The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
A question for those of you with high end home studios
Old 2nd December 2014
  #1
Lives for gear
 
jlaws's Avatar
A question for those of you with high end home studios

I was looking at the pictures of the high end home studios earlier Hi-end home studio pics and I was wondering, for those of you with the really high end home studios (what looks to be 50-100k worth of gear), who do you usually record?

Do you have all that gear to record yourself and friends, or do you operate a studio out of your home? And for those of you who are rich guys with a penchant for expensive toys, do any of you have that gear only to record your own solo projects?
Old 2nd December 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Depending upon where you are located, there is usually a decent market among local musicians and bands, if you are willing to put up with the headaches. A nice studio is a pleasant place to be in any case, regardless. Don't know what the rich people do, or why, could make a guess, but don't want to go negative. Good luck.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
I doubt many have a steady stream of external clients coming and going. It all depends on the country/state/county but for the most part running a studio in a house is not legal. Some people might claim they are "home businesses" but an actual home business still requires a firewall and ADA access and typically cannot be more than 20% of the gross square footage of the house. Of course some people get away things because code enforcement is mostly complaint driven.

But musicians in general aren't the quietest or least likely to offend the neighbors, Someone actually doing 40-50hrs a week of paying clients from a home, especially one in a nice neighborhood, stands a really very good chance of drawing a complaint. One complaint for an illegal business operating in a residential zoning is all she wrote.

That all said, there are composers/producers and even mixers who can find some grey area, if the people coming and going aren't paying, and instead the revenue comes from licensing/sale of the music then you can get away with more. Certainly it seems true that a lot of people who would have been audiophiles 20 years ago are 'studiophiles' today.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
I doubt many have a steady stream of external clients coming and going. It all depends on the country/state/county but for the most part running a studio in a house is not legal. Some people might claim they are "home businesses" but an actual home business still requires a firewall and ADA access and typically cannot be more than 20% of the gross square footage of the house. Of course some people get away things because code enforcement is mostly complaint driven.

But musicians in general aren't the quietest or least likely to offend the neighbors, Someone actually doing 40-50hrs a week of paying clients from a home, especially one in a nice neighborhood, stands a really very good chance of drawing a complaint. One complaint for an illegal business operating in a residential zoning is all she wrote.
Interesting perspective. I must say in doing this for over 40 years, I have never encountered this. YMMV.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Analogue Mastering's Avatar
I do mastering out of my home studio, sometimes attended. As well as mixing duties and my own productions for my own joy. 95% of my time is spend alone. If i have 1 or 2 singers a year it's a lot.
I just get my stems and mixdowns with wetransfer and do what I need to do. A Solitude Studio if you will
Old 3rd December 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
Interesting perspective. I must say in doing this for over 40 years, I have never encountered this. YMMV.
Certainly it depends on location and the rules in your area, and also what your neighbors are like as well as what you are trying to get away with. If someone is trying to operate a busy tracking studio in a house that is zoned residential in a central, small-lot city area, it's a pretty risky proposition. Not only can your neighbors file a complaint, but so can your competitors. I know of a few places that have been shut down.

My wife and I have been shopping for a live/work building for our businesses (salon and studio) and in talking to the zoning boards of the cities in our area one recurring theme is that the sheer volume of people trying to run small businesses at home (in many industries) have brought a lot of attention to this issue. Bear in mind that commercial real estate tax is typically ~3-4x higher than res, so this is a loss of revenue for them. Also they are aware that it is creating unequal competition for businesses who have spent a lot more on ADA access and fire codes, tax etc.

In the cities in my area they have already started to introduce more flexible zoning, and more properties zoned with some sort of mixed use designation, with the caveat that they are already more strictly enforcing it and plan to even more in the future.

All a really long winded way of saying that I don't have a crystal ball, but I would not plan for the next 40 years to be like the last 40.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 
dabigfrog's Avatar
 

75 % of our business is local / in-state talent… 25% out of state bands… it's a roller coaster ride.. greatest quarter ever followed by worst quarter ever …but after doing this, and mainly only this for 12 years we do stay pretty booked 25-60 hour a week @ 80-100 an hour.

no one is getting rich, some people are not getting paid at all out there… we are lucky to live in a very creative zone with quite a few working artists… the recording studio is not really a great business opportunity it is a great music opportunity, so if life gave you musicians…make musicaide !

good studio's become great studios by wisely reinvesting profits into kit/gear until you have all the toys a band might need to make a record.
but none of that matters unless you have the people / engineers / producers that people WANT to work with if it is a for profit adventure.

we started to record our friends but we carved out a niche and now many bands want to record here… vibe central.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #8
Lives for gear
 
PatrickFaith's Avatar
 

I do temp and demo tracks, to help get through the financing bump. Only record guitar,cello,grand piano and can only record"soft" singers. I only record 4 channels max, wouldn't think of recording a band. This is for the 100k region. Full tube chains to give a vibe to just ok rooms. I'd think high end would start at 100k, if u include facility and equipment.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #9
I have a fairly high end studio in an apartment in NYC. It helps that we are in Harlem and not, for instance, the upper East Side. When I lived on the UES I got complaints for playing music constantly. But here - none. There are only 3 apartments on the floor. My immediate neighbor is rarely home and the other apartment is on the other side of the elevator bank and cannot hear any thing.

