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Buying a Studio... cost vs reality
Old 14th July 2007
  #1
Buying a Studio... cost vs reality

I've always wanted to own a production studio. I want to write music for all types of media, work Post-production jobs, and do smaller recording projects (soloist, jazz bands, rock bands).

Today I calculated everything I thought I would need/want. I've only choosen top-notch items. It rounded out to $60,000 for a 16-input setup using Apogee ADx16, Lynx card, and Manley 16|2 mixer. I know it's an odd setup but I think it would work for me and could be expanded to 32-input with an additional ADx16 and Lynx.

This is including mics, cables, software, power system, genelec 5.1 surround, etc. It's unrealistic to list everything.

Do you think $60,000 is overkill to open a professional facility or not enough?

If you are a studio operator, how did you approach the acquisition of gear, cost managment, and startup cost?

What do you think about the main I/O (Manely, Apogee, Lynx)?
Old 14th July 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Jake Dempsey's Avatar
 

I got started by gradually accumulating gear over 6 years of working from a modest home studio. When I outgrew that, I moved to a commercial location and invested a nice chunk of $ in new gear to streamline and modernize the digital side of the studio.

If I had bought everything at once, the ship would have sunk quickly.

That said, there are lots of creative ways to organize your small business loans, lines of credit, etc. A lot of people end up taking out lines of credit when they're in the red to pay their loans, acquiring more debt.... This seems like the way things are done with opening a business, though it seems like a real bad idea.

The existing client base question is the big one. You might make considerably more money at first by starting out with a more modest system and keeping your overhead low.

Edited to add: Also, have you factored acoustical material and the funds it would take to build or renovate the space?
Old 14th July 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
I think what Bryan was hinting at is that its hreat gear, but maybe a bit specialized. I can think of a lot of project around here that could not be done on that set up, but I don't know what your situation is.

Additionally...gear is far from the only expense. Do you have a building...or are you renting one. If you are renting, keep in mind you have to pay for that space long before it earns a cent. Insurance, utilities. Wiring is a bitch and if you have to pay techs to do it all it is very pricey.

As far as the 60K, off the top of my head thats 5K a month on an equipment lease. Add that to rent, utilities, maintanance, insurance and you will be at 8K a month in no time.

A modest studio, and new owner/engineer on the scene? Whats that worth in your market....in an age where there are a zillion little guys in basements fighting for the client dollar. I think you will be lucky to get 40.00 an hour.

If you booked fifty hours a week at that you'd accomplish the goal of working for nothing.

So, maybe you have the space...or happen to have the 60k around. Even if you do, I would recommend you find another, more gentle way to get started in this. Its a very difficult nut to crack.
Old 14th July 2007
  #4
Gear Nut
 
Yosh!'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steffmo View Post
IWiring is a bitch and if you have to pay techs to do it all it is very pricey.
Seriously.

Don't underestimate the time or money wiring alone takes.

Also, it's entirely worth the time to learn how to do it yourself now to save on the minimum charge most tech's will nail you with for fixing small problems later.

-Yosh!
Old 14th July 2007
  #5
Well... I already have a setup. I'm working on a film and have two in the pipeline; all paying gigs.

I plan to keep working and expanding the client based. I don't plan to purchase for some time (18-48 months).

I am sick of adding one piece at a time.... sell this, upgrade to that.

$40 an hour?.... I don't know any client who feels comfortable paying a kid $40 an hour to do work in his bedroom. You can't pitch a bid to a million dollar client in a $10 studio. The market I hope to compete against is more like $100-150 an hour.

Acoustic material is covered. The studio space will be small (control, tracking, iso, bathroom).
Old 14th July 2007
  #6
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
Quote:
joenovice
Do you think $60,000 is overkill to open a professional facility or not enough?

The 60.000 will maybe cover your Drywall and fiberglass insulation
so my answer is no its not enough for a commercial room

There is way more to a Pro/Commercial studio than a computer and some converters

But maybe for the work you are doing thats all the clients want or need

as for the 100$ 150$ an hour....... why would they go to your room if they can get an established "big" room for the same cost ?

is it YOU they are coming for ? If so; just get the gear you need to do the best job you can

Or are the clients coming because the rates are low ?
Or for the Gear, Mic collection ?
Or the Room Sound?
The Vibe?

Or All of the above ?


Just something to think about.

