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Marketing a high end room with mid level gear. Reverb & Delay Plugins
Old 16th February 2018
  #1
Marketing a high end room with mid level gear.

Apologies if this isn't in the right forum.

I've been lucky enough to lease a vintage studio room that was built in 1978 and now I'm wondering how to make the most of the situation. The gear selection we brought in certainly isn't bad but it probably isn't competitive with most high end studios. How would you market yourself?

Gear: MCI 636, antelope orion, Retro Powerstrip, Hairball 1176 x3, Warm WA2A, Warm EQPWA, Altec 1567a, Ampex 601, Chameleon labs 7602, Royer 121, AEA R84, RE20, SM7B, etc.

We're located within a few hours driving distance of Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham. We've been active on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube for over a year but it hasn't been very successful in bringing in steady business. Do pro studios simply rely on album credits and word of mouth as marketing?
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Old 16th February 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
Acoustics and real estate come before high end gear. Real estate and good acoustics are better than high end gear and a bad room. So you are covered there in spades!

Most professional musicians, in my experience, have little idea what good recording equipment is. Why? Many spent most of their time learning their instruments not gear. It does help to have brand name gear. Neve, Neumann, API can sometimes be helpful. But many times the musicians have no idea what these brands are. That said, it's even less of an attraction to have gear that does not have a famous brand badge on it. In short, you get that gear for yourself and use it when it helps a situation.

Going out to see bands (or your target recording types) and getting to know them and give them what they feel like is a deal (DON'T give away your time for free!) is helpful. Then you have to judge who is 'safe' to have in your studio to not trash or worse steal your gear. Never give out product until you are paid and get as many as you can to pay up front.

Sounds tough? Yes it is.
Old 16th February 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 
herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SydBeretta View Post
Apologies if this isn't in the right forum.

I've been lucky enough to lease a vintage studio room that was built in 1978 and now I'm wondering how to make the most of the situation. The gear selection we brought in certainly isn't bad but it probably isn't competitive with most high end studios. How would you market yourself?

Gear: MCI 636, antelope orion, Retro Powerstrip, Hairball 1176 x3, Warm WA2A, Warm EQPWA, Altec 1567a, Ampex 601, Chameleon labs 7602, Royer 121, AEA R84, RE20, SM7B, etc.

We're located within a few hours driving distance of Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham. We've been active on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube for over a year but it hasn't been very successful in bringing in steady business. Do pro studios simply rely on album credits and word of mouth as marketing?
You need a modern website with hi-fi sounding audio showing your best work...make the music easy to turn on...but don't make it autoplay. Let the work speak for itself.
Old 16th February 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
Acoustics and real estate come before high end gear. Real estate and good acoustics are better than high end gear and a bad room.
True.

And then....

Engineer (ability, rep and credits) comes before acoustics and real estate.

To the op:

You need to market yourself as the guy who is going to get it done, and done right. If I am going to a studio, sure, I want the gear, and the acoustics. But moreso, I want the engineer to be someone who is skilled, knowledgeable and experienced, and I want someone I can work with on a personal level as well. All the gear in the world in the best Hidley-designed room, means nothing if you have a 21-year old pompous schmo at the helm, who has done nothing other than some vocals in his basement.


Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
You need a modern website with hi-fi sounding audio showing your best work...make the music easy to turn on...but don't make it autoplay. Let the work speak for itself.
That ^ can not be emphasized enough. Your site is your showroom floor and speaks volumes about you; if it is lackluster, so are you. If it is simple and basic, then so are you. If it is classy, polished, and well organized, then so are you. And yeah, the work you showcase better be your best.

And yes, the gear matters. Not to everyone, of course. But many people are going to say, "what - no U47 into a vintage 1073, with an LA2A in the chain??? Not going there!" It will happen. But do your best, and with a bit of luck, good things will happen.

And of course, a lot of this depends on who you are trying to cater to.

Cheers.
Old 16th February 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Sell the history/lineage of the room... If it's out in the sticks network with decent hotels to put a pkg together for acts having to drive out there...

Your gear is fine... People go to studios because they need a good room, engineer etc

I would strike up a relationship with a rental house just in case some act w/ a budget has hipster/rapper gear requirements
Old 16th February 2018
  #6
I agree with all. Room acoustics and real estate is key. And your recording room looks great.
Gear looks alright. They only thing you'd wanna add is a Protools HD rig. Everyone one I know works in Protools. No Protools, no bookings..... (and yeah, maybe a U47 or 251)
Old 16th February 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 
herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindell View Post
I agree with all. Room acoustics and real estate is key. And your recording room looks great.
Gear looks alright. They only thing you'd wanna add is a Protools HD rig. Everyone one I know works in Protools. No Protools, no bookings..... (and yeah, maybe a U47 or 251)
I agree with PTHD. I can't go back, and it really does help with visibility, no matter what the other gear is.

