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Ok weird situation, advice needed.... please read

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by planet red, Nov 22, 2001.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    Ok I've been planning on starting at (dread) fullsail in july when my lease runs out. I spent the evening with my mom (who will be paying the bill) and she doesnt want to see me go away blah blah and said if i wanted to she would GIVE me the 28 grand my time at fullsail would cost if i want to start a studio around here. This sounds really tempting to me.

    Problem: I'm 19 years old and have a digi001, a bunch ofplug-ins an average mic collection, and hardly no outboard. I feel like I get pretty decent recordings (I record a lot of shitty punk/hardcore bands). The only thing is I really dont know much when it comes to theory or electronics or any high end gear. I'm afraid of getting a bunch of stuff and still not having any real experience. I have interned at a local studio before and feel comfortable with the stuff but dont have any hands on type of experience. what to do what to do.... either way 28k of equipment plus my own 4k i have saved is making almost *giddy* woohoo!
    Just want to know what you guys think i should do.... AND PLEASE DONT TELL ME TO SAVE IT!!!!
  2. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Home Page:
    Sounds like me a few years back, only I wasn't fortunate enough to start with a somewhat substantial chunk of cash. Your Mother is a generous lady to make that offer. $32K can buy you a respectable project studio as far as gear goes (considering that you already have Digi001, which acts as a 8 channel digital i/o via it's interface, mixer, and recorder all in one). Unless you have another $15K (besides the $32K) to spend on a decent analog console (Trident 65 for example) and some 16 + channels of nice sounding D/A (Apogee or better) I would stay in the computer once you get there.

    Something to seriously think about though, what about your space where you will record? It doesn't have to be floating floors with sand in the walls if you are somewhat isolated from neighbors and the traffic driving by. But if you are going to start a studio open to the public, remember people buy with their eyes as much as they do their ears. Punk/Hardcore bands will judge you heavily by your rate and by what others in the area are saying...some will think $35 is too much, some will think is it more than fair. But don't undersell yourself and then raise rates later. If you do a bad job early on, it will be hard to recover because bad publicity hurts you far more than good publicity helps.

    Figure out what your comparable competition is doing, and charge around the same, and network the hell out of yourself. Make the rooms look slick, get an electroacoustician to come in and put some fancy bass traps and apsorption up so the recording environment and listening environment are accurate without standing waves and unenven bass buildup in the corners, buy some fake wood flooring instead of carpet (go down to your local home depot, there is some really nice product available for not that much).

    As far as gear goes, I would rather have less pieces of really good gear than a bunch of crap that you are going to outgrow in a few years and lose a bunch of money on. Get a high quality front end...some good mics, mic pre's, at least a pair of good A/D conversion, compressors, EQ's and if the room is sounding how it should be it will all fall into place.

    There are products that are a high value that really don't cost very much for what they are; Vintech 1272, FMR (RNC & soon the RNMP), Speck, RME ADI-8 A/D/A conversion, BLUE (Baby Bottle), Rode (NTK), MBHO small diaphrams, Shure SM-57's...I find these products in particular to surpass the quality of what you would expect them to be priced at, and with good players in your room with well tuned drums and amps, you will yield really great results to tape. You will also need to think about cabling...many new inexperienced studio owners heavily underestimate cabling costs when they budget.

    My best friend went to full sail and blew his wad on the school. He loved it, but I had 10x's the experience he did just from running my own crappy 8 track and Mackie 16x4 studio for a few years. Sure, he could run the automation on an SSL G+ or a Neve VR, but he hadn't logged enough time in the hot seat to know tit from tat. Everything involving actual sound was an experiment to him, but he sure was the favorite 'do boy' of the studio that hired him for minimum wage. After 6 years they started letting him have the crap gigs that the other engineers didn't want to put their name on because they knew it would make them look bad. Guess what he's doing now? Detailing cars, and he doesn't have a thing to show for it. At least with gear you can recoup some of your investment.