You may not need any more gear... or you might not be able to draw those 150$ an hour clients away from the rooms the are happily working in now



.
Old 14th July 2007
  #7
Lives for gear
 
picksail's Avatar
 

Where are you located?
Old 14th July 2007
  #8
Gear Addict
 
GravityRobert's Avatar
 

Yeah and realistically speaking, what gives you an 'edge' over all the other places? What I'm trying to say here, it might sound fun and everything but if doesnt work out ...
Old 14th July 2007
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by GravityRobert View Post
Yeah and realistically speaking, what gives you an 'edge' over all the other places? What I'm trying to say here, it might sound fun and everything but if doesnt work out ...
Wow... some heavy wisdom there. You're right... What if it doesn't work out? I guess I should be so scared that I shouldn't try.
What if you die from falling plane parts while typing your next brilliant message?
Old 14th July 2007
  #10
Quote:
as for the 100$ 150$ an hour....... why would they go to your room if they can get an established "big" room for the same cost ?

is it YOU they are coming for ? If so; just get the gear you need to do the best job you can
I'm not planning on fighting for gigs tracking every local band that plans to be the next big thing. My objective is more one-man workstation for the creation of music (scores, commercials, library), ADR, and voice recording projects.

Yes they are coming for me and I've selected the gear to do the best job, IMO.

I was hoping to hear more from people who have studios. Instead of being critical or attempting to guess what I've forgotten to account for,
TELL ME YOUR EXPERIENCE.

Quote:
If you are a studio operator, how did you approach the acquisition of gear, cost managment, and startup cost?

What do you think about the main I/O (Manely, Apogee, Lynx)?
Old 14th July 2007
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by picksail View Post
Where are you located?
Currently live in Pittsburgh. I'm from Charlotte and plan to return before opening (better economy and more networked connections).

I looked at your studio's site. Your services are similar to what I would provide but perhaps in reverse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep
The 60.000 will maybe cover your Drywall and fiberglass insulation
so my answer is no its not enough for a commercial room
After looking at your studio I can see why you'd say that. This type of setup is what I'm trying to avoid. It's very nice but complete overkill for my needs and clients needs.
Old 14th July 2007
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Joenovice: Turn yourself into Joepro. You should seek out the advice/goodwill of a trusted business person. Prepare for success, plan for failure. Purchasing gear does not a studio make. Your biggest asset will always be "you". Don't be affraid to put a simple "bizz plan" together, even if it's just for yourself. It's difficult, but your creative hat needs to come off and your business hat needs to come on. This is all based on the fact that you want to be legit. Correct?

Ron Allaire, Skyline
Old 14th July 2007
  #13
Lives for gear
 

The things I depend on the most when recording bands are amplifiers, instruments and the room. For instace, I have always had a good bass amp (ampeg svt) but never a bunch of great guitars and many different guitar amps. If I'm really lucky the band has something like a jmp/twin and a USAtele/Gibson but more often they come with either a bad sounding guitar or a ****ty amplifier. Then I have to use my old ampeg that is absolutely great 40% of the time. The times they carry a useless guitar and my amplifier don't cut it I'm pretty much f%&..d.

Last week a bought a marshall 1974x that will help but I will still need 2-3 more amps to have it all covered. On top of that I have to buy a tele and a gibson. The funny thing is that I have invested about 50k in stuff like compressors/mics/equalizers and always some how managed to convince myself I'm not an idiot.

Just a thought
Old 14th July 2007
  #14
Gear Addict
 
GravityRobert's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
Wow... some heavy wisdom there. You're right... What if it doesn't work out? I guess I should be so scared that I shouldn't try.
What if you die from falling plane parts while typing your next brilliant message?
HAHA! Strong heh Just asking a question, you didnt have to have to act like an ass over it though, answer it or dont. If you wanna be an asshole, I'll beat you at your game fuuck
Old 14th July 2007
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by steffo View Post
The things I depend on the most when recording bands are amplifiers, .......50k in stuff like compressors/mics/equalizers and always some how managed to convince myself I'm not an idiot.

Just a thought
I make the majority of my income as a guitarist (teaching, performing, sessions) and have a nice collection of such gear; Gibson, Fender, Vox AC30, Mesa Cabs, Archtop, acoustics, etc.

