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All Things Pro Recording Studio Business(Not Project Studios)
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heart4us
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#1
19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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All Things Pro Recording Studio Business(Not Project Studios)

I don't really know if any of the guys here at Gearslutz own or work for a professional quite big recording studio or know of any information regarding professional recording studios(those that have SSL or Neve or Euphonics or other pro consoles), but it can't hurt to ask. I was hoping of getting more info on the big recording studio businesses out there in the US, Asia, Europe, anywhere..etc...
I was hoping this thread would be more focused on the studios that are not project studios to narrow down the information.
It doesnt necessarily have to be one of those multi studio studios that have several studios (though that information would be fantastic), but it could also be those studios that just has 1-2 top of the line boards with a top quality room.
Whether it be for post or music or mix use, info about these studios as business would be great. any insights would be great too. Thanks

1) How much was your/(other studios) initial investment?
(Hypothetical investments would be welcome but im really curious about those that are already around)

2) How long did it take for you/others to recover that investment?
(if an SSL Console costs around $100,000-300,000...construction costs this much, other gear this much, electric charge, and you/others charge this much for fees, how long does it really take to recover or break even and start becoming profitable?)

3) How much do some professional acoustic guys charge for their studio design/plans?

4) How much do professional studios charge for recording and other services?

5) . How long do these consoles and microphones and other expensive gear lasts before they break or become obsolete?
(I would guess that the one most expensive gear a studio would have is a console such as a neve or ssl or other brands that costs around from $100,000-$+300,000 if they only have a life expectancy of less than 10 years, it would seem like a very very expensive and at least in my mind quite impractical purchase, considering my estimate of how long it would take to recover initial investment)


I hope to get replies not just from the US but also from other countries as well.

Hope any replies would be substantial in information.

Hope this thread can help others who are also looking for the same kind of information as I am.

I hope that this thread evolves together with market conditions so everyone planning on entering this business can get an idea of the market.

Last edited by heart4us; 19th March 2009 at 06:52 PM.. Reason: Changed wording so as not to sound offensive to anyone.
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heart4us View Post
I don't really know if any of the guys here at Gearslutz own or work for a professional level recording studio or know of any information regarding professional recording studios(those that have SSL or Neve or Euphonics or other pro consoles), but it can't hurt to ask. I'm not really talking about the studios in the basement or in your room or in your garage. I was hoping of getting more info on the pro business out there in the US, Asia, Europe, anywhere..etc...
It doesnt necessarily have to be one of thos multi studio studios that have several studios (though that information would be fantastic), but it could also be those studios that just has 1-2 top of the line boards with a top quality room.
Whether it be for post or music or mix use, info about these studios as business would be great. any insights would be great too. Thanks
I think there's probably one or two people out there who might be able to help you....not everyone on GS is uinemployed!
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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I'm interested in these questions too - although an hour on Google could tell you what most of the top studios charge
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heart4us View Post
1) How much was your/(other studios) initial investment?
Approx $70k. Sold my sailboat to get it going.

Quote:
2) How long did it take for you/others to recover that investment?
I'll let you know if it happens.

Quote:
3) How much do some professional acoustic guys charge for their studio design/plans?
With my initial investment, I could not afford that.

Quote:
4) How much do professional studios charge for recording and other services?
Who? When? For what? I found that flexibility is the key.

Quote:
5) . How long do these consoles and microphones and other expensive gear lasts before they break of become obsolete?
Before they break? Really depends. Vintage? Abused? Etc... I remember in college buying glass water pipes with the attitude 'it is already broken, I am just in the process of watching it fall.' I think a lot of gear is like that, especially if it gets used.

Obsolete? I think I have gone through 3 major studio metamorphoses since I set up. DA-98's, gone, first console, half gone (need a 20 channel Soundcraft TS-24 in a 40 frame?), DAT machines, I still have two that have not been operated in 5 years, Pro Tools TDM? I did the Digi Upgrade programs but still spent a MINT!

Honestly, in retrospect I think I could have come out better just finding my 'clients' and paying for them to record at Ocean Way myself sometimes... but someday my ship WILL come in.

Sorry if this is a downer. In retrospect, I have worked with some world class musicians and I have learned lots, and in the process, I provide a really nice environment where some great music has been created by some great musicians, and helped a lot of friends keep their music careers profitable. Most days, I just feel privileged to have been there for the magic.