    Good gear is not going to hone your skills any faster, but it will allow you to get better sounds to tape without having to mess with the sound too much. Pro gear will also get you past the "why does something always sound really off, but I can't quite pinpoint it" syndrome that low quality gear will give you regardless of skills, room, or players. You always have places like recording.org, rec.audio.pro, and other forums to ask about anything you might come across on a daily basis. Good Luck with whatever decision you make, either way it's going to be a long and bumpy road. But if you truly love it, things will eventually get better.
  3. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    Luckily enough my stepdad is a good carpenter and I took an accoustics class at a local community college and know the teacher pretty well. Between the two of them we should be able to put together a couple good looking halfway decent sounding rooms. Woo! should be fun...
  4. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    The thought of spending $30K + on gear can be really tempting. But honestly I would save about half of it to live off of. I went to college for a year and then did the intern thing. From there I started working out of that studio when it wasn't booked and was freelancing in whatever studio I could get cheap. I would see if there's a studio you can intern at where the owner or head engineer has an interest in your future. Take some of that $30K and buy a few nice pieces of gear that will hold their value.

    If your planning on running a studio full time there are probably a thousand things you haven't thought of. Insurance, advertising, payroll, utilites, stocking tape, office supplies, fresh water (no one wants to drink tap water), and cleaning just to name a few. Oh, and schedulding conflicts... those are always great. Put in a year at that studio, bring bands in there and finish their projects on your 001 rig at home on the side. Get a feel for it. There are a thousand reasons to not open your own studio. If you really are going to do it, be sensiable and get a business plan together. I lost over $10K in the first 5 months I was open.
  5. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    I already have a comfortable amount on money to live off of.... (girlfriend makes good money). So I dont have to worry about living expenses. I dont expect to make any money for awhile off of it and neither do my parents. Basically they're giving me a lot of money and i'll have a lot of time to not worry about suppporting myself and try to make something work. I know it all sounds terribly naive, but i really dont have anything to lose. My plan is to start something small and keep investing the little amount of money i do make back into it and hopefully in a couple years be able to open a "real studio".
    As for the space I already have a two car garage (doors taken out and replaced by regular walls) that i can use. Just have to make a seperate control room and some bass traps.
    I do know how terribly naive this must sound to all the real engineers here, but i think i have a really lucky chance to make something work.
    Thanks to everyone for the advice so far.
  6. sign

    sign Guest


    Nathan gave you an exellent advice. Read as much as you can find on the forums, on the websites of many professionals, learn, learn, learn.

    Work hard, be nice and do your job as good as you can and you will succeed.

    There are many interesting things to learn on the websites of Fletcher, Bob Katz, John Vestman, Eddie Cilettie and many others. (You will find links on my site under 'analog')

    JUST DO IT!!! :) :) :w:
  7. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    If you decide to build your own place with the money, I would suggest you at least take one or two courses on electronix... or buy a couple books on it. That, and learn all you can about signal flow, and gain staging.

    And if you decide to go to Full Sail, the same advice applies. Oops! ;)
  8. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Originally posted by planet red:
    Ok I've been planning on starting at (dread) fullsail in july when my lease runs out. I spent the evening with my mom (who will be paying the bill) and she doesnt want to see me go away blah blah and said if i wanted to she would GIVE me the 28 grand my time at fullsail would cost if i want to start a studio around here. This sounds really tempting to me.


    Possible scenario 3: Using the 28 grand [did you notice that Nathan's post pushed your budget to $32k before the 4th sentence? Didya get the hint he was giving you?] move to NY, LA, Miami...in other words a major 'recording center' then bang on doors until you get a gig sweeping floors.

    Read everything you can, be cool with everyone in the place, remove the words "no" and "can't" from your vocabulary and figure out how to work 80-100 hours a week.

    In a couple of years, if you keep your eyes and ears open, and your mouth shut (except in "social situations" where it's good to "funny")...work your balls off (in a major market, not an "outmarket"...Boston is an "outmarket", Orlando is an "outmarket", hell, San Francisco is 2/3rds and "outmarket", as is Chicago)...you'll wake up one morning with a couple of "assistant" credits...and a possible message on your answering machine about maybe doing some work for ______ at their studio.

