Old 07-08-2014, 11:08 PM   #1
blackenedheart
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Default Still want to open a recording studio...

I wouldn't want a vintage console though. I don't need the expense or the maintenance headaches. I just wish I had some great microphones, and some unique outboard preamps. And some fancy converters would be nice too. But there are no reasonably priced studios left anymore. Theres even fewer good bands.

I feel like the music scene is dead. Still wish I had a studio. With some nice monitors too. And Reaper of course.

Anyone else feel this way?
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Old 07-08-2014, 11:35 PM   #2
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With that side of the industry in tatters, not much chance. There are still a few good studios running, but it aint easy, if it ever was.
And of course you are forgetting the two things that make a pro or even semi pro studio viable.
Knowledgeable and talented personnel, but above all a good room in a great location.

Hardest of all.
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Old 07-09-2014, 01:27 AM   #3
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Anyone else feel this way?
Yes, absolutely. Right now I am kind of collecting gear and microphones with that in mind. I have most of the mics, I have the preamps, the monitors, many analog effects, synthesizers, gutars & other string instruments, e-pianos, organs

- still would need 16 channels of analog - ADAT in&out

- still would need the rooms including treatment

- still would need a proper monitoring system (Behringer Powerplay as a start)

- some more mics

- some more analog stuff like compressors, gates, tape delays, spring reverbs (have some of the latter, but not enough)

- some other stuff like loads of extra mic stands, more cables, more patchbays, yadda yadda



And then? I know a great studio which is about a 15min drive away from Basel that is kind of Konk Studios light - the owner has been working over there for several years and uses a lot of the typical Konk gear (minus the Neve and Fairchilds, etc. of course) - and he asks 500SFR/day (including him) which is about 400€/560$ so I'd have to compete with this - granted, I have some nice stuff he doesn't but then I have zero reputation and he has an international pro one.
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Old 07-09-2014, 02:07 AM   #4
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FWIW I just bought a pair of Unity Audio The Rock II monitors, which probably cost me near as much as I have already spent on my studio, apart from the mics.

No way can I justify buying them for what is a pretty small, albeit reasonably well treated room, but I am not trying to attract clients!
Now they cost in the region of 3000Euro, just for nearfields.

In a decent sized control room you WILL need at least midfields, but probably mains to get that wall of sound most clients expect from a pro studio.

And I hope you have more than a couple of U87s and C414s in mind.

A proper pro standard studio IS going to cost a LOT of money.

And of course as Jens says, you also need both the chops and the reputation to attract customers to your fabulous room with its wonderful equipment.

Start-up studio these days are like boats.
Open your wallet/credit card/bank account and repeat after me: "help yourself"
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:23 AM   #5
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And of course as Jens says, you also need both the chops and the reputation to attract customers to your fabulous room with its wonderful equipment.
And "chops" means a lot more than knowing which mic to choose and where to put it... it's also e.g. about being able to sit for 16 hours in front of your machine in order to record a band you don't like - be it their music or (some of) their characters, be it their rhythm section which sucks... you have to be professional, patient and polite, you have to be able to comprehend, interpret and apply their wishes... You have to be able to make them feel comfortable, relaxed (but not too relaxed!) and at home.
You have to serve/get them meals, refreshments, keep them awake and concentrated. You sometimes have to make them do what you want while they believe you always do what they want - yadda yadda yadda.
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Old 07-09-2014, 05:38 AM   #6
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I ran a studio for around three years. I played in lots of bands and had a good network of bands and musicians who were dissatisfied with the recordings they got locally at the time, and after being made redundant from my day job I decided to try to do it better myself and return to my original proffesion of sound engineering. It went well for 6 months or so, then the bands I worked with started to split up as the recession hit the uk, and my client base grew smaller and smaller until eventually the studio became a practice room and closed. I enjoyed the work enormously, but it make me realise some hard truths about musicians and people in general, and I can honestly say it was the hardest time of my life financially. I wouldn't do it again.
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Old 07-09-2014, 06:26 AM   #7
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Ask a pub landlord what his takings are like when he puts on a blues jam night.

In the vast majority of cases, it is "one half of orange squash please" at 7.30pm and the scrounging peanuts off the bar for the rest of the night.
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Old 07-09-2014, 06:59 AM   #8
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You have heard the one about the studio owner who won first prize in the lottery?

When asked what he would do with his winnings he answered that he would just continue running his studio until it was all gone

I've had a studio for about 10 years now and pretty much everything that has been said in this thread is spot on.

