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Should I start a home studio business?
Old 26th August 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
Smile Should I start a home studio business?

Hi,

Just wondering how feasible starting such a business is. I'm in Toronto, so there are lots of bands. I know how to use a DAW and do basic recording. I have a bit of time to learn and build up a portfolio before I absolutely have to start making a little bit of money (6 months or so), and a bit of money to invest.

I see lots of youtube videos from Recording Revolution, and 6 Figure Home Studio. But I'm suspicious that these guys are really just making loads of money selling courses to people and promising that it's possible to start a business with $300 worth of gear. Sounds a bit too good to be true.

So - is it possible to start a home studio business and grow it enough to make a living? Or is this something where 99.9% of people buy a ton of gear and fail within a year?

Thanks!
Old 26th August 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 
cavern's Avatar
 

Anything is possible but this is unlikely at best.
The people selling these courses probably do ok though.
Do it because you like it and maybe if your good at it and your good with people, you might make some money eventually.
Old 26th August 2018
  #3
Deleted e999d8e
Guest
If you really want to make yourself useful as a freelance audio tech, hook up with a divorce lawyer
Old 26th August 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 
EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Nobody is going to rent time in a studio with $300 worth of gear. They will buy the gear and DIY it, even if they have no idea what they're doing. Mostly, it depends on your space, your acoustics, not the gear. Can't set up a drum kit in an apartment without bothering the neighbors.
Old 26th August 2018
  #5
Gear Nut
 
dannydawiz's Avatar
 

I've been running a home studio business for the past 2 years.

The way I got into it was by accident. I never in my life planned on being an engineer. It just sort of happened.

I normally produce my own music but I started helping some friends work on their music. My reasoning behind it was that when you learn how to make other peoples music sound good, it applies when you go back to your own music as well. It sounded ****ty at first. I wasn't tracking guitars right so the editing between two takes sounded sloppy. The vocals sounded dry and not well balanced because I didn't know anything about how to treat vocals. The room was ****ty so I got room echo in the mic and it sounded bad...

After a long time though you get better and I learned how to do vocals right. I got a ****load of room treatment. Got a better microphone. Learned how to properly edit/track guitars, bought a drum kit... learned how to play drums... tracked the drums... bought pro tools so I could quantize them etc...

Eventually I got tired of recording everyone and told all my friends I wasn't gonna do it anymore unless they were willing to pay me. So they started paying me. At this point I was really good so they didn't mind. Then they told their friends... then they told THEIR friends... and their friends told their friends friends... then random people started hitting me up on social media asking me to mix their stuff and they're from washington dc... and etc...

With that being said I still don't make enough money from recording people for it to make me a living. It makes me decent side money at best while I'm in college but at the same time I don't actively try to pursue clients or market myself at all so I guess I wouldn't really know what it's like to pursue engineering as a career.

I will say though that if you think just because you've watched a couple of videos from recording revolution and & 6 figure home studio that you know how to engineer you're mistaken. Nothing beats learning from experience. Video courses are good and useful and I watched the same things when I was a beginner but unless you're actively applying this knowledge you're never going to learn how to get good mixdowns.

So I guess my advice to you would be to start tracking bands for free for a little bit just so you could get practice in. Tell them that you can do demo recordings or something. The important part about this is you HAVE to actually be trying to make things sound good. Don't just make it be about the $. Someone could offer me $1000 to record a few singles for their band but if they're all ****ty and can't play to a click and the music is terrible I won't do it simply because I wouldn't be learning anything. You need to take on clients in the beginning with the mindset of "what am I going to learn today that's new?" The experience and knowledge that you get from recording and mixing is the payment you are going to be getting.

Eventually you're going to reach a point where you're really ****ing good. Keep in mind that you don't have to be the best of the best but as long as you know what you're doing then you're off to a good start. You will already have a reputation in your neighborhood as being the guy who records bands and does a good job so this is the part where you say "alright guys I'm not gonna be doing this for free anymore and I'm gonna start charging $ for this". Everyone will bitch at you and hate you until eventually they get over it and realize that you're the best option they have and they'll return to you and now Vooala.

You've started your studio business. Now you gotta keep doing it and learn how to charge $ and how to handle payments/clients because people WILL waste your time and people WILL take advantage of you if you let them.

I'm tired of typing now and I don't even know why I wrote that much but I guess my answer is yes. You should start a home studio business. I mean why not? Just make sure that you're in it for the right reasons and expect to invest much more than $300. All my stuff looks like this...