As said before.... I don't want to record some kid with a crap garage band using sh!t amps. I hope to be selective with my clients and refer "rock stars" to studios who want that work. If I record a band it will be a professional group of older musicians with gear.

This studio setup is not designed for off-the-street sessions. I hope that it will be used mostly by me (composition, 5.1 post-production), select studio musicians, and professionals looking for a smaller, afforadable, quality enviroment to cut their project.
Old 14th July 2007
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
This studio setup is not designed for off-the-street sessions. I hope that it will be used mostly by me (composition, 5.1 post-production), select studio musicians, and professionals looking for a smaller, afforadable, quality enviroment to cut their project.
I'm looking to serve similar people (older musicians who can play), but who are looking for a larger, quality environment that actually pays them to record (in exchange for a share in the rights to redistribute the recorded material). My belief is that such people may well want to have their own 100-1000 disks that they can vend and/or gift to friends, or they may wish to provide a high-quality product to a specialized distribution channel (such as a soundtrack for a movie), but they are not looking to pay the full cost of recording nor do they require the full exclusivity that the traditional biz provides as a default.

And in the environment I envision creating, I'm spending $150K on acoustic treatments. This does not include the cost of drywall, flooring, etc. Nor does it include the cost of EQ, compressors, preamps, etc.
Old 14th July 2007
  #17
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
I'm not planning on fighting for gigs tracking every local band that plans to be the next big thing. My objective is more one-man workstation for the creation of music (scores, commercials, library), ADR, and voice recording projects.

Yes they are coming for me and I've selected the gear to do the best job, IMO.

.
Then it sounds like your set thumbsup As for the high rates you want to charge,... only you know if that will work.
I say raise the rates as high as you can thumbsup

And if there not coming for the gear then its up to you to decide what you need to get the job done


Old 14th July 2007
  #18
Quote:
And in the environment I envision creating, I'm spending $150K on acoustic treatments. This does not include the cost of drywall, flooring, etc. Nor does it include the cost of EQ, compressors, preamps, etc.
See this is the type of figure I have encountered before (Studio = 1/2 million). I understand where the money is going (acoustitician, blue prints, building cost, treatment) but I haven't found an opening biz model that supports an investment of that size. Nor do I think I would make use of a room that large.

Maybe 10-20 years after MAJOR success with a smaller setup/room.
Old 14th July 2007
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
Wiring, insurance, taxes, marketing, acoustical consulting, room construction, paying yourself, paying others, travel, lawyers, accountants.

It all adds up quickly. Equipment is a but a small piece truthfully.
Old 14th July 2007
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
I've always wanted to own a production studio. I want to write music for all types of media, work Post-production jobs, and do smaller recording projects (soloist, jazz bands, rock bands).

Today I calculated everything I thought I would need/want. I've only choosen top-notch items. It rounded out to $60,000 for a 16-input setup using Apogee ADx16, Lynx card, and Manley 16|2 mixer. I know it's an odd setup but I think it would work for me and could be expanded to 32-input with an additional ADx16 and Lynx.

This is including mics, cables, software, power system, genelec 5.1 surround, etc. It's unrealistic to list everything.

Do you think $60,000 is overkill to open a professional facility or not enough?

If you are a studio operator, how did you approach the acquisition of gear, cost managment, and startup cost?

What do you think about the main I/O (Manely, Apogee, Lynx)?
It really depends on your immediate geographic market, your marketing, your roots in your musician community, your reputation, the market sector you want to sell to...

While the right guy could make a hit record on next to nothing, in some markets a $60K outlay is just a foot in the door in terms of competing with other project/overdub studios -- with downward competition from many big studios, a number of which have forced by new economic realities to run on razor thin margins and tap out gear equity just to keep the doors open.
Old 14th July 2007
  #21
Lives for gear
 

With 60k you get a decent tracking setup (mics and pres). Or a decent mixer. Or a decent mixing room. Or a decent amount of outboard gear. Or some decent instruments.

With 600K can setup a decent studio.

With 6 million you cant setup a professional recording studio.


little mercedes symbol in a sign of peace.
Old 14th July 2007
  #22
Lives for gear
Joe...

With all due respect....you are being told experiences. I realize that it is NOT what you want to hear, but I can't help that.

IF you are in a position toi get 100,00 to 150.00 per hour consistantly...say 30 hours a week, then you don't need our help. Do what you plan to do and good luck with it.
One might ask...if you have gotten to where you have all this work already why you even have to do to those lengths, but maybe its just something that you feel like doing.