These days to run a studio you need another source of income and not only must love what you are doing you really need to be able to deal with everyone who comes through the door such that they all go away having a good experience and (hopefully) a good product (or at least the product they wanted).

It is getting harder and harder to get clients as the music scene is all but blessed, boxed and buried but I still love it
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:23 AM   #9
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These days to run a studio you need another source of income and not only must love what you are doing you really need to be able to deal with everyone who comes through the door such that they all go away having a good experience and (hopefully) a good product (or at least the product they wanted).

It is getting harder and harder to get clients as the music scene is all but blessed, boxed and buried but I still love it
100% accurate!

On the positive side, current technology is amazing. A professional DAW and a handful of carefully chosen plugins can be had for pennies on the dollar compared to the analog equipment you had to configure in the past. And we can finally deliver a master to the consumer that is 100% identical to the final master. Not just close. No special audiophile editions needed. Here's the 24 bit, 96k master in a flac file. Done and done! Surround sound accessible and in high def too.

So there are some really alluring things like that here in 2014.


But don't be fooled. This isn't 1970. This is not a high paying career. This is a labor of love. The modern technology also allows non-musicians to produce reasonable facsimiles of music. It's status quo but it works well enough on average to meet it's needs. And at just the click of a mouse. There's no competing with that on a business level if you fancy yourself an artiste.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:44 AM   #10
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about being able to sit for 16 hours in front of your machine in order to record a band you don't like - be it their music or (some of) their characters, be it their rhythm section which sucks...
Allow me to highlight the above because one needs to enjoy having to do the above as it will be a large part of the "business". It's not like you'll have Led Zeppelin or Brian Eno to record every day. It'll be lots and lots of mediocre stuff where you have to act like you are interested in something that crawls up your spine like an ice pick in your ears and having to allow people to make mistakes you learned lessons from years before.

I already have most of the gear and the above is the reason I don't do it. I may very well open an invitation only studio at some point but it won't be primary income hence the ability to make it invitation only.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:53 AM   #11
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But don't be fooled. This isn't 1970. This is not a high paying career. This is a labor of love. The modern technology also allows non-musicians to produce reasonable facsimiles of music. It's status quo but it works well enough on average to meet it's needs. And at just the click of a mouse. There's no competing with that on a business level if you fancy yourself an artiste.
As in, imagine what the IPhone has done to photography.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:06 AM   #12
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Allow me to highlight the above because one needs to enjoy having to do the above as it will be a large part of the "business". It's not like you'll have Led Zeppelin or Brian Eno to record every day. It'll be lots and lots of mediocre stuff where you have to act like you are interested in something that crawls up your spine like an ice pick in your ears and having to allow people to make mistakes you learned lessons from years before.

I already have most of the gear and the above is the reason I don't do it. I may very well open an invitation only studio at some point but it won't be primary income hence the ability to make it invitation only.
My "solution" to this is to try to only work with bands that care about their music on a personal level. Everyone has to start somewhere. Someone who cares about their art will be receptive to suggestions and advice. If they care, it's easy for me to care. Sure it might be crude and/or something I'd never listen to in my free time. Doesn't matter. And sometimes crude or simple things have a way of being compelling if you know where to focus your attention.


Bands that just want to imitate something or sound like the latest thing? Get the fuck away from me!
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:20 AM   #13
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Bands that just want to imitate something or sound like the latest thing? Get the fuck away from me!
I agree 100% but all of that goes out the window if it is your primary income, when primary income you take whatever you can get and smile about it. And depending on the business available in your area there will be a large number of people who are only interested in sounding like the latest thing because that is precisely what inspired them. AKA it's a natural part of the process... Get inspired, try to be/copy that, learn lessons, rinse/repeat, grow a little, be more original.

I don't have the patience for it but that doesn't mean it isn't a natural part of the journey. I did the exact same thing coming up. Someone born to run a studio actually probably enjoys that which is a good thing.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:38 AM   #14
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I agree 100% but all of that goes out the window if it is your primary income, when primary income you take whatever you can get and smile about it. And depending on the business available in your area there will be a large number of people who are only interested in sounding like the latest thing because that is precisely what inspired them. AKA it's a natural part of the process... Get inspired, try to be/copy that, learn lessons, rinse/repeat, grow a little, be more original.

I don't have the patience for it but that doesn't mean it isn't a natural part of the journey. I did the exact same thing coming up. Someone born to run a studio actually probably enjoys that which is a good thing.
I might have put that a bit strong...

Yeah, that's why I have multiple sources of income.

I do like your positive spin on that though.

