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What is the music business climate like in your area?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Thomas W. Bethel, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I guess it is the overall economy but the music business in Northern Ohio seem to have hit rock bottom and everyone from retailers to recording studios to CD production facilities seems to be feeling the pinch.

    Just wondering what it is like in your area and what you are doing about it.
  2. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    In Minneapolis its been a slow decline for quite a while now. I happen to be in with a few production companies doing live sound, and do about 6 nights a month. I have a day job that gets the bills payed anyways. I have gotten some decent recording equipment in the last few years, and am hoping I can ride it out until the business picks up again, and be in a position to get my own studio going.
  3. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    It's been relatively slow here for the past 5 years, but lately it appears to be slowing down a bit further. It's a new era (thanks GC!), more books on tape and bands looking to either track drums and do the rest themselves, or after doing everything else they bring their singer up to do Vox on "better mics".

    Rap vox are still a reliable (and easy) sell.

    Of course, it could be better (I'd love to quit the day job - luckily the day job is doing live sound for the mouse, so I can't complain there).
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    The music climate here is partly cloudy with an 80% chance of sucks. Most of the better players have been driven to the church scene by the karaoke bars. Now THAT's entertainment.
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mostly sunny here, with a 50% chance of failure.

    I agree for the most part with what you guys are saying... kinda'.

    The quantity of in the box, DIY'er in the area is as large here as it is anywhere else. Maybe more so, as we have a LOT of talent in the area.

    As the economy slows down even further, it will continue to get tighter for studios to make a real go of it.

    However, there are a lot of musicians and bands that will always need the use of a good drum room and a good vocal room.

    That and with the amount of genre's that lend themselves to live tracking are here in pretty good numbers; Gospel, Country, Blues, Jazz and Bluegrass.

    So, while not as thin as what you guys are seeing, (seems they all moved to North Carolina), the musicians that are here are going to only use studios when they honestly feel that it will be to their advantage, financially.
  6. BrianaW

    BrianaW Active Member

    There's never been a scene here. I think Lou Reed attended SU... that's the best this town has going for it if that gives you any idea. :) Bands will still pay around here, but so many college kids have ProTools rigs and it's hard to get clients because of the over saturation. So I've just been doing session work for people and the occasional B-movie soundtrack. I think one good way to keep ourselves in demand is for engineers and studio owners to act as in house producers and session players if possible. Even drum tuning guru's and guitar tech's. I mean, imagine being able to go to a studio and try out different studio owned humbuckers in your guitar like with mics. The soldering part would eat some time too. :twisted: Maybe even massage therapists?
  7. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    I was on this board saying this 7-8 years ago.... it sucks and it's going to get worse .... before it changes....
  8. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    and ,,,,it makes me laugh that this subject is brought up now... i've been chastised for discouraging kids that are looking to get into the business...
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Theres No business like Show business...............

    I'm going to retire from my day job one of these days.

    I'm going to want to do something with my time.

    Probably producing, but the real problem we have right now is getting the DIY'ers to see that , yes, they can record themselves, yes its cheaper over the lifespan of a project, No, it isnt going to sound better than someone outside bringing input.

    At a certain level this isnt a problem, but at the lower level where things are really starting to percolate for would-be artists, its like throwing water on their flame to suggest they could use the help.

    So it comes down to a tracking room, a great selection of gear that they cant afford, and the patience to understand why they do this in the first place.

    What will it be like in a few more years? Who knows.

    Around here, theres a plethora of talent. A lot of Indie action. Blues is a(or was) a big draw in the live clubs.....DJ's rule a lot of rooms that simply dont want to mess with the flakeyness of bands.....Theres a solid move towards retro dance and classic rock is coming back. The clubs STILL dont pay any more now than they did in 1979.....It still takes several years of constant Friday and Saturday nights to build a crowd.....

    My goal is a room. And to produce for talent that I feel has something to offer the music heads who WILL spend the $10 much easier than the $18 at the big chains.

    No matter how bad it gets as far as the economy goes, tradition has shown that in tight times, music has always blossomed as people need an outlet for the hard times.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I think your dead on Dave. Good to see you Eric., we had this chat 8 years back indeed. Talked about Avid and Final Cut as well.

    Here is my take on it all.

    The new music generation is the DAW musician(s). There is going to be so many musicians out there all doing this. In order for their music to stand out they will need, other than a good tune.... what?

    I think having a real quality analog/ digital studio, with killer tools that will integrate seamlessly for DAW musicians is key.

    "Come on in, drag whatever tracks you have, I'll import them into my high end boutique studio and listen to this".

    That's what I'm preparing to do as well.

    Kev and I just had this discussion last week. Talking about what products to put into the Pro Shop. What product will still be around in a few years. The future of Pro Audio Gear.

    We all know mics are a safe bet to invest in. It all starts there. But then what? Everything else gets dated so fast. Pre-amps have been a big surge and I'm now thinking summing amps are the next item to pay attention to for me. I don't know a lot about them but, what ever helps all the garble get out the other side is what I'm paying extra attention to.