Case in point: Brandon Fields (Brandon Fields) brought by his record One People over to the studio a couple of days ago. It features Brandon on sax, Gary Novak (my studio partner and life long friend) on drums, and the late Dave Carpenter on bass (6 string electric for this record, he played it like a piano). We lost Dave last year. Gary was his best friend, and I was very close to Dave. He had a key to Kronos, and would often be there when I showed up, playing his bass.

I have been crying like a little girl off and on for about the last two days over this CD. I really, really miss Dave and if someday, somewhere, I meet someone who tells me that music meant something meaningful to them and their life, I will surely cry again. I makes me think of the cliche "life is not about the number of breaths you take, but how often life takes your breath away."

I think had it not been for the release of One People this week I would have ignored this thread.

Okay, enough rambling.

Eric
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Ok so i wasnt going to reply to this thread but the wording was just too offensive to not say something. A "Professional Level recording studio" what does that mean. Im just one of those guys in his basement I guess, although my studio brings in over 6 figures a year.

Anyway, you shouldnt even be thinking about investing in a studio if you don't know the answers to these questions already. Also when i mean know the answers to these questions, i mean from experience not from asking some questions on a forum. Big "Professional Studios" as you call them are dying left and right. Even studios that have recorded endless amounts of huge major label hit records. The evolution of this business is trending towards smaller places with great engineers. Also investing in an SSL or a Neve board as a brand new startup studio is not the way to go at all these days. In the next 10 years the majority of the engineers you bring in are going to mix mostly ITB. Trust me, as the guys my age become the older generation of mixers, its going to be mostly plugins. Just my 2 cents.
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DP40oz View Post
Anyway, you shouldnt even be thinking about investing in a studio if you don't know the answers to these questions already. Also when i mean know the answers to these questions, i mean from experience not from asking some questions on a forum.
Ain't that the truth.
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DP40oz View Post
Ok so i wasnt going to reply to this thread but the wording was just too offensive to not say something. A "Professional Level recording studio" what does that mean. Im just one of those guys in his basement I guess, although my studio brings in over 6 figures a year.
Thanks for whoever answered so far and also that advice on not investing on an expensive board based on your experience. Hoping i could get the opinion of other guys too. Everything is much appreciated.
I did not want to offend anyone sir. I just wanted to differentiate the thread from the Project studio thread as to have a little more focus on the topic.
I am in no way belittling you or any other basement, garage,project studio.
I was just curious about some info on the big project studios, just to get an idea of the market. I was hoping some of the guys here had some information.
I apologize if I offended you or any other project studio out there. I just wanted the thread to have a focus on those that are not project studios.
Hope you guys can understand my curiosity.
I'll try to change the wording so it doesnt sound offensive as i wasnt trying to be offensive.

Oh, I also don't live in the US or Europe, and where I live, we don't have those Big studios. Quite a number of project studios and a couple of mid range studios, but not even 1 of what the 100s of big studios you guys have, so i was curious about info on this as well as in other countries.

Well, anyway, I hope some guys here might be able to help my out with my questions.
Just to reiterate to get back to topic.
1) How much was your/(other studios) initial investment?
(Hypothetical investments would be welcome but im really curious about those that are already around)

2) How long did it take for you/others to recover that investment?
(if an SSL Console costs around $100,000-300,000...construction costs this much, other gear this much, electric charge, and you/others charge this much for fees, how long does it really take to recover or break even and start becoming profitable?)

3) How much do some professional acoustic guys charge for their studio design/plans?

4) How much do professional studios charge for recording and other services?

5) . How long do these consoles and microphones and other expensive gear lasts before they break or become obsolete?
#8
19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DP40oz View Post
Ok so i wasnt going to reply to this thread but the wording was just too offensive to not say something. A "Professional Level recording studio" what does that mean. Im just one of those guys in his basement I guess, although my studio brings in over 6 figures a year.