Room treatment/basstraps - GIK Acoustics - ($1500 I think?)
Yamaha HS8 Monitors - $500
Drum Mics - $1500
Drum Kit - $1500
Scarlett foscurite 18i20 & 18i8 - $800???
Pro tools EDUCATIONAL bundle - $300 I think (tbh I dont even use pro tools only for quantizing drums but I'll throw it in)
External Hard drives - $500

Honestly I'm not gonna post all my studio **** but that's just an example of how expensive things can get so prepare to invest a decent amount of money in.
Old 26th August 2018
  #6
Here for the gear
Hi Ember - thanks so much for the extended and thoughtful response! That's a lot to think about.
Old 26th August 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 
bitman's Avatar
I did for 5 to 6 years and then all of a sudden in 2008 all entertainment venues (dive bars) went to djs and almost overnight the was nobody calling but middle aged, last gasp singer songwriters who put all the pressure on me to fill in the gaps as they had no band or entourage to dump on. Kids were fun to make demos for. Throw up some mics and let em do what they do. They cared not what I thought, I just made it big and loud and that was good enough. As soon as that dried up, I quit. I thing with gibson and guitar center on the ropes it's still that way today.
Old 27th August 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 
pr0gr4m's Avatar
So, you know how to use a DAW. Great. Are you any good? Like good enough where people should pay you to do it for them?

To answer your question, it's not impossible to make a living at it, but I would imagine that it's more possible to get struck by lightning. That is to say unless you have some real talent and customers already lined up.
Old 27th August 2018
  #9
Lives for gear
 
pr0gr4m's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dannydawiz View Post
After a long time though you get better
For the OP, you might want to define 'long time'.
Old 27th August 2018
  #10
Deleted User
Guest
OP, dont waste your time
Old 27th August 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 

What it comes down to is your area. I'd check and see what kind of studios you already have in your area. If you have several established studios taking care of bands already the trying to organize a startup business becomes that much tougher.

Look at it just like any other business. If you live in a town that has a McDonalds on every other block, maybe the fast food business isn't what you want to be focused on. Sure maybe people get tired of the same place for lunch and your idea's may wind up being successful but you'll be slugging it out with everyone else who has the same exact ideas you do.

Don't delude yourself into thinking your ideas are unique and haven't be thought of before either. I guarantee you any ideas you have for making money in music have been tried before. On top of that the music business itself isn't what it used to be. Most big studios are either bankrupt of nothing but shells of their formal existence. The pirates on the internet bankrupted the music business and so far it shows no signs of coming back. At least not in its present form.

You must understand, Studios are not the factories that manufacture starts and generate millions like they did in their hay days any more. The Hollywood Version you see of studios hasn't existed in a long time now. Anyone who earns a steady living is likely involved in doing allot of commercial work for Radio. Companies doing radio ads still pay to have their jingles and advertisements recorded.

Recording rock bands is like skid row in comparison. Most musicians haven't got two dimes to run together and getting paid to make a recording is tougher then ever. If the band is doing the local club scene, they're lucky if they're earning gas money. Sure they might have visions of grandeur, work a day job and blow a wad on a so called "Hit Album" but for most its just a high quality demo. They wind up trying to sell it at gigs because there is no solid distribution besides a bands own website if they have one.

What that equates to is, say you want to build toasters. You go through all the trouble of buying the machinery and materials to build it and spend maybe 5 years perfecting the product. Then you discover all the chain stores like K-Mart, Target, and Walmart, quite selling appliances 20 years before you even came up with the idea of building them.

You need do a market analysis to see if your business venture has any chance of earning a profit. If course that wont stop people from pursuing their dreams, but if you want to avoid becoming bankrupt, you have a hell of a lot more to worry about then whether you could start a studio or not. You need to be practical and if you don't have a clear path to earning a profit then you better make sure you do before you begin to make investment. No sane person invests in a business that has no customers to support that business, not even the rich and eccentric. They may buy a successful business and make it more successful, but there is no reason to buy a bankrupt company in a bankrupt business.

I realize many will love music wont want to admit just how bad a shape the industry is in, but a simple google of what bands are still touring is proof enough. The most you might see are a few dinosaur bands and a couple of no names touring whereas 25 years ago you had hundreds of bands touring the country.
Old 27th August 2018
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclure View Post
Hi,

Just wondering how feasible starting such a business is. I'm in Toronto, so there are lots of bands. I know how to use a DAW and do basic recording. I have a bit of time to learn and build up a portfolio before I absolutely have to start making a little bit of money (6 months or so), and a bit of money to invest.

I see lots of youtube videos from Recording Revolution, and 6 Figure Home Studio. But I'm suspicious that these guys are really just making loads of money selling courses to people and promising that it's possible to start a business with $300 worth of gear. Sounds a bit too good to be true.

