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andypick68 6th October 2015 06:33 PM

Is there legs in this studio idea?
 
Hi there, just wanted to put some feelers out on this, so my long dream has been to own and operate a 4 or 8 track reel to reel studio with a control room, live room and echo chamber, pretty much to track everything live or with minimal overdubs and using a bouncing techniques, like they used to in the old days. A huge passion of mine is making records like they did in the mid 60's.
So in essence my studio would have 'that' sound due to the echo chamber being a one of a kind i guess. I know what gear i'd need to get going and have already some of it.
Nothing super high end to begin with, the idea of building it up over time,Of course there are loads of people doing this vintage thing now with some silly price gear involved.
I have the experience to do it, so theres no need to question if I do or what i have gear wise ,just is the general idea viable in todays climate?? I dont want to bother with a computer based studio its just not what im going for, nor do I want bands to expect to be edited up into something usable, it would never be advertised as that.
Since some people are going backwards into wanting that vintage sound would this ever be anything more than a hobby in reality??
I actually have the funds to get one going ,not sure on exact location but Im based in the UK.
Its just something I love...

Thanks

Kiwi 6th October 2015 07:17 PM

I think it could be done really well. What could be a real drawcard is if you could model it on Abbey Road Studio 2 or something like that ... I know, some of us are that shallow. I understand Paul McCartney had his personal studio designed basically on the Studio 2 model. There are a lot of people who dream about that kind of experience - it could almost be run as an theme-park/museum style of attraction ... charge people to record there, charge people to watch or be in an audience ... I think if you had the vision to tap into the deep interest in this era of music production, the sky is the limit ...

brianellefson 6th October 2015 07:29 PM

I think its a cool idea, but also a numbers game. Here in Seattle there are plenty of bands that would probably like to go through that experience. I think other spots like Nashville, etc, maybe not so much as they're after a more modern sound.

If you have another source of income and could afford to go that route - go for it. Im not too sure how well you'd do if it were your sole source of income, though. Just being honest.

It is a very cool idea and worth exploring I think.

279793 6th October 2015 07:48 PM

Location will be important - being in the arse end of nowhere will kill it dead, unless there's decent transport links and some nice things to do when not recording, eg, good pub and a pretty landscape.

If I ever win the lottery (lol) I'm building somewhere with a Tree Audio Roots console and nothing but U67's. Part of the contract will read "Good musicians/songs only, no turd polishing or autotune".

Good luck!

Drumsound 7th October 2015 04:46 AM

I think the best way to do this is to also be the label/distribution for the music. I truly don't think committing to the old school/limited tech thing will work often enough as a selling too, to keep the reels rolling. Maybe I'm wrong. I know when I opened 13 years ago I only had a 2" machine and a 1/4" deck and I lost clients, and I had to add a digital option. I added my current PT rig because the RADAR didn't offer the same options, that clients wanted. BUT, if you were selling the records and hand picking the artists you could make it work.

Kiwi 7th October 2015 05:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mellowsouls (Post 11386544)
... being in the arse end of nowhere will kill it dead ...

That name has a nice ring to it ... see what i did there ...

But part of the vintage recording experience could be the creativity of being cooped up in the arse end of nowhere, with nothing to do but create awesome rock ...

I could imagine a bed & breakfast type facility in some remote location ... solar power ... no AC hum from your pure sine inverters with variable frequency for true tape varispeed ...

A band could save up for an exotic holiday experience and come out of it with their album ...

If it had an awesome view that would be great too ...

phanlon 7th October 2015 05:12 AM

Not sure bands play that well together anymore.

Kiwi 7th October 2015 05:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by phanlon (Post 11387735)
Not sure bands play that well together anymore.

You can still take their money ...