    Now...that $28 grand? Well chances are you'll have only spent a bit of it "getting started". Finding an apartment, a car (if necessary), insuring the car, etc. Using whatever you get paid by the studio for the basics (food, toilet paper, etc.) you can use the $28g's if you need a "fallback" (or you can be a total ^#$%ing idiot and blow it on being a "bigshot"...buying rounds at the bar, and big bags of 'coke' while you "gain connections"...hint, when the money's gone, so are you)...but other than using it as a 'fallback'...put it in a good, safe, accessable long term investment [the word 'money market' comes right to mind...but I'm no financial wizard].

    If you want to be an engineer...this is the way it's been done for the last 50+ years, and the way it's still being done whether or not you waste $28g's on a school.

    You can build your own studio, you can grow your own studio. By the time you get to the point of "comfort level", you're a 'studio owner', not a 'recording engineer'...big difference. Recording engineers record things. Studio owners shmooze labels, yell at the studio manager (don't forget that as a 'studio owner' you are aspiring to work 80 hours a week for the rest of your life, or you're going to end up with employees...and a whole new "accounting oriented" can of worms), watch the competition, follow what you perceive to be client's desires (remember, you're not "in the room" anymore...so you end up listening to what you are told, and buying what is requested).

    Anyway you look at it, this industry can be monsterously lucrative, (or most likely) provide you with a steady income, or chew you up and spit you out. Yeah, places like Full Pail all have their "sucess stories"...but those people are the minority...like 4 working class kids from _____ who wrote this smash single and became rock stars...people hit the lottery too...just don't bet your life on it.

    Understand, in no uncertain terms, if you want to do anything, it all starts with getting your ass into the right place to accomplish your goals (like say you wanted to design cars...would you move to "Little Rock" or "Detroit"?), then accomplish your goals.

    One of the hardest things to overcome in this industry is an inherent 'fear of success'. Failure is easy, you can whine and be bitter and blame everybody in the world because you're in the shape you're in. Very few people are prepared to handle success. At least figure out how to not chase success off...try to put yourself in a place where it'll find you...

    In the meanwhile, you're lucky enough to have the 'fallback' position of a $28k buffer...and maybe the girlfriend moves with you...or it wasn't meant to be anyway.

    Follow your dream...not what someone tells you your dream might be [like the little fantasy advertisments that Full Pail, Sweetwater, Tascam, etc. spew regularly].

    Best of luck. The best part of being 19 is that you can ^#$% up 2 or 3 times before it starts getting serious.
  9. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    I pretty much agree with Fletcher, if you want to get into a career doing this. If you start a local studio in a smallish market (believe me, that's where I am), you may do OK, but there is a serious glass ceiling- do you want to be comfortable at 27? 35? 45? Send your kids to college on the money you make at your career?

    Working for someone else, especially early on, does a lot of things for you- while you may schlep a lot of brooms and coffee, you're free *not* to think about the rent, the channel on the mixer that's fritzy, the fact that band *X*, who you really want to record, heard that they need 'super compressor Y' to record at all, etc., etc. The $28 grand will go very, very quickly building a studio, and really won't build *that* much of a studio either way.

    Even if you don't go to a major market, you'd be better off working locally for a year or two, just to get some experience under your belt that does *not* involve experimenting on other people's time (surest way to not get repeat clients...). Sure, if you want to start building towards a studio, put together a nice $4K computer setup and spend a few grand on an eight space rack of front end that you drag in and out of the local studio. That way, you can do smaller projects on your own, for really low money. That lets you do a lot of experimenting. Not only will you be *starting* your studio, but you'll have at least the tools to become the guy everyone wants to record with. The rest is up to you.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, 28 grand can buy you a mediocre to crappy full studio, or a chunk of it can be a down payment while you're gaining experience and reputation while someone else pays you (or not, to begin with).

    Plus, 28 grand at once would be fun, but if you start slow and build a system, you'll have a good reason for every piece of gear. If you buy it all at once, I absolutely guarantee you'll sell 1/2 to 2/3 of it in a year, and lose eight grand in the process. Then you'll spend a year or two feeling like an asshole.
  10. droog

    droog Active Member

    Nov 3, 2001
    despite fletcher's somewhat old-fashioned advice, he's got a few good points
    this is my take:
    1. planet red is a great name(50% of success)
    2. define your goals, before you plot a path, ie do you want to be an engineer, a producer, a studio owner, a composer or an old fart, riding around in a buggie at the mix golf challenge
    3. read everything
    4. practice
    5. personally (!), i like the idea of a small, portable studio, and a great sounding mix room

