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Financing your home studio? And time to play in it? Condenser Microphones
Old 6th September 2007
Gear Nut
Financing your home studio? And time to play in it?


Having seen some extremely slutty home studio pics on the 'show me your home studio racks' thread, I can't help but wonder how some people are managing to finance these rigs.
My experience of engineering is that there's very little money to be had in the game. (I don't do it full time anymore - relegated to a hobby, not least for financial reasons! Now I have a better paid job but barely any time to spend in the studio!).
So, for those of you that are pro engineers, I'm a little curious as to how it works out. And for those that aren't pro, I'm curious to know how the day job affords you the time and money to buy and play with the toys. (I moved house 6 months ago, and I'm still struggling to finish setting up my studio again what with re-wiring, new acoustic treatment, doing new O/S installs, etc!).

My only thoughts are:
1) Perhaps there's more money in the music biz than I thought!?!
2) A lot of you seem to be in the US, where a) gear is cheaper and b) those that are reasonably off seem to have more disposable income than those in the UK - not least because of our absurd house prices over here (a friend of mine just paid $1.2m for a one bedroom flat in central London, c.600 sq feet, and it needs doing up)).
Old 6th September 2007
i have a project studio in california. nothing fancy. and I have $600 in credit card debt.

here's my advice: make an initial investment of around $5000 if you can afford it. Then you will probably be able to start recording bands for around $15/hr. Build it up as a hobby (=invest all your money into gear!) over weekends and get even with your bills. Then continue to build it up until you reach that point where you like all the sounds you are getting, and you can create good quality recordings for $25-30 an hour. If you make it always a good deal then you will get work. Once you have enough experience you can start charging a living wage. After you reach that comfort spot where you have 8-16 channels, maybe 4-8 channels of nice preamps, all the mics you need to get nice sounds on everything you want to record but not enough to be fussy etc. then you can start using recording as a way to earn money albeit not much

also it's a good idea to be selective when you pick bands; that way it will always feel like playing

To answer your question - I think for most people gear is like crack. it's not like "oh I'm making so much money recording music I should invest in a some gear." more like scratching arms and thinking "i wonder if I sell my acura and take the bus how much gear could I get?"
Old 6th September 2007
Random thought in no particular order...

IMHO A lot of pro's have embraced the DAW 'mix in the box' / do it all in a computer thing and are in a tearing hurry to move their clients over to letting them do the work at home and them MP3's mixes to them for approval.

And why not?

Perhaps a wife / partner / significant other - that tolerates their partner being away from home and possibly 'the kids' for 6 x 14 hour days is a dying breed..?

"just mixing these days' seems to be target that some producers & their producer managers aim for.... Private, less hassle, churn out the work, high per day fees etc..

"Mastering" also has that 'stay at home' vibe - and its not unusual for a middle aged engineer's thought's to linger for at least a few seconds on this type of 'retirement plan'...

I also think some folks have made a killing in unrelated businesses and have treated themselves to killer set ups - as a reward / hobby - for fun, to indulge their real passion or take a serious late career path direction

Real mixture,

My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." and - if you sit in them long enough - you melt
Old 6th September 2007
Gear Maniac
Royer121's Avatar
I'm really digging nobo's post. Don't want to weep around, but it "seems" to be easier to build up a decent setup and earn money over there in the US.
Here in europe, like nobo says, the house prices are a problem and there just isn't so much money in music industry anymore...Right now, I really want to make it my profession and I'm collecting experiences where its possible. But I'm still not convinced about the wages and if it'll be enough to make a living out of's a struggle...anyways.
Old 6th September 2007
Lives for gear
I'm not sure where you guys are getting the idea that people in the US are just hemorrhaging cash... Last night I ate white bread for dinner. Still trying to pay off my console and dedictated audio PC. More than half of my income goes into my house and I haven't seen a doctor in 6 years because it's too ****ing expensive.

That's not to say everyone here is struggling, but most of us are.
Old 6th September 2007
Lives for gear
gainstages's Avatar
I think it's extremely hard to make the big money in the US market, but there is almost endless opportunity in the lower and middle markets.

I think a big part of this is to quit trying to be everything to everyone, and realize that some of the greastest opportunity is in complimenting and enhancing what others are doing on their own. for example, some of these bratty kids have rich daddys who will buy them a decent setup, and they'll try to do their own albums. most of them will end up sounding like crap, but some of them will be decent. you can make good money taking their rough recordings and editing or mixing them to make them sound better. or, for the guy who has a DAW that he can mix with but doesn't have mics and pre's, you can track the album for them and then they can take it home from there.

sales idea - if you do the tracking and they take it home to mix, invest a little time into mixing at least one of the tracks they do, then get with them to compare it to their mix. most likely, you are going to expose all the flaws in their work and they may come back to you for more.
Old 6th September 2007
Deleted User
Originally Posted by PoorGlory View Post
I'm not sure where you guys are getting the idea that people in the US are just hemorrhaging cash... Last night I ate white bread for dinner. Still trying to pay off my console and dedictated audio PC. More than half of my income goes into my house and I haven't seen a doctor in 6 years because it's too ****ing expensive.