I see the engineers that have gotten burnt out and become extremely negative and I want to avoid that at any cost! I've been around the block enough to see how it happens and it's frightening.
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Old 07-09-2014, 02:57 PM   #15
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I wrote a lot of songs back in the 60s but when I opened my studio, that was the end of the song writing.

From that point on all my composing and writing was for commercial purposes and I can't tell you how many jingles and commercials I've made over the years along with many video projects. That was probably 75% of the studio income.

And the constant need to add more and better gear, and keep up with the latest standards.

Many airplane trips to LA AES conventions.

The biggest thing was keeping up with the latest in acoustical designs and ideas. Those were the pioneer days for audio acoustics. I was lucky to have grown up a carpenters son and I had all the tools to work with.

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- still would need the rooms including treatment

- still would need a proper monitoring system
You get these two things right, you should be in pretty good shape. Especially if your up to par with your ear training.


One thing I think I have to say, I was able to make my studio work and pay for itself even though it cost 10 maybe 20 times what it cost today. What I'm getting at is that even with the much more cost in those days, they were the fresh, experimental, and everything was new days. Very exciting days.

That's why I feel sorry for those of you trying to get started today, even though it cost far less to get started you don't have the market that we had to work with in those days.

Heh heh, what ever you do don't quite your day job.
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Old 07-09-2014, 05:16 PM   #16
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It's not like you'll have Led Zeppelin or Brian Eno to record every day. It'll be lots and lots of mediocre stuff where you have to act like you are interested in something that crawls up your spine like an ice pick in your ears and having to allow people to make mistakes you learned lessons from years before.
Well said

I yearn for mediocre as it makes a pleasant change from those less talented

You just have to look for the good in every session and extract as much fun from it as you can
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Old 07-10-2014, 01:12 AM   #17
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And of course if you are also a player/singer, there is that evil little voice in the back of your mind saying " I COULD DO THIS SO MUCH BETTER/FASTER"
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Old 07-10-2014, 03:43 AM   #18
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You get these two things right, you should be in pretty good shape. Especially if your up to par with your ear training.

I think I maybe could have worded that a bit better - when I wrote "monitoring system" I meant minoring for the recorded musicians, not for the control room

(for the latter I have (amongst lesser stuff) M-Audio's DSM2 which should do the trick, I guess. )
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Old 07-10-2014, 04:00 AM   #19
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Well said

I yearn for mediocre as it makes a pleasant change from those less talented
*lol*
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Old 07-10-2014, 04:07 AM   #20
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And of course if you are also a player/singer, there is that evil little voice in the back of your mind saying " I COULD DO THIS SO MUCH BETTER/FASTER"
and it's really a devil - I tend to have this with my band as well - but first of all they most probably constantly think the same about my parts too and secondly, I sometimes have troubles surprising myself - they don't.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:38 AM   #21
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Makes me wonder what Joe Meek would be doing with today's technology.

He turned his crowded flat into a home studio, long before the concept of home studio was known. He produced some outstanding material with basic equipment and a pair of golden ears and a vivid imagination.

His penchant for self-destruction aside, I think he would have absolutely loved Reaper and the many free plugins that are now available.

He didn't have a particularly great room but with his tweaking genius, he managed to make some truly unique recordings.
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Old 07-11-2014, 11:54 AM   #22
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and it's really a devil - I tend to have this with my band as well - but first of all they most probably constantly think the same about my parts too and secondly, I sometimes have troubles surprising myself - they don't.
My problem is always this:

Me: "Hey, we should record this in a better room. This one sucks and it's going to sound like ass if we record here."

Artist types that don't like math or physics: "Nuh uh, we just gotta play with more emotion!"
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Old 07-11-2014, 02:07 PM   #23
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....and duvets.
Lotta lotta duvets.
Even more important than cowbell.
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Old 07-13-2014, 09:24 AM   #24
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I made my living in music for several years by keeping my expenses as low as possible and by diversifying my income streams. I played gigs, did live sound, recorded, advised, repaired....whatever. I also bought an inexpensive house, automobile, etc. It was a tough life, but I loved it.

Life happened and I moved on with it, but I've been trying to get back into it all in between everything else. It's a hobby now, but I have a choice of when I work and what I work on. Financially you're much better off with a "real" job. It allows you to buy toys!

I used to work at a small studio years ago that went under financially. Even then I always thought a better way to work would be to have a good sounding small room with a good signal chain or two for overdubs, but take the project to a bigger commercial studio for drum tracking and mixing.