    There is going to be a lot of information packed into all this DAW music...

    Its all interesting. When it seems like it all dieing and breaking up... the cracks let light through.

    What ever we do , we should be proficient in importing run of the mill DAW tracks and turning them into killer tracks. Taking vocals and making them so sweet.

    Like going from VHS to HDMI

    That's my take on it.
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    I think you guys are all over the reality of "the pro-level studio of the future".

    IMHO, it's going to be a studio that can handle the conversion of audio files to high end production gear with a good room, great mic's and great pre's.

    I also think it's going to be imperative that the studios also form associations/networking on a professional level, similar to AES but in much more expanded ways. With "on-line" collaborations becoming more of a reality, if we don't start to work together, we will go the way of the dinosaur.

    Too, I see the services that need to be offered by higher end studio expanding. I see them dovetailing with the online collaboration experience with some services being unique to individual studios who can afford to invest in certain services. Thus, as a professional association, these services are shared amongst association membership.
  12. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    When I interned in Nashville I was impressed with the give and take between the mastering studios, recording studios and tracking studios. I worked for a Mastering house and we also did mix downs. There was a really nice flow from the tracking studios to the mix studios to the mastering operations. No one studio tried to do it all, although there were some studios that did quick 8 track demos that did it all but they were in a class all to themselves. This was years ago so I don't know how much of that has changed.

    Here in my area everyone tries to do everything from tracking to mixing to mastering to CD replication to designing the CD covers and shrink wrapping the final product. Some studios even go so far as to offer song writing and the engineer will sit in on sessions to play drums or guitar.

    No one person can do everything well so you wind up with a hodgepodge of skill levels. I know a lot of the local recording studios are hurting badly since Do it Yourself bedroom/basement "revolution" so they have tried to get into other areas like mastering and CD duplication. I also know a lot of the local studios try and hold on to the client and his or her money as long as they can and will offer ANY service that keeps the client in their studios EVEN if they are not able to do a good job on the additional services.

    Mad Max

    I like your ideas but I think they maybe hard to get going and to keep going since the recording business model for today seems to be a feeding frenzy and everyone wants all the money and is unwilling to share any of it. One can only hope that studio owners will see the error of their ways before they go out of business. There is zero cooperation between studios in this area and they seem to be building higher and higher walls to keep their clients from using other facilities. I cannot begin to tell you the number of studio that now offer "mastering" as a add on and most of these studios do as good a job of mastering as I could do playing drums or guitar which is pretty scary since I can't play either instrument.

    Only time will tell and the only the fittest will survive this current business slowdown. Thanks for your insight.
  13. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    It is great to read different peoples views on this subject. Especially considering the wide variety of locations. In my current area there really is no market, however this may be more due to the remoteness of the location then the lack of musical talent. I have managed to record a few local artists. So who knows it may pick up.

    Before living here, we were in Vancouver. I still do work for bands in Vancouver, via the net. There doesn’t seem to be any end to that. I do about 2-3 projects a month. Not much, but I have a day job so audio can be left as a passion and not an income.

    However as for market trends, yes there are more DIY studios out there. And yes this is changing the amount of business that traditional recording studios saw. But I think it is foolish to believe things will return to what they once were. I think the days of specialized high end studios are numbered. As many of you pointed out 8 years ago. In nature, a disturbance shifts the equilibrium. The equilibrium is not the same as it was previously.

    The real question here is where is the market taking us?

    It is clear that at the moment the general public has very little interest in audio quality. With the advent of MP3 and the loudness war, audio quality has taken a back seat to convenience and marketing.

    Many people believe that masses will eventually hear the difference and demand higher quality products. This idea is very similar to the vinyl versus CD debate which still goes on today. The way I see it, in order for a demand (for higher audio quality) to increase, two things have to happen:
    1) Higher quality audio product must become at least as convenient as MP3 technology is today.
    2) Marketing has to shift its focus to the importance of higher quality audio.

    Are these possible? Currently no, however flash drives are decreasing in physical size and increasing in storage capacity everyday. As the technology evolves, it will be easier for marketing to promote higher quality audio.

    Where will this leave all us recording geeks? The general trend is that equipment is getting better, and prices are coming down. That means more people can learn the art of recording. Yes certain people will excel and others may not, but I think the evolved technology will reduce this variable.

    Imagine a software package that monitors not only the input levels, but the microphone placement itself. It is not hard to dream up software that can analyze the phase of two input and automatically find the optimum phase relationship. The software can then alow the user to move the mic into ideal location. With enough time, and iterations humans can program in a ‘human like’ element. I know that the idea of replacing that human element a hot topic, I am not really arguing for it or against it. I simply highlighting its possibility.

    In the end audio is not for everyone, there will always be a need for audio geeks. However in the future, it may not require the same amount of skill to create a good recording.

    Anyway just a thought…
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Interesting points on the humanistic part of the equation being supported by a machine technology that corrects for the inate ability of the animal to screw up.

    Link....I get where you're coming from. I dont think that this is going to really make better recordings for everyone but will level the playing field for a lot who simply would never really 'get it' as far as the physics and how it relates to the asthetic or the 'organic' part of say, mic placement for example.

