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So I got my first studio job but they / I need gear help... Dynamic Microphones
Old 18th August 2008
  #1
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primemeat64's Avatar
 

So I got my first studio job but they / I need gear help...

Hi Guys,

I'm about to dash out to the airport to pick up my sister so I won't be able to answer any followups / clarifications for a little while but hopefully you'll chime in with some great advice as always!

Basically, I've just landed my first studio job - a couple of businessmen have built a studio with decent sound proofing (floating live / control room) etc but they don't really know much about recording bands at all so I'm strutting straight in as an Engineer / Producer....which is great for me as I'll learn a lot very quickly being 100% hands on instead of just learning how to make tea - although, of course, I won't have anybody with experience around for me to learn from...there are always ups and downs I guess....

Anywya, the issue is that they've got good soundproofing but pretty budget equipment:

Mackie 1620 w/ FW card
PC / Cubase 4
Samson 8Kit budget drum mic kit
Hi-Fi Amp
Non-Studio "monitors"

They are very reasonable guys and we had a good chat at their studio last week and discussed various things - such as me bringing my mac in and recording / mixing everybody in Logic as that's what I'm best / fastest with - although I may slowly port over to cubase for their convenience (and mine)...

My personal equipment consists of
Mac / Logic 8
Apogee Ensemble
2 x MK-012's
1 x Beyer Opus 39 (typical dynamic mic)
1 x Gefell UM70
2 x Active Tannoy's

So the question:

What do I do WRT equipment? I could mix / mash mine / theirs together a bit or I could suggest to them to sell / get refunded on their samson mics and get a d112 / e604 / sm57's or something... but they've already put so much money into the studio I don't wanna break their heart and start suggesting more gear before the studio is making cash back....but they are pretty trusting of my "expert" opinion...(trust that I don't want to misplace)


Ideas?!?

Thanks guys / gals(?)
Old 18th August 2008
  #2
Gear Addict
 

yeh, id say its definitely worth getting better drum mics than those, as itll improve the signal quality a fair bit.. i guess your drums might sound a bit mushy with them.
Old 18th August 2008
  #3
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Which area are you based in ?
Old 18th August 2008
  #4
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Make a list of stuff THEY need to buy. It is their business, after all. They spent tons of money on the room, so they should be able to lease/rent/purchase the gear they need to operate. If they do not even know what they need, I would run away.

If you do choose to integrate your gear (not wise, IMHO), make sure you have them sign some of agreement that includes a list of all of your gear (with serial numbers). It needs to be insured by them and accounted for in case they decide to go out of business some day and "accidentally" take or sell your equipment.

Personally, I would lease my gear to them in a written contract. Even for $1 a month, to make it clear that it is yours.

And, this deal sounds pretty shady to me, IMHO. Don't let the joy of "getting a job" turn into a scam.

Greg

.
Old 18th August 2008
  #5
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Thanks for the replies... Yeah I've got experincei. The difference between really crappy gear andreally nice gear(preferring the latter as it make my life easier and my records sound better, naturally!)

The dilemma is over a few things
1 do I bring in any of my own gear to either use with / instead of some of theirs
2 how much more gear do I push for at the outset?
3 do I perhaps ask them to buy gear with the idea of me slowly paying them back for it so that when I leave the studio in 6 - 24 months I take a decent recordingsetupwith me?


I'm based in London / Kent (living between two addresses at the moment).

Apologies for spelling etc but I'm typing on my phone and looking out for my sister...
Old 19th August 2008
  #6
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

I'm still trying to figure out their approach to running a studio...


They built a purpose built studio, complete with floating floor, CR, etc. They had to have hired an acoustic consultant, contractors, etc. It's a seriously hard thing to do right, and very, very expensive ($300-$600+ per foot, plus designer and architect fees).

Why do they expect you to buy all their gear for them?

OK, I would make a list of the gear that they need. But that depends on what they are doing, obviously. It sounds like they have no idea, so you'd better figure out their entire business strategy for them.

