller commercial studios are not making any money and many larger studios are closing up or scaling down. Best of luck but really think things through before spending ANY money.
  5. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    One of the problems I had in the past was that the studio was always part of my music store(s). The last one that I had in South River,NJ almost worked. I've always had the nagging feeling that had I put more time into the place I may not even be questioning this now. But I was running a music store,teaching music,running a repair shop, rehearsals....but times (and technology) have changed a lot in the 20 years since then. There are smaller studios here that are making money from what I can tell - but the question again is how much???? No matter how I look at it there doesn't seem to be enough of a revenue stream with just charging an hourly rate and some of the equipment costs seem out of proportion to what I can earn in a reasonable amount of time i.e. I can teach guitar and earn about $40 an hr with no investment at all in equipment so why throw 50 Grand into gear to earn... what??? $35 an hr??? $50???? I see some pretty big studios in Manhattan charging less than that......I dunno....I still love to produce music...just wish there was a way to make a decent living at it.....maybe I should just stick to songwriting and producing my own stuff...
  6. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Then again the devil on the other shoulder is saying that I'm currently only earning $40 an hour in my IT job!!!!!!
  7. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    I think when all is said and done I still have to try this or I will always regret not trying again....
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Not as much as you would regret blowing your life savings.
  9. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    LOL Can't Bob. The wife controls that. I just have my weekly paycheck to blow!!!
  10. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    They say when you get to the end of your life you will regret the things you didn't do rather than the things you did.
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    OK, I was you, about 10 years ago...

    Lemme just toss a few things at ya'.

    To be "competitive", you have to be ABLE to afford to put everything you can into the room as far as acoustic concerns... Sound proofing and acoustic treatment.

    Establish a budget, and then realize that you will spend a MINIMUM of 3x your budget... PERIOD.

    Create the studio design to that budget.

    You're labor is going to eat the ass out of your wallet... REAL quick.

    Only hire bonded/insured contractors and do as much of the labor as you can.

    Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I would guess you really do need to be somewhere in the 8-16 channels of high end pre's, top end conversion and better than average monitoring.

    All said and done, I'd guestimate that you're looking at about $150-$250/sq ft in materials, and doubling that including gear... (somewhere around $300-$500/sq ft total) just to be on the safe side.

    The real rule of thumb is; How do you make a million dollars with a recording studio??? Start with TWO million dollars!!!!!

    Plan on NEVER getting all of your money out of it, and minimize your cash outlay as much as you possibly can by bartering, trading and DIY.

    Otherwise, I'd suggest looking into something reasonable and not quite as insane as building a decent shop.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think you should call your studio " IT never stops "? And show a picture of a computer with a treble clef on it. That way you'll be offering 2-for-1 specials. It's a music store, you're in the computer business and the computer music business making computers for music and utilizing computers for music. So IT never stops.

    Or, you could call KOOSTER McAllister. His fabulous API truck is for sale and you can have it for $234,000. Then you can record anywhere. Record Plant Remote is being laid to rest.

    I think I'm next?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  13. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    I gotta check with Kooster... cause I heard Mobile One was already spoken for and tentatively gone. (If not, someone better get offa their butt or I'm gonna try to get her.)
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I hadn't heard that he had sold it yet? But that was as of October at the AES. Two years ago he told me you'd have to pry it out of his cold dead hands. He told me and I know this that people don't care about real quality anymore. But like everything else, his overhead was sky high. So maybe on a per day basis, he priced himself out of the marketplace altogether? Actually he probably never increased the price. I go out for a lot less than he goes out for and I don't have anything coming in for this rig either these days. Then he had the API which everybody still seems to want. I also thought people still wanted Neve? I guess nobody wants the studio anymore they only want one 24th of the studio or less? So yeah, they want quality, they want it for $50 including the module to take home. I'm sure I'd have no problem selling each module for $50. Right. Check. Not until they pry it out of my cold dead hands.

    Tell him I said hi if you speak to him.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  15. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Another "Mobile One" in England MOBILE ONE the one for 21st Century recording
  16. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Hey Max you're in NC? My brother is a film professor at ECU,Greenville. Thanks for the thoughts. I can do most of the building myself. Can anyone recommend a book(s) or plans for building a garage studio? (low budget). I know a couple of
    guys that I can hire to help me with the design but they don't come cheap. One guy has an awesome track record in NYC
    studios. I still want to do this. I'm thinking it may be a nice way to make some $$$ when I'm semi-retired and have some fun in the process...
  17. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Uhhh.... Rod Gervais comes to mind.... acoustics-construction.24/


    I'd rethink that semi-retired idea.

    Once you build a studio, it gets a bit worse than semi-retired.

    You're either bustin' yer butt, or you ain't gonna do squat.

    But when you say "low budget", that brings to mind a coupla' other random thoughts...

    1) If you don't put any more into the studio design/build than some kid with a thousand bucks and his parents blessing, why should they leave their studio to come to you? (odds are, they won't)

    2) Even if you put a lot into the design and do a great job on execution, you'll need to balance that investment with gear... great room w/bad gear... not good. As is great gear in a bad room... it's a delicate balance.
  18. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Thanks Max
  19. Franktierno

    Franktierno Active Member

    Geez the last time I remember this much gloom and doom the republicans were in the White house telling us there was nothing wrong with the economy!!!!!!
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    There is nothing wrong with the economy if you're rich. Back in earlier times, most musicians were as poor as church mice. We're going back to what music is all about, poverty. It's for the passion of the art and not necessarily a huge moneymaking proposition anymore since the birth of the Internet. Another reason why I think going back to live production as opposed to pure studio contract work makes the most sense today. Unfortunately the big bucks may never show up again in our industry? Even my parents who were world-class musicians never made any huge profits from this. We were lower middle class. We do this for the passion of the art and hope to eke out a meager existence. But there is still that excitement that goes with any lottery. You've got to play to win and that costs money. It doesn't make money until you get a winning ticket. It's the excitement of a game of chance. Maybe it's an illness?

    String fever.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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