That's not to say everyone here is struggling, but most of us are.
It's probably because we have absurd housing prices, absurdly high taxes, absurdly high gas/energy/water prices and the gear is more expensive, too.
Pimpin ain't easy.
Old 6th September 2007
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by zwaps View Post
It's probably because we have absurd housing prices, absurdly high taxes, absurdly high gas/energy/water prices and the gear is more expensive, too.
Pimpin ain't easy.
I'm not going to argue about your taxes and fuel costs being ridiculous. But then again, Europe generally has vastly superior public transportation, not to mention public heath care coverage. Whether or not that evens out, I don't know.

It seems to me that housing is completely out of control everywhere you go, unless you want to live in the middle of nowhere. I know people in New York city who pay more than $1200 a month for what amounts to a closet with a built-in toilet.
Old 6th September 2007
Lives for gear

as your from my birth town mate.
(give my love to
i'll respond with some honest from the heart thoughts.
and comments from my own experiences doing my songs in
big studios and on my own daw.

i think some people get in too DEEP in loans etc.
heres a typical scenario ive seen many times.
and i still see today with friends offspring.

someone sees a show on tv or whatever and has this burning desire to
be a "success". n decides they want to write songs
and make them hugely successfull.
this is great and i would encourage anyone to do that.
but a problem often arises.
then the person does a lot of research on what gear was used
to do their favorite idols song or whatever.
and proceeds to buy lots of gear, sometimes they cant afford.

the TRUTH of the matter is, someone new to recording
could be given free a big hi end recording studio
with all sorts of fancy gear, but STILL might not be able to realise
their dream of a huge selling song.
the reason being its more than the gear.
(as an aside if i remember someone in europe got a charting song awhile back
useing a cheap soundblaster card .not that i would recommend one.
but i digress. mebe something above the level of a consumer sound card.).

why is it more than gear ??
top selling songs normally involve lots of factors other than gear.
for example..some factors...
1. it has to be a great song with great hooks.
(a senior audio engr made a v good point to me once.
"hit em with a great intro hook, another in the middle,
n another on the outtro". in summation memorable hooks.
eg.the start of dark side of the moon, or the start of my sharona...
and godknows how many other hits. when the song starts you KNOW immediately the song.)
2. the song has to have a great sound picture.
3. very good pro audio engineers crafted the production of the song.
and mixed it.

nobo, i'm just a songwriter for fun, and struggle all the time with
writing songs with good hooks, building a good sound picture,
and particularly aspect number 3. (many times i fail miserably.)
in summary its more than the gear. there are lots of factors includeing marketing the song

this is why i strongly feel a person could be given a nice wonderfull recording studio
for free and sadly not realise their dream,
cos first off mebe they
havent even started to realise what i call "the black art of audio engineering".
ie..they dont have in depth song production experience.
song production IS a "black art"....and more than gear.
over many years of songwriting myself ive come to greatly respect
the truly talented pro audio engineers of the past who put together all the past gold hits.

so..what does one do ??
with little money, and no audio engineering skills/background,
and mebe some songs in ones head,
and a burning desire to get them out of ones head and enjoy playing them back..??
and hopefully haveing some other folks like them and even make a living out of it ??
bearing in mind there are millions of others in the world with the same wonderfull dreams and ambitions ??
in summary ..its dam difficult.

therefore i normally suggest people with wonderfull ambitions start small.
and not get into debt.
start with a budget of around 5k and a small set up.
THEN..forget about gear and try n write and produce great songs.
all the time developeing their black art of audio engineering skills.

for example, some people spend a small fortune on audio software , plug ins and goodness knows what else.
a top audio engineer could use the audio software in my sig that costs all of 100 buks n still churn out
great records. why ?? cos thats his skill.
(a great record that always makes me beat up on myself audio engineering skills wise
is patsy clines after midnight song from the 50's.
the audio engineer was brilliant on this and his skills imho.
recorded to mono ONE TRACK !! i bet. they had very little gear back then.
and no pc's capable of a 100 tracks and 100 plug ins etc etc .)
in summary its how one uses ones available tools imho.