Outfitting a pro studio could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Before going any further, I would ask to become a business partner with them, so they don't screw you. Or, I would get consulting fees, and require them to lease the equipment with an option for YOU to buy the equipment from the leasing company at some point.

Watch your back.

Why are these businessmen so clueless about equipment?
Old 19th August 2008
  #7
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FreshSkweez's Avatar
 

Dude, your studio owners... they're not russian, are they?
Old 19th August 2008
  #8
Wow, this has inspired me! I'm going to build a hospital! I figure I can have recent med school graduates buy all the equipment for me. Of course, I don't know the first thing about medicine.... it's sure to be a SUCCESS!

I honestly don't know what you expect to learn there. I guess you can take the long route and learn it on your own.

To be honest, if you're going that route, why not pick off the parasites that bring nothing to the table but are going to want most of your earnings? Start your own place or something. This just seems like a really bad idea.

I saw something like this once.... it ended up with a few people going to jail, everybody ended up in court and not a good time was had by anyone. It is actually pretty scary how similar this setup is to what happned that one time around Cleveland.
Old 19th August 2008
  #9
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Funk Dracula's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by primemeat64 View Post
Hi Guys,

I'm strutting straight in as an Engineer / Producer....which is great for me as I'll learn a lot very quickly being 100% hands on instead of just learning how to make tea - although, of course, I won't have anybody with experience around for me to learn from...there are always ups and downs I guess....

(?)
Sigh.. This used to be an apprenticeship based job.
Old 19th August 2008
  #10
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Woah, everybody jumped on the con-artist band wagon pretty quickly there!

I do realise how silly it sounds having a music graduate jump into a new studio and start picking what gear to buy but this isn't a £500,000 studio - it's a small studio - a live room, a control room, a toilet / kitchen....

I've spoken at length with these guys and they seem very genuine. One of them has been involved with various music projects for about 10 years but he's never recorded a band - he doesn't really know anything about mic technique / mics / preamps etc
He's accumulated a few average racks of outboard gear - a few compressors / gates / limiters / reverbs...

It's a small studio which, as far as I can tell, hasn't had the blessing of an acoustics expert but it is purpose built / heavily treated...

From my point of view, of course I realise that I'm not going to learn as much at this studio as if I was shadowing an experienced pro but I still think I'll benefit from perhaps 6 - 12 months of recording artists, then perhaps I could get on board at one of the bigger studios later on...I don't intend in any way to invest any of my own money in this studio, become a business partner, or sign anything - I like the idea that if for whatever reason, it all goes belly-up, I can leave with clean hands.

As for cash, I'll be getting 50% - they're thinking of starting at a discount rate for the first few weeks then upping it to £150 a day - which (if the studio is fully-booked) equates to me earning £1500 a month which isn't bad considering I'd be earning between £0 - £200 a month or something silly if I was lucky / tenacious enough to get a position as an intern at a pro studio.... But, again, the flipside to that is obviously that at a decent studio with decent staff, I'd be getting a great education in lieu of a decent wage...

hmm....
Old 19th August 2008
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by primemeat64 View Post
Hi Guys,

I'm about to dash out to the airport to pick up my sister so I won't be able to answer any followups / clarifications for a little while but hopefully you'll chime in with some great advice as always!

Basically, I've just landed my first studio job - a couple of businessmen have built a studio with decent sound proofing (floating live / control room) etc but they don't really know much about recording bands at all so I'm strutting straight in as an Engineer / Producer....which is great for me as I'll learn a lot very quickly being 100% hands on instead of just learning how to make tea - although, of course, I won't have anybody with experience around for me to learn from...there are always ups and downs I guess....

Anywya, the issue is that they've got good soundproofing but pretty budget equipment:

Mackie 1620 w/ FW card
PC / Cubase 4
Samson 8Kit budget drum mic kit
Hi-Fi Amp
Non-Studio "monitors"

They are very reasonable guys and we had a good chat at their studio last week and discussed various things - such as me bringing my mac in and recording / mixing everybody in Logic as that's what I'm best / fastest with - although I may slowly port over to cubase for their convenience (and mine)...

