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#61
17th September 2009
Old 17th September 2009
  #61
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Marc L is offline
I'm a novice to the recording industry and brand new to GS, but I thought I might have some thoughts that would help.

I've been considering purchasing a recording studio for several years (basically to "buy my way" back into the recording biz). Most studios, if they are listed with a business broker, include a FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) value in their listing. I can tell you that most of the studios I've looked at list their FF&E investment between $200k and $600k, and that is without real estate (all of these studios were leasing space). These are either one-room or two-room studios but mostly cater to local musicians and other small projects. (Not sure if you would call this a "project studio" or just a professional studio for rent.)

FWIW, these studios were typically listed for sale at anywhere from half to one-third of the FF&E price, so that tells you what your investment would be worth after you build it (on paper anyway).

Also, the smaller studios were all losing money (mostly because they weren't being operated full-time -- whether that was by choice or because the business simply wasn't there is unknown) but two of the larger studios I've looked at were making around $100k profit a year.
#62
13th December 2012
Old 13th December 2012
  #62
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Joined: Dec 2012
Location: Kingston, Ontario Canada

CanadianRepDM is offline
Recording Studio Info!

okay so i read through these answers and most have got a good idea and some good info. I'm going to put this into perspective for you. Every studios investment is totally different compared to others. One might drop $20,000, others might drop upwards to $500,000, it all depends on your needs. If you are worried about breaking even, then i suggest that you talk to a financial assistant about the funds that you want to start with and a financial plan that will keep your investment in check.

Your studio design is everything almost half of your investment is going to be on the studio. The studio is the first thing the artist sees and the last, so you want to make it pop. Also whats in your studio does count but you need to look at it from the ground up. Not only do you need to find a place that is not effected by noise but there are noise implications that you need to deal with on the inside of your studio.

Professional studios charge on accordance to what they are recording, how much time is put into the task, and many other factors. Some can charge up to $3,000 for an album.

If you want to know how long you equipment is going to last you need to think about what kind of equipment your using. Things like condenser Mics wont last as long as dynamic mics, only because dynamic mics can take a good beating and be fine, where as Condenser mics are easily broken due to the fragile film and diaphragm.

Basically if your looking to start a professional recording studio my suggestion is if your worried about financial stability start small and work your way up. I noticed there was a lot of criticism toward you questions and i understand where these people are coming from but all of us started small. I'm 16 and i run my own business and have worked with several highly contracted agents and artists alike.
If you want a professional studio that will bring in profit you do have to know what you need. Not just by asking what you need, you need to truly know. If you want to work in that professional atmosphere and create professional music then you need to understand every aspect of the industry, as well as every aspect of the audio engineering/technician field. Be productive! if need be go back to school. if your sitting at the console and you can't understand say wave form, or you don't truly understand signal path then your not professional. You need to understand these concepts in order to analyze, and interpret music, But also use your effects, and racks.

If you would like more help on the topic and some info on how to get started you can contact me anytime. If need be we can set up a work plan and get you going. Being professional takes time, hard work, and practice. Shoot me an email and we can work something out.

Sincerely:
Darren Miller
Owner/CEO: CanadianX Studios
Division: Executive offices/ Lead production management
Volunteer: TVCogeco
Email: CanadianRepDM@gmail.com
Web: CanadianX Studios

Bringing Music To Life, Getting It Done Right
#63
13th December 2012
Old 13th December 2012
  #63
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#64
13th December 2012
Old 13th December 2012
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadianRepDM View Post
Professional studios charge on accordance to what they are recording, how much time is put into the task, and many other factors. Some can charge up to $3,000 for an album.
As much as that?!?!

Most places I'd want to work would charge that for less than a week's worth of time. Now, whilst I've recorded an album in 2 days before, that's not the norm. Studio budgets for albums happily run to 10x that for the average band. Some guys charge that PER TRACK to mix - or more. So yeah...if you can make a pro album for $3k of studio time, you're doing pretty well!
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#65
14th December 2012
Old 14th December 2012
  #65
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Let's build a studio! I know L.A., so let's build there...

Land. You want mulit-room, so let's just do 2 to keep costs down. Once you build things out, with isolation, machine rooms, bathrooms, janitor closets, office(s), employee room, lounge, kitchenette, emergency exits, plumbing, fire panels, fire riser, tech room, you are left with some space to record and mix in. For 2 decent control rooms, one larg-sh tracking and one drum/overdub room I would say the minimum size would be a 7,000 sq foot lot, which is the common 50x140 foot lot size in L.A. You want to entice clients to come there, so you must build in a decent part of town. So, for example, a 7,000 sq ft lot with a cool brick building just sold 3 doors down from me for $850,000.

$850,000.

Now. Time to fix the place. New roof, new basic electric service, repair plumbing, seismic retrofit. $75,000. (real numbers from my neighbor. this just gets it ready to be used as a vacant warehouse).

$925,000.

Time to call some designers, get a design going for 7,000 sq ft of studio. Design fee downpayment> $25,000

$950,000.

Plans are done, time to pay the architect, engineering (HVAC), and plumbing design fees. $25,000

$975,000

Go to the city. Submit plans for approval, make revisions, meet with the urban planning devision. Wrangle, wrestle your way through city hall (pay extra for timely reviews, waivers). You will need to pay your designer for his time spent shepherding you through the system. The review fee is based on your projected budget, and it isn't cheap! $25,000

$1,000,000. and you now have an empty building waiting for something to be done.

Now you are ready to go. Phase one is turn the place into a suitable structure for recording. Walls opened, roof opened, city services tweaked.

$50-$250,000

$1,100,000. if you are very good with keeping costs down.

Now you can build! 7,000 sq feet @ $500 per foot. $3,500,000.

$4, 600,000.

Now, buy a used 48-channel Duality. $130,000 Install it.

$4,730,000

B-room gets a Rupert Neve 5088 32 channels. $100,000.

$4,830,000

Tech integration, 2 rooms, 2 live rooms. $100,000. includes installing consoles.

$4,930,000

Electrical contractor: $125,000

$5,055,000

Plumbing. $25,000

$5,080,000

HVAC $90,000

$5,170,000

Fire sprinkler $50,000

$5,220,000

Extras (city fees, mob payoffs, etc...) $25,000

$5,195,000

Now, pay your designer!! $125,000

$5,320,000

Outboard Gear! Mics! Stands, chairs, cue systems! 2 ProTools HDX rigs!!

$225,000

$5,545,000

OK. Now you can open your doors. Oooops! You want to park your car? Well, you could buy an empty lot to park 30 cars if one is available and turn it into a lot, so add $1,000,000

$6,545,000

There you go! Now get out there and sell some time! What is the best going hourly rate at a studio that can hold a full band? $150/hour?

What is the best going rate for a stereo mix room/overdub room? $75/hour?

So, the best you can get, if everyone pays full book rate per hour is $225/hour.

$225/hour multiplied by 2,000 hours a year: $450,000 a year gross.

Let's say you got a business loan for the $6.5M. A decent loan rate would give you a monthly mortgage of $37,000 per month for a 30-year mortgage. So that's $444,000 a year on the loan.

Pay wages. Studio manager is $50-150,000 a year. Head engineer, $50-100,000 a year. Second $25-$50,000 a year (x2), runners $20,000 a year. So let's say $225,000/year in salaries.