what worries me is on a lot of recording forums, one sees posts
from newbies on what gear to buy,
then the high end crowd all jump in, and before the poor newbie realises it,
he is looking to spend a few hundred thousand buks.
you see it over and over. so the poor newbie gets in too deep and in debt.
in many respects its like a "gentlemans golf club" .
as in ..."sorry newbie, but to join the club n be one of the us BIG BOYS
n be a HUGE SUCCESS, ya gotta buy all the same gear we have"
but all that happens is the poor newbie often ends up with all this great gear
at his house, but sometimes doesnt have the skills developed to use it properly.

another alternative of course for a newbie with song ideas is to use a pro recording studio.
sometimes this will work well.

a top studio can produce a fabulous sounding record.
BUT ive seen cases where a person has used a nice facility ,
and not necessarily end up with the desired result cos mebe he or she is watching the
clock and doesnt have the appropriate budget and thus the songs production
is rushed. once again choice of studio /engineers/session players is an important factor as is
budget. then of course one has to sell the song to recoup the investment.
(if ones desire is to market the song at the retail level.)

therefore there are plusses n minuses for any chosen approach to do ones songs.
in my case i love to write songs. its fun.
so i do it with about 5k of gear, and just try n do the best i can.
the biggest and i mean the BIGGEST headache is getting the song picture sounding
like i hear it in my head. and many songwriters ive talked to over the years
have told me the same feelings.
i revel in trying to find uses for studio items others have cast away for 5 buks or so.
(my dear wife even found me a vintage amp from the 50's once for a few buks at a garage sale.)
and this is another alternative. seeing what sounds one can wring
out of others cast offs. mebe an old guitar pedal or an old synth
or whatever.

anyway..this is my own philosophy.
ive saved huge amounts of money buying used gear carefully.
Old 6th September 2007
Lives for gear
octatonic's Avatar
I worked in IT for 10 years as a way to finance my studio.
(Y2K was very good for me.)

When colleagues were buying sports cars, going on holidays and buying houses I was buying studio gear with it all, playing/recording/programming it at night and sleeping very little.
Originally it was just a place to scetch out my own musical ideas but people started asking me to do things for them- recording and mixing mostly with a bit of session guitar work.

In 2004 I stopped working fulltime in IT, rented a studio space and started working on music fulltime.
Old 6th September 2007
Jai guru deva om
warhead's Avatar

You have to remember that with home studio scenarios there is no ECONOMY attached to it like there is with running a business. An expensive piece of gear is like driving a nicer car or buying a motorcycle for kicks.

What I mean by that is, a pro studio is doing maybe $10,000 a month in business and only has X left over. When the owner looks at a $2,000 preamp and then the budget, rarely do the two ever allow for each other. I'd say the $10k a month studio scenario is very common amongst small studio owners based on $300 daily rates etc.

When a guy making $50,000+ a year at a day job and home recording is his hobby and passion, he'll spent $2,000 without having to figure in expenses and overhead from a business perspective ("will this bring me business?"). He just needs to look at his personal disposable income. To him, it's worth it to hear the difference and be satisfied with his hobby and passion for doing what he does.

Nothing wrong with either scenario, just the way I think things are in general.

Home studios are driving many sales of expensive devices in my opinion. I don't know if there's any real data on it, but I'd love to know the percentage of hobbyists buying high end mic preamps vs the everyday pro working studio with bills to pay as a result of that purchase.

Old 6th September 2007
Gear Head

I'm an old rocker from the late 70s early 80s. IT (information technology) is my day-job as well and I'm fortunate enough to get paid a bucketload of sweet mulaah for just showing up 3 days a week to make sure everything is running ok! It took me 15 years to get here though but now I am able to purchase the high-end gear I need (ok ok... want) to get the job done. It's really still just a hobby but word of mouth gets around in my parts quickly so recording gigs are getting easier and easier to come by. With more recording gigs comes more experience too. I just wish I was 15 years younger though . Best of luck.
Old 15th September 2007
Gear Nut
zul_nalury's Avatar

I feel the same like nobo. I sold all my low end stuff like mxl's, firepod & lots of behrys before I move to London. Now, I just settle down in London and wow... it needs a lot of money. and I'm saving for some neumann, quad mac desktop & £3000 speaker...

I'm avoid to make a loan, since I'm doing that just as hobby...

I wonder how rich you guys...hehehe
Old 16th September 2007
Gear Head

Im pretty proud of my Home studio. Its actually as nice as the commercial facilities in town gear wise. My live room actually sounds really good.

I bought Protools HD3 with quad mac pro, 2 vintech 473s, distressor, presonus digimax, presonus eureka, Yamaha NS10m, 2 KM184s, 1 Blue Blueberry,

I also have a pearl masters kit thats like an 8 piece. Sounds amazing.

ah crap the list goes on.

Im trying to work out of my home. Its been a little slow so far but its starting to pick up.

Ive got over 25 grand invested. Plus i plan to spend more.
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