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What's the future for large format studios? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 17th December 2010
  #31
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shushstudio View Post
We are/have been witnessing a seismic shift in how and where music is recorded.

With ever-dwindling sales, product loss leaders given away free by the big four, piracy, smaller and smaller budgets for development, exponential growth in digital technology and the blurring of pro/semi pro/amateur software/gear and plenty of other reasons for diminishing investment in recording - what is the future for large console/room studios?

We have all seen so many big name studios disappear at a rate of knots over the last few years and it seems set to continue.

I believe that the way forward will see the professional small format studio producer/engineer rule the roost. They have less/tiny overheads in rented rooms/rooms within their homes/garages/gardens and with the required experience and the current crop of technology, can and will make large format studios virtually redundant.

Independent producers are more and more providing their recording services for free and charging for their production time. More and more projects are being presented to A&R as a fait accompli.

The independent writer/producer with their own studio is king. He/she will survive and largeformat with become a beautiful and rare dinosaur curio. (Mammoths in ice perhaps)

All in all.. it's natural selection, yeah, it's darwinism.... it's the future.

Here's to the future

Danny de Matos
-
Danny.

I am not sure if independent DAW based small studios will have a future in the long run. At first sight it is attractive and cost performance is at low ratio.
On the other side of the coin I am pretty sure we will see the day where the industry will see that those places cant support the same quality in creativity as well as in engineering.

But overall if you listen to professional work done with many different humans composer/producer/arranger/tracking eng./mixing eng./mastering house ...
etc. there is a different vibe to those productions in my ears. (I can be wrong on this!!)

Myself doing everything at its own feels the need for working with other people together.
DAW based producing has a problem to me- and that is called loneliness and with this no feedback from a real human to take it at a higher step.
I think it is very important that humans work together and can paly the ball to the next one and play it back etc. One idea can run the next.
In a modern digital workflow we just send files around the world, we get feedback via e-mail and we still haven't talked to some one in real.
May we have phone conversation OK- WOW!!

In the old time I guess people met at a place called sound-studio.

And at least there is a lack of learning as well!!
No one can learn form each other in the process of creating a nice piece of music if it is handled anonyme like today.
It tends to become sterile and lifeless with this.
And this mirrors in the music in my opinion.

If the big companies get back in their minds that there is also a different human quality if people meet and that this can help to be more creative- they may are willed to pay again for expensive studio time.

I see a little hope for this but not a big one.
Old 17th December 2010
  #32
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It was interesting for me to find this thread right now. I think I have something to add and it's based on my own personal experience.

I'll start at the end. I'm at the point where I believe holding on to a ton of expensive gear is foolish and unnecessary. Advancements in technology (and a change in how records are made in general) have allowed for other, very viable options. Those options sound (sonically) better and better every year (more detail below). I believe the future of recording studios looks something like this:

Great rooms (a killer sounding tracking room and accurate control room is something a plugin can't currently compensate for), awesome vibe and comfort for clients, engineers/producer who have great ears, get great results, and take a real personal interest in every project they work on. The more versatile you are as an engineer, writer, producer, musician the better. As long as you have some good mics and at least a few nice outboard pre's and eq's, nothing else really matters. You can make AMAZING records like this without sacrificing ANYTHING sonically.

Some people will, inevitably, disagree with me on this. My response is simple though... I spent a TON of money buying and maintaing big consoles and loads of outboard gear for a very long time. I did it while studios down the street (who had less than 1/10th the gear I do) charged virtually the same price I was charging because today's market just won't support anything more. I did it because I couldn't find another option that didn't mean sacrificing the sonic quality of my recordings. Now, I feel like I can get the same (if not better) results by working another way.

I've been a BIG proponent of large format analog consoles and analog outboard gear for a very long time. I grew up on Analog gear and have been engineering since I was in kindergarden (literally). In fact, Mike from Sigma (who's been posting in this thread) may remember a very young version of me helping out at my dad's studio back in the 80's (mike was working on a project with Gerald Levert and Miki Howard, I would have been about 10 or 11 at the time). While owning a boat load of gear is cool (anyone interested can check out my website at Ante Up Audio Cleveland Recording Studios), I've come to a point where I just don't think it makes sense anymore. Fewer and fewer musicians even know what an SSL or a Neve is (it used to be like saying Mercedes or BMW and people got EXCITED when you said you had one.. now most people just kind of stare blankly). The vast majority of our day in, day out clients don't know the difference and they don't care. They're looking for one of two things (if not both). 1) Best price. This is the number one thing most bands and artists are looking at these days unless they have a BIG record deal (very rare these days) and even some of those guys are being very cautious with budgets now. 2) Results. They want the stuff to sound good and want to work with an engineer/producer who gets what they're trying to do and actually cares about their project.

