How to start a commercial studio?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Duncanjp, May 4, 2003.

  1. Duncanjp

    Duncanjp Guest

    Without going off the deep end about how expensive all the equipment is, I'm interested to learn about how one starts up a small commercial studio. Some things are obvious: you need acoustically-treated rooms for recording and control, for instance. But do you need to incorporate? What sort of business plan would you need? Ideas?
  2. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    I have to tell you that nowadays a recording facilty is not a good business plan. I am not trying to blow your dreams, but be very careful when evaluating your project.
    Examine carefully the place you do plan to build the studi. I would recommend you starting with something smaller, maybe at your house and sell how things go.

    If you want lots of compatibility and bein the game, pick an used PT system. Yes, the other guys will come here and say that I am crazy, but that is the word: Digidesign rules, no matter people like it or not.
    You will be able to open someone else´s session continue job, the client shasll bring stuff previously done at home and so.
    We all kbnow they gear is not the best thing in the world, but I imagine with $20,000 you have plenty of nice gear to start with.
    Hope it helped ya
  3. Duncanjp

    Duncanjp Guest

    Thanks for the reply, Alécio. I've got so much gear now, that I'm nearly out of room to do anything with it. However, the last thing I intend to do is sink a huge wad of money into an unplanned, fly-by-night pipedream. I'm already pursuing clients out of my home (on a start-up scale), and I'm just considering ahead of time whether opening a commercial studio would be feasible in the future.

    I think you're right about Pro Tools. I've been using Cubase, but PT is my next software purchase.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    IMO, what a lot of people overlook is hidden costs. Taxes, insurance, things like that. In CA you will need a resale number if you plan to sell materials and taxes are through the roof. You need to check with the County and see if they impose a “personal property” tax on businesses. Many Counties in CA do. This is a tax on all the personal property you have that you use in your business. If you own say, $20,000 of recording equipment, you may be liable for a 1% tax yearly! That would be $200. This tax is applicable to all the property you bring to the business. Furniture, fixtures, cars, anything! As you purchase additional property for use in the business, you have to add that to the Counties list thereby increasing your tax liability. You need to file a DBA with the County, and once that is on file, they will come calling. You will have to pass fire inspections, and in order to lease a building you will have to carry slip and fall insurance. No landlord will lease without that. You will also have to pay City business taxes and unless you are a bookkeeping genius, you will need an accountant to do your taxes at least once a year, although I advise having them done quarterly. Be sure to research all this thoroughly before you make the leap. Once you are on the tax rolls the Board of Equalization and the County entities don’t like to let go. Even if you close down, they will continue to bill you making assessments from your past history. It is very difficult to get these folks out of your hair. My advise is to keep it all on a “home studio” level, and if you lease a larger building, say it’s for your own personal non-commercial studio. In my experience, it’s best to keep off of the “Gubbermnts” radar. Like any parasite, once they are up your bumm, it is hard to get them out. Kurt
  5. Duncanjp

    Duncanjp Guest

    Hi Kurt! That's an astounding bit of information, but some of the best advice I've gotten on all the forums that I've visited with this question. Exactly the kind of thing that I'm looking for. Considerations like location and a marketing plan are rather obvious. Important, but obvious. But the hidden fees! Now that's something you don't think about right away. Thanks so much.
  6. ArtCriminal

    ArtCriminal Active Member

    Jun 11, 2001
    Lexington, Ky.
    I've been kickin' this idea around in my head for quite awhile. For me, I don't think the climate is right for a full-fledged studio at this point in time. At the same time though this is my primary source of income. (albeit very small) I'm really concerned about how to handle the financial issues of it all. I've been thinking of setting up an LLC and a completely seperate financial system from my own personal stuff. I just don't know how to handle it.


    James Clueless
  7. Magic Genie

    Magic Genie Guest

    If your REAL goal is to do your own music, just get a few pieces of incredible gear and do it yourself. (My favorites are instruments like Martin and Steinway, cut through Martech mic pre's and Manley compressors).
    As someone who's spend many hundreds of thousands of dollars on gear, I can honestly tell you ic based gear is a terrible place to sock your bux into.

    There's alot more info on my site about this.
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