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I'm looking into leasing some comercial/industrial space and setting up rehearsal rooms. I've got a meeting set up for some free bid'niz advice at a local college, and I'm going to look into a veteran's small business loan, and such.

Obvious start up costs would include: the price of the lease and parking, equipment insurance, equipment, insurance in case someone gets hurt, construction for room divisions (as needed depending on the space) and acoustic treatments (other forum, I know), electrical work, permits for this work, air conditioners and such, lighting, music stands, furniture, security, and filing fees to establish the business.

Obvious operating costs would include the lease and insurance, equipment maintaiance (or replacement if beat on too badly), phone bill, utilities bill, taxes, record keeping, cleaning supplies, advertising, light bulbs, trash bags ...

Is there any words of wisdom anyone can give me here, or any glaring omissions above? Ultimately I'm planning a somewhat more diverse enterprise, but the primary focus will be rehearsal space.

I know that a good business plan, and sufficient start up funds are essential to any business in addition to knowledge and hard work.

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Guest Fri, 08/15/2003 - 14:16

personaly I would probably try and work at an existing place as a manager for 1 or 2 years so I could see the mistakes they were making and not repeat them :)

quartermoonpro Fri, 08/15/2003 - 14:27

Where are you located? Where are you planning on opening this facility? I'm in Kansas City and we are the one and only facility here that is exactly what you speak of. We have 25 rehearsal rooms, a large multipurpose room and we also provide recording of both live and multi-track variety.
Brad Moon
Studio City Rehearsals

anonymous Fri, 08/15/2003 - 16:25

Hey Scenaria and Brad, thanks for responding. I've been a customer at enough of these places for long enough years to have one view of them, but I've not worked at one.

I'm in Central NJ, and there a a decent number of places both here and in New York. Most are small operations, you're 25 rooms is pretty big I hope it is going well. Being the only facility in your city surprises me. I can even hope to count the number of rehearsal studios in Manhattan alone. I guess the nature of the city is the key there. You can't fire up a rock band in a third story walk-up on west 80th st without pissing off the entire block. I've even seen "drummer practice rooms" rented out in some rehearsal studios in Manhattan.

But being in Jersey the market is different than Manhattan (but leases are cheaper too). I'm looking to start with like two or four rooms to be rented hourly, if I can swing it maybe a couple of monthly rooms, as every place that rents the rooms monthly around here have huge waiting lists. I'd like to see if I can set up at least one room for recording and a control room. I'd also have to set aside a room for spare equipment and for repairing damaged stuff. The thing about the recording is it is mostly word of mouth and there really are far more established placed around here. If this allows me to backdoor my way in to recording some people's demos then that will be just a very welcomed alternative revenue stream (or trickle).

I dont' even think it will pay a living wage (I sort of don't need it to) unless I run a lot of rooms or diversify (I'm leaning towards the second, as I see a few niches that are underserved for musicians in NJ) but as long as I can off set the costs of my own gear and costs as a musician, and it shows some kind of real profit I'd consider it a success.

Guest Fri, 08/15/2003 - 20:04

I frequent Austin, TX about 6 times a year. Down there they have some rehearsal places called "SoundLab" one of them ive been to is VERY cool.... and were talking huge I would say the warehouse is about 120 feet by 75 feet wide. two floors and the rooms average about 15ft by 15 or 20 in size. (im only guessing here but I would say the one place I was at had at a minimal 100 rehearsal rooms, and they didnt seem to have too much of a problem filling them)

The amazing thing that I saw is that they seem to be pretty full any day of the week. They book em by the hour but most of them are booked by the month. Pretty crazy walking through the halls :) they have to be pulling in some serious cash. I know a few other guys here live in austin and im sure they could provide more details on them.

anonymous Fri, 08/15/2003 - 20:53

Wow, I need to check out Austin! I've always heard there are amazing guitarists there. I've been to Houston to pick up lefty instruments at the Southpaw Guitars there. I thought Houston was a nice city, great places to eat but it was hot in Feburary, I think I'd evaporate or "sublimate" there in the summer.