My personal equipment consists of
Mac / Logic 8
Apogee Ensemble
2 x MK-012's
1 x Beyer Opus 39 (typical dynamic mic)
1 x Gefell UM70
2 x Active Tannoy's

So the question:

What do I do WRT equipment? I could mix / mash mine / theirs together a bit or I could suggest to them to sell / get refunded on their samson mics and get a d112 / e604 / sm57's or something... but they've already put so much money into the studio I don't wanna break their heart and start suggesting more gear before the studio is making cash back....but they are pretty trusting of my "expert" opinion...(trust that I don't want to misplace)


Ideas?!?

Thanks guys / gals(?)
Congrats on the gig. Considering the work apparently put into the rooms, they've got a lot of room to grow, gear-wise. Obviously.


I would recommend that you approach this gently and slowly.

The angle I would work would be to compliment them on the work they've put in on the rooms, kinda talk that up -- and then slowly but surely drop some broad hints that they've got a start on the gear end but a ways to go to catch up to the work they've put in on the rooms. Always build from their sense of accomplishment and pride of sweat-equity. Be honest -- to the extent you think they can handle it (and honesty is the best policy) -- but emphasize that they can and should grow their gear over time.

And that way, you can get your bearings with what you've got at your disposal and not have to learn a whole bunch of new gear at the same time you're also cramming info to inform your next acquisition. Take it easy and spend their money as though it were your own.
Old 19th August 2008
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by primemeat64 View Post
As for cash, I'll be getting 50% - they're thinking of starting at a discount rate for the first few weeks then upping it to £150 a day - which (if the studio is fully-booked) equates to me earning £1500.
And then reality sets in....

I hope things work out for you, I really do. That being said I wish someone would get a camera crew over there to make a reality show out of this whole thing, because knowing this industry and how people work, it sounds like it could be very funny for an observer.
Old 19th August 2008
  #13
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Thanks for the replies...

James, I don't really understand your comment. Could you elaborate? Thanks.
Old 19th August 2008
  #14
Gear Addict
 

Boy, people sure are jaded around here...

Just bring your mics (take em home at the end of the day) and use their setup for now. Mix at your place and still take half (or more) of the fee for those days. Bring some good headphones to doublecheck what you're hearing on their monitors.

Meanwhile, why don't you propose putting aside a percentage of the fees towards reinvestment in gear, guided by your choices? That gear will be half yours and half theirs. You might get ripped off somewhat in the end, but hopefully when you split they'll either buy you out or split that purchased gear with you. Of course, a contract for that would be nice.

Based on the description of the place, you're not going to get major label projects. It'll be more like first demos and low budget albums. There's no reason to get bananas over it yet. Besides, it's a pretty good opportunity for you as well, right? Real hands-on experience and you'll walk out with a load of artist relationships and credits under your belt.

You can make music on that equipment!
Old 19th August 2008
  #15
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UnDeFiNeD's Avatar
 

This thing apparently happens often.
a firend of mine found work in a very similar style gig.
Some guy (music lover) who wants to work in music, knows a lot of bands/musicians and just rents a decent place, puts a *cough* roland multitrack, samson speakers and buys some budget mics and asks my friend to be the engineer of the whole place. You have to realise that this was for classical and folk music, so I have no clue if this ever worked out (don't see this guy anymore due to moving out), but I do remeber him complaining about the fact that people without a clue where making the decisions instead of relying on him who, afterall, has to wrok with it and has the knowlidge.

Good luck the gig! Just don't get walked over. The world is filled with people with clueless ambitions, so watch your back but try to do your job like a pro

Pzz
Old 19th August 2008
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

yes GO AHEAD!!!


be aware tho, that they are poeple out there that just want stories with other people, artists even better. Artists live cry mourn.... people like to suck their energy out. I sound pessimist, but it's just things i've seen from my eyes.

i'll say go ahead, be realistic about your ambitions and be quick to smell too much magic in their voices, (usually it has that vibes, lots of promises) and maybe i am wrong. you'll see.

Old 19th August 2008
  #17
Lives for gear
 

I think you have to realise that at that level most or possibley all of the recording will take place around the weekend.