If you are getting that kind of money, the first thing you need to understand is that it has nothing to do with a studio. It has to do with you. So if people like your work and trust you that much to pay you that much, take the money and build whatever you want.

Check in in two years and let us know what kind of Mercedes you bought....
Old 14th July 2007
  #23
Let's review an important aspect of this post that seems to be ignored.

"I've always wanted to own a production studio."

Perhaps I'm was not enough. This facility is not for multi-purpose tracking. It's not a RECORDING STUDIO... it's a production facility for composition, FILM/TV post-production (mixing, ADR/Voice Over, lite sound design) and ocassionaly tracking acoustic performances.

$600k to open this production facility would be STUPID.

I know that if I want to open a tracking facility I would need a large format console, a floating floor, and a deeper budget!

Let's talk about a small format PRODUCTION facility used for creating film scores, library music, and mixing projects like TV commericals and indie films in 5.1.

Lets forget $150k acoustic treatment and $200k consoles becuase it's not even a realistic comment for the original intention of this post.
Old 14th July 2007
  #24
Quote:
IF you are in a position toi get 100,00 to 150.00 per hour consistantly...say 30 hours a week, then you don't need our help. Do what you plan to do and good luck with it.
I don't see those rates as being that far fetched. Most large facilities I know charge $150 (less with a package deal).

Considering I've been getting $40 an hour to teach kids guitar for the last 5 years, $100 an hour to edit/mix a national TV spot or film seems fair.

Wouldn't it be impossible to operate a facility on less. I mean if you paid $150k for acoutic treatment or $6 million for a finished studio, you better charge twice my rates or you'll go bust.
Old 14th July 2007
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
I don't see those rates as being that far fetched. Most large facilities I know charge $150 (less with a package deal).

Considering I've been getting $40 an hour to teach kids guitar for the last 5 years, $100 an hour to edit/mix a national TV spot or film seems fair.

Wouldn't it be impossible to operate a facility on less. I mean if you paid $150k for acoutic treatment or $6 million for a finished studio, you better charge twice my rates or you'll go bust.
I think what everyone is trying to say in their own way is "that they don't know & have no idea" based on your specific circumstance.

Everyone knows though based on their own.

From reading the threads it looks like you have your mind made up anyways.

So why even bother?
Old 14th July 2007
  #26
Lives for gear
 
doug_hti's Avatar
 

It's easy to see the "glass half empty", or really "glass completely empty" in your question. And it's really not a rosey picture.
While you can make your business plan "make sense" yourself with a $60k setup in at $150/hour....you have to have demand (it has to make sense to the people paying the tab). You definitely can't truly sell your room based on anything CLOSE to your setup.

If I were stuck with some sort of weapon to my head and had to make sense of ONLY $60k inlay and the state of business conditions right now....I would try as hard as I can to simply sell your SERVICES on a project basis. Services that you can stay in control of.....in my opinion, nobody should be paying hourly for a very ill equipped room. Try to stick with the corporate world as much as you can for clients....I would try and deliver fully produced start to finish end products to clients. Have your trusted sessions players, know the post production houses to do transfer work for you at a good rate and to take the client to for final approvals of watching picture to sound.

While you may have a few of the "older clients" that may work out from time to time.....that will truthfully be rare and someone having the budget to pay your expected rate within the music industry at $150/hour(ish) is not going to last very long themselves and likely it will be there first and last project.

With that budget you are competing directly with every one elses project studio...

if you focus on delivering final products such as commercials/radio ads, voiceovers and music for corporate videos...you might have a shot....and if you can net $50/hour 40 hours a week you are doing fantastic-amazing.
Old 14th July 2007
  #27
Lives for gear
 
cajonezzz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steffmo View Post
JIf you are getting that kind of money, the first thing you need to understand is that it has nothing to do with a studio. It has to do with you. So if people like your work and trust you that much to pay you that much, take the money and build whatever you want.
Bingo.


I can list no less than 30 "production rooms" with in 30 miles of me including my own, with guys doing everything from indy film scoring and jingles, sound design, and music ( i do that by tracking in big rooms, and finishing in mine .. odubs mix etc.) that have about that investment... same type rigs..HD/Logic good pres etc.