Anyway, you shouldnt even be thinking about investing in a studio if you don't know the answers to these questions already. Also when i mean know the answers to these questions, i mean from experience not from asking some questions on a forum. Big "Professional Studios" as you call them are dying left and right. Even studios that have recorded endless amounts of huge major label hit records. The evolution of this business is trending towards smaller places with great engineers. Also investing in an SSL or a Neve board as a brand new startup studio is not the way to go at all these days. In the next 10 years the majority of the engineers you bring in are going to mix mostly ITB. Trust me, as the guys my age become the older generation of mixers, its going to be mostly plugins. Just my 2 cents.
um, if your bringing in over 6 figures your pro...
#9
19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Well the really big studios you are referring to are upwards of a million dollars. Hence them being referred to as multi-million dollar studios. In order to get a studio of that caliber you would need a ton of really quality high end gear. Alot of these studios make their money by being able to accommodate many different engineers, producers, artists with the gear and comfort that they like. Also the building to house such a studio would be incredibly expensive if you wanted it in a prime location like New York, L.A, Nashville etc... I know these arent the specific answers you are looking for but this is a general idea.
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Thank you sir. Your answers are great as they are related to the topic. I truly appreciate your answers and insights.
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19th March 2009
Old 19th March 2009
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Sounds like a Full Sail class project to me
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20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shanabit View Post
Sounds like a Full Sail class project to me
I'm not sure if you meant the thread was a Full Sail Class project. If you did, I just wanted to clarify that it is not. I have never been to Full Sail my life. I was just curious. I wonder if I am the only one. e
Back to the topic.
1) How much was your/(other studios) initial investment?

2) How long did it take for you/others to recover that investment and become profitable?

3) How much do some professional acoustic guys charge for their studio design/plans?


4) How much do professional studios charge for recording and other services?


5) . How long do these consoles and microphones and other expensive gear lasts before they break or become obsolete?
#13
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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No offense, but you're going about whatever it is you're doing in an odd way that I seriously doubt will elicit much information.

You are anonymously asking professionals to publicly disclose information about their finances, practices, and planning while you are yourself communicating - perhaps unintentionally - an attitude that's at once naive and condescending.

Meanwhile, all you have offered about yourself is that "you don't live in the US or Europe." That's not building a lot of trust.

My suggestions would be that you:

1) do a little research so you understand more about the business

2) then, when you're finding yourself hitting some brick walls, come back and ask some specific and targeted questions to the very helpful professionals and knowledgeable amateurs on this forum.

3) and of course, explain more about yourself and your intentions

Because what you're doing now is frankly creepy and leaves a slightly unpleasant flavor.
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20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Oh i definitely wasnt trying to be condescending.
Anyway, I work for this old guy who is about to retire. He has tasked me to ask around about the top recording studios in different countries. He wants to put up a studio, but not in a very hands on way, because he is already at that age where he has difficulty walking. Anyway, his plan was to see if this was something worth doing because he really wants to bring to the music audio quality in our country up to high level commercial standards. I guess he loves music, and wants to help out the musicians here.
Anyway, I can't really ask around where I live because the information they have are based on the studios that we have, which isnt what my employer wants.
I heard from one of those that i asked that gearslutz was the community i should ask as some of them are knowledgeable and some are really helpful when it comes to helping out the new guys. I really want to help out my employer as he is really passionate about this, but time caught up with him i guess.
Anyway, if Gearslutz is the wrong community to ask, may i ask if you could recommend me to another online community i could start my inital inquiries with. Thanks.
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20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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That all sounds a little sus to me, but I'll take you at your word and offer this:

I don't think using forums is an appropriate or fruitful way to get that kind of information. If your employer is serious about setting up a fully functional top grade commercial studio and has the kind of money it takes to do so, then he should hire someone experienced to put together a proposal. It is absolutely not an endeavor to jump into in the way that you are trying to do it. You can't learn what you need by asking 5 or 6 questions online.

I'm not one of those experienced engineers myself, but they are on this forum in significant numbers. What you should be doing is putting together a written description of what kind of studio you would like to build, what your goals are, where it is located, what your general budget is, and then ask for some professionals to submit bids on coming on as paid consultants to help you design (or find a designer for) the studio, obtain the necessary gear, staff it with capable & trained engineers, etc.

This isn't like setting up a hotdog stand on a corner. It involves many skills and types of expertise. You're not going to get that for free.
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#16
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Thank you sir. Actually he hasnt tasked me yet to put together a gear list and a budget, but I am guessing he is willing to spend upwards of $500,000 that's why he asked me to ask those questions. I know the design and having a list of gear made up by an engineer costs money, but i wasnt really asking for that sir.
I was more curious of some basic info on the studios around now like how much this acoustic guy charged to have this certain studio built,if some people are willing to share it.
I was just curious about some of the known initial investment, how many years it took to recover, and how many years those $100,000-$300,000 cosoles lasts before they totally breakdown or become obsolete (assuming an 8 hr, 6 days a week use).
If some of my inquiries are not answerable, i'm already glad that some people have tried to give me some insight. Much appreciated.
#17
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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A recording studio is a performance space and not a pile of expensive recording gear. The appropriate gear depends entirely on precisely what is being recorded, who is doing the recording and how they need to work. In most high-end cases, the lounge, the acoustics, the quality of the assistants, having a shop and the location generally dictate which studio people will choose. The gear only needs to be acceptable but is almost never the factor that closes the deal.