The place I worked at tried to be all 'in-house', but our rent for one month would pay for many, many hours at a top-notch studio. We had some high-end equipment, but our place didn't sound good, have adequate space, and we were limited to the hours we could track loud...or quietly due to other tenants in the complex.

I still want a studio, too!
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Old 07-13-2014, 09:35 AM   #25
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You had neighbors!?! In McMinnville?

Ex-pat Britennessean here.
Davidson County
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Old 07-13-2014, 05:37 PM   #26
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Life happened and I moved on with it, but I've been trying to get back into it all in between everything else. It's a hobby now, but I have a choice of when I work and what I work on. Financially you're much better off with a "real" job. It allows you to buy toys!
I'm pretty much the same. I have been a live engineer for many. many years and while fun it was basically always a struggle and hard work. Not complaining mind you, but now I enjoy a great '9-5' and find I have enough time and resources to dabble in the audio stuff I really like in my home-studio setup. Still the itch is there and I am looking for gigs locally as I do look forward to jumping behind a desk every once in a while without the added pressure of 'having to'.
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Old 07-19-2014, 06:15 AM   #27
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You had neighbors!?! In McMinnville?
LOL. There are a few around here. The "neighbors" were when I worked at a Studio in Murfreesboro, TN. It was in an office complex that was pretty active during the day.

I did have a commercial space in McMinnville, too. It was under a drugstore and down the hall from a karate studio. That was almost entirely an issue with keeping loud sound in rather than outside sounds getting in.
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:06 AM   #28
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Remember the Cockeyed Camel?

So sad that closed. I used to gig there a LOT.
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Old 06-27-2019, 11:18 PM   #29
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Wow I have not been back to this thread in 5 years. Since I wrote it I got married, and bought a house. Here is the fun part - I moved waaaaay out into the country in Texas about 100 miles from Dallas. Out here, the sky goes black at night and you can see all the stars.

I have a few acres, and my house is 100% cedar log cabin. It sounds like a recording studio inside. So, there is not 1 piece of wallboard in the whole house, and I want to start a small tracking room for guitars and build it out from there. I don't know but none of the musicians I have met have been willing to drive out even for free studio time.

What do you guys think and has anyone followed up on their dream and owns a studio now when they didn't before?
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Old 06-28-2019, 01:17 AM   #30
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I still have one and still love it but (paying) clients are getting a lot harder to find. I have started recording the bands live while I do PA work so that I can squeeze some bucks out of them for remixing their live efforts. I also do a lot of free work for young bands just to help them out.

It's a little harder when you don't have any tattoos though I'm happy to wear a black t-shirt ;-)
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Old 06-28-2019, 05:17 AM   #31
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I start work on a bunch of my own tunes in the studio of a well-known local celebrity on 15th July. Nothing like being a multi millionaire to make studio builds easy...

Me? VERY grateful. Embarrassing thing is I suspect the studio folks want to hear my shite demos before we start to get a feel for wha twe do.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:16 AM   #32
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I still have one and still love it but (paying) clients are getting a lot harder to find. I have started recording the bands live while I do PA work so that I can squeeze some bucks out of them for remixing their live efforts.
Check and check. Great minds think alike!

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I also do a lot of free work for young bands just to help them out...
Yeah, that too.


I actually like producing live recordings a lot. The ability to bring home multitrack with ease is pretty cool now. (And for the last 15 years)
Musicians actually try to perform with some energy with an audience. Maybe even take some chances. (Which digital editing can help you curate.) And it's just a fun challenge to try to produce something that makes someone say "Wait, this is live?!"

I mean, studio sessions aren't always dry. Some people know what they're doing and have an agenda. But live, you avoid any phoning it in and bs screwing around like a guitar player wanting to do 79 takes of his shitty solo that all suck.
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Old 06-28-2019, 03:15 PM   #33
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A guy who is willing to go out to shows and has a basic studio setup and talk to bands will DOMINATE the nicest field of dreams studio in the world without that person

Its not even a close contest. All the gear in the world won't being 1/100th of the people by that a friend of the bands would

Not even remotely close
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Old 06-28-2019, 05:42 PM   #34
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So guys, I keep reading about a great recording room/space. So the question for me is what is a great room? Can you give me some pointers? I built my studio 20 years ago. I knew even less about the subject then. I made 3 rooms inside my studio. A control room (which has become a storage room), a main recording room (which is about 8 x 10) and a drum room (which is about 6 x 10). All the walls are treated with a cotton like fiber material, floors are carpeted and the ceiling is a drop ceiling with 2 x 4 fiber tiles. I have a large plastic window in the control room and the drum room. Doors at both the main room and the drum room. It is quiet in there but I'm not certain that is the best thing. So what makes a great recording space?