$-669,000

Utilities are approx $2,500 a month. $30,000 a year

-$699,000


Taxes, insurance, depreciation. $25,000

Your yearly costs are $725,000. The most you could ever hope to make is $500,000 in a year.

After 10 years you will have lost $2million just to keep the doors open.

Sound like a plan??



GC
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#66
17th December 2012
Old 17th December 2012
  #66
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Joined: Feb 2004
Location: Graham, NC

xaMdaM is offline
Quote:
Sound like a plan??
yup... Sounds about right
#67
6th January 2013
Old 6th January 2013
  #67
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
Let's build a studio! I know L.A., so let's build there...

Land. You want mulit-room, so let's just do 2 to keep costs down. Once you build things out, with isolation, machine rooms, bathrooms, janitor closets, office(s), employee room, lounge, kitchenette, emergency exits, plumbing, fire panels, fire riser, tech room, you are left with some space to record and mix in. For 2 decent control rooms, one larg-sh tracking and one drum/overdub room I would say the minimum size would be a 7,000 sq foot lot, which is the common 50x140 foot lot size in L.A. You want to entice clients to come there, so you must build in a decent part of town. So, for example, a 7,000 sq ft lot with a cool brick building just sold 3 doors down from me for $850,000.

$850,000.

Now. Time to fix the place. New roof, new basic electric service, repair plumbing, seismic retrofit. $75,000. (real numbers from my neighbor. this just gets it ready to be used as a vacant warehouse).

$925,000.

Time to call some designers, get a design going for 7,000 sq ft of studio. Design fee downpayment> $25,000

$950,000.

Plans are done, time to pay the architect, engineering (HVAC), and plumbing design fees. $25,000

$975,000

Go to the city. Submit plans for approval, make revisions, meet with the urban planning devision. Wrangle, wrestle your way through city hall (pay extra for timely reviews, waivers). You will need to pay your designer for his time spent shepherding you through the system. The review fee is based on your projected budget, and it isn't cheap! $25,000

$1,000,000. and you now have an empty building waiting for something to be done.

Now you are ready to go. Phase one is turn the place into a suitable structure for recording. Walls opened, roof opened, city services tweaked.

$50-$250,000

$1,100,000. if you are very good with keeping costs down.

Now you can build! 7,000 sq feet @ $500 per foot. $3,500,000.

$4, 600,000.

Now, buy a used 48-channel Duality. $130,000 Install it.

$4,730,000

B-room gets a Rupert Neve 5088 32 channels. $100,000.

$4,830,000

Tech integration, 2 rooms, 2 live rooms. $100,000. includes installing consoles.

$4,930,000

Electrical contractor: $125,000

$5,055,000

Plumbing. $25,000

$5,080,000

HVAC $90,000

$5,170,000

Fire sprinkler $50,000

$5,220,000

Extras (city fees, mob payoffs, etc...) $25,000

$5,195,000

Now, pay your designer!! $125,000

$5,320,000

Outboard Gear! Mics! Stands, chairs, cue systems! 2 ProTools HDX rigs!!

$225,000

$5,545,000

OK. Now you can open your doors. Oooops! You want to park your car? Well, you could buy an empty lot to park 30 cars if one is available and turn it into a lot, so add $1,000,000

$6,545,000

There you go! Now get out there and sell some time! What is the best going hourly rate at a studio that can hold a full band? $150/hour?

What is the best going rate for a stereo mix room/overdub room? $75/hour?

So, the best you can get, if everyone pays full book rate per hour is $225/hour.

$225/hour multiplied by 2,000 hours a year: $450,000 a year gross.

Let's say you got a business loan for the $6.5M. A decent loan rate would give you a monthly mortgage of $37,000 per month for a 30-year mortgage. So that's $444,000 a year on the loan.

Pay wages. Studio manager is $50-150,000 a year. Head engineer, $50-100,000 a year. Second $25-$50,000 a year (x2), runners $20,000 a year. So let's say $225,000/year in salaries.

$-669,000

Utilities are approx $2,500 a month. $30,000 a year

-$699,000


Taxes, insurance, depreciation. $25,000

Your yearly costs are $725,000. The most you could ever hope to make is $500,000 in a year.

After 10 years you will have lost $2million just to keep the doors open.

Sound like a plan??



GC
At first I was going to comment that your tax and insurance numbers were low, but the more I looked at how you cheaped out on gear, I think they're probably right. Good job!
#68
6th January 2013
Old 6th January 2013
  #68
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Joined: May 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 1,901

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clueless View Post
At first I was going to comment that your tax and insurance numbers were low, but the more I looked at how you cheaped out on gear, I think they're probably right. Good job!
Ya gotta draw the line somewhere! Triple or quadruple the gear cost to square up with older studios that have fully depreciated lockers full of U47s, 251s, and C12s that they bought for $150 each in the '80s.
#69
6th January 2013
Old 6th January 2013
  #69
Gear Guru
 
Joined: Jun 2002
Location: New York
Posts: 15,166

joeq is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clueless View Post
At first I was going to comment that your tax and insurance numbers were low, but the more I looked at how you cheaped out on gear, I think they're probably right. Good job!
He could save a few bucks by skipping the "Seismic Retrofit"

just stick a high-pass filter on everything and take out those low-frequency earthquake vibrations
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#70
20th January 2013
Old 20th January 2013
  #70
BOP
Gear addict
 
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 303

BOP is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
Let's build a studio! I know L.A., so let's build there...

Land. You want mulit-room, so let's just do 2 to keep costs down. Once you build things out, with isolation, machine rooms, bathrooms, janitor closets, office(s), employee room, lounge, kitchenette, emergency exits, plumbing, fire panels, fire riser, tech room, you are left with some space to record and mix in. For 2 decent control rooms, one larg-sh tracking and one drum/overdub room I would say the minimum size would be a 7,000 sq foot lot, which is the common 50x140 foot lot size in L.A. You want to entice clients to come there, so you must build in a decent part of town. So, for example, a 7,000 sq ft lot with a cool brick building just sold 3 doors down from me for $850,000.

$850,000.

Now. Time to fix the place. New roof, new basic electric service, repair plumbing, seismic retrofit. $75,000. (real numbers from my neighbor. this just gets it ready to be used as a vacant warehouse).

$925,000.

Time to call some designers, get a design going for 7,000 sq ft of studio. Design fee downpayment> $25,000

$950,000.

Plans are done, time to pay the architect, engineering (HVAC), and plumbing design fees. $25,000

$975,000

Go to the city. Submit plans for approval, make revisions, meet with the urban planning devision. Wrangle, wrestle your way through city hall (pay extra for timely reviews, waivers). You will need to pay your designer for his time spent shepherding you through the system. The review fee is based on your projected budget, and it isn't cheap! $25,000

$1,000,000. and you now have an empty building waiting for something to be done.

Now you are ready to go. Phase one is turn the place into a suitable structure for recording. Walls opened, roof opened, city services tweaked.

$50-$250,000

$1,100,000. if you are very good with keeping costs down.

Now you can build! 7,000 sq feet @ $500 per foot. $3,500,000.

$4, 600,000.

Now, buy a used 48-channel Duality. $130,000 Install it.

$4,730,000

B-room gets a Rupert Neve 5088 32 channels. $100,000.

$4,830,000

Tech integration, 2 rooms, 2 live rooms. $100,000. includes installing consoles.