There is another "studio" in the building however, that person only does EDM and it pretty much by his self.

As a general rule my studio is not really open to the public as a "commercial" studio and it more for me and my associates. Because I have a very nice piano and nice microphones in a well treated room I sometimes get friends and fellow musicians/producers/engineers that need to put piano on their tracks.

I do have drums in the studio as well. I limit the recording of drums to the mid afternoon when nobody is around and that about does it. It all seems to be working.

I have no intention of having a flow of traffic on a daily basis however, as the studio has progressed the traffic has increased somewhat. If I really wanted daily sessions or even day and night sessions as in a commercial studio I would have to relocate.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #10
I fall into that range of gear. I record people that I meet or friends of friends. Rarely do I have complete strangers that come to record. I spend most of the time in studio, recording myself. Some months I am lucky to make $100, other months it is quite the opposite.
I am in a neighborhood and we typically do drums starting around 10am. My neighbors do not complain... we have had to practice in the garage before and many of the neighbors set chairs outside to listen! I don't have the space to do live bands though. I have downsized to 20W guitar amps and Bass DI only. Been here, making noise since 2010.
In my area, I was a lot busier when I first started in 2010 than I am now.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
All a really long winded way of saying that I don't have a crystal ball, but I would not plan for the next 40 years to be like the last 40.
Ain't that the truth!
Both your posts are intelligent and informative, I was just offering another perspective, but thank you.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #12
I record myself but mostly others and I have a day job that pays for everything. It's a passion for sure, I could have put all the money in the stock market and actually made money but that's not my goal. Looking long, long term on recouping my money but like I said, it's a passion. I have as much fun tracking and mixing bands as I had playing in one, nothing really replace the stage though. Having musicians loving the way their music is sounding is massive reward.

I'll be at my day job until it's not here or I save up enough to buy a commercial building, or a house in the country with lots of space. I really have no interest in renting a spot to build a studio.

Until then I work with clients as much as possible and build up my experience and portfolio. At some point I hope to do it full time but it's not a rush as I'm happy where I am at. My biggest hurdle is lack of time but that's why I only do one project or two at the most at a time.

It would never be full time out of my house though, even though my place is sound proofed, i.e. you can't hear drums or loud guitar amps standing outside my house, it's still too much traffic to ask of my neighbors to put up with even though all my neighbors are great.

I'm not a rich guy but I have a good sales job I've been at for 15 years.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
It all depends on the country/state/county but for the most part running a studio in a house is not legal. Some people might claim they are "home businesses" but an actual home business still requires a firewall and ADA access and typically cannot be more than 20% of the gross square footage of the house. Of course some people get away things because code enforcement is mostly complaint driven.
My understanding is - and please correct me as needed - this was a product way back when of all (if not many) of the large studios in the LA area complaining to local zoning officials, town officials, congress people and senators, once local studios started popping up. The studios were trying to (unethically, IMHO) figure out a way to not allow local studios to pop up, so they themselves would not have any competition. Depending on the way they went about this (and I am extremely short on the details), that potentially constitutes racketeering. But that's another discussion.

Cheers.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
I guess at the end of the day... if you declare wages from the studio on your tax return and/or have any sort of auditable paper trail indicating business use, you're legally obligated to meet whatever local building codes and zoning regulations apply...

Depending on your neighbors and township I'm sure many could easily operate and never get caught... But should you ever be audited and maintain it's not a commercial business, you'll need to do some 'splaining as to those undeclared deposits into your bank account -- even income from a hobby must be reported to the IRS...
Old 3rd December 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Only to further the discussion, not to disagree with anyone, I've been claiming my home studio as a business with my banking, taxes, etc., for decades without any issues. YMMV.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #16
A good read from an IRS perspective.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Business vs. Hobby.pdf (583.5 KB, 123 views)
Old 3rd December 2014
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
Check this out too: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/fi...Regulation.pdf

It's a good overview from the Small Business Association, page 71 goes into the zoning requirements. The folks who could run into issues are those who live in a township which requires a (business) home occupation permit. This may get the building and fire inspector involved, which adds a bunch of complexity in terms of proving everything adheres to building and safety code... Some towns may have special building requirements if several "customers" will be allowed on premises at any given time, etc... but that's all dependent on locale...
Old 4th December 2014
  #18
The issue comes when you're inviting clients into your home. If you're just mixing or mastering, provided noise isn't a problem, it's just a home office.