The level of people who would use a studio like that will be people that have day jobs and are not professional musicians i.e. full time or touring or big label artists.

The level of gear you have to work with will not produce results demanded by big labels but that aint the way the music industry is moving anyway.

My advice is for you to see what is possible with the equipment on hand.

Don't tell the dudes who are the owners of the business about your equipment and say to them that you borrowed your Gefell UM70 as you play them back the results with the better mics and show them the improved sound.

Get them to think and perceive a need to buy more stuff. Take your nice gear out of there... in for just long enough for them to hear what it can do for the results of their product.

The situation will likely be that you have the odd band book in for a few days around the weekend where maybe they are prepared to take a friday off work. Track for 1 or 2 days and mix for a whole day or maybe half of a 2 day session. On top of this you will get people book and drop out leaving your studio empty for a full week!

Just be prepared man and pimp your skills at gigs. Network with musicians to bring them in and have an advertising budget.

You have to see what is possible to do with this thing but remember that it is a business without a client base and it's generally not a good business proposition to begin with.

Use excel to monitor the costs in the business and keep a database of clients and analyse the demographics of your customers.

I would advise using your tracking room as a practice room for muso mates of the owners on dead nights for a reasonable price and look into as many avenues of business as possible including voice overs etc.

Get business savy and see what you can bring to the business besides the desire to be removed from the nitty gritty.

Best of luck and you can make the most of this with a bit of desire and people skills.

Peace,
cortisol
Old 19th August 2008
  #18
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Savernake's Avatar
 

I say well done for finding something, a lot of graduates aren't even looking properly. Despite some warnings it could be a scam, don't worry - it COULD be a scam, but anything could. I'm sure you've made a good assessment for them. The only thing I'd worry about is them possibly taking you for a ride at some point, but keep a clear head and you'll see anything like that.

I would say that £150 a day could even be too much, with that equipment list - depends what else is going in the area - but with 'recession' looming I doubt people will shell £150 for what they have half of at home. But with the 50/50 split you won't be taking as much, so it's a hard choice. See if you can negotiate a bigger percentage for yourself, since you'll be in there full time. Maybe they haven't actually invested that much compared to the equipment you'll be bringing in....

And although it's important to get something on paper in a contract, you could catch yourself in a deal where a few months down the line you wished you signed something different - so maybe it's not something to rush and get without a lot of thought

good luck
Old 19th August 2008
  #19
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delasoul's Avatar
 

answer

to answer your question as clearly as possible.

Sell/refund theyre crap.. and buy better crap with it.

Bring in your stuff and mix the gear to use whats best.

no ones gona care what u use as long as u make it sound great. so i would say use logic.. if thats what you werk best on.

then lets be realistic, thats alot of money to fork out for recording.. especially for someone jus starting out.. especially with that equipment list.

do you have clients lined up? if not how do u figure to get clients?

maybe drop that price a little.. im guna open a studio soon,.. and i dont figure to make any money at alll.. i figure ill live in a box and eat cups of noodles for the next year or so.. hahaha
Old 19th August 2008
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by primemeat64 View Post
James, I don't really understand your comment. Could you elaborate? Thanks.
It's statements like this that have me predicting heavy weather.
Old 19th August 2008
  #21
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primemeat64's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Meeker View Post
It's statements like this that have me predicting heavy weather.
Ok, so I take it that you're pointing out my naivety / lack of experience and the studio owners is going to combine in a bad way. Perhaps it was their foolish idea to open a studio, but thankfully that's nothing to do with me - as far as I'm concerned I'll either be getting good experience or not - and if not, I'll up and leave....

The question here is what to do about the gear

...like.... how much gear do I try to coax out of them and what standard of gear - I think a D112, a few sm57's and maybe some e604's wouldn't be bad choices given their price / performance / longevity but then would I recommend them a pair of C414's or something cheaper for overheads / studio all rounders? (as an example issue)...