$4,930,000

Electrical contractor: $125,000

$5,055,000

Plumbing. $25,000

$5,080,000

HVAC $90,000

$5,170,000

Fire sprinkler $50,000

$5,220,000

Extras (city fees, mob payoffs, etc...) $25,000

$5,195,000

Now, pay your designer!! $125,000

$5,320,000

Outboard Gear! Mics! Stands, chairs, cue systems! 2 ProTools HDX rigs!!

$225,000

$5,545,000

OK. Now you can open your doors. Oooops! You want to park your car? Well, you could buy an empty lot to park 30 cars if one is available and turn it into a lot, so add $1,000,000

$6,545,000

There you go! Now get out there and sell some time! What is the best going hourly rate at a studio that can hold a full band? $150/hour?

What is the best going rate for a stereo mix room/overdub room? $75/hour?

So, the best you can get, if everyone pays full book rate per hour is $225/hour.

$225/hour multiplied by 2,000 hours a year: $450,000 a year gross.

Let's say you got a business loan for the $6.5M. A decent loan rate would give you a monthly mortgage of $37,000 per month for a 30-year mortgage. So that's $444,000 a year on the loan.

Pay wages. Studio manager is $50-150,000 a year. Head engineer, $50-100,000 a year. Second $25-$50,000 a year (x2), runners $20,000 a year. So let's say $225,000/year in salaries.

$-669,000

Utilities are approx $2,500 a month. $30,000 a year

-$699,000


Taxes, insurance, depreciation. $25,000

Your yearly costs are $725,000. The most you could ever hope to make is $500,000 in a year.

After 10 years you will have lost $2million just to keep the doors open.

Sound like a plan??



GC
I like imaginary calculations like that but paying almost 200k for studio design? 100k for tech integration? 25k for HVAC plans? 3.5 mil for just the infrastructure inside? Are you planning for walls made out of silver? etc. etc.

Let me have a go at your list:

850k for building - sounds about right, no need for 7000 square feet as you don't a whole team of people there, it's not 1966 so can go for higher quality building instead.
500k for infrastructure including plumbing, electrical, walls, ceiling... - the only part of it that needs to be studio quality are the live rooms and the control rooms, ISO booths can be easily had for 10-20k a pop and can even be deliver on a lorry if not built in, floating floor only makes sense in live room, rest of building can be A or just B quality office space with well thought out decorating.
100k extra maybe for HVAC including plans, again only special HVAC needed for studio, no need for that in rest of building and no need for an integrated system for the whole place apart from studio area, you can have a simple wall mounted hvac in office rooms with outside walls, same as you can have a little water heater in bathrooms instead of a dedicated boiler room, think smart.
35k for detailed plans based on your specification - it's not black magic, point a finger at something that is already standing and works and ask to have the same thing with your own colour scheme kind of deal. I have some experience with custom plans and seriously, custom plans do not have to cost 200k, you are not building a mansion and trying to make a statement. No need to hire a studio design guy to design you the same studio he designed 20 times before, if you have space to adjust, get plans freely available out there and have someone look them over instead of drawing them up from scratch and arriving at the same conclusion for the 50th time - no need to run research for a writing device either, pencils available cheap from the local store.
25k for city - no idea but sounds a bit low tbh, then again it is an already standing building!
120k for an ssl - sure why not.
100k for neve - yeah go on
12k for audio workstation - 4 refurbished mac pros at 3k a pop (i'm dealing a bit in the market and that is easily done over time)
50k for PTHD hardware + other software
20k for office hardware/software/printers etc. - you can have an Imac galore with used imacs for 1k per Imac
40k for furniture for the whole place
500k on gear - that is a load of money and you can easily have an incredible amount of outboard and mics for that - the whole talk about how much gear is worth is usually just speculation since it's not being sold, most of it - any of those old guys trying to sell everything fast would not net as much as everyone likes to appraise that stuff for. Most of your gear needs to be workhorse and can be new from the many companies out there, you don't need to buy old dingy classics like the fairchilds people are trying to push around on ebay unless you are a hoarder instead of a businessman.
40k on minimal landscaping around the building and concrete for parking - planning rarely allows for buildings to touch boundaries but nothing says you can't have a concrete slab all the way to the boundaries from the end of the building, if it's 5m to boundary, and the wide part of the building is facing the road then you can easily fit 10-20 cars on there if not more - just pick a building with space on the road facing side for that.

That is 2.392.000 $ so go ahead and add even 112.000 for unexpected costs and extra technical integration (I don't see while your hired engineer can't do the tech integration on his own for that whooping 100k you pay him a year.

So 2.5 mil be it - sure it could be 5 mil but that is cost of building not tech integration or plumbing or changing the roof 3 times and buildings can go even to 25 mil for a piece of crap when you look at it properly so the sky is the limit anyway.

Now staff:

You are the studio manager or otherwise why the hell would you build a studio? No new business would work if the entrepreneur him/herself would not be doing 12h days managing it all. Also even business that are not in a dying industry take at least 3 years to establish themselves.
Hedge funded business often don't turn a profit for many years. No salary here - we include 40k in costs for keeping you alive on some economical middle class level, all clear net profit that you don't reinvest are a boost to that after you start turning a profit.

Engineer - 60k, you are not making a guaranteed legendary facility even with 10 mil invested necessarily so just going straight for someone who gets paid 100k a year on a regular salary is crazy. Get someone with 10 years of experience and decent credits for 60k or work with freelancers per project - make the engineer earn more credit there and actually make himself worth the 100k you're going to pay him in the future.
If you have one main live room and are not running to tape then why have 2 assistants? Get one for 20k a year straight out of some technical college with a promised boost to 30k after a year and then get interns to do other tasks. Have you seen real unemployment figures recently? It's staggering, it's a buyers market for employers, you can employ a college graduate any day for minimal wage.
It's a 1 live, 2 control, maybe more than one booth place, you don't need "runners".
Between You, The engineer and one smart, with no future in the devastated economy, college graduate you can easily handle it.

So, including your sustenance, around 130k a year in salaries. 30k for your quoted bills. say 40k in insurance and other running costs.
2.5 mil investment, 200k running costs.

Starting this kinda business on a bank loan is out of the question so say 1mil of your own money + 1mil angel investment + 0.5 mil mortgage on your house.
Sure if someone does not know shit, does not want to work at all in the place, has no connections etc. etc. then nothing is possible, wether it be studio or even selling potatoes.
If you could make 500k a year as you say (note that we actually spent more on what is important in my calculation) then even with loans on un expected minor events you still could turn at least 200k a profit.

Keep living for 10 years on the 40k allowance and you could pay of the 7 year mortgage and get a return for the angel investors if you are lucky. The next 5 years you possibly make back your own investment. If you started by age 35 you are now 50 and have your savings again and your salary now can be maybe 100k since everyone else who slaved there need raises along the way as well. The abused college kid is now giving the head a run for his money and there is a young office assistant taking care of day to day menial stuff.

If you can't make 1 mil $ in LA of all places by the age of 35 then you probably should not be thinking about trying to start a few million dollar studio as a business in the worst economic depression that has ever happened in the US.
Positive outlook: the biggest companies that exist today where started or got into their own during the great depression.

My outlook: why start a million dollar studio in LA at all, there are studios there already, go somewhere where there are not many studios and build a million dollar facility that costs you 100k a year without any loans or mortgages and where you work yourself as the second engineer.