If I were building a studio today, I'd be thinking mostly about what people might want to do that they couldn't possibly do in a home studio. Recording ensembles of musicians at the same time would be top of my list. An extraordinary collection of musical instruments would be right up there too.

The studio business is a service business.
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#18
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
A recording studio is a performance space and not a pile of expensive recording gear. The appropriate gear depends entirely on precisely what is being recorded, who is doing the recording and how they need to work. In most high-end cases, the lounge, the acoustics, the quality of the assistants, having a shop and the location generally dictate which studio people will choose.
Don't forget the lava lamp and coffee machine.
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20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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I completely agree with that sir. But i did not say that i was asking for a list of gears as there seems to already be a lot of those topics here. Just a few numbers..e..Thank you...you guys are great as each one has their own opinion and insights.
#20
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heart4us View Post
I'm not sure if you meant the thread was a Full Sail Class project. If you did, I just wanted to clarify that it is not. I have never been to Full Sail my life. I was just curious. I wonder if I am the only one. e
Back to the topic.
1) How much was your/(other studios) initial investment?

2) How long did it take for you/others to recover that investment and become profitable?

3) How much do some professional acoustic guys charge for their studio design/plans?

4) How much do professional studios charge for recording and other services?

5) . How long do these consoles and microphones and other expensive gear lasts before they break or become obsolete?
1: >$300K
2: Hasn't happened yet
3: Depends on the designer. 10K to 100K probably covers the gamut.
4: I see $500 per day rates all the time for "Pro" studios. Doesn't even pay the rent.
5: Properly maintained, large format analog consoles can easily last 30 years or longer. Mine was built in 1989 and it is still in use every day. On the other hand large format digital consoles could be obsolete in less than 2 years. Microphones that are well cared for and properly maintained can last > 30 years.
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20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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The cost will depend on WHAT you're building, and, critically, WHERE you are. There's a whole range of costs -- none of them cheap, if you're talking about a commercial studio that's been properly designed. As Mr. Ohlsson brings up above, you should start by focusing on the space itself. If you had spent some time reading through this forum, you would see a shared opinion that the most important components of recording a good sound are the musicians, the instruments and the room.

So how much does it cost to build a decent space? Where? Tonga? Ho Chi Minh City? Perth? I think that most of the people on this forum are in fact in US and Europe, so they will probably not be able to help you much in terms of costs in whatever mystery spot you reside.

How long will it take to break even? Well, even if you started with a ballpark investment of $500,000, how would you expect anyone here to be able to forecast revenues for you? To whom would you be marketing your services, and where? If you're in a city that 1) lacks a decent commerical studio and 2) contains a large number of musicians (or ad agencies or whatever) needing the services of a good commerical studio, than you might have an opportunity. Your fee structure will be dictated, to a large degree by demand -- unless you're in Noth Korea or some other non-free market economy.

So pull out some basic business planning guidelines, my friend. Do a strategic plan, bust out a SWOT analysis, figure out your market, look at your competitors, project ballpark revenue, estimate your capex and opex, then from that derive your breakeven point. No one can do your business plan for you. And the costs, revenues and breakeven points of a studio in Memphis or Manchester isn't going to be of much value to you.
#22
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heart4us View Post
Oh i definitely wasnt trying to be condescending.
Anyway, I work for this old guy who is about to retire. He has tasked me to ask around about the top recording studios in different countries. He wants to put up a studio, but not in a very hands on way, because he is already at that age where he has difficulty walking. Anyway, his plan was to see if this was something worth doing because he really wants to bring to the music audio quality in our country up to high level commercial standards. I guess he loves music, and wants to help out the musicians here.
Anyway, I can't really ask around where I live because the information they have are based on the studios that we have, which isnt what my employer wants.
I heard from one of those that i asked that gearslutz was the community i should ask as some of them are knowledgeable and some are really helpful when it comes to helping out the new guys. I really want to help out my employer as he is really passionate about this, but time caught up with him i guess.
Anyway, if Gearslutz is the wrong community to ask, may i ask if you could recommend me to another online community i could start my inital inquiries with. Thanks.
Dude! What country do you live in? What's the big secret?
#23
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
  #23
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something smells amiss about all of this
#24
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Something I left out is that the underlying reason anybody rents a studio is to save time compared to simply recording their public performances or recording at home.
#25
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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If you send me a PM I will reply to question 3
#26
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kronos147 View Post
Approx $70k. Sold my sailboat to get it going.
Eric,