    Perhaps we'll see a box that has emulations of the most successful producers or engineers.

    They have em for famous mics and preamps as well as compressors, why not producers and engineers.................

    " Hey man, could we get a little more Sir George on that guitar at the end of the first phrase?"............"Yeah man, I was hoping for some Chuck Ainley on all the drums on those last two songs but this box doesnt interface too well with my computer." "Bummer dude.....bummmer"

    :wink: I'm just saying...... :wink:
  15. golli

    golli Active Member

    Good day.

    Allways an interesting topic and a topic that's allways relevant.

    My area is so small and to close to the north pole to be a realistic measure on how the recording industry is.

    But we are still feeling the "globalisation" around here and the Myspace/Youtube effect. And I think that is an element that the audio professionals have to harness, somehow. How do we adapt to the new methods, used by the talents (or wannabe's) to put them self's forth. The visuals play a bigger part more than ever. The average Joe wants to surf the web after a hard day at the office and plays something in the background. And that something better not take to much time to download/stream!! How many QUALITY Stereo systems do we see in peoples houses now?? For me the answer is allmost zero. But big Plasmas and LCD's are everywhere now and that is the medium that the artist/labels must cater to. The audio output takes second place.
    So even when the economy takes a downturn, people are still left with the "war goods", LCD's and Plasmas.

    For cutting records only, I really think that the days of big studios, with every mic and outboard under the sun, are numbered.
    Those huge facilitys belong to the movie industry now, but who knows in 2020?? In 2020, this topic will still be alive and kicking :twisted:

    So, the recording/mixing engineer who wants to ride out the bad times, better be prepared to dive into projects, where the visuals play the number one role. Those projects still need audio, after all.

    Another poster pointed out, that in recessions people still need music. And history has proved him right. However, technology has changed and that is the new dynamic. Do people go back and fill stadiums or do they fill the couch??
    I dont think they are on their way to buy anything that does not involve visuals, like a class A recording. People are more obsessed about the private life and pictures of Amy Winehouse than her music.

  16. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    LOL- Thanks Davedog, how about this idea mics with servo motors that move themselves into the best postion ;)
  17. AnomalyAlecB

    AnomalyAlecB Active Member

    Rolling Stone said the scene of the year was in Baltimore.

    I guess. I didn't really read the article, I was too entranced reading about The Mars Volta on the next couple pages.
  18. Oats

    Oats Guest

    i produce, engineer, play and mix in my studio- whatever is needed. i've mastered a few things but i tell em upfront that it's not my specialty and advise them to get someone else-- but sometimes people are more comfortable with someone they know and trust already. i've been lucky b/c my clients come to me for what i know-- not just the gear. i have a few who for financial reasons track at home in this DIY age (the engineering on the tracks is pretty rough i can tell you!) but in that case i'm all too happy to mix for them-- and they know they can't do better b/c they all have tried! :) i dunno where it's all going but i do feel like i am just starting to hit my stride. i try to only think of making something of beauty that will last-- not the biz side too much for fear it will depress me!
  19. danosongs

    danosongs Guest

    I am in the Hudson Valley NY / Fairfield County CT area have been for a while. As a local performer things have not changed much. To get paid locally you still need to do covers and you complete with every other kind of entertainment from pool to Djs.
  20. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Here's another facet on the reality of "music" that I see quite a bit of...

    There is a growing number of folks that actually listen to the music in their lives. But they are the minority.. and may very well be that minority for another half generation.

    The music industry is no longer about the art. It's no longer about the music being a soundtrack for your life. It's about the delivery systems and the profit from the sale of those items.

    Problem No. 1 - Where to get new music?
    Clear Channel now owns the majority of the public airwaves. Congress sold out the local markets when they allowed the monopoly of Clear Channel to buy up as many US radio stations as they could.

    You get nothing but the same generic crap on the radio in every state with a major market... and even minor markets.

    The ISP's and tech companies are doing what they can to own what used to be the radio market. Granted, it is a much wider and diverse audience, but the truth is, these outlets are trying to do their best at delivering content at the lowest cost possible. So who gets shafted?? The artist.

    I've said this before... I see young adults who are more interested in the latest MP3 player that can hold a bazillion empty3's, than ANY of the songs they actually put on the damn thing.

    Hopefully the RIAA's change in attitude of lawsuits will actually get the ISP's working towards establishing real value of copyrighted materials.

    While I don't see a quick end to empty3's (and poor quality sounding audio files) I do see them eventually dying. This is because bandwidth costs will eventually render them obsolete as the costs come down to deliver higher quality audio and video.

    Studios are going to start to see, (if not already) the need to plug into multimedia services to draw better or more serious clients.

    While I don't think these changes are immediate, I do see them happening within the next few years.

    The real wildcard in this is whether the technology companies can be prevented from taking over the entertainment industry, and let the artists and their craft actually control their own destiny.

    Until this final shakedown happens, the home recordists will still be pumping out mediocre quality as the standard and professional studios struggling to survive.

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