Also everyone else is spot on.
Old 16th February 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindell View Post
They only thing you'd wanna add is a Protools HD rig. Everyone one I know works in Protools. No Protools, no bookings..... (and yeah, maybe a U47 or 251)
Oh yeah - good thought. Do you have a PTools rig? No? Get one tomorrow.
Old 16th February 2018
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I think in general you're getting some good advice on the thread.

Keep in mind that the studio game these days is that it's all about giving the client something they don't have at home.

That might be acoustics.

That might be expertise.

That might be a unique experience.

That might be vintage or expensive gear.

That might be the novelty of working with tape or on a console.

Or that might be a combination of any or all of those things plus whatever I forgot.

But if you're not offering them something they can't get at home with a laptop and a few thousand dollars worth of gear, they aren't going to pay you. They're going to do it at home or go somewhere that they CAN get something they can't get at home.

And you have to communicate the value of whatever that differential advantage is.

For example, if what you've got is a world class room and acoustics, you better be communicating how that is the most important aspect of getting a great recording—more important than gear even.
Old 16th February 2018
  #10
A great room will always bring in tracking business specifically. Especially with drums, or live ensembles (of any genre but especially things like jazz, bluegrass, Americana, etc). Depending on their skill level and budget they mat or not mix with you but you’ll get enough of that to fill in the gaps. Add higher end money pieces as you can, probably more in mics at this point. Just make sure that everything that goes out the door is as A+ as can be, keep your clients happy with service and as long as rent and insurance doesn’t sink you it should be successful.
Old 16th February 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
About engineers:

The best engineers tend to almost always use the best gear. It has taken me decades to afford this stuff.

Personally, I do believe a 21 year old schmo with a fair idea of proper use of the highest end gear could beat a top engineer with prosumer level gear.

A decent guitarist on a great guitar will sound better than Steve Vai on a children's toy plastic four string guitar.

In other words, gear does play a LOT into what the final product sounds like.
Old 16th February 2018
  #12
Lives for gear
 

I just looked around for you guys on the web and realized that you don't have a proper website...not one that I could easily find, anyway.

Gotta have a real website. A YouTube Channel/Facebook/Instagram page ain't enough.

And you are in a real historical building with a tremendous pedigree...you should have a great website touting all of the history of the room and the entire area.

Just to give you my perspective as an artist who does book studio time (and who lives in Alabama, close enough to actually become a client), if I came across you guys while shopping for a studio I would not feel like I would be able to find enough information online to make an informed decision and I would move on.

EDIT: And I do NOT make those decisions based on word of mouth. I might be an exception to the general rule, but the online presence is probably the primary way I make those kinds of decisions.
Old 16th February 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
A decent guitarist on a great guitar will sound better than Steve Vai on a children's toy plastic four string guitar.
No way. Seriously, no way.
Old 16th February 2018
  #14
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
About engineers:

The best engineers tend to almost always use the best gear. It has taken me decades to afford this stuff.

Personally, I do believe a 21 year old schmo with a fair idea of proper use of the highest end gear could beat a top engineer with prosumer level gear.

A decent guitarist on a great guitar will sound better than Steve Vai on a children's toy plastic four string guitar.

In other words, gear does play a LOT into what the final product sounds like.
Steve Vai is about my least favorite famous gtr player and I still think your analogy is about 180 degrees wrong

A crap singer just sounds even crappier on a museum u47. Stevie Wonder singing through a 58 makes you wanna smack your momma
Old 16th February 2018
  #15
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
Personally, I do believe a 21 year old schmo with a fair idea of proper use of the highest end gear could beat a top engineer with prosumer level gear.

A decent guitarist on a great guitar will sound better than Steve Vai on a children's toy plastic four string guitar. .
Neither of these statements could be more untrue.
Old 16th February 2018
  #16
Gear Nut
 

For the statement about audio gear, just look at the gear many classic albums were created on and compare it to the gear available today. Look at home recorded efforts that went on to be classics (the first Boston release is a great example) despite using less than ideal gear and rooms.

As for the guitar, I've been lucky to know some stellar players. The one thing I've learned is that their tone is mostly coming from them, not the instrument or amp.

Here's a classic example: Joe Satriani sounds exactly like Joe Satriani playing a cheap <$100 guitar through a garbage amp.