So - is it possible to start a home studio business and grow it enough to make a living? Or is this something where 99.9% of people buy a ton of gear and fail within a year?

Thanks!
Most likely Door #2 , unfortunately. PS simply knowing how to use a DAW and do basic recording wouldn't cut it, even if the industry wasn't a mess. You'd really need to stand out as an expert in both whatever DAW you use and a wide variety of recording methods and concepts. And you'd need thousands, not $300.
Old 27th August 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
One thing to keep in mind is what the actual home-occupation laws are in your area. These can be quite restrictive, and from a quick search it looks like Toronto is even more restrictive than most of the US-

City of Toronto Zoning By-law 569-2013, as amended (Office Consolidation)

Obviously a lot of people are doing it anyway, and each person will have to weigh how much risk they are willing to take on here. But if you don't have an actual business license for a home occupation, it's just one quick call to the city from any neighbor or competitor and that's all she wrote. I do know people who have been shut down, and in particular it's a real drag if you have invested a lot in your business.

The people who are making money telling people to get into a high-risk and even illegal business situation IMO are highly unethical. If they had any real experience here they would know how much of a strain on your neighbors etc running a studio can be. Clients here want to work late, often have some drinks, they are inside making a lot of noise and what do you think happens when they step outside for a smoke etc?

I know a lot of people are doing it, and because it's complaint driven, it's possible to have a setup that may work out OK. But I think it's at least important to mention because many people are completely unaware.
Old 27th August 2018
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Could be good for singer songwriters. Trying to operate a DAW with a Guitar hanging around your neck and a Microphone pointing at your mouth and a pair of headphones on your head that keep getting pulled off as you trip over the cable is no fun at all. A lot of people who have DAWs don't really know how to use them. Many are disappointed that they can't seem to just set up and record a few simple instruments and vocals. I think there could be a market there.
Old 27th August 2018
  #15
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclure View Post
Just wondering how feasible starting such a business is. I'm in Toronto, so there are lots of bands.
Are there also lots of studios? That's the other half of the equation. Go look on Craig's list, the bulletin boards at the music stores, the advertising pages of the local music rags and see. I have a suspicion that the Toronto market is probably already well served with many recording studios, all trying to undercut their competition.

Quote:
I know how to use a DAW and do basic recording. I have a bit of time to learn and build up a portfolio before I absolutely have to start making a little bit of money (6 months or so), and a bit of money to invest.
6 months is nothing. It's not enough time for you to "learn" how to be a professional recording engineer to the point where people will PAY you to do it. It is not enough time for a most new businesses to go into the black. It's not even enough time for you to get X amount of good bands in to make a portfolio you would want to play for anyone.

If you want to buy recording gear because you like recording, don't let us stop you. But I don't think you can really call it an "investment" unless you already have clients knocking down your doors.

Quote:
I see lots of youtube videos from Recording Revolution, and 6 Figure Home Studio. But I'm suspicious that these guys are really just making loads of money selling courses to people and promising that it's possible to start a business with $300 worth of gear.
you sound like you are too smart to be their target audience!

Quote:
So - is it possible to start a home studio business and grow it enough to make a living? Or is this something where 99.9% of people buy a ton of gear and fail within a year?
Anything is "possible", but winning the lottery is also "possible".
Quote:
I know how to use a DAW and do basic recording.
Every band you could recruit to your home studio probably has at least one member that can make that same statement. That already owns the same (or better) "$300" worth of gear. Everybody has a DAW and a handful of mics. Just look around this website.

The fact is that in today's world, all of your potential "clients" are actually potential "competitors" instead. They all are recording themselves nowadays and all thinking if they got a little bit more gear, they could record someone else for pay. Many of them will, but probably more in a "offsetting their habit" way than in actually turning a profit. Nevertheless, each time someone does that, it means fewer available clients for the studios to fight over.

If you want to start a business, open a Dry Cleaners. If you open a studio, your only possible customers will be musicians, the most chronically broke-ass, unreliable, flaky demographic there is. If you open a Dry Cleaners, any person, in any one of 1000s of different professions, who needs clean clothes for WORK is a potential customer. In other words, for a Dry Cleaners, your potential customers all already have decent-paying middle class jobs - or they wouldn't need to clean their suits! Also, note the distinction between "need" and "want".