If this became "the" destination to make your retro album ... they might practice a little bit before they buy the tickets ...

auralart 7th October 2015 05:57 AM

If the prices, location and the atmosphere is right it can work.

uncle duncan 7th October 2015 07:51 AM

The Dap Kings recorded with Amy Winehouse in an old-timey 8-track studio in Brooklyn. I wonder if that studio is still around? Here's an article about it from 2008.

https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun...es/daptone.htm

Perhaps hooking up with a vinyl pressing plant would help rope in the clients. I can't see it being attractive as a destination studio unless you're near an interstate highway so that touring bands could schedule a stop between shows.

Another approach would be computer backup so you could offer both options at the same time - retro analog sound on tape with digital multitrack masters the band could take with them to work elsewhere.

phanlon 7th October 2015 08:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kiwi (Post 11387771)
You can still take their money ...

If this became "the" destination to make your retro album ... they might practice a little bit before they buy the tickets ...

I feel like when your business plan is to take people's money you won't be in business very long.

The "retro" market is a niche market of a dying market. If you have the funds to do it and love doing it then go for it. I'm just not sure you will have people knocking down your door to record to 4 or 8 tracks and a echo chamber when they can do the same thing with garage band and a reverb plugin.

Kiwi 7th October 2015 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by phanlon (Post 11387950)
I feel like when your business plan is to take people's money you won't be in business very long.

The "retro" market is a niche market of a dying market. If you have the funds to do it and love doing it then go for it. I'm just not sure you will have people knocking down your door to record to 4 or 8 tracks and a echo chamber when they can do the same thing with garage band and a reverb plugin.

That was tongue-cheek ... the implication I was retorting to was that modern bands can't play, which is not my experience, although obviously there have always been lame bands with a recording budget.

The thing is - they can't get anywhere near the same vibe with garage band and a reverb plugin.

I doubt that interest in the retro sound or studio method will die out - it will become rarer and more exotic and therefore attractive to those who can afford it. The more banal beats being churned out by wannabes with laptops, the more people will crave the organic sound of the real stuff.

I just think you might have to look beyond the build-it-and-they-will-come mentality. I think if it was a package deal exotic holiday to fullfill a bucket list desire, it might get solid bookings at a premium price.

I think having the digital suit as well, and being very smart about maximising the whole experience would round out the deal.

Done right - I could be tempted. But I would expect high end, well maintained gear. Basically Abbey Road with benefits, on a budget ... tall order?

psycho_monkey 7th October 2015 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle duncan (Post 11387925)
The Dap Kings recorded with Amy Winehouse in an old-timey 8-track studio in Brooklyn. I wonder if that studio is still around? Here's an article about it from 2008.

https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun...es/daptone.htm

Perhaps hooking up with a vinyl pressing plant would help rope in the clients. I can't see it being attractive as a destination studio unless you're near an interstate highway so that touring bands could schedule a stop between shows.

Another approach would be computer backup so you could offer both options at the same time - retro analog sound on tape with digital multitrack masters the band could take with them to work elsewhere.

To be fair, the Amy Winehouse singles were then mixed by Tom Elmhirst, who added samples and so on to make them competitive in the modern pop world.

Whilst it's well known the bed tracks were done with Daptones, I'm not sure how much tinkering happened in post.

DistortingJack 7th October 2015 12:51 PM

Careful, you might end up exactly like this


RyanC 7th October 2015 01:51 PM

IMO the big question here is what you pay for space-

I think if you actually looked at P&L sheets for studios you would see that the only ones that turn much of a profit either own the space outright (and don't expense it), are finding a way to get bookings up to 70+ hrs a week (with freelancers or 2nd's), or have a publishing/label/cowriting situation, or some combo of the above.

It seems that to make this concept you would need cheap space, which usually means setting up a residential operation. Therein lies the big problem that I see, because you can't even do many hours of overdub sessions you have full bands going 40 hrs a week. You need all the schedules to line up which means a lot of night sessions.

Bottom line a room with bands in it, and smoking/cussing/drinking/yelling/singing outside of it 40+ hrs is not going to win you the 'neighbor of the year' award. More likely to win you a date with your local code enforcement official.

Of course that depends a lot on where it's located.