    whatever you do, don't listen to anyone, especially me
  11. coldsnow

    coldsnow Active Member

    May 14, 2001
    Mogadore, OH
    You can buy some nice stuff for that kind of money. Even if you start with a Mackie MDR2496, a Mackie 8 bus, and an Alesis masterlink, you've only spent $6000. You could buy one nice mic pre (2 channels) like a Vintech 1272 and a good compressor (like a Purple Audio or something), and then buy a couple of FMR compressors and mic pre's (soon to be out). A nice vocal mic like a Neuman TLM103 or a couple of ADK's and some drum mics and still be around 10K. Make a nice room but don't go overboard, read every forum, Mix mag, EQ mag, and even Electronic Musician, and spend some of the money to go to a local community or regular college for something. It's nice to have something to fall back on. I did that (of course without the fortune of starting with 30K)and thought I'd just use it to fall back on. It turns out it's a much easier life (not in music) and I have my pro gear now that can either use with clients in the evenings or just record myself. Turns out I prefere to just use it for myself or an occasional person who I know or like and don't have to suck up to anyone and I can use my time being creative.
    Not for everyone but just a thought. I'm very happy.
  12. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Strikes that your Mom is not offering to give you a pile of cash to 'go away'. The offer appears designed to keep you 'safe' in the same town.

    So reading between the lines it is Full Sail or build a tiny setup near home.


    What is your area like for bands / music sceene?

    For personal development or :)

    P.S. Don't trust anyone over 30
  13. droog

    droog Active Member

    Nov 3, 2001
    don't trust anyone over 30" tall
  14. regisfunk

    regisfunk Member

    Oct 28, 2001
    Originally posted by planet red:
    I already have a comfortable amount on money to live off of.... (girlfriend makes good money). So I dont have to worry about living expenses. I dont expect to make any money for awhile off of it and neither do my parents.

    I'm a successful, as-of-yet 'nobody' in the recording industry, so feel free to pan my advice...but red flags are going up all over the place when I read this. Without going way off track and entering a discussion involving respect for the ones who really love you (i.e. girlfriend and mom), I'd just like to offer one more option to consider:

    Kindly refuse your mom's heartfelt gesture, work your ass off full time at McDonalds, using your wages to pay for 'regular' college (full time as well), or (if you're like me) skip the college and use that McDonalds money to slowly buy modest pieces of recording equipment, one at a time (and perhaps a wedding ring for that overly generous gem of a girlfriend who was willing to let you live off of her income before you refused such a thing). In doing so, you will accomplish several things:

    1. A strong work ethic of your own. With all due respect, by the sound of it, you need one.

    2. A gradual and thorough knowledge of the different components of a recording studio, one stage at a time.

    3. The enormous skill of figuring out how to maximize the use of what limited gear you have at your disposal. I learned this early on, and now that I have a decent studio, it is a skill that I fall back on to this day.

    4. You don't have to worry about having to pay EVERY LAST PENNY THAT YOU BORROWED FROM YOUR PARENTS, PLUS INTEREST, which I'm sure you were going to do.

    5. Unbelievably proud parents.

    Best of luck! No matter what you decide to do, as long it involves working your ass off, you will be rewarded with a fruitful career.


  15. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    planet red:

    i'm kinda in the same position [as in, i have some cash saved up, and i'm gonna move to nyc and try to get a $*^t job and work my ass off]

    fletcher is right: if you want to do this for REAL, it is hard as hell to be a studio owner.

    i've been buying great gear slowly but surely for a bunch of years, engineering for seven, just out of school [amherst college, no walk in the park] took some electronics [great idea to take it, try building some of yr own circuts, etc.]

    so i did alot of independent TRACKING work, and very little mixing.

    so maybe you can:

    work at mcdonnalds, work engineering in yr spare time tracking stuff small time [w/digi, like great stereo mic pre & a/d, and cheaper mackie [so as to not waste money] on pre's.

    once you get the hang of it a lil' more, make the jump.

    you will need all the extra "parents love you money" for rent.

    trust me, having some of your own good $*^t is sweet....