You sold your boat? Dude - not cool. What kind of boat was it? I'm in the market right now for a smaller boat, but am right now dinghy-ing it out with my 505 - good times :o)

Cheers,
Cam
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#27
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
  #27
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hmmmmmmm
#28
20th March 2009
Old 20th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicalhotdog View Post
Don't forget the lava lamp and coffee machine.
At least one lava lamp... noone will take you seriously without one. Without the coffee machine, noone will function. I also find that something trivial yet slightly function adds to the mood... a small gumball machine, for example. I love seeing gumball machines in lounges... I don't know why...

Comfy leather couches, a nice TV and stereo in the lounge is also nice.

Soft lighting - hard lighting is...well... hard on the eyes. Hard lighting = stifled creativity.

A prayer book: so you can maybe get some divine help to stay afloat in these rocky times

Cheers,
Cam
#29
21st March 2009
Old 21st March 2009
  #29
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Firstly, SSL, Neve desks can be got for much less than you quoted. A 72 channel SSL can be got second hand here in the UK for about £35-40,000, which is about $60,000 in this current climate. As long as they are well maintained and looked after, they should last a very long time.

Secondly, I can't speak for any of the big, big studios but I don't know if you ever really recoup the money spent on investment in this day and age, Olympic Studio in London have closed (or are closing), Abbey Roads seems to be dying and many more seem to be following.

Also, I am assuming that the country that you live in does not have a particularly vibrant economy otherwise I would assume there would already be big studio's. The only wealthy countries that I can think of that don't have mainstream studios, the countries money is usually owned by very few people (for example oil entrepeneurs). Therefore, what would be your client base? If I am correct in my assumptions, your average musician won't be able to affor paying $1000 a day for recording time. So your only option would be big musicians from America/Europe etc. that want to have a bit of a holiday. And why would they come to an unestablished studio unless there is a big name producer/engineer residing there.

My advice would be to invest in a great location/building with really nice character. Spend the money on a top quality recording space, then get mid-range equipment. I also assume that if you are wanting local clients who are interested in music (you mention that the investor is keen on music) then they won't want Britney Spears type production. They'll most likely want a large space with a great vibe whre you can set up a few mic's and hit record.

I have an album from a Nepali band namd 'Trikaal'. This album was recorded in Kathmandhu and it sounds incredible. Why? Because they are brilliant, local musicians and it was recorded live in a nice space, no SSL's, Neve's etc. just a good performance and good engineer.
heart4us
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#30
21st March 2009
Old 21st March 2009
  #30
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Joined: Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadsweeper View Post
Secondly, I can't speak for any of the big, big studios but I don't know if you ever really recoup the money spent on investment in this day and age, Olympic Studio in London have closed (or are closing), Abbey Roads seems to be dying and many more seem to be following.
That sounds very discouraging sir, but I guess that is the reality of going on around the world with most of the globes economy in shambles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadsweeper View Post
Also, I am assuming that the country that you live in does not have a particularly vibrant economy otherwise I would assume there would already be big studio's.
Ah yes sir, I live in a province called Cebu in the Philippines. The music is thriving here, but those are more the independents, and the quality is still quite far from what I would listen to from US, japan, and Uk. The plan was to bring something to new, not really a revolution in quality (but i guess that's the plan), but at the very least, a plan to start a new standard for audio quality in the music in this country. Actually the entire country is in a state of slow development, but with corruption around, things seem to be too slow. Anyway, back to the topic..
One producer here told me that as far he knows, that in the entire country, there is only one SSL Board in use. I've never heard of Neve board in any studio here.
Just one example of the quality here...
Hit Productions
You'll see in this link quoted

"On the equipment side, the studio will have the largest Pro Tools HD workstation in the country and include a 24-fader ICON D-Command mixing surface. Technically, this room will be at par with any top ad music house in the US or Europe, and exceed many in Asia."

Hope you see why the guy I work for wants to do something about it. I hope this doesnt become a topic about the Philippines though .. Thanks guys, you guys are great.


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