Philter 7th October 2015 02:01 PM

Where I am anyway, you can't be really picky about your clients if you want to make a profit. The retro tech thing would eliminate 80 or 90% of my business right off the bat, and make life harder for the handful remaining.

There actually is a retro studio kind of like you outline in my state, but they only do one kind of band very well. (Americana/folk rock throwback, whatever you call that style, everyone has a lumberjack beard and wears flannels.) The problem I see for them is, what happens when that currently trendy style isn't so current anymore?

RyanC 7th October 2015 02:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Philter (Post 11388439)
The problem I see for them is, what happens when that currently trendy style isn't so current anymore?

Right?

How many lumbersexuals and civil war reenactors can there be?

Maybe that's how to make the concept work though. Make a micro-pop up business with an artisan cold drip coffee, a vintage pinball arcade, direct to 2 track studio and an all plaid clothing line....oh and bar (just to keep the lights on).

kasperjensen 7th October 2015 02:28 PM

I would totally go and do some recording in a place like that if it was reasonably priced. I would probably use it for certain things... Like recording banjos and some vocals there or something. Something to add to some songs in conjunction with what is being recorded at a more modern studio.

costas14 7th October 2015 03:27 PM

The dap kings are still around. Also they used an 8516 1" before the 8 track came in. Also Sharon jones uses the backing band. It's Sharon jones and the dap kings. Also the dap kings where Amy's backing band in New York. Also no samples where used. Fake strings or samples where used on her first album which pissed her off.

shreddoggie 7th October 2015 04:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanC (Post 11388477)

How many lumbersexuals and civil war reenactors can there be?

With a consistent program of systematic ridicule they will eventually die of shame or at least shave.

Avening 7th October 2015 09:10 PM

It would have to be a very inspiring space (both visually and sonically). If the only option you have is place that looks like a decommissioned corporate office from the 80's, then forget about it. However, I could picture a nice loft style space with lots of stainless steel and live-edge wood work, some kick-ass reclaimed wood flooring, barn board, etc. You know, where the hipsters might want to kick their feet up and throw back a few craft beers, or have some fair trade espresso ... that type of space. Recording to 4-8 track tape in an inspiring place like that would be a really cool experience ... one that a few bands would want to partake in. At the least it'd make for a great website, and session photos.

rcb4t2 7th October 2015 10:31 PM

It's a cool concept. But... don't forget that the hipsters are largely broke and unappreciative of the costs of operating such a space. Unless I was independently wealthy, I would definitely not open a new studio facility in today's climate. Better investments might include the horseless carriage and landline telephones. There are many operating studios where you can freelance and bring your clients.

Also, unfortunately, the majority of artists today cannot deal with a tape workflow, period. Even the jazz project I did last month that had some of the city's most impeccable talent, well-rehearsed, led by an incredibly talented player needed some minor pro-toolsing. It's so expected today that it is impossible to avoid. Even the dudes that have the abilities to do several takes until one is perfect, are not willing to spend the time to do so. If you cannot provide basic editing/comping/fixing you will lose business. It also means that your studio cannot accommodate any of the revenue streams that actually still exist in the audio world - voiceover, recording commercial jingles, ADR, etc...

In summary, opening a studio as a for-profit business is a bad idea in 2015. The only way to make it work, imho, is to diversify your services and potential revenue streams to the point where you have enough non-music business coming in to support the labor of love (the music recording). Your model is the opposite. It intentionally self-limits to appeal only to the one demographic that is least willing, and least able, to pay for it. My $.02

If you have some cash burning a whole in your pocket and want to record, why not find a handful of bands in your region that you love who play incredible music, and fund their project, appointing yourself producer/engineer?

psycho_monkey 8th October 2015 01:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by costas14 (Post 11388643)
The dap kings are still around. Also they used an 8516 1" before the 8 track came in. Also Sharon jones uses the backing band. It's Sharon jones and the dap kings. Also the dap kings where Amy's backing band in New York. Also no samples where used. Fake strings or samples where used on her first album which pissed her off.

Tom Elmhirst specifically mentions adding samples to the tracks he mixed for AW.