There is a building on 30th street in Manhattan and half the building must be rehearsal space. The "dominant one" in the building is Ultrasound which has three floors, and some of the other studios in the building seem to survive off their over flow. On like 28th street (I could be wrong on that) is Euphoria studios which is way expensive but really classy with great guitar amps and the rooms sound really nice. On 31st on the east side is One Soul which I've used a lot, and when I was there I think he only had two rooms and some drum "closets". There are places on the lower east side, on the west side and everywhere you can imagine.

The places I've used in Jersey are for the most part dumps. Crappy amps, crappy attitudes, crappy pa's, no acoustics, hardly any lighting like all the musicians are vampires or something. The handful of good places are booked solid, but then so seem to be the crummy places. And they manage to nickel and dime you with selling spare strings, cassettes for the porta-two's in the rooms, and vending machines.

When I could I always dragged my Jersey breathern to UltraSound because it is easy to get to, right out of one of the chutes from the Lincoln Tunnel, and Good rooms. I basically want to "cop their riff" but adapt it to what would work in Jersey, and instead of having as many rooms as they do (I don't think I can fund such an exercise), I want to diversify the revenue stream, which I will explore next week.

I think it can be a winner.

Guest Mon, 08/18/2003 - 17:52

Its the little stuff that they make a killing on....strings, heads, sticks etc....

As in many cities some spaces are nice, clean and friendly while others are shit holes. The PA systems tend to be "just enough" as you said the acoustics have alot to be desired however if your running 50+ rooms at the same time there isnt whole lot that can be done within a reasonable budget :) after all these places down in austin maybe charge between $250-$500/month thats some cash but you compare that to the Lease on the building, HUGE insurance, staff, security etc....and it does add up.

Some of the producers I work with actually have offices set right up at the rehearsal spaces :) works out well for them when they go "window shopping"

quartermoonpro Tue, 08/19/2003 - 11:12

That's one of the things that makes us unique, because we are the 1st and only Multi space practice area in all of Kansas City. I think the key is to find a niche' market and stick with it at this point. You've said that there are plenty of rental spaces, so you need to find something that will uniquely attract yourself some clients. This is where doing some market research will really pay off. As someone said before, you make more money on the little stuff then the actual rentals, after you figure in Utils, insurance, building mortgage/rental, staffing, etc.. there isn't much money in the kitty for living wage.

So find out what would make you unique and attractive to your clients and you'll be sure to be successful. I'd also do as was suggested by someone else and either intern someplace for a bit, or at least go around and see what everyone else is offering and talk to some bands about where and why they rent someplace... These can be very revealing conversations.

Keep us posted.


anonymous Thu, 08/21/2003 - 11:23

Hey B_Moon, and Scenaria. Thanks for the insights. I don't think I'm going to intern or work at some other rehearsal space, mainly because the bigger places are not all that close to me, and most places in NJ are very small operations. I've really been to nearly all the places here and many in NYC, on nearly a nightly basis over few years, less so over the last two years though. I always picked the brains of the guys there about why they used such and such gear or about their electrical issues and so on.

I've also discussed with as many musicians as I can about what rooms they like and what they don't.

In some cases these are one man operations or nearly so anyway. And I've definately picked up on a lot of ideas about the alternative revenue sources that end up along with the rehearsal space.

I'm going to be starting a market analysis and everything like that shortly. I have a meeting with a state sponsored small buisness advisment organization Monday. I'm not going to leap into this stupidly. I think the key is going to be getting a space that will meet my needs in the best location for the denser populated areas of the state while not paying too much for the space. That and start up capital to allow me to equip the rooms while being able to care for equipment the craps out on me while I'm still bleeding money four months into this thing. The most I see me doing is four rooms but I started this thinking two rooms. Since the most crowded times in these places is between 8pm and midnight Mondy through Thursday (that wasn't from research but from booking enough of these places), I have to see what percentage of filled rooms during these times will cover my costs and plan around that. Also, since monthly rooms in NJ are all on long waiting lists, It may make sense to set up some rooms like that. Here those rooms are EMPTY at the time the band renting it walks in, they supply the PA and everything. If I can do two rooms like that, It might be wise.

I've got "Ideas" about getting people in the rooms at other times as well, as well as recording the rehearsals, and setting up teachers in the rooms and all sorts of ideas. Which ones are feasable and which ones are not will be hammered out over the next couple of weeks. I guess a lot will come down to what insurance will let me do.


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