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What the hell am I going to do?

Moderaters. delete this if you wish, but I think a lot of people are in my shoes.

About 4 years ago I decided to start converting 2 rooms of my rented home into a small recording studio. I started recording bands for free as I worked full time during the day to purchase as much gear as I could. I eventually started charging bands, and worked my way up to recording a few bands that were on smaller labels. Two demos that I did actually got bands signed to a label. I love what I do very much, and I take pride in how hard I work to try to create an nice end result. Last year I lost my day job (lay off), and began recording full time. I did pretty well, but I wanted to go back to a full time gig during the day for stability sake.

I'm now losing my house, and I'm being forced into an apartment. I won't be able to record bands anymore, at least not drums, and who will honestly take someone serious who is working out of an apartment? It's hard enough being taken serious working out of a house. It seems that everything I've been working my ass off for is going down the tubes, and I'm running out of options.

I recently got hired into an entry level position (non audio related) at a very well known gear manufacturer. About 99% of you probably own our gear. I applied for a position in the studio, and it's looking like that won't happen either.

I'm running up hill here, and the studios in the area won't take on an intern without a degree in audio. I'm not tight enough with any of the Chicago area studios to get a decent rate on renting it out.

I'm going nowhere fast and I really don't know what to do. Any suggestions you can give me would be fantastic.

I really don't want to lose what I love doing.

Comments

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 03/27/2006 - 08:23
Rent out like a storage place to do drums at or rent out part of a warehouse or something, and then just make a room. You really need to look around to find a place, but look into a lot of options, then just do it, if they get mad at you then tell them your sorry, it is easier to get forgiveness then it is to get permission. There are a lot of things you can do, just keep looking things will get better for you, just keep doing what your good at and things will work itself out, almost everyone has been there. I got a job working in a music hall and got in tight enough with the boss to be able to do some late night recordings whenever I want to with whoever I want to, because I too live in an apartment but soon I will be moving out to get a house so i can do a lot more tracking there, as soon as I get this degree in audio, which will probably be useless but I still learned a whole bunch, and no it is not a full sail degree.

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 03/27/2006 - 08:41
Isn't it silly that local studios will take a kid out of Full Sail or SAE over you, with your documented experience, as an intern?

I would keep pursuing this, using the internship as a foot in the door.

Another way, which will make you just as much money as being an intern (meaning $0.00) would be to book bands at your existing rate, and negotiate with a local studio to re-sell time at a reduced rate to you. I'm sure that like everywhere most studios aren't booked solid these days and they could see value in the business you bring.

pr0gr4m Mon, 03/27/2006 - 12:04
I've got a similar situation in that I work out of my Condo. The only real instruments I'll record at home are vocals, guitar (if it's acoustic or direct), synths and bass. For drums I do a lot of programming or I'll go "on location" usually to the bands rehearsal warehouse to record them. I do have access to a friends studio and if I can swing it, I'll record the drums and loud guitars there.

If you can swing it, try getting a warehouse somewhere that you can set up as a studio. They are generally cheap and if you've got the business, you should be able to cover a months rent with just a session or two.

JoeH Mon, 03/27/2006 - 12:36
I don't know where you live or work, so I can only guess at the options you have open to you. Doing it all yourself can indeed be tough; and there's little room for trouble - like an eviction - when you're trying to do it all on your own.

Hopefully, you can at least set up a monitoring and mixing area in wherever you're going to live - a spare bedroom, perhaps, or den, etc. I agree with the others' posts in suggesting that your'e going to have to sublet somewhere else, or perhaps become a more "Portable" type of recording comany. You may also be able to take on other projects that involve audio, but not nec. recording bands per se.

How easy would it be to make some of your rig portable, and transportable to clubs or other locations to do the tracking part first? (in my case, I do only Voice-overs and the occasional overdub here, literally everything else is done out on location. My neighborhod wouldn't support a "commercial" operation here - cars, foot traffic, etc. wouldn't go over well.)

There may be more opportunities in "the biz" for you, depending on where you live, and what you're willing to do to make it happen. Sadly, as you're finding out, running a "commercial" type of studio - open to bands and anyone who thinks they want to make a record - is one of the worst ways to make a living in today's world.

Hope things get better for you. Hang in there, I'm sure you have a lot ahead of you. This is probably just a speed bump in a long road to come.