"Elmhirst mixed "Rehab"; when he first received the multitrack of the song it was small, but Ronson then went to London to record strings, brass and percussion in one of Metropolis Studios's tracking rooms. After this was added, there were quite a few tracks. The song had a retro, 1960s soul, R&B feel, which is what the Dap-Kings specialise in, when it came to the mixing Elmhirst added a contemporary feel to it as well, while Ronson wanted to keep the mix sparse and not overproduced.[14]"

(from Wiki). He also mixed "Valerie"....I'm not talking about fake strings, I'm talking about bolstering the drums to make them work in a modern context. You'd struggle to hear the kick otherwise, it certainly wouldn't drive in the same way.

u47u67u87 8th October 2015 01:55 AM

I've been having very similar visions recently . . .

What I'd suggest for you to do, is to, firstly, find pictures of pre-1960 built recording spaces, and to get a 3D modeler (I use Sketchup, but you can use CAD or something similar) and try to mimic one of those rooms, while adding as much originality as your mind can come up with.

Generally, the live rooms for these facilities start at around 1,500 ft^2 (~140 m^2) and sometimes can be as large as 3,500 ft^2 (325 m^2), as a good number of these rooms were designed to record symphony orchestras for film scores, or for early classical records (which I still prefer the ones made in studios as opposed to the location recordings, at least in those days).

One question you might want to ask yourself is, What will you be recording in the room? Beethoven's 9th? A small acoustic folk group? Jazz/Swing Big Band?

Another thing you might want to ask is, Where, sonically, will the studio be located? I'm not talking about the physical location of the studio (even though that's very important also). Do you want the German 60s sound (think Karajan, Berlin Phil records)? The British 60s sound (think Beatles, film scores)? The American [NYC] sound (think Miles Davis, Stravinsky's own 'Rite' and 'Firebird' recordings, Glenn Gould, Horowitz)?

Also, where, physically speaking, will the studio be located? You need to find a location where your services are wanted.

In addition, which year in the 60s do you revere the most? 1960, 1963, 1965, 1969? The later you go, the more tracks on the tape machine and the more 70s influence it has. (My favorite year for recordings in the 60s was right around '62, '63.)

I'd probably try to look for a Putnam 610 board, or an Altec 250SU or something similar, in addition to an Ampex 350 3-track.

While U 67s are great mics, and were released in 1960, a good number of engineers were still using U 47s and M 49s (and M 50s) even until around the mid 60s.

Hope I don't sound too rambly. mezed :heh:

u47u67u87

Watersound 8th October 2015 03:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DistortingJack (Post 11388304)
Careful, you might end up exactly like this


LOL that's hilarious!

"That's a Shure 58... hundred dollar mike, but you know how they sound." lol.

Me_Likey 8th October 2015 03:41 AM

There was a local guy doing that here when I was in business. A lot of the people were outraged when he wanted them to buy their own 2" tape at $200 a reel. Either that or you rented some of his tape and it got recorded over after your final mix.

I haven't seen him around lately, but I don't pay that much attention anymore.

londonengineer 8th October 2015 05:00 AM

How would you differ from Toe Rag? https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct...ragstudios.htm

unfiltered420 8th October 2015 07:37 AM

I wouldn't do it unless you can afford to lose everything you put into it. If it's a strong dream and you can take a hit, do it. I built an 1" 8 track all analog studio for my own stuff and occasionally record bands, but it's not exactly a goldmine. Fun as hell though, and a creative sanctuary.

chrisso 8th October 2015 08:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by londonengineer (Post 11390456)

^^This^^

I'm not sure if ToeRag is around anymore. But yeah, this concept has been tried. You can also find mid-priced studios where you can record to tape with everyone playing. The studio scene is dying, and although a niche idea is something that might draw in more customers, the last thing I would be doing right now is sinking good money into a recording studio concept.

bgood 8th October 2015 09:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DistortingJack (Post 11388304)
Careful, you might end up exactly like this


That made me shart