YouTube
Old 16th February 2018
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arr0wHead View Post
For the statement about audio gear, just look at the gear many classic albums were created on and compare it to the gear available today. Look at home recorded efforts that went on to be classics (the first Boston release is a great example) despite using less than ideal gear and rooms.

As for the guitar, I've been lucky to know some stellar players. The one thing I've learned is that their tone is mostly coming from them, not the instrument or amp.

Here's a classic example: Joe Satriani sounds exactly like Joe Satriani playing a cheap <$100 guitar through a garbage amp.

YouTube
Then Joe Satriani is an awful dumb-ass to be wasting all that money on expensive guitar rigs if he sounds exactly the same on a sub-$100 guitar and crap amp, isn't he?

Keep reading online about the 1st Boston album and debunk the myth for yourself. Plenty of that record was done in real studios and with real pro level gear.

As for the other classic records from your statement that went unnamed, I don't know what you're talking about. The best sounding recording tools ever invented were the most plentiful (in good condition, at least) in the sixties and seventies.

Classic Neumann microphones, EMT Plate Reverbs, Neve consoles, Fairchild limiters, Altec compressors, blue stripe 1176s, Pultec EQs, Ampex 16 track 2" tape machines, original La2as still in great condition...hell, even Unidyne sm57s sounded much better than the sm57s they put out today.

I don't know what you think we've got that sounds better than what they had to work with. What we've got is cheap and convenient and allows for faster workflow, but there's a reason that the new AMS Neve 1073 channels go for less than half the cost of vintage ones. They don't sound as good. We've got many more flavors and colors, but the ones they had sounded better...which is why a vintage Fairchild sells for twice the price of my car. It's actually pretty rare that someone comes out with a piece of gear that sounds as good as the vintage classics. And I don't mean just that it's rare that an emulation nails the sound of the vintage classics (although it is). I mean even allowing for something to be equally good but totally different, it's rare.

I pretty much agree with the guy that everyone is bashing above. I think gear matters (so does Joe Satriani, or he wouldn't spend that money we talked about). It's not the only thing that matters...knowing how to use it matters and the sound of the room matters if things are recorded such that the room is heard to any significant degree.

But give engineer A and engineer B the same source to record and all other things being equal except that engineer A has much better equipment, engineer A is going to make a better sounding recording.

Every single time.
Old 16th February 2018
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Oh yeah - good thought. Do you have a PTools rig? No? Get one tomorrow.
Yes, we have Protools and Logic. Not Protools HD at the moment though.
Old 16th February 2018
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post
I just looked around for you guys on the web and realized that you don't have a proper website...not one that I could easily find, anyway.

Gotta have a real website. A YouTube Channel/Facebook/Instagram page ain't enough.

And you are in a real historical building with a tremendous pedigree...you should have a great website touting all of the history of the room and the entire area.

Just to give you my perspective as an artist who does book studio time (and who lives in Alabama, close enough to actually become a client), if I came across you guys while shopping for a studio I would not feel like I would be able to find enough information online to make an informed decision and I would move on.

EDIT: And I do NOT make those decisions based on word of mouth. I might be an exception to the general rule, but the online presence is probably the primary way I make those kinds of decisions.
I totally agree with all the replies about the website. I've held off on it so far mainly just to build up some content to put on it, and also to save money to pay for it, but it's definitely time have a professional website.
Old 16th February 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SydBeretta View Post
I totally agree with all the replies about the website. I've held off on it so far mainly just to build up some content to put on it, and also to save money to pay for it, but it's definitely time have a professional website.
I'm sure you've already done so, but, if not, I'd do some deep diving on the history of the room... Who recorded there, get old photos, yadda yadda

To all of you dudes going on about vintage 1073s versus whatever... Stow it. It's off topic and the op doesn't have the bread to buy a bunch of gear or he would've clearly done so. I realize tge unspoken but often excercised rule that every new thread on GS is seen as an opportunity for folks to expound on their favorite subject... The less that topic happens to have in common with the actual thread the better apparently. It's like that dude who wanders into any club that'll let him sit in to play harmonica. Nobody wants to hear that either

That being said... There's a lesson in business start ups... Opening a new biz while being under capitalized usually results in a dead man walking scenario.

To the op... Maybe you can partner up with some locals who have great gear and rent them some space or work out a trade for your space to have access to their gear....
Old 16th February 2018
  #21
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post
Then Joe Satriani is an awful dumb-ass to be wasting all that money on expensive guitar rigs if he sounds exactly the same on a sub-$100 guitar and crap amp, isn't he?
I didn't say he sounds the same. I said he sounds like Joe Satriani. In other words, more of his sound is due to him being him than it is to the gear he's using.