    working on other people's $*^t which you didn't have to pay for? even sweeter. that is what you are workin' for.

    it's all about the benjamins.

    damn. it's too late. sorry for the ramble.
  16. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    I guess there's a lot of stuff I havent said. Im not an american citizen, so for about the next year or two I can't work in this country(i should get my greencard then). I've been going to school, but it really isnt for me. This is what made me want to go to a recording school, because I cant legally work here and there's no way I'd ever want to get a regular job. This was my plan until my mom offered me all the tuition money to start my own place. Even though if it were up to me and i could work i would try to move to a big city and clean toilets and fix coffee at some studio. So right now my choices are: go to school or take tuition money, and the money I already have saved up and start a little place around here. I'm really not much of a school guy, thats why im interested in the latter. While I'm enrolled in school I get financial help from my grandfather at home (i guess you could say i come from a well to do family). So I only have two choices. My plan was to stay here and buy equipment I could take with me anywhere recording into a digi001 that i already have.
    Julian asked earlier how the music scene around here was and its fairly good. I've played in a couple decent sized bands around here and know a lot of people in other bands. Even now i normally record 2 to 3 bands a month on my 001. I dont really know what to say, but I think I'm going to try to stay here and spend the money. Like fletcher said at 19 you can still mess up a couple more times until it gets serious. Either way with the equipment I've planned on getting I could take it anywhere I decide to go later in life. Thanks for all your advice, its made me think a lot about what my long term plans and goals should be.
  17. bnewsommfic

    bnewsommfic Guest

    Maybe you should see if you could get a intership at Sound of Music in Richmond to find out if what you really want to do. Getting you feet wet(and being shat on by several producers)might help you make up your mind, and Sound of Music is a pretty cool, funky, mainly analog studio. Good Luck
  18. Great Divide Studios

    Great Divide Studios Active Member

    Nov 6, 2001
    Aspen, Colorado
    Home Page:
    Another idea would be to use some of that money to hire some experienced engineers to "educate" you. If you have a band coming in, hire one of these guys and watch and learn. I've had my own studio for 10 years and have never been to recording school, but I've hired various people over the years and it's always been enlightening. Usually, an engineer between jobs would be happy to do this for an hourly wage that won't break your gear budget. Anyway, this gives you private instruction at you own speed(so you're not waiting for the slow pokes to get it) and could save you years from trying to figure it out yourself. The other great thing about this is that you can pick your own teachers. Many engineers get great results with very different methods and it's so interesting to see different techniques first hand. Also, study the manuals for all the gear you have and, of course, hang out in all these great forums. Another good thing would be to get an instrument and learn how to play it. This will give you a much deeper understanding of music and sound.

    Good luck,

  19. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Home Page:
    What was the slogan by that shoe company? ;)
  20. Scott Gould

    Scott Gould Active Member

    Oct 22, 2001
    Pt. Charlotte FL
    Open your own studio on a shoestring budget at age 19 with no degree and no experience? Think again. Your best bet is to find a studio in your area who will take on an unpaid intern. Enroll yourself in a college or university as a part-time student, or however you can to get access to their libraries and facilities (you could just audit classes, or take a minimum class load). Since you say you are not a citizen, all of the above is possible. Your dream of your own studio isn't, at least until you get a green card. If you couldn't get a job, legally, how did you expect to get a business license? You need to spend your time in aprenticeship and educating yourself (since you say school isn't for you - not judging, but this is usually said by people who can't cut it). Full Sail will be happy to take your money, but after you're done there, your situation will not be much better than it is now, though you may know a little more - but still not nearly as much as you need to to run your own studio. Find an unpaid position with a local studio, work on your legal status, and learn all you can by reading, asking and doing (on a small scale, buying a piece or 2 of equipment at a time, KNOWING why that particular piece is important before you buy it - baby steps). I know it's hard at 19 to be patient, and impossible to understand that you don't know anywhere near as much as you think you know. That's a hard lesson that only comes with age. If you have the self discipline to heed the advice you get from this forum and elsewhere, you might have a future as an engineer/producer/studio owner. If you just go buy some equipment and put together a space to record right now, you're just throwing away money and wasting time.
    Just a few observations from someone who did it the hard way - first wrong; then right.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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