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!
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?
Now that's FUNNY.
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.
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!!!
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...
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! :)
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!
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].
Fletcher wrote: 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.
That is what I was trying to say. Somehow Fletcher always seem to have a better way of verbalizing things.
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. :)
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.
Thank you for your sharing your comments. :)
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!)
I most certainly will. Thank You once again! :D
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?
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.
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! ;-)
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!
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
Thank you so much for your comments. Best of luck to you. :)
Did I say THAT!? :?
Yes, you did. LOL :lol:
IMHO it takes about 5 to 10 years to become competent in engineering, all depending if you are learning from someone who knows what they are doing - If you are dedicated and learning from a pro, 5 years-
If you are without a competent teacher but you do read and do your own research and frequent RO for tips plan on about 10 years, lots of trial and error!
If you have no one to teach you and are working in your bedroom without any other input maybe never-
But heck, you might be a genious and figure out something on your own that we don't know and we will bow to you, great one!
lol I didn't mean to sound arrogent or anything I just mearly wanted to point out that recording is alot easier than it used to be and making a good sounding recording isn't rocket science.... not to me anyways.
We are not giving up hope. I am very dedicated to my work....and when I promise to help somebody out, that's exactly what I do. I don't quit or get discouraged easily. There is always another avenue to try.......someone else to call........somebody always knows somebody else.
Sometimes, it is very frustrating in the world of finance......especially when you're in the position I'm in......and you're trying to help someone obtain the funding. However, I believe that if a person believes in themself and what they stand for......and they work really hard at their goals, they can achieve them.
Sure, there are gonna be a lot of 'bumps in the road'. But I choose to drive a big 'ol honkin truck.....and I just drive right over those bumps (meaning....I'm not giving up on this one).
It's very sad to me to realize (as I have with all the research I've been doing while trying to help my friend obtain the funding he needs for his studio) that the music industry is often not considered as high on the "Importance" scale as other fields.
I promise you that I will continue to share my comments with you....and will keep you all informed of any/all funding resources that we find/are able to utilize.
I would love to be able to help any/all music industry professionals seek funding when needed.
A good evening to all! :)
Hey MsTeere are you a pro at finding grants and/or investors?
I have a full lenght musical that I co-wrote with a colleage of mine. Its all very profesional, the book, the music (the songs are great!) but it needs the music arranged and written out by an profesional arranger so it can be performed by an orchesta (this is a big production) If you think this might be in your area please send me an e-mail and I'll write you with more details. thanks-
E mail link below:
Re: In Response......
Hi. I wonder if you could clarify your request. You mentioned "grants." As a financial person, you probably understand that grants are monies given without expectation of financial return. The granting organization is typically trying to promote some kind of particular artistic, political or social agenda. What I am confused about is that it sounds like you are trying to get capital to use for a strictly commercial, for-profit enterprise, which is not what grants are generally used for.
It is a very, very long shot, but possible avenues might be if you are minority-owned, moving to an economically depressed area, creating a substantial number of jobs, training people, or contributing to the community in some other way. Even so, your chances are slim in these days of slashed budgets.
For-profit businesses raise capital via investment or loan. While almost anything is possible, few professional investors will consider putting bucks into a recording studio. It simply is not a wise investment, since returns are meager, and there is no exit path, no way for them to extract their money even if you are successful. Sometimes one can find private investors who have extra cash and would like to be a part owner of a business they find interesting, mostly for the fun of it. Just be sure to use a business lawyer to draft the investment agreements, so everyone is clear on their expectations, obligations and legal rights.
Lastly there are loans, which are probably the most viable approach. The SBA is worth talking to, particularly if the facility is female- or minority-owned, and there are no similar businesses in the area. Unless the business has many years of audited financials, a bank is going to want PG's from the principals to secure a loan, including second trust deeds on their houses. This is where the rubber meets the road. How badly do the owners want to do this, and how confident are they of success? Will they put their houses on the line? In my experience, your kind of situation almost always resolves to this decision.
MsTeeree wrote: 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!!!
With all due respect, after kicking around this topic for a while now (and enjoying what EVERYONE has had to say), I still have a major suspicion that this is all going to come down to one serious decision: What your friend (Partner, owner, etc.) intends to do. Is he really onboard, or is he looking for someone to keep his aging dream of running a studio alive? (Has he left Sony, et. al. and is coming back to run it himself, or is he still pushing the idea that a sponsor/investor/grantor can be found to keep it alive while he floats around elsewhere?)