It's all silly and made up numbers but it's based in reality and it's good to think about stuff like this.
Here is an even more sensible approach:
Get 300k of your own money for gear and upfront costs,
Lease an already suitable studio building without gear for 10 years (as are available sometimes in London for instance, no idea about the US) with quarterly payments.
Spend 200k on gear working your ass off to buy it smart second hand a year before you actually start your lease ending up with 250k worth of it instead of the other way around.
Work the place as a producer and as an engineer, forget a large ssl or a whole array of neve preamps - where are you going to use all the preamps in that many million dollar one live room place anywhere? How many microphones are you running at the same time in that solitary room?
Hire an assistant who you know personally part time and pay them minimal wage - so many people on minimal wage, college graduates, award winners. A multitude of formerly session musicians on welfare...

I don't really know the circuit and how it works around in the US but I know enough about numbers to say that counting on just running a mercenary studio where you sit back and wait for people to rent your place is a weak idea today.
If you don't produce or engineer and can't make a name for the place then even with a million dollar facility who would want to come to you over legendary studios, especially in a legendary location.

If people stay famous without going out of their garage for recording the new album then maybe the idea of a dedicated facility has no sense out of the abstract of studio designers and gear hoarders. Sad but possibly true.
Boost those air frequencies all you like with 3 different eq's for that special colour while so many producers and engineer do so much with so little - start there, get a floating floor once you can afford it as a luxury.

It always makes my brain overheat this whole business thing. I always was primarily interested in contemporary instrumental and "classical" recording with the occasional poet with a song where a floating floor is a godsend yet it's always the never ending pursuit of some 60ties folk heros "sound" that necessitates 500k in outboard and a huge live room in a climate where most pop people are literary unable to work in an ensemble and require overdubs.
Pop music is made in ISO booths nowadays without outboard most of the time - is it business then we are going fantasy football about or living out fantasies about the past?

Just having a loud think in-between ebay stunts.

The fantasy of these multi million dollar facilities grew up in an economical bubble and we probably will not return to that way of doing things out there in the trenches for the next 40 years or so.
#71
20th January 2013
Old 20th January 2013
  #71
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2006
Location: Los Angeles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
I like imaginary calculations like that but paying almost 200k for studio design? 100k for tech integration? 25k for HVAC plans? 3.5 mil for just the infrastructure inside? Are you planning for walls made out of silver? etc. etc.

Let me have a go at your list:

850k for building - sounds about right, no need for 7000 square feet as you don't a whole team of people there, it's not 1966 so can go for higher quality building instead.
500k for infrastructure including plumbing, electrical, walls, ceiling... - the only part of it that needs to be studio quality are the live rooms and the control rooms, ISO booths can be easily had for 10-20k a pop and can even be deliver on a lorry if not built in, floating floor only makes sense in live room, rest of building can be A or just B quality office space with well thought out decorating.
100k extra maybe for HVAC including plans, again only special HVAC needed for studio, no need for that in rest of building and no need for an integrated system for the whole place apart from studio area, you can have a simple wall mounted hvac in office rooms with outside walls, same as you can have a little water heater in bathrooms instead of a dedicated boiler room, think smart.
35k for detailed plans based on your specification - it's not black magic, point a finger at something that is already standing and works and ask to have the same thing with your own colour scheme kind of deal. I have some experience with custom plans and seriously, custom plans do not have to cost 200k, you are not building a mansion and trying to make a statement. No need to hire a studio design guy to design you the same studio he designed 20 times before, if you have space to adjust, get plans freely available out there and have someone look them over instead of drawing them up from scratch and arriving at the same conclusion for the 50th time - no need to run research for a writing device either, pencils available cheap from the local store.
25k for city - no idea but sounds a bit low tbh, then again it is an already standing building!
120k for an ssl - sure why not.
100k for neve - yeah go on
12k for audio workstation - 4 refurbished mac pros at 3k a pop (i'm dealing a bit in the market and that is easily done over time)
50k for PTHD hardware + other software
20k for office hardware/software/printers etc. - you can have an Imac galore with used imacs for 1k per Imac
40k for furniture for the whole place
500k on gear - that is a load of money and you can easily have an incredible amount of outboard and mics for that - the whole talk about how much gear is worth is usually just speculation since it's not being sold, most of it - any of those old guys trying to sell everything fast would not net as much as everyone likes to appraise that stuff for. Most of your gear needs to be workhorse and can be new from the many companies out there, you don't need to buy old dingy classics like the fairchilds people are trying to push around on ebay unless you are a hoarder instead of a businessman.
40k on minimal landscaping around the building and concrete for parking - planning rarely allows for buildings to touch boundaries but nothing says you can't have a concrete slab all the way to the boundaries from the end of the building, if it's 5m to boundary, and the wide part of the building is facing the road then you can easily fit 10-20 cars on there if not more - just pick a building with space on the road facing side for that.

That is 2.392.000 $ so go ahead and add even 112.000 for unexpected costs and extra technical integration (I don't see while your hired engineer can't do the tech integration on his own for that whooping 100k you pay him a year.

So 2.5 mil be it - sure it could be 5 mil but that is cost of building not tech integration or plumbing or changing the roof 3 times and buildings can go even to 25 mil for a piece of crap when you look at it properly so the sky is the limit anyway.

Now staff:

You are the studio manager or otherwise why the hell would you build a studio? No new business would work if the entrepreneur him/herself would not be doing 12h days managing it all. Also even business that are not in a dying industry take at least 3 years to establish themselves.
Hedge funded business often don't turn a profit for many years. No salary here - we include 40k in costs for keeping you alive on some economical middle class level, all clear net profit that you don't reinvest are a boost to that after you start turning a profit.

Engineer - 60k, you are not making a guaranteed legendary facility even with 10 mil invested necessarily so just going straight for someone who gets paid 100k a year on a regular salary is crazy. Get someone with 10 years of experience and decent credits for 60k or work with freelancers per project - make the engineer earn more credit there and actually make himself worth the 100k you're going to pay him in the future.
If you have one main live room and are not running to tape then why have 2 assistants? Get one for 20k a year straight out of some technical college with a promised boost to 30k after a year and then get interns to do other tasks. Have you seen real unemployment figures recently? It's staggering, it's a buyers market for employers, you can employ a college graduate any day for minimal wage.
It's a 1 live, 2 control, maybe more than one booth place, you don't need "runners".
Between You, The engineer and one smart, with no future in the devastated economy, college graduate you can easily handle it.

So, including your sustenance, around 130k a year in salaries. 30k for your quoted bills. say 40k in insurance and other running costs.
2.5 mil investment, 200k running costs.

Starting this kinda business on a bank loan is out of the question so say 1mil of your own money + 1mil angel investment + 0.5 mil mortgage on your house.
Sure if someone does not know shit, does not want to work at all in the place, has no connections etc. etc. then nothing is possible, wether it be studio or even selling potatoes.
If you could make 500k a year as you say (note that we actually spent more on what is important in my calculation) then even with loans on un expected minor events you still could turn at least 200k a profit.

Keep living for 10 years on the 40k allowance and you could pay of the 7 year mortgage and get a return for the angel investors if you are lucky. The next 5 years you possibly make back your own investment. If you started by age 35 you are now 50 and have your savings again and your salary now can be maybe 100k since everyone else who slaved there need raises along the way as well. The abused college kid is now giving the head a run for his money and there is a young office assistant taking care of day to day menial stuff.