As for what's better now, a lot. Think of early recordings of Les Paul and Mary Ford. Committing live to 2 track, then overdubbing multiple takes while bouncing down.

Think of early reverbs, and how nowadays we can pack entire rooms into tiny little boxes.

A great engineer can do a much better job using modern, inexpensive gear like the WA stuff OP has than an amateur could do in the best multi-million dollar studio. The newbie recording section, and examples like myself prove time and time again that the issue isn't typically the gear, it's us.

Back to the guitar example, I had a drum teacher down the hall from my store whose student happened to be a left handed guitar player. When he was waiting for his lessons, he'd come into my shop and try the lefties on the wall. He kept asking about amps, and saying how his amp and guitar sucked for the type of metal he was trying to play. So I had him bring them in. I had him plug in and play through it. Then I picked up his guitar and played through it. His jaw dropped. I didn't change guitars. I didn't change settings. It sounded good when I played through it because I've been playing metal for over 20 years. There's nothing wrong with his amp, he just needs to put in the time to learn to get that attack, downpicking, and muting down to get the sound he wants. A great player will sound better through lesser gear than a lesser player through great gear.

Now take that analogy, and apply it to the studio/gear. A great engineer will get better sound with lesser gear than a lesser engineer with great gear.

I don't think we're disagreeing. I just think you read what I'm saying wrong. I was reacting to Piano's idea that the gear is more important than the talent.
Old 16th February 2018
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
To the op... Maybe you can partner up with some locals who have great gear and rent them some space or work out a trade for your space to have access to their gear....
This is a good idea. Maybe market to other local engineers and rent them the room? This would bring lots of bands through, and help give your room and studio some word of mouth.
Old 16th February 2018
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
That being said... There's a lesson in business start ups... Opening a new biz while being under capitalized usually results in a dead man walking scenario.

To the op... Maybe you can partner up with some locals who have great gear and rent them some space or work out a trade for your space to have access to their gear....
We are under capitalized unfortunately. It's possible that this will be just a learning experience.

Thankfully we have been able to work with a local producer with a much higher profile for several projects last year but he just moved into a new space of his own so this year we have that as much. Hopefully we will be able to find other producers interested in filling the void.
Old 16th February 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arr0wHead View Post
I didn't say he sounds the same. I said he sounds like Joe Satriani. In other words, more of his sound is due to him being him than it is to the gear he's using.

As for what's better now, a lot. Think of early recordings of Les Paul and Mary Ford. Committing live to 2 track, then overdubbing multiple takes while bouncing down.

Think of early reverbs, and how nowadays we can pack entire rooms into tiny little boxes.

A great engineer can do a much better job using modern, inexpensive gear like the WA stuff OP has than an amateur could do in the best multi-million dollar studio. The newbie recording section, and examples like myself prove time and time again that the issue isn't typically the gear, it's us.

Back to the guitar example, I had a drum teacher down the hall from my store whose student happened to be a left handed guitar player. When he was waiting for his lessons, he'd come into my shop and try the lefties on the wall. He kept asking about amps, and saying how his amp and guitar sucked for the type of metal he was trying to play. So I had him bring them in. I had him plug in and play through it. Then I picked up his guitar and played through it. His jaw dropped. I didn't change guitars. I didn't change settings. It sounded good when I played through it because I've been playing metal for over 20 years. There's nothing wrong with his amp, he just needs to put in the time to learn to get that attack, downpicking, and muting down to get the sound he wants. A great player will sound better through lesser gear than a lesser player through great gear.

Now take that analogy, and apply it to the studio/gear. A great engineer will get better sound with lesser gear than a lesser engineer with great gear.

I don't think we're disagreeing. I just think you read what I'm saying wrong. I was reacting to Piano's idea that the gear is more important than the talent.
I don't think that's exactly what Piano said though.

What I think we're butting heads on, like most things in life, is a matter of degree.
He didn't say a rank amateur (which is what your guitar student example seemed to be) with great gear will outperform a master with decent gear.

The way I read his comments is that a relatively inexperienced but decently competent engineer with great gear will outperform a much more experienced engineer with much less quality gear. He might be right about that.

It somewhat depends on what kind of music is being recorded and how much manipulating it needs in the editing and mixing stages. But putting a mic in front of a guitar cabinet or acoustic guitar or singer isn't rocket science, and as long as the guy or gal knows a few basic things about phase cancellation and has decent ears and the patience to move the mic (or singer) around a bit to find the best sounding spot...well, everything else comes down to the quality of the gear, doesn't it?