Thanks again for all the replies thus far - especially thanks to the people who've decided to swim upstream here and see this as a positive opportunity for a recent graduate.
Old 19th August 2008
  #22
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delasoul's Avatar
 

yea man! you gotta beg, borrow, steal to get the best sound. (ok maybe not that last one) yes, push them as far as u can about buying new mics, call them every morning before they wake up, and every night right after theyve fallen asleep about buying new mics. leave notes on theyre cars about buying new mics.. spam theyre email about buying new mics! the point is its theyre studio and they should have atleast decent stuff.. and you shouldnt have to put up with less than decent mics.
Old 19th August 2008
  #23
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primemeat64's Avatar
 

Yeah I was a bit shocked at their gear (or lack of) - especially given the amount they must've spent on the rooms...

but the question I suppose is what gear comes first... I mean the options for AD/DA are their Mackie 1620 w/ FW or my Apogee Ensemble.... obviously the Apogee is going to be better and I guess I don't mind using it as I'll be the only hands-on guy (99% of the time the other guys won't even be on the premises)... As for pre's - there's the onboard mackies or the onboard ensembles....ay ay ay.....it's a sorry state of affiars....

Do you think I should tell them to sell their samson drum mic kit, sell their mackie mixer, sell their rubbish rack gear and start slowly building up quality gear? - starting with the real fundamentals of mics / pres / converters...?

- This is where I could really do with the advice of all the experienced folk out there
Old 19th August 2008
  #24
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delasoul's Avatar
 

umm,.. you got me there.. its all pretty important and contributes to the sound. uuuuuuuuuuuuhhh i dont know what u should buy first. but sell all of theyre .. um.. rubbish? hehe im from cali sorry. i guess it depends on what you can afford.
Old 19th August 2008
  #25
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primemeat64's Avatar
 

part of the issue I think is that they're keen to get up and running and start generating some return on their investment (which, to their credit, they understand is a long, slow road) - I think they're a little reluctant to throw any more money into it.. I guess I'd better give them my best advice which they can either take or not.....hmmmm
Old 19th August 2008
  #26
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Savernake's Avatar
 

ultimatly it's something to put an egg in, but don't put everything in this basket. keep looking elsewhere but think of it as an opportunity to use rooms and space you didn't have before
Old 19th August 2008
  #27
Gear Addict
 

How does the room sound? That's kind of more important than the gear anyways. If it sounds good then you can satisfy the kinds of clients you'll get. Upgrade the gear on a long-term basis, but if the room sounds bad it doesn't matter what it's going through.

Any sound conditioning? Any tests performed? Trial recordings?

If you're going to pull a couple more Gs outta them, put it there before you drop it on fancier gear, which will only do a better job of capturing a bad sound.
Old 19th August 2008
  #28
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primemeat64's Avatar
 

the rooms are pretty dead....
Old 19th August 2008
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by primemeat64 View Post
the rooms are pretty dead....
have they taken control of the low end? are there any bass traps? Might be a good idea to do a test recording before deciding where the investments are best directed. The sound of the room is first priority in a live recording sitch, gear comes next...
Old 20th August 2008
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Whats your business arrangement with them? I think its important to get this clear first, and get a contract. If you are a 'partner' or in a partnership, in some countries this may mean you are equally liable for any debt that the business racks up.

In your situation, you could set your self up as a sole trader (a contractor to them) and invoice them for your time (and equipment if you do bring in your gear). If you bring in your stuff create an asset register which clearly shows what you own and what they own. You need some biz structure: who pays the phone/gas/power?


What about hiring mics for drum/band tracking to start with? you might find you attract singer song writer types and/or only do a couple of short drum sessions per month to start with and the rest of the time you are overdubbing/mixing. Could suggest they sell the samson kit to start with and put the $$ towards a pair of something reasonable that would double as overheads and be useful all rounders: 414's are not a bad start to a mic locker.

Your MK-012's would be freed up for drumkit or other action and then hire kick, snare and tom mics. ( at least get them to buy a 57 or two.). The other advantage of hiring is you can try mics out, see what you like/prefer for different genres of music.

I think its a great opportunity: go hard!

B
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