If you're having clients in on a regular basis, regardless of zoning etc which I know nothing about, you need liability insurance. As soon as you need that, you step outside of the "home office" designation (eg the clients will be using your "facilities" and I'd imagine in most areas, you're no longer operating legally.

As long as you stay within the home office type setup, regardless of gear cost, I can't see why you wouldn't be ok.
Old 4th December 2014
  #19
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
My understanding is - and please correct me as needed - this was a product way back when of all (if not many) of the large studios in the LA area complaining to local zoning officials, town officials, congress people and senators, once local studios started popping up. The studios were trying to (unethically, IMHO) figure out a way to not allow local studios to pop up, so they themselves would not have any competition. Depending on the way they went about this (and I am extremely short on the details), that potentially constitutes racketeering. But that's another discussion.

Cheers.

Im no lawyer but I don't think its technically racketeering to report someone who is opperating illegally. As for the ethics of it I see both sides of that. The guy who has had to spend a fortune to meet fire codes, commercial taxes, commercial financing, Ada etc probably shouldn't have to be undercut by someone who doesn't have those expenses.

I'm not saying I agree with people doing it, but at the end of the day people should be aware of risks they take on.
Old 4th December 2014
  #20
Lives for gear
 
dabigfrog's Avatar
 

we got a COA an inspection and a business license and we pay city GRT tax every 6 months and state and fed every year… our neighborhood is R1 but we got home business status, do not have any neighbors within 200-300 yards and have never had a single noise complaint in 12 years.

our home studio is an actual registered business and well known in our region.

how else can you acquire 150k worth of gear without the tax write off part of the biz? unless you wrote " i will always love you " and get a fat check 4 times a year … i think Dolly wrote that one….
Old 4th December 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
Only to further the discussion, not to disagree with anyone, I've been claiming my home studio as a business with my banking, taxes, etc., for decades without any issues. YMMV.
Typically code enforcement of these things is complaint driven. It would be unorthodox for the IRS to report something to your local code officials. Most US cities DO allow for home-businesses, and you can have clients there. It's just that there are rules that still apply and they are fairly restrictive. Square footage alone could be a problem for a lot folks doing this. I'm not trying to scare anyone, just something to be aware of especially when planning something.
Old 4th December 2014
  #22
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dabigfrog View Post
we got a COA an inspection and a business license and we pay city GRT tax every 6 months and state and fed every year… our neighborhood is R1 but we got home business status, do not have any neighbors within 200-300 yards and have never had a single noise complaint in 12 years.

our home studio is an actual registered business and well known in our region.

how else can you acquire 150k worth of gear without the tax write off part of the biz? unless you wrote " i will always love you " and get a fat check 4 times a year … i think Dolly wrote that one….
This would be the best way to do it for the risk averse! Home businesses are allowed and especially an area like Santa-Fe I imagine the local codes are fairly favorable compared to other places. It's all down to local codes in the US at least.
Old 4th December 2014
  #23
Lives for gear
 
dabigfrog's Avatar
 

every city has a free package with all the rules and regulations for running a business or a home business in that town… every town is different… check your local city clerk for the rules in YOUR town. Most towns enjoy the extra currency of a business that brings money to the town.
Old 4th December 2014
  #24
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dabigfrog View Post
how else can you acquire 150k worth of gear without the tax write off part of the biz?
I doubt very many people get caught on this via taxes...I've had zoning officials admit to me that the one hand here doesn't know what the other is doing. It's all complaint driven at least in my area. As you said every city has different rules here. That said the modern type of zoning codes that change from R# or C# to MU MX MS etc are all made expressly to address these issues. A lot of cities are making changes, generally they want to change tax codes so the GFA that is "business" is taxable at commercial rates.

Were you required to do a firewall between res and biz partitions? Ada? Just curious...

Still I don't see a crackdown on people teaching private music lessons anytime soon, there is definitely some grey area.
Old 4th December 2014
  #25
Lives for gear
 