UncleBob58 Mon, 03/27/2006 - 14:12
Running any business by yourself is a real challenge, not to mention sending your stress levels and blood pressure completely ballistic. I work out of my house doing sound design and audio post for film, etc., as well as the occasional musician, VO work, editing performance music for ice dancers and figure skaters, anything I can get my fingers into to make a buck. At the suggestion of a few well established professionals in the biz, some of whom gave me a few excellent leads, I am beginning to market myself as a sub-contractor to other audio & video post facilities. FTP sites make fast turnaround times feasable, no shipping disks via FedEx or courier. I'm just beginning this process, but have had face-to-face meetings with a number of facilities here in the NY Tri-State area with positive results. This way I can work at home (no commuting!), see the wife and kids once in a while and, most importantly, I don't have the headaches of running a complicated business. As a freelancer I do the work, get paid, receive a bunch of 1099s at the end of the year and deduct every cent I spent on equipment, marketing, and the like.

You could consider going into partnership with another engineer in your area. Pooling your gear and other resources will give you a more impressive equipment list, you will be able to build a better room, you can be open more hours of the day and neither of you will have to suffer the stress of the business side of the music biz by yourselves. Choose your partner with great care; you'll spend more time with this person than with a wife or girlfriend. If you decide to do something like this make sure that you put together a contract. Anyone who will not legally commit isn't worth your time; a contract and proper business plan protects all of the parties involved.

I guess the point of all this drivel is to let you know that you have options. Keep the faith! 8-)

Kev Mon, 03/27/2006 - 16:01
go mobile
and/or be a hired problem solver

you're not the first to think they can have a studio

you end up being a property manager .... and the first thing you learn about real-estate is that a music studio is the worst thing to use floor space for

so you move the studio out and away from town to where floor space is cheaper
:shock:
and you then find many of the old customers don't want to spend the time getting there

build a relationship with studios and get some good studio time prices

Thomas W. Bethel Tue, 03/28/2006 - 05:04
I think you have received some good advice. The problem today is that most people are giving their expertise (or lack thereof) away for free. There are so many studios none of them can really make a full time living at it.

I have been in business for myself for 10 going on 11 years and what UncleBob58 said is all true. If you are going to survive in this business you have to find a niche and exploit it or you have to be so diversified that you can do almost anything for anyone.

We do a lot of different things for clients from radio program development and production to reclamation of audio tapes and records where the client will bring us tapes and records swimming in brackish water and we have to dry the tapes and records, clean them and put them onto contemporary media. We also do mastering, transfers, media change, on location recording and the list is almost endless. Even with doing almost everything we still have problems because of the way the world works today. Everyone wants your expertise but are unwilling to pay for it.

As a mastering engineer I get to hear a lot of what people do in their basements and bedrooms with their own equipment. The results are not always good. If they would go to someone like you who has paid his dues and knows what he is doing they could save themselves a lot of money and grief but instead they try to DIY it and then HOPE the mastering engineer can make it sound good.

I feel your pain and hope this works out for you in the end.

Just keep plugging away and, if you can, find someone to share the expenses and burdens of running your own studio.

Best of luck!

Thomas W. Bethel Tue, 03/28/2006 - 05:13
I think you have received some good advice. The problem today is that most people are giving their expertise (or lack thereof) away for free. There are so many studios none of them can really make a full time living at it.

I have been in business for myself for 10 going on 11 years and what UncleBob58 said is all true. If you are going to survive in this business you have to find a niche and exploit it or you have to be so diversified that you can do almost anything for anyone.

We do a lot of different things for clients from radio program development and production to reclamation of audio tapes and records where the client will bring us tapes and records swimming in brackish water and we have to dry the tapes and records, clean them and put them onto contemporary media. We also do mastering, transfers, media change, on location recording and the list is almost endless. Even with doing almost everything we still have problems because of the way the world works today. Everyone wants your expertise but are unwilling to pay for it.

As a mastering engineer I get to hear a lot of what people do in their basements and bedrooms with their own equipment. The results are not always good. If they would go to someone like you who has paid his dues and knows what he is doing they could save themselves a lot of money and grief but instead they try to DIY it and then HOPE the mastering engineer can make it sound good.

I feel your pain and hope this works out for you in the end.

Just keep plugging away and, if you can, find someone to share the expenses and burdens of running your own studio.

Best of luck!

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