While many musicians want a recording, few of them need a recording. Few of them have someone waiting on the other end ready to pay them for the finished song.
Old 28th August 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
Absolutely DO NOT start a home studio as a professional business outside of being a personal project space, UNLESS you have an exceptional house and property capable of comfortably and privately keeping guests needs met. And I mean all needs, even recreation, down time, eating, sleeping, socializing, etc. Basically if you don't run a bed and breakfast AND a music studio AND a party mansion, you will always appear far less attractive to prospective clients than any commercially housed competition.
Old 28th August 2018
  #17
Gear Head
 

Do you want to make money as a sound engineer or is it your ambition to start a home Audio business? There are a lot of jobs in sound other than just recording musicians. Over the last 20 years I have done many different things sound related to make a living all while recording music at the same time. I opened a small studio and what everyone is saying is true. It’s harder than ever to make a living just recording music. But there are bars that need sound people, trade shows that need sound people, stage hand jobs that need sound people, also tv and radio stations that need people with experience in sound. I have done all these jobs to make money while still recording bands for a lot less money. But I record bands because I love to go it.
On the flip side of this conversation I think a lot of people just starting out think that recording rock music is some how a fun and easy gig. As with everything it is fun and can also be a big pain doing this kind of work. The people you are recording can sometimes be very difficult to work with, and very demanding. When you are the owner engineer you are all by yourself trying to make someone’s vision of their music come to life. Sometimes no matter what you do you just can’t make people happy. I’ve recorded bands that wondered why the record they made in 3 days doesn’t sound like the records they hear on the radio where months of production and tens of thousands of dollars went into making them. And because of their in experience and unrealistic expectations they will it’s something you did wrong, or it’s because you don’t have a certain piece of expensive unattainable gear that would make it miraculously sound better. One think I’ve learned is to focus my money making efforts into a lot of things sound related that might not be just recording music, then I can be more picky about who I want to take in my studio and work with.
Old 28th August 2018
  #18
Lives for gear
I wouldn't start one right now unless it's a hobby.

Between 2001 and 2007 I did manage to quit my day job, but it wasn't recording bands, it was doing remixes and writing songs for kids who's parents had money to burn.

And that was with $50k in equipment....not $300.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by dannydawiz View Post
I've been running a home studio business for the past 2 years.

The way I got into it was by accident. I never in my life planned on being an engineer. It just sort of happened.

I normally produce my own music but I started helping some friends work on their music. My reasoning behind it was that when you learn how to make other peoples music sound good, it applies when you go back to your own music as well. It sounded ****ty at first. I wasn't tracking guitars right so the editing between two takes sounded sloppy. The vocals sounded dry and not well balanced because I didn't know anything about how to treat vocals. The room was ****ty so I got room echo in the mic and it sounded bad...

After a long time though you get better and I learned how to do vocals right. I got a ****load of room treatment. Got a better microphone. Learned how to properly edit/track guitars, bought a drum kit... learned how to play drums... tracked the drums... bought pro tools so I could quantize them etc...

Eventually I got tired of recording everyone and told all my friends I wasn't gonna do it anymore unless they were willing to pay me. So they started paying me. At this point I was really good so they didn't mind. Then they told their friends... then they told THEIR friends... and their friends told their friends friends... then random people started hitting me up on social media asking me to mix their stuff and they're from washington dc... and etc...

With that being said I still don't make enough money from recording people for it to make me a living. It makes me decent side money at best while I'm in college but at the same time I don't actively try to pursue clients or market myself at all so I guess I wouldn't really know what it's like to pursue engineering as a career.

I will say though that if you think just because you've watched a couple of videos from recording revolution and & 6 figure home studio that you know how to engineer you're mistaken. Nothing beats learning from experience. Video courses are good and useful and I watched the same things when I was a beginner but unless you're actively applying this knowledge you're never going to learn how to get good mixdowns.

So I guess my advice to you would be to start tracking bands for free for a little bit just so you could get practice in. Tell them that you can do demo recordings or something. The important part about this is you HAVE to actually be trying to make things sound good. Don't just make it be about the $. Someone could offer me $1000 to record a few singles for their band but if they're all ****ty and can't play to a click and the music is terrible I won't do it simply because I wouldn't be learning anything. You need to take on clients in the beginning with the mindset of "what am I going to learn today that's new?" The experience and knowledge that you get from recording and mixing is the payment you are going to be getting.

Eventually you're going to reach a point where you're really ****ing good. Keep in mind that you don't have to be the best of the best but as long as you know what you're doing then you're off to a good start. You will already have a reputation in your neighborhood as being the guy who records bands and does a good job so this is the part where you say "alright guys I'm not gonna be doing this for free anymore and I'm gonna start charging $ for this". Everyone will bitch at you and hate you until eventually they get over it and realize that you're the best option they have and they'll return to you and now Vooala.

You've started your studio business. Now you gotta keep doing it and learn how to charge $ and how to handle payments/clients because people WILL waste your time and people WILL take advantage of you if you let them.