Thanks,
Don.....
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:07 AM   #35
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I would love to have a real studio. But being realistic: Do I have the skills to utilize a studio? Not so much. But damn if I wouldn't try to get it together if there were was interesting music involved. And are there artists/bands in my area that I would dig recording? Not so much. It sounds like a cheap echo of modern radio around here, which isn't interesting to me at all.

But I definitely agree with the general sentiments. I love music, but it seems that the state of music today is in a major steamrolled pancake of the same brand of pop, pop, and pop.

I was driving someone else's vehicle the other day and it only had radio. Flipping through the channels, the best thing on was the fucking Bangles - Manic Monday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsmVgoXDq2w That is the state that music is in today.
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Old 06-29-2019, 08:59 PM   #36
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Wow I have not been back to this thread in 5 years. Since I wrote it I got married, and bought a house. Here is the fun part - I moved waaaaay out into the country in Texas about 100 miles from Dallas. Out here, the sky goes black at night and you can see all the stars.

I have a few acres, and my house is 100% cedar log cabin. It sounds like a recording studio inside. So, there is not 1 piece of wallboard in the whole house, and I want to start a small tracking room for guitars and build it out from there. I don't know but none of the musicians I have met have been willing to drive out even for free studio time.

What do you guys think and has anyone followed up on their dream and owns a studio now when they didn't before?
You say A log "cabin", that sounds like smaller type rooms and a low ceiling, is that right?

Or is it a one story construction with open an A shaped cieling, that could be intriguing and give you something to build on

A log building could be ideal for recording, but there are many things to be considered. How is the floor constructed, if it's not cement then what kind of construction is underneath, this makes a big difference.

I'd say go for it and make the most of it. If your really serious about it, you'll figure out the problems as you go and also learn a lot.

I think the most important thing is to have a good sounding control room right of the bat. That's because with out it you won't have a clue what sound is coming from the other rooms, or where to place your microphones.
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:50 AM   #37
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As in, imagine what the IPhone has done to photography.
iPhone nor any other cellphone has done nothing positive for photography, there isn't a single cell phone that takes good pictures.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:13 AM   #38
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In my experience, the people who want to start a studio are too much lover and not enough shark.

I've seen exactly one studio opening in the last decade that was a succes and they're goin' after big-time movie work. Their agenda is booked, but I don't think they've recuperated even 5% of the initial investment over more than a decade. And these guys are connected. And obviously, well financed too.

Unless you want a studio for yourself and can afford to say no to a potential customer, don't do it. All the (audio) studio's I know are scaling back, or failing very slowly. And the video ones are going mobile.

There are literally dozens of large studio desks for sale and NO buyers. I've bought one desk for 50 €, to save it from being junked. There are several others in my neck of the woods, up to a 104 channel Soundcraft. Even legendary vintage desks are showing up everywhere.

One of the problems locally is that the major competition for starters is our own govt. Offering training and studio time for free in local culture centers doesn't help starters.
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Old 07-12-2019, 05:21 PM   #39
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Lots of good info and TRUTH in this thread! Especially about making money vs. enjoying your work. Musicians and artists are honestly not very reliable: not for scheduling and not for funds, and not for their own best interests often times. One day everyone wants to record, the next...crickets. Sometimes you can't even give away studio time...So, you just have to love what you do at the end of the day, whether you're making money or not.

I didn't hear anyone talk about the various studio models here and how to make the best use of the space, whatever space you're working with. Vocal recording studio, project studio, making "beats" studio, mixing studio, etc.

I think the typical analogue desk studio (as implied here) is becoming a relic. Like many have said, they are difficult to fund, build, maintain, and recoup from. You used to need a big studio to do everything: record, mix, and export. Now mixing and export can be done anywhere with the amount of dsp in today's computers, there's no need for physical medium to export to, and even the ability to record oneself has come a very long way and makes a real big studio not really worth it.

So, most of your clients will likely be "nobody" (no offense!) and therefore their "bang for their buck" is taken into account. Hmm, $100/hr for this studio or $30/hr for this other studio. If it's their first album ever, or they aren't well known (yet), which is better for them?
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Old 07-13-2019, 11:44 PM   #40
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FWIW the studio I am using is 30 years old & has a 24 track 2" gathering dust in a corner behind the Po Tools hardware. The desk is one of those excellent Otari-badged Sound-something-or-other ones and most importantly the control room live room and booths are all great sounding. But it was never meant to make money. Just cover its costs, which it does.
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