If you can't make 1 mil $ in LA of all places by the age of 35 then you probably should not be thinking about trying to start a few million dollar studio as a business in the worst economic depression that has ever happened in the US.
Positive outlook: the biggest companies that exist today where started or got into their own during the great depression.

My outlook: why start a million dollar studio in LA at all, there are studios there already, go somewhere where there are not many studios and build a million dollar facility that costs you 100k a year without any loans or mortgages and where you work yourself as the second engineer.

It's all silly and made up numbers but it's based in reality and it's good to think about stuff like this.
Here is an even more sensible approach:
Get 300k of your own money for gear and upfront costs,
Lease an already suitable studio building without gear for 10 years (as are available sometimes in London for instance, no idea about the US) with quarterly payments.
Spend 200k on gear working your ass off to buy it smart second hand a year before you actually start your lease ending up with 250k worth of it instead of the other way around.
Work the place as a producer and as an engineer, forget a large ssl or a whole array of neve preamps - where are you going to use all the preamps in that many million dollar one live room place anywhere? How many microphones are you running at the same time in that solitary room?
Hire an assistant who you know personally part time and pay them minimal wage - so many people on minimal wage, college graduates, award winners. A multitude of formerly session musicians on welfare...

I don't really know the circuit and how it works around in the US but I know enough about numbers to say that counting on just running a mercenary studio where you sit back and wait for people to rent your place is a weak idea today.
If you don't produce or engineer and can't make a name for the place then even with a million dollar facility who would want to come to you over legendary studios, especially in a legendary location.

If people stay famous without going out of their garage for recording the new album then maybe the idea of a dedicated facility has no sense out of the abstract of studio designers and gear hoarders. Sad but possibly true.
Boost those air frequencies all you like with 3 different eq's for that special colour while so many producers and engineer do so much with so little - start there, get a floating floor once you can afford it as a luxury.

It always makes my brain overheat this whole business thing. I always was primarily interested in contemporary instrumental and "classical" recording with the occasional poet with a song where a floating floor is a godsend yet it's always the never ending pursuit of some 60ties folk heros "sound" that necessitates 500k in outboard and a huge live room in a climate where most pop people are literary unable to work in an ensemble and require overdubs.
Pop music is made in ISO booths nowadays without outboard most of the time - is it business then we are going fantasy football about or living out fantasies about the past?

Just having a loud think in-between ebay stunts.

The fantasy of these multi million dollar facilities grew up in an economical bubble and we probably will not return to that way of doing things out there in the trenches for the next 40 years or so.
I was responding to the Original Post. Each of your arguments about my post are related to it fitting the OP's request, which is for a large, professional world class level facility. Not a project studio.
#72
20th January 2013
Old 20th January 2013
  #72
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MattGrave is offline
You do realise that just throwing money at gear isn't going to "start a new standard for audio quality". Who is going to use this gear to make these amazing recordings you & your employer are thinking about?
BOP
#73
20th January 2013
Old 20th January 2013
  #73
BOP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
I was responding to the Original Post. Each of your arguments about my post are related to it fitting the OP's request, which is for a large, professional world class level facility. Not a project studio.
I was just having a bit of fun with imaginary studio builds, not really making any point. I din't even read the OP in detail as those questions pop up all the time and there are many answers already out there.

If you think however that a million dollar studio created in an economical manner is a project studio then where are at a disagreement.
I like your studio listed on the website for instance, looks great on the photos, gear list is not featuring anything unnecessary yet being exhaustive etc. etc.
However your own calculations do not apply to your own studio which seems to be made in a smart manner without throwing money around at random.

Did you for instance pay 200k for the design of that studio? If so what was worth the 200k, the idea to have the control room like it is in any other place or to have sliding doors to the iso boots like in many other places... etc. Height of the racks that we see everywhere the same?
In London there is a multitude of studios available for rent designed by the same company and they all look the same.

Do you even need a studio designer? Why not just an acoustic expert and just a regular architect/engineer to make sure that the 2 new walls in the studio are up to spec.
Do you need a bespoke service to install sound treatment?

All of those questions are not really commercial vs project studio at all.

Also if studios are closing down why do people still design them the same way minus small changes? If you are paying 200k for studio design and then have to close doors as you calculate, it means that the studio design was simply not up to spec as well as other things that are part of the equation.

But yeah for me it's more just fantasy football calculations as I would never try and run a few million dollar facility - I'd rather move to the countryside and start farming!

Project studio sound a bit derogatory as well - you can make a million dollar record in a sensible facility and it won't be a project studio the way we think about it now.
Also project studio for a great producer or project studio for a weekend warrior? Many variables here.

Anyway I dig your place but I also do not believe that you would or actually did just put your legs up and have someone else do absolutely everything at an incredible cost resting on a business loan nor that anybody else trying to survive on the market actually does things like that.

Things might cost that much in translating labour into money at times but whoever is at the helm is usually the one who gets that cost a lot lower. The same way people manage their own house builds - it's an awful experience but saves many 50-120k on a big house. Just because you got everything 3 times cheaper means that you are better at business possibly rather than actually having less of a space.
If you can get that duality for 1/4 of the price then is it 1/4 of the console at the end? If it performs then the guy who paid less and hustled to do so is the clear winner in my opinion.

But anyway all peace and serenity - just thinking out loud.

#74
21st January 2013
Old 21st January 2013
  #74
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Herc is offline
.... or.....

1/ rent local barn full of hay bales
$100/week

2/ hire local labourer to stack hay bales for soundproofing
$100 one time cost

3/ MacBookPro with PT
$3K

4/ A/D convertor
$2K

5/ U87, stand and cable
$5K

Done - and not much more than $10K OTC, and $5K p/a rent.

Now, the plane fare to fly me there to engineer for you....... and my salary will cost you more than $250K p/a.
#75
21st January 2013
Old 21st January 2013
  #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
If you think however that a million dollar studio created in an economical manner is a project studio then where are at a disagreement.
Not at all, I think. There are many incredible multi-$M personal/project studios out there that kick some serious butt. But, the OP's question was about world-class commercial studios for a specific purpose. I do think there is a significant distinction in the way they are built and run because commercial studios need to serve a variety of industry clients instead of a specific personal need. I'm sorry if there was any negative connotation, it was certainly was not intended



Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
Your own calculations do not apply to your own studio which seems to be made in a smart manner without throwing money around at random.
Yes, the figures I gave were completely off the top of my head at the moment, and are not from my build. Although, they are based on my experience building it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
Did you for instance pay 200k for the design of that studio?
Nope. My conservative fictional figure was based on figures I gained from world-class name designers during the competitive bidding phase of my studio build in 2006, extrapolated to the theoretical building I was "designing" for this thread. So the number should be higher now. In fact, I know that a commercial studio here in L.A. that paid many millions of $ just for the design and decoration of their LOBBY.