I'm tired of typing now and I don't even know why I wrote that much but I guess my answer is yes. You should start a home studio business. I mean why not? Just make sure that you're in it for the right reasons and expect to invest much more than $300. All my stuff looks like this...

Room treatment/basstraps - GIK Acoustics - ($1500 I think?)
Yamaha HS8 Monitors - $500
Drum Mics - $1500
Drum Kit - $1500
Scarlett foscurite 18i20 & 18i8 - $800???
Pro tools EDUCATIONAL bundle - $300 I think (tbh I dont even use pro tools only for quantizing drums but I'll throw it in)
External Hard drives - $500

Honestly I'm not gonna post all my studio **** but that's just an example of how expensive things can get so prepare to invest a decent amount of money in.
Holy this post is underrated.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Gear Nut
 
dannydawiz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguarguitar View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by dannydawiz View Post
I've been running a home studio business for the past 2 years.

The way I got into it was by accident. I never in my life planned on being an engineer. It just sort of happened.

I normally produce my own music but I started helping some friends work on their music. My reasoning behind it was that when you learn how to make other peoples music sound good, it applies when you go back to your own music as well. It sounded ****ty at first. I wasn't tracking guitars right so the editing between two takes sounded sloppy. The vocals sounded dry and not well balanced because I didn't know anything about how to treat vocals. The room was ****ty so I got room echo in the mic and it sounded bad...

After a long time though you get better and I learned how to do vocals right. I got a ****load of room treatment. Got a better microphone. Learned how to properly edit/track guitars, bought a drum kit... learned how to play drums... tracked the drums... bought pro tools so I could quantize them etc...

Eventually I got tired of recording everyone and told all my friends I wasn't gonna do it anymore unless they were willing to pay me. So they started paying me. At this point I was really good so they didn't mind. Then they told their friends... then they told THEIR friends... and their friends told their friends friends... then random people started hitting me up on social media asking me to mix their stuff and they're from washington dc... and etc...

With that being said I still don't make enough money from recording people for it to make me a living. It makes me decent side money at best while I'm in college but at the same time I don't actively try to pursue clients or market myself at all so I guess I wouldn't really know what it's like to pursue engineering as a career.

I will say though that if you think just because you've watched a couple of videos from recording revolution and & 6 figure home studio that you know how to engineer you're mistaken. Nothing beats learning from experience. Video courses are good and useful and I watched the same things when I was a beginner but unless you're actively applying this knowledge you're never going to learn how to get good mixdowns.

So I guess my advice to you would be to start tracking bands for free for a little bit just so you could get practice in. Tell them that you can do demo recordings or something. The important part about this is you HAVE to actually be trying to make things sound good. Don't just make it be about the $. Someone could offer me $1000 to record a few singles for their band but if they're all ****ty and can't play to a click and the music is terrible I won't do it simply because I wouldn't be learning anything. You need to take on clients in the beginning with the mindset of "what am I going to learn today that's new?" The experience and knowledge that you get from recording and mixing is the payment you are going to be getting.

Eventually you're going to reach a point where you're really ****ing good. Keep in mind that you don't have to be the best of the best but as long as you know what you're doing then you're off to a good start. You will already have a reputation in your neighborhood as being the guy who records bands and does a good job so this is the part where you say "alright guys I'm not gonna be doing this for free anymore and I'm gonna start charging $ for this". Everyone will bitch at you and hate you until eventually they get over it and realize that you're the best option they have and they'll return to you and now Vooala.

You've started your studio business. Now you gotta keep doing it and learn how to charge $ and how to handle payments/clients because people WILL waste your time and people WILL take advantage of you if you let them.

I'm tired of typing now and I don't even know why I wrote that much but I guess my answer is yes. You should start a home studio business. I mean why not? Just make sure that you're in it for the right reasons and expect to invest much more than $300. All my stuff looks like this...

Room treatment/basstraps - GIK Acoustics - ($1500 I think?)
Yamaha HS8 Monitors - $500
Drum Mics - $1500
Drum Kit - $1500
Scarlett foscurite 18i20 & 18i8 - $800???
Pro tools EDUCATIONAL bundle - $300 I think (tbh I dont even use pro tools only for quantizing drums but I'll throw it in)
External Hard drives - $500

Honestly I'm not gonna post all my studio **** but that's just an example of how expensive things can get so prepare to invest a decent amount of money in.
Holy this post is underrated.
Thanks. Can’t remember when I posted this... been a few years I think? Can confirm that running a home studio business on the outskirts of LA is still kinda cool and still kinda trash.
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