Your'e obviously a very smart, intuitive and savvy person who's been around enough in OTHER industries (profit vs. non-profits) to know what's what here. Without the leader and top-dog in this enterprise, you might as well call it a day and get the auctioneers in while there's still some value left in the equipment. If your partner is REALLY onboard and will spearhead this change of venues, locale, clientele, then all the best to you; you've got a LOT of work to do before you're even out of the gate.
If he (or you) is still looking for a way to run this via remote control, then I think you have your answers. A lot of very knowledgeable and seasoned vets are on this board, and they've been telling it like it is.
Hope you've been reading between the lines. ;-)
Best to you, in all sincerety!
I agree with the last two posts and do encourage you to stick with your determination... or to "stick to your guns" and as you say "overcome the bumps". Like mentioned priorly, you must know by now that there isn't a set in stone way of obtaining recources... I would encourage you to talk with your friend about raising the money via with the gifts that he has, and the equipment that he already owns... If he has the knowledge and the drive behind it to give breath to what he dreams of then he will find a way to raise extra money for this project... Also as mentioned before loans aren't a bad idea either but he will still need the backing of some extra funds over and above what he is paying to maintain his current status in the business that he is running now. Since I dont know the details that is the best advice I can give lol - you may be saying what an idiot you assume to much - but if it were me that is what I would try and accomplish for I have always found that when I set my mind for something, it is always better to try and acheive as much as I can on my own. He/She may have already reached that point so if I am reduntant then I appologies. best of luck!
Anxious, JoeH, Jon_The_Lefty -
Thank you for your comments.
Anxious - Hi! For clarification, I am helping one of my best friends by trying to locate any/all funding resources available, so that he can relocate his studio to another part of the State as well as update old equipment.
With 6 years experience in the GRANT PROCUREMENT department, I feel that I have gained a little bit of knowledge regarding grants. Although it is true that obtaining money (not to be repaid) for certain areas of business or profession can be a long, drawn out process, I do know that it can be done. I think the general public would be overcome with the urge to vomit if they knew of certain cases where individuals and/or businesses received thousands of dollars...for projects/businesses that are 'outside the box'. Yes, obtaining any type/amount of grant money takes time. You have to have all your ducks in a row....and you have to provide a busload of data; however, when the grant money is obtained and the check arrives, it is an awesome feeling of accomplishment! I have the experience getting hundreds of thousands of dollars for cities, towns and counties......I've just never dealt with a project like this one. I am dedicated to it, though, and I will continue researching until I find the answers I need. I'm not recommending that he (my friend) go down the 'loan' road until I get to the point where I feel I've expired all my options. I greatly appreciate your comments.
JoeH - I cannot speak for my friend. I cannot read his mind...or his heart. I do not know where his future will go (with this studio); I just know that right now, though he is with SONY full-time, he is also 'onboard' with his studio. He gets back to his home State every chance that he gets.....and he is in constant contact with his partner there (who runs the studio in his absence). I do not feel that he is trying to dump on his partner, nor do I feel that he would just 'up and leave' this studio for SONY. I know he started this studio (with his partner) because it was the first step of his dream. He was very successful with it, and made many 'connections' through it. That is how he landed his job with RCA Records first; then he went to SONY.
I thank you for your comments. I really appreciate them (I appreciate them from everybody and I'm glad the the seasoned vets are on board, and that they tell it like it is). As far as reading between the lines.....well......lol.......I'm not always real good at that, henceforth, I quite often hear, "Duh, Tina". :lol:
Jon_The_Lefty - Hi! Thank you for your encouraging words. I really appreciate them! For the record, I was not saying (or thinking) that you are an idiot, nor that you assume too much.
You guys are great! I love this website!!! :)
Happy Friday to you all!
Yeah. I've been (begrudgingly but usually successfully) raising money for 25 years, so I've seen most of what you are talking about.
Most businesses have to remain going concerns, operating to a plan. They can't wait a year for a grant that has a 5% chance of hitting. They have specific cash needs that need to be met in a specific time frame.
If your friend can afford to gamble and be patient, perhaps there is a way. Best wishes at any rate.