So, yeah should be no sweat. not sure if you meant in an existing spot you own, or if it'a a home type of rig. but anyhow, sure! tons of guys doing it.

That kinda income is definitely doable with a few solid accounts, by an owner operated guy with chops, and a good rolodex of guys that can do the stuff he cant.
( i built a nice booth that can do two singers, upright, acc git, horn etc...amp room etc... and it's been a GODSEND. I work with **** budgets, but working at home in a room that i can write off, and not have the overhead is awesome. My hourly rate can work for me that way... at least keep me out of a day gig for a little bit longer : )


There are more PT files flying around this country being worked on by guys with exactly what we're talking about than you can shake a stick at.

anyhow.. gear: I don't like the manley. Love the aurora, ( want one! )

I'd stay PT personally for interchange, although a lot of scoring cats locally are big into DP still, and plenty going logic...
Many have LOGIC/PT combos if their soft synth guys. Most of those guys aren't a one stop shop tho, and it sounds like your heading that way with the 5. 1 set up and all.

the guy i work with most is bigtime DP, Muse receptor (s) and PT Light for transfers.

anyhow.. should be easily done on that budget... put 5 k aside for bass trapping and you should be good to go. it's really all about relationships and constantly beating the bushes to expand your circle of gigs... and keeping your pricing up in the face of daily new competition going after the same work.

( that's another subject)

Good luck, put aside some cash for mini traps or similar, and go get you some! good luck!

what area?
Old 14th July 2007
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
SurfingMusicMan's Avatar
 

I just want to remind the OP (and everyone else) that I have a good day job and have about $12K invested in my studio. I usually charge between $10/hr and $20/hr because I'm doing it for fun and not for a living. And you are competing with me.

And there are probably a whole lot of me in every town out there.
Old 14th July 2007
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

From an advertising & film perspective

If I am to understand you correctly, you are looking to score for TV, film and advertising.

Do you plan on having clients at your facility or to be an artist that simply delivers finished product?

Having just finished my first feature film and having directed plenty of ads from Nike to Mercedes, I can tell you I've worked in the full range.

On the feature, the composer had his own personal "scoring" studio, but even that was designed to be limited, he then handed in mixes to a much larger studio where the film was mixed.

In advertising, chances are you're not in the real world league to entertain agency and clients, that business is already competitive with heavy hitters like Elias music, etc. But again, if you're planning to score and deliver off-site, that's a whole 'nother matter.

Not being negative, just telling you experience from a "client" POV (I work on both sides).

The aweful truth is, if you're an ad agency, their client or a feature film of any scale, you're expecting a million dollar facility in everything from gear, to talent to basic architecture... if that's the final mix destination.

-andrews
Old 14th July 2007
  #30
Lives for gear
 
chrispick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
What if it doesn't work out? I guess I should be so scared that I shouldn't try.
Yes. Exactly.

Just kidding. But only a little. You should go in with eyes open, realizing that the audio production world isn't exactly flourishing in a boom market (to put it euphemistically).

Seriously, one of the first things you'll learn as an entrepreneur is that all of your early predictions regarding investment, payment and cash flow will prove largely irrelevent. This has been my experience, anyway. It's also been the experience of the other colleagues I know who have managed to stay alive.

Here's what I say:

Figure out who your initial target clients are. Then, research the matter with them. They're the cash flow conduit; not us. Listen to their needs. Listen to how much they say they'll pay. Bear in mind that you're entering the service trade. What you want factors in the smallest degree. It's 90% about what they want, good or bad.

Once that's done, get set up and throw them a spec rate job. Do kick-ass work (no excuses). Buck for the next real paying gig while finishing your spec rate gig.

You have to build up a trust with corporate clients. It takes time. It also means taking it on the chin more than a few times.

After six months to a year, you'll begin to have a clearer sense of what works and doesn't.

As for your specific question: Will 60 grand get you going? Who the f*ck knows? As you see, my advice doesn't have much to do with money as as abstract sum. It has to do with maintaining the process of getting money.

Generally speaking, film/tv clients only reference a few buzz terms (i.e., Pro Tools and Neumann mics). Short of that, they don't care much about gear specifics; they don't frequent Gearslutz nor will they any time soon. What they care about is: a.) you making them look good to their bosses, b.) you never dropping the ball, even when they fumble time and again, and c.) feeling cool because they work in film/tv. If you can cater to that, you'll do okay.
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