My fictional studio designer would also be overseeing the construction and be responsible for room tuning. That's a LOT of hours over a 2-year build.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
If so what was worth the 200k, the idea to have the control room like it is in any other place or to have sliding doors to the iso boots like in many other places... etc. Height of the racks that we see everywhere the same?
The way that you bring this up reveals that you may not understand studio construction. The only way you would would be to do it, so I understand Here's a quick, perfunctory trip through those 3 things you mention as being trivial or generic. For example:

A sliding door system is not as simple as you may think. I could go on over a page or two just on the doors and how they incorporate: isolation, ease of entry for cartage, pianos, the coordination of contractors and subcontractors for the framing a d installation. Any error of just these simple items means they do not work.
And how each of these is ascertained and tested, and how they are installed is really important. These are not from the local hardware store. They are custom ordered for dimensions, glass type and thickness, hardware, trim, gaskets, fire ratings, and many more things.
They need to be approved by the city, also, as means of ingress/egress and handicap access. This is part and parcel of a commercial studio.
Once they are installed, they need to adjusted, tested, adjusted again. I custom fabricated a bunch isolation solutions that raised their already excellent isolation by over 6dB, also. They cost tens of thousands of $$, btw.

A credenza is not as simple as it seems, either. Look at the angle of one. How does it reflect sound energy from the speakers? Too much tilt and it goes right back into the engineer's ears. Too little and it's an ergonomic nightmare. How high? (ADDA-regs?), how wide, how deep? Client electrical outlets, mic panels, troughs, patch considerations, physical space between the console and the top, lighting, ventilation of the components, electrical into the bottom for the gear!
The design process took several days, with elements of the team weighing in: designer (acoustics, form factor, aesthetics), electrical (gotta have conduits for tech and dirty power run before the floor is even built underneath it!), technical (huge amount of planning here: gear, troughs, height, mic panels/integration runs), owner (cost!). It was built by an artisan that makes custom furniture, so plans had to be drawn, modified, approved. Wood selected by hand at a fine hardwood store (mahogany, walnut) in large enough pieces to work. Headaches!
Then: how to stain! OMG I could fill pages with just wood staining...

Control room: Each is unique. every dimension is agonized over, because everything needs to fit! Then acoustics... there's a book right there. Behind the fabric walls are hundreds of acoustic elements that are working. Tuning that room took many, many days... No 2 control rooms are alike. The aesthetic is generic, yes, but for a purpose: It has to work for clients, a new set each day, and it has to last, it has to function, and it has to sound incredible all the time to everyone. Oh, and 5.1.... nevermind!

So, what looks generic most certainly is not. This also gives you a glimpse into why good studio construction cost so much to design and oversee.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
Do you even need a studio designer? Why not just an acoustic expert and just a regular architect/engineer to make sure that the 2 new walls in the studio are up to spec.
Do you need a bespoke service to install sound treatment?
Yes! A designer is an acoustic expert, hopefully. An architect works in conjunction with the designer as very necessary part of the team.

No, the contractor installs acoustic treatment from plans generated by the designer, and their installation is overseen by the designer. Acoustics are tested while the building is in process at milestones to determine if things are going as planned. Things like isolation are also tested, as one long screw can short circuit tens of thousands of dollars of isolation equipment, and once it's buried behind acoustic treatment and fabric, the cost to fix will be astronomical.



Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
Also if studios are closing down why do people still design them the same way minus small changes?
Do you mean to imply that there is some fault of basic studio design that has caused the implosion of the music recording industry?

I really don't know why anyone would build a commercial studio anymore. My original post was meant to convey the idiocy of it. Seriously!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
If you are paying 200k for studio design and then have to close doors as you calculate, it means that the studio design was simply not up to spec as well as other things that are part of the equation.
Not sure what this means. Are you saying that, since most studios look modular and generic they should always perform the same way (because that's how they look)? I've already explained just a tiny fraction of why this is NOT so above, but I'll also add that materials are always different. One shipment of drywall will perform differently than the next. Multiply by thousands of sheets of drywall, and no two rooms, even built to identical dimensions, will perform the same acoustically. Then add Green Glue, construction slop, rubber, wood, cement, isolation... You need to test at many milestones during construction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
But yeah for me it's more just fantasy football calculations as I would never try and run a few million dollar facility - I'd rather move to the countryside and start farming!
That's another aspect: Actually running the place! I just have ONE room, and my manager, Vicki, is working like crazy all day everyday (even weekends and nights) to keep it functioning and booked. I actually tried to be the owner/manager... that lasted a month before I went insane. It's an 60-80 hour a week job. Add more rooms and you need to add receptionists and traffic personnel.

Call Ocean Way, Capitol, East West, or any of the major scoring stages that I compete against and see who answers the phone. Not going to be the owner/engineer!


Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
Project studio sound a bit derogatory as well - you can make a million dollar record in a sensible facility and it won't be a project studio the way we think about it now.
Also project studio for a great producer or project studio for a weekend warrior? Many variables here.
Sorry. It's an industry-accepted term (the AES has a new, very popular "project studio" focus at their conventions now, with lectures and demonstrations. Just one example), so I don't know why it's derogatory! I hope you don't think I am putting any type of studio down! I love recording and music, any way we do it is fine with me, as long as it sounds good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
Anyway I dig your place, but I also do not believe that you would or actually did just put your legs up and have someone else do absolutely everything at an incredible cost resting on a business loan nor that anybody else trying to survive on the market actually does things like that.
You are right! I was at the build every single day. During the final phase I was at the studio 16 hours every day of the week for 3 months straight (along with my designer). As construction finished even more time was spent integrating everything. More months of 12 hour days. Then getting it going, more months of 12 hour days. Then liftoff and I am now literally insane, as you can probably tell. I literally have blood, sweat, and tears (many tears) in my studio.

Peace to you, also, and I hope I am not coming off as an a-hole. I'm passionate about this subject because it consumes my life. Now, I have a large family to take care of, as well. (When we bought the building my wife and I were expecting our first boy, now we have three). I spend every moment of my life thinking and worrying about stuff like this!

My build blog: The Bridge Recording Gearslutz build blog


Greg

.
#76
21st January 2013
Old 21st January 2013
  #76
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Greg,

I can appreciate where you are coming from. Your studio is a dream.

If I was still in LA I would be trying to convince you to let me work for you in any capacity that I can.

I don't personally know you and I have never set foot in your studio, but I sincerely hope that you and The Bridge are alive and well 20 years from now.

- Cheers
__________________
Wtd: World Peace, C12, Telefunken 201/1, Church mic.
#77
21st January 2013
Old 21st January 2013
  #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toneguru View Post
Greg,

I can appreciate where you are coming from. Your studio is a dream.

If I was still in LA I would be trying to convince you to let me work for you in any capacity that I can.

I don't personally know you and I have never set foot in your studio, but I sincerely hope that you and The Bridge are alive and well 20 years from now.

- Cheers
Thanks! Means a lot and I appreciate it.

.
#78
21st January 2013
Old 21st January 2013
  #78
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joeq is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herc View Post
.... or.....

1/ rent local barn full of hay bales
$100/week

2/ hire local labourer to stack hay bales for soundproofing
$100 one time cost

3/ MacBookPro with PT
$3K

4/ A/D convertor
$2K

5/ U87, stand and cable
$5K

Done - and not much more than $10K OTC, and $5K p/a rent.

Now, the plane fare to fly me there to engineer for you....... and my salary will cost you more than $250K p/a.
ok - but no smoking in the studio
BOP
#79
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
  #79
BOP
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Hey Greg,

Cool, appreciate the response - respect for the attention to detail - looks like a great place and is not vulgar at all given that the centre attention grabber is the live room. It's a recording studio for sure, not just a glorified console storage (what I see some small studios being at time - harsh but true, I think).