RyanC, I produced a project (Red Rubber Ball) in 1978 for "Spectrum" and Rounder records at the Goodman studio in Western Kentucky. It was exactly the arrangement you described: Apx. 4,000 sq. ft. on one floor, half of it a hair salon and the balance a very well equipped recording studio. This is where I had my first encounter with the great Nashville Bluegrass Eng. Steve Chandler. At the time he was a full time employee of the Goodman family Gospel Band but Rusty Goodman (Lead singer and writer with many credits) was leaving the band and the studio shut down shortly after his death. A baldwin 9ft. grand and all the bells and whistles you would expect in a well equipped 70s studio were there and Steve handled a lot of the equipment liquidation. He sold me three RE20s that I use from time to time on live shows today. I would have bought the piano but my wife reminded me that we did not have adequate space available for it. (We now use a Yamaha CP5 stage piano--it has a much smaller footprint and never needs to be tuned) Shortly there after I moved to the Mountains of North Carolina (1981) and trained my efforts on local and regional acoustic Americana (Bluegrass & Gospel) talent that have avocational music pursuits: not agenda driven full time career aspirations. This was the very best decision I ever made because when we work it is a celebration of friendly fellowship---not a grind em out job: I have been on both sides of that deal. I do not publicize my equipment and mic locker but I am confident my Project studio is at least as good if not better that anything we used in the 70s. My acreage is next door to an egg ranch and I make far less noise than their roosters do. The ability to turn it on at any time to capture great performances is worth the time and investment and at 73 it gives me something to look forward to every day that I don't play golf.
Old 4th December 2014
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Mike O's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dabigfrog View Post
every city has a free package with all the rules and regulations for running a business or a home business in that town… every town is different… check your local city clerk for the rules in YOUR town. Most towns enjoy the extra currency of a business that brings money to the town.
This is it. Home businesses here do not require ADA or firewalls for most home businesses. For example a computer consultant or mastering with 1/2 attendees would probably not need such. The amount of traffic (people, cars, parking) and simultaneous 'occupants' can trigger ADA/firewall. Traffic to/from and noise could be a problem.

Also, commercial real estate taxes are NOT "3 or 4 times" residential rates here (or much of the south).

Something to watch for is a business license. In many areas you are required to list and pay tax on ALL equipment used in the business as triggered by the business license.
Old 4th December 2014
  #27
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike O View Post
This is it. Home businesses here do not require ADA or firewalls for most home businesses. For example a computer consultant or mastering with 1/2 attendees would probably not need such. The amount of traffic (people, cars, parking) and simultaneous 'occupants' can trigger ADA/firewall. Traffic to/from and noise could be a problem.

Also, commercial real estate taxes are NOT "3 or 4 times" residential rates here (or much of the south).

Something to watch for is a business license. In many areas you are required to list and pay tax on ALL equipment used in the business as triggered by the business license.
Apologies- you are correct in that it is different all over. For Denver compared to Nashville (I don't know where you are located) it looks like the property taxes are higher across the board, Nashville shows 40% of assessed value for commercial prop and 25% for res. Denver area is ~30% commercial and ~8% res but we typically have higher sales and state income taxes, we don't have business license taxes that have a rate for assets. Here those apply to regulated businesses like Liquor, Marijuana or even Hair Salons have a minor "occupational privilege tax" that funds licensure and license enforcement.

I didn't find the exact zoning documents for Nashville, but according to this

Metro Council roundly rejects home-based business bill | Nashville City Paper

It does not appear that Nashville has a suitable statue for clients at all in a "home business". Of course I'm only using Nashville as a guide for music related business in the south, I don't know your location.

Also I don't mean to denigrate every home setup as a *hobby* by any stretch. I know people who push the limits of what they can get away with in their garage and make a living at it, and I know of big commercial places that are clearly a hobby come tax time. The music thing is a hustle and there are a lot of little avenues that work for people, just the OP's impression seems to be more coming from a traditional commercial studio perspective.
Old 4th December 2014
  #28
Gear Head
 

Started out just as my own Personal Studio, been working with other artists now for a few years. I've considered moving to a "Commercial" space but the economics(math) do not work for me. In fact, after researching the Commercial Recording Biz, I now have even more of an enormous respect for the Commercial Studios. As the Client I just took all of that cool stuff, and "Engineer" for granted. Slightly more enlightened I have definitely learned it's a whole different game on the Business Side of the glass.

Tip of the Hat to the Engineers, Producers, Studio Owners and Staff doing this 24-7!
Old 4th December 2014
  #29
Lives for gear
 
jlaws's Avatar
Been reading the replies and I hadn't thought about the zoning aspects of it, but I suppose it makes sense. I don't have those issues here since I've moved from the states to the Philippines, where zoning regulations and even tax codes are less stringent in their enforcement.

I suppose I was also wondering how people with the expensive gear afford it. Whether the gear pays for itself or its paid for by other means. It seems like most of you guys have other jobs, which I'm assuming pay quite handsomely, and use their discretionary income on gear. I don't have 100k in gear, maybe half that, which I've used my day job to pay for, but so far I've only recorded myself and my band and I'm wondering if it's a waste and I should get out there and record people, even if it's for minimal money since I'm not a professional.

So I guess I can narrow down my original question to "how many of you guys with obscene amounts of gear have it mainly only for your own benefit?" so far, it seems like there are at least a few of you. If I have the wrong impressions, feel free to correct me, this is only what I've inferred from what's been said so far.
Old 4th December 2014
  #30
Lives for gear
 
dabigfrog's Avatar
 

write off 15K worth of gear every year for ten years and you get a collection of gear worth 150k … these things take time .
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump