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what if you were starting a new 'bottom feeder with pot

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by radiophonic, Mar 20, 2001.

  1. radiophonic

    radiophonic Guest

    Okay. So you've had 3-5 years of making records out of your basement, apartment, & rehearsal spaces around town. You feel like you're actually able to hear the changes you make, and the tracks are starting to translate to other systems well (without major EQ changes in mastering). Your monitoring chain, mics and pre's are at or above most of the smaller studios around town.

    You want to make this your day job.

    Even with most of the gear already owned, what do you do about the building and rooms you will need to be even a bottom feeder studio?

    Obviously a lot of love has to be involved in this sort of thing - but the real trick seems to be making it a viable business.

    What are people doing? Finding existing spaces? Sharing recording spaces with others? Giving up on their own places and trying to work at other local studios?

    I'm curious how a lot of you are getting started.

    In this for the long haul...

  2. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Good question, Graham.

    I didn't think I'd ever go back to music after I left L.A. in 1978, but I got dragged back in 1987. I picked up an Akai 1214 and primarily used it for demos of songs my wife wrote.

    Unfortunately. my son Alex also used it to record his rock band. and pretty soon we were getting calls from a lot of people who were unhappy with their studio recordings after they heard our recordings.

    We decided to build a small studio in our double-wide trailer, and we faced some of the same small room acoustic problems that other here have faced. We did some innovative room design stuff for cheap, made the room pretty dead (when you don't have a big room, "Deader is Beder").

    Years have gone by while we built up our mic locker and equipment, so that now, we're pretty competitive with most of the Dallas studios. If you want some ideas, feel free to drop by and see if anything we've done might help you. I'm about 35 minutes away from you.

    Dallas could use some good studios (there are only a few there that I would consider recommending) so, go for it, Graham!! :D
  3. gtrmac

    gtrmac Guest

    I think the biggest factor separating one "small" studio from another is the size and acoustics of the recording space. Assuming that you have a reasonable inventory of mics and outboard equipment offering a studio with a good room for tracking is the area which most small studios are lacking.
  4. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Mac, yes, and no.

    Of course a big room with great acoustics makes everything a lot easier, at any level of recording, but you can often do surprising things with sound in a small room, if there are no serious acoustical problems - and if you know what you're doing.

    There is no substitute for a great tracking room, but you can get close to 85% of that sound if you do some careful miking, eqing, and add the right type of reverb. And it helps to have great musicians as well. They can overcome almost anything.
  5. gtrmac

    gtrmac Guest

    Harvey, I certainly agree with what you are saying. My point is based mostly on what I feel will make a new studio compete successfully with other businesses in a certain market. Since Graham said he has aquired a lot of the necessary hardware to get a studio off the ground I think the ingredient to add is a good room. I feel this will really make a difference in his options and add considerably to the attractiveness of his studio in comparison to others in the area.
  6. Rick Powell

    Rick Powell Guest

    As a former bottom feeder, what I found is that what people keep coming back for is SERVICE. I was sharing a house with a guy who worked night shift, so I'd have an assortment of musicians in the house at all odd hours when he was at work. The acoustics weren't great but I could work around the limitations. I had a single ADAT, a few mics, a Soundcraft board and not much else. But I'd try to get the best out of the equipment, was never afraid to try something new and creative, and tried to serve the client with enthusiasm and know-how. And I have people coming back ten years later. When you are perceived to be good, word-of-mouth will give you the bulk of your clientele.

    A great room always helps. It needn't look fancy unless you are going after the commercial/post type market. But an OK room will get you by until you can justify the expense of buying or creating one. I now have a small place with some acoustic concerns I've learned to work around, and it works for the majority of projects I have in. When I need to have a better room I just rent one for the client and work there.

    Rick Powell/Studio71
  7. cdp

    cdp Active Member

    Mar 13, 2001
    Home Page:
    Hi Graham,

    There's a whole different way to look at making an impact in your local market. Physical space and gear are important, of course. But creating a demand for your services can be just as rewarding.

    Larger studios know this well. I'm talking about that classic commercial bond, that could go far beyond just being friendly with your customer.

    Why not market *yourself* as well as your studio? Some ideas:

    You could begin by working on some projects as a contributor. An accomplice is always more valuable than a hired hand. So try opening-up your market my approaching a local band you (and others) really admire. Ask them if they'd like to develop a project with you, from pre-production to mixing (and you could accompany the recording through mastering). Will you charge for this? Well, that's kinda personal. But not charging makes the idea more realistic.

    Hey, they may not be interested in getting too involved with someone without many credits (Sorry! Do you have many credits?). Then suggest doing only one song.

    This project would give you something to show new clients, an example of your work. And it would start you off with one good relationship in your local market.

    More ideas.... Use current contacts to get to new ones. Get introduced to new people. Introduce yourself to musicians always, any musician. Invite people to your studio, socially. Have those business cards handy.

    Create a segment for your work. What kind of music are you good working with or really like? Also take into account which genres are more and less prevalent in your region.

    I've consistently seen "bottom-feeders" get off the ground by worrying about some of these points. If you think about it, the music community is most divided, and dispersed, at the really amatuer level. The sooner you work on your pro image and network of contacts, the sooner you'll get off the ground yourself.

    One last idea... I try to work with things I like, and basically seek the *real* monetary remuneration from the projects I don't really relate to. This keeps me in touch with my "areas of expertise," and puts me right in the middle of the people I want to work with.

    There's nothing like working with something you enjoy. Go for it!!!

    Take care,

    Charles Di Pinto
  8. radiophonic

    radiophonic Guest

    I want to thank everyone for all of the helpful replies. I'm mostly lacking a room at this point. However, I'm fortunate to have bands and smaller groups wanting to record with me as soon as my schedule opens up (finishing 3 projects right now). So at least in the meantime (while I figure out what city to live in, whether to continue attempts at rock stardom at full steam), I'll continue to be mobile when it comes to tracking.

    A special thanks to Harvey for letting me come out to his place to have a good look & listen at a working studio in the area. Thanks again!

  9. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    BTW, Graham,

    That band that came in at noon to do the one song finally left at around 1:30 in the morning, but they were really happy. They said that out of eight different studios they've recorded at, we were Number One, and there was NO number 2 - none of the others even came close. So there's lots of room in the Dallas/North Texas market for some decent studios.
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