However I still think that the idea of paying through the roof for design and decoration is Beats by dr dree and as a European I find it vulgar
#80
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
  #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
Hey Greg,

Cool, appreciate the response - respect for the attention to detail - looks like a great place and is not vulgar at all given that the centre attention grabber is the live room. It's a recording studio for sure, not just a glorified console storage (what I see some small studios being at time - harsh but true, I think).

However I still think that the idea of paying through the roof for design and decoration is Beats by dr dree and as a European I find it vulgar
There is beauty in highly functional design. And so much more, I think, when it incorporates true artisan work. This kind of fine hand-labor is going extinct, btw.

There was a lot of work on my end to achieve your vulgarity. I made many trips to the warehouse that processes all of the mahogany veneer shipments to the West Coast of the U.S. I hand selected every sheet that we used, so that the grain and the size of the grain matched with no imperfections. Out of hundreds of sheets (I had to wait for the new shipment to come in to get the largest selection) only a handful matched up well enough to make the cut. I convinced a hardwood mill to make a special run of 15-foot mahogany QRD planks, and they will never do it again because the failure ratio was so high due to splitting and warping. I had to hand-make each of the walnut and mahogany diffuser boxes, which employed machining and powdercoating aluminum, as well as milling the wood, because RPG company wanted to charge an astronomical amount. I sought out and found a group of native Hungarian woodworkers living in Northridge to do all of the on-site veneering and staining because the large professional firms (that did Disney Hall) wanted $85,000 to do the same job that I got done for 1/10th that employing Zoltan Fejes and his crew. They have also built a bunch of desks and cabinets for the studio. I could go on and on. Do you see the point? One man's vulgarity is another's hard work, time, and vision.

And the work pays off in that it appeals to a clientele that can actually pay real hourly rates that allow a good modern studio to exist. It's not for me to enjoy, after all. It is more of a weight at times when we are not booked!

A lot of my clients are European and love our place, so you do not speak for all of Europe. European design, historically, is a vast museum of intense aesthetical beauty bowing to functionalism at times. So, I'm not sure what you find vulgar in my studio. Please tell me because I'm finding your viewpoint interesting. Hopefully it is not just political, because that would be disappointing.

Greg

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#81
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
  #81
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Greg,

Your place is amazing. I really enjoyed watching the progress, and your commitment is an inspiration.

A marriage of art and functionality is anything but vulgar. Good golly!
BOP
#82
23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
  #82
BOP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
There is beauty in highly functional design. And so much more, I think, when it incorporates true artisan work. This kind of fine hand-labor is going extinct, btw.

There was a lot of work on my end to achieve your vulgarity. I made many trips to the warehouse that processes all of the mahogany veneer shipments to the West Coast of the U.S. I hand selected every sheet that we used, so that the grain and the size of the grain matched with no imperfections. Out of hundreds of sheets (I had to wait for the new shipment to come in to get the largest selection) only a handful matched up well enough to make the cut. I convinced a hardwood mill to make a special run of 15-foot mahogany QRD planks, and they will never do it again because the failure ratio was so high due to splitting and warping. I had to hand-make each of the walnut and mahogany diffuser boxes, which employed machining and powdercoating aluminum, as well as milling the wood, because RPG company wanted to charge an astronomical amount. I sought out and found a group of native Hungarian woodworkers living in Northridge to do all of the on-site veneering and staining because the large professional firms (that did Disney Hall) wanted $85,000 to do the same job that I got done for 1/10th that employing Zoltan Fejes and his crew. They have also built a bunch of desks and cabinets for the studio. I could go on and on. Do you see the point? One man's vulgarity is another's hard work, time, and vision.

And the work pays off in that it appeals to a clientele that can actually pay real hourly rates that allow a good modern studio to exist. It's not for me to enjoy, after all. It is more of a weight at times when we are not booked!

A lot of my clients are European and love our place, so you do not speak for all of Europe. European design, historically, is a vast museum of intense aesthetical beauty bowing to functionalism at times. So, I'm not sure what you find vulgar in my studio. Please tell me because I'm finding your viewpoint interesting. Hopefully it is not just political, because that would be disappointing.

Greg

.
Greg,

I hope I din't write It wrong, I was very tired when I posted that but I din't want to call your place vulgar or imply that there is anything wrong with it - I reread my comment (I actually wrote it 5 times but still had trouble putting across what I wanted to say so Just cut most of it off before posting what was left) and I don't know why it is sending the wrong message.
I was trying to praise your work but at the same time express that your own expressed outlook on what is doable does not match with how you did things yourself. Part of my point which brought your studio into it all was that you achieved a "million dollar" look but at the same time I personally did not believe that you paid as much as it was worth in the end, am I making sense? Also wanted to make sure that my criticism of the studios people build today hoping for success won't be understood as aimed at you specifically.
Was also trying to say it in a way that won't be asking you to reveal how much you spent! Suffice to say there is nothing in the presentation of your studio that would make me say "oh hey, that is some cheap wood on those racks" but at the same time I assumed what you said yourself, that you put a lot of tears and blood rather than just money into making sure it was all neat.
For instance I buy used gear over long periods of time where I sometimes get things 3 times cheaper, however they are fully functional and often look like new anyway so my little private studio is about 20k in british pounds when it comes to gear but I hardly paid 20k for it. If I manage to get some of my plans underway it will be more like 200k in the near future but again will make sure to actually spend as little money as possible to achieve the same result since if I pull it all off for half or less of the cost then I have to earn that much less to avoid bailiffs.
The other poster also seemed to get the impression that I am criticising your facility so just to make it clear, I find nothing wrong with your studio and it's anything but vulgar. I neither find nothing wrong with your reasoning or your data.
I just think that with the resources available to someone starting a business in the US it is possible to do amazing things compared to someone anywhere else in the world and that it is annoying for someone from the outside to see those inside being constantly depressed about the situation of the industry.
There is a strange dichotomy in Europe where we are cynical and tired but at the same time get annoyed with cynicism and tiredness and being fed up. Not saying it's ok, just how I see it.
Similar way people in the UK (where I live as an immigrant) moan a lot about their country yet whenever a foreigner says the same thing they instantly get defensive about it and then suddenly the health care is best, the roads are best, the government is excellent and so on. Kevin Smith calls himself fat every minute of his live shows but gets angry when someone else says the same thing - that is a very western thing that me and probably my cultural brethren from central/eastern europe find hard to understand at times.

Also the audio world is full of speculation - in the US there is space and money so studios are big and lavish.
In the UK there is money but not much space so studios are small yet people still sell it as if it's the same deal.
So either those in the UK are right which means that the US is wasting space or those in the US are right and those in the UK are living a fantasy thinking that they are doing it on the same level as their friends from LA or NYC. How it is exactly I don't know but anytime a cheaper or smaller solution performs as well, I want to figure it out first!

I was also talking about generally paying a lot for design, by that I mean paying a lot for something that is not worth a lot. Paying a million dollars for design and earning millions in return thanks to just that is not paying a lot for design I would say, am I making sense? Just that in some cities, like in London for instance, there are so many studios designed by the same company or famous designer where it's simply just nothing special, 10 studios which are exactly the same, same measurements, same arrangement etc. Like a row of modern houses in germany and they all are not getting much more business then what could be called as "project studios" existing in the same market. I would never pay as much for a modular german house design as I would for a completely custom design.
Where I was born people build these houses nowadays that are akin to this 18th century gentry ideal and some of them get the design from a catalog for about 500 dollars and some get the exact same design made custom for 5000 dollars which in the latter case I would call vulgar.
I think that a designer who would get anything scientific, like the angle or height of racks wrong is not worth half a pence. Even someone with 0 experience should be able to design a studio to the cutting edge of scientific knowledge.