The one thing I absolutely disagree with you about is you claiming that we have better recording tools now. As I originally said, we have more convenient and cheaper tools with maybe more features, which is what you seemed to emphasize in your reply.

But they don't sound better.

If they did, people wouldn't be paying $30,000 and up for a 50 year old Fairchild or $15,000 for a 60 year old u47.

But they do, all the time. Check around online and see how many good/great studios still list things like plate reverbs among their gear.

If it was better they'd be proud to list plug ins.
Old 16th February 2018
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
I'm sure you've already done so, but, if not, I'd do some deep diving on the history of the room... Who recorded there, get old photos, yadda yadda

To all of you dudes going on about vintage 1073s versus whatever... Stow it. It's off topic and the op doesn't have the bread to buy a bunch of gear or he would've clearly done so. I realize tge unspoken but often excercised rule that every new thread on GS is seen as an opportunity for folks to expound on their favorite subject... The less that topic happens to have in common with the actual thread the better apparently. It's like that dude who wanders into any club that'll let him sit in to play harmonica. Nobody wants to hear that either

That being said... There's a lesson in business start ups... Opening a new biz while being under capitalized usually results in a dead man walking scenario.

To the op... Maybe you can partner up with some locals who have great gear and rent them some space or work out a trade for your space to have access to their gear....
Are you a mod?

If not, I really don't want to hear you tell me what I can and can't talk about on this thread, since you brought up the subject of what nobody wants to hear.

If you are a mod then I probably just earned myself a demerit...
Old 16th February 2018
  #26
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SydBeretta View Post
We are under capitalized unfortunately. It's possible that this will be just a learning experience.

Thankfully we have been able to work with a local producer with a much higher profile for several projects last year but he just moved into a new space of his own so this year we have that as much. Hopefully we will be able to find other producers interested in filling the void.
That's what I was thinking too. You guys need an influx.

I wish we had had this conversation last year. I looked around everywhere for someone who had a space that could use some gear and was looking for exactly the kind of situation suggested upthread.

You use the gear, I have access to recording time when I need it, everybody wins.

I'm about four hours away, which might have been too much distance for that to really work, but I would have at least strongly considered it.
Old 16th February 2018
  #27
Producer with credits attract clients these days, not gear or a good room im afraid. Not saying you can't start something and grow from where you are. You have great conditions just not the connections to pull it off from day 1.

Gear wise, well if you have such a great room a large clientel could come from doing drum recordings. I would suggest you invest in microphones before anything else (except marketing) and try to buy mic's that people now, 121, km84, u87 like standard high end mic's and you don't have to go crazy. If you're more into attracting producers bringing clients in you have to have certain type of gear.

Good luck!
Old 16th February 2018
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Crille mannen is on the most relevant point: Big studio producer driven projects are, unfortunately, in a steep decline for many reasons. CD sales have tanked and the growing trend of top session players maintaining their own home based tracking space by passing around wav files is todays reality. The wonderful photos of your space are very enticing however empirical proof of past recording performance will be absolutely necessary to verify the value of your studio. An "A" list of locally available session musicians and affordable accommodations are very important along with up to date PTHD and also Studio One 3.5 DAWs and an appropriate interface with desk top computer power to deliver any type of file necessary. Nashville has a vibrant comprehensive gear rental industry and at least two dozen studios with everything I have listed above and more looking for the same client you are seeking: so why do I want to go to your place? The answer to this riddle is the key to your future.
Hugh
Old 16th February 2018
  #29
Gear Nut
 

My God that's a beautiful room

if possible, take a deep breath and get back into music making

I would be happy to join in on the adventure if i could
Old 16th February 2018
  #30
Lives for gear
 
myles's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SydBeretta View Post
We're located within a few hours driving distance of Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham.
Dude, you're in Muscle Shoals, for crying out loud. That should be the lead-in to anything you do or say.

As others have commented, plaster that history all over the place.

And then make sure that anything that comes through the door goes out sounding really, really good. Can you do that now?

Running anything between a world-class facility with ample financing and a bedroom operation these days is a labor of love. Long days, long nights, any money from sessions goes right back into the studio. The routine advice for people starting a small business (of any kind) is to give it three years. For a studio, I'd say even longer. If you're good, word gets around, but it takes a while. So, be good now, stay afloat, get better.

And, as you're going to attract bands (the live ensemble rec above was good - jazz, bluegrass, Americana), please get your headphone mix chops in very good shape. If you can't do PTHD for that, then be able to do it with your board.

Best of luck! I hope to hear about your success down the road.
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