Studio design is not at all more complex than designing facilities for other industries. Years ago, I've done this visual project in factory that had these amazing metal furnaces and still used early 20th century British made machines for working the metal into bimetal tapes.
Everything had to be adjusted to very strict measurements every day yet you din't have some big name designer with a beret overlooking it. Someone got paid a lot of money to figure it out but just repeating the same setup was done by engineers hired there on a daily basis including opening more production lines.
In the same sense technical integration should be within the skills of a recording engineer in my opinion. I am not an engineer but I know how to operate my side car and all of my gear, make my own cabling, do simple tests, look after basic acoustical performance and so on. As a musician I used to and still look after my own instruments - I bought the tools and learned on the job.

The way you did your own studio is exactly what I champion my self and as you said yourself, you paid 1/10 for the same quality work without paying 85k. Exactly my point.

I put great value into artisan work of the finest order so I always search out for great craftsmen. I'd rather find someone who has great ability but no business sense, pay them sensibly, overlook the work in person and achieve great results than to hire a tailor made solution that costs an arm and a leg. I get my instruments done that way and Intend to build my own place that way once I finally get over the stupid phase I am in now (long story, not even about money that much either).

I totally dig the lavishness of the US - I would love to live in an art deco era NYC and play a D'angelico.
People thinking about business as if it was before the big economical stink is what annoys me though or when it is being said that it's impossible to survive with a bit less.
Right now there is a lot of snow in the UK and I just gear up and carry on as normal yet a lot of people I had business plans with are panicking and thus slowing down my own schedule to a halt.
In the UK for instance a major sofa/painting supplies/home improvements shop closed recently and one standup commedian aptly pointed out that no wonder those shops closed, the company bought up prime real estate, created these massive shops and reportedly most of them where rubbish since a their typical huge shop would lack many essentials for home improvements thus customers where arriving but leaving without spending as much money as they where ready to spend.
They painted the shops by numbers to put it one way and they went bankrupt - my outlook on that is that the numbers they painted the business by where simply wrong!
It was like the sofa section from the fictional massive costco in the movie Idiocracy.
All these industries always refuse to accept that some gospel truth regarding the numbers might be wrong.
I bet many producers would swear 20 years ago that coke dinners are the way to go for putting out a decent record and now look at the music industry.

Anyway I think it is possible to run a studio or any business regardless of the economic situation and that everything, from design to type of drinks served in the rec room is responsible for success or failure.
I travel long distances to get instruments since archtops and other jazz related stuff (B3 anyone?) is priced through the roof, a quality Gibson Super 400 is easily 26 grand and up.
So sure it is shitty for everyone nowadays but those with the smarts and sense can still manage I think and it's not good to just blame things on a crumbling industry.

Everybody wants neumann but there is a reason that it was affordable back in the day - those who knew bought it all up and those who where not convinced enough did not.
One of the reasons why I try all kinds of gear, project studio or not.
I generally think that the "standards" of today are a bit rubbish since they all rest on the past yet where not standards in the past. Gear like the vari mu and massive passive are pretty recent "standards" - looking at the forum you can't go wrong with massive passive nor can you go wrong with a control room design that has the racks behind the engineer.
When Charlie Parker was blowing the minds of audiences he was not trying to achieve an authentic bebop sound, he was reaching for the modern, for the new, for the fresh.
You always need to look at how things used to be done but all of these legendary people, engineer, musician, whatever at the time usually experimented with iconoclastic ideas and gear while being informed by history and tradition yet being an iconoclast is a big no no nowadays. Nah it's all neumann and neve and even no matter how low fi, lexicon is always king and so on.

I for instance plan to design the racks into a more compact setup where instead of them being behind the engineer that space is reserved for an arranging setup with controllers and maybe another workstation so that the same control room can be for arranging and programming when it is not used for tracking or for mixing. No ssl, ITB mixing and then outboard arranged in the same place where the console would normally be, also in a fashion that does not require moving away from the sweet spot so not a very wide table but more like pipe organ manuals and stops in a church. Also toying around with an idea of the control room being lower than the live room to improve visibility. I have some experience in photography and there we have these ceiling systems which replace booms and those are very robust, where you can locate something hanging from such a system anywhere in the room at any height including heavy things like lights, with minimal effort. Given the cost of decent mike boom stands if I could make this kinda thing work with microphones it would mean less space needed to store the booms and less cabling on the floor (cabling is usually distributed through the ceiling... hard to explain really, could send a photo if I can find one if you are interested) thus less money spent on replacing cabling - dealing with counter weights is also a bitch and these ceiling systems have integrated and adjustable counter weights.

The many symphony halls and other similar institutions perform amazingly over in eastern europe yet most of them where designed and made with a fraction of the cost that people pay in the US for a project studio.
Some of those places with new funds moved to almost completely digital solutions which would probably not even be mentioned at the many trade shows in the US I would imagine.

What's my point... I think it's mostly that if something is not working out it might be because a huge desk is a time waster in some situations rather than a time saver or that certain studio design is not optimal given what the majority of the clients do in there and so on.
In the past it might have been brilliant to figure out that Neumann is the way to go but nowadays it might be brilliant to figure out what those vintage mics can be replaced with for same or ... better results!
It's a bit like audiophile versus audio pro. We laugh at the audiophile cabling and speaker stands and other things we find silly but we have our own little gospel truths that can be done without and I usually try and see what the classical people are doing today in these big institutions and follow that instead of whatever was used to record "I got you babe" back the 60ties.

Anyway all peace and tranquility to you sir!
#83
23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
  #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOP View Post
I think that a designer who would get anything scientific, like the angle or height of racks wrong is not worth half a pence. Even someone with 0 experience should be able to design a studio to the cutting edge of scientific knowledge.
You should write a book, and not only about studio design. I'm sure it would give great hope to all who believe that the greatest thing standing in the way of progress is knowledge.
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#84
13th February 2013
Old 13th February 2013
  #84
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Wow- what a thread we have here. This is amazing.

That's all I really want to say but I feel I must say as someone who owns a studio (my gear insurance covers $445k at todays value but I probably spent $200k over 21 years)- and I've built & owned studios since 1985 (I'm 51)- and I've built commercial, high-tech post-production studios for not only audio recording/mixing but visual FX including Flames/smokes/daVincis/etc (and I've built 3 of them now from slab to slab in NYC requiring teams of specialists & designers not to mention unions)- it is absolutely most impressive to have watched Greg build the Bridge when, where, & how he did.

And man- I want you to succeed on every level for you, your wife & 3 boys, and for all us out here trying to build successful studios in the arts.

It is one of the toughest yet most rewarding things you can do.

I started reading this because I'm trying to decide what to do with my music studio which is currently in my house (I guess that makes it a 'project studio' - and decide how to make it more viable both as something that supports the music community and helps pay the mortgage. I'm resting up after my 3rd post-prod build out which took 5 years to design, build & implement operationally (it did $20M last year which seems like a gazillion dollars compared to a music studio's potential rev).
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