Some pretty major leaps have been made (in my opinion) over the past few years. For example, plugins are sounding more and more like gear. The WAVES API, SSL, and more recently CLA stuff and the UAD plugins have changed my life. I own a Neve and an SSL. Both are in good shape and both have automation. I'm mixing AT HOME with a PT HD 3 Accel rig, 2 UAD cards, a 32 channel SSL X-Rack summing system (with 2 SSL buss compressor) and a GML 8200 strapped across the 2 buss for EQ. Converters are 32 channels of Lynx Aurora. I'm having the most fun I've ever had mixing, recalls are nearly instant (which is helpful when 80% of your clients are from out of town) and I'm getting BETTER results than I was getting mixing on the board... something I *never* thought I'd be able to say with a straight face. I've been able to charge $85.00 per hour for mixing on this rig in a small, modestly treated room in my basement. What do my clients say? They say "I don't care what you mix on or where you do it as long as it sound like the records I heard that made me decide to work with you to begin with". How's that for a reality check?

While I think a handful of studios with big boards, etc. will always remain I think most (if not all) studios in markets outside of NYC, LA, and Nashville will have to re-assess if they want to stay in business. The decision a LOT of people will have to make is based on a simple question. Is this about ego, showing off, and having the most toys? Or is it about offering quality service to your clients at an affordable rate and keeping your rates low enough (by keeping your OVERHEAD low enough) to stay in business instead of holding on to a console (costing tens of thousands of dollars) who's purpose is holding a keyboard and a mouse 95% of the time. Think about how many studios that had AWESOME sounding rooms have folded over the past few years that could have probably reinvented themselves and stayed in business if they would have kept the rooms but rethought the equipment choices and price structure. Also keep in mind lower rates doesn't necessarily mean lower profit! If you're not paying all of the extra money to own and maintain all of that gear, you can keep the rates lower and probably make MORE money, all without sacrificing a damn thing sonically (if you do it right and you have the ears to begin with).

I think this is, ultimately, where I'm going at this point. Nothing else makes sense. I'm tired of the BS and the stress. I just want to make some ****ing records and enjoy music again. Let the guy down the street be buried in debt and maintenance headaches and we'll see who's, ultimately, happier and more successful.

I think people (including myself for awhile) have SERIOUSLY lost sight of what's important and why we should be in this field to begin with. If we can get back to the basics, I believe there's plenty of work to go around, fun to be had, and money to be made. The game has changed.. PERIOD. It's adapt or become extinct. And the good news is, adapting no longer means having to sacrifice sonic quality if you're just willing to open your eyes (and ears) and embrace what's out there. The best part??? It's really going to come down to the ears and talent of the engineer and not an equipment list. Anyone who's afraid of this should probably not be in the business to begin with (and they're probably responsible for most of the ****ty sounding records that have some how become acceptable in recent times).

Sorry this was so long but it felt good to get it off my chest!
Old 17th December 2010
  #33
Here for the gear
 

Practically every single day I get an email or a tweet about a big studio that's closing down. Bargain gear for sale, etc.

It's sad but true. The big studios are being decimated.

I still believe though, that smaller writer/producer rooms are where the growth is. Yeah they'll have a booth. Can you record a kit... hmmm difficult but maybe you'd track the drums/strings somewhere else. (This is what I do on the occasions where my own facility isn't up to the job as far as space is concerned.

The nub of the problem? This morning it was announced by the British Phonographic industry that over 76% of music consumption last year was from illegal sources (P2P etc.)

This is a nightmare.

People who steal music? .... cut their hands off!

At a corporate record company level it seems nobody knows what to do or what they're doing or what is coming next.

My feelings are that you keep overheads low. Survive. Then maybe when we finally find out what's happening there maybe enough room for those that are still about... 'cos right now there's too many foxes running after not enough chickens. And all the while it's never been easier to go to school at get qualified as an audio engineer...

I'm gonna go lie down now...

... and then I'm gonna dream about continuing to write great songs and make great records that are beautiful inspiring and relevant and important to a whole new generation who'll feel guilty about stealing and disrespecting music and will reject the X Factor, Got Talent TV show bull **** that is killing Joe Public's respect for music. I'll also dream about a new direction that corporates take where they'll stop giving away free full album covermount CD's and stop killing the record shops which we also need to feed the demand for what we do.

If you dream sometimes it can come true.

best regards

Danny de Matos
www.shushstudio.com

Last edited by Shushstudio; 17th December 2010 at 06:38 PM.. Reason: additional paragraph
Old 17th December 2010
  #34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shushstudio View Post
I believe that the way forward will see the professional small format studio producer/engineer rule the roost. They have less/tiny overheads in rented rooms/rooms within their homes/garages/gardens and with the required experience and the current crop of technology, can and will make large format studios virtually redundant.

Independent producers are more and more providing their recording services for free and charging for their production time. More and more projects are being presented to A&R as a fait accompli.

The independent writer/producer with their own studio is king. He/she will survive and largeformat with become a beautiful and rare dinosaur curio. (Mammoths in ice perhaps)
Something like your own situation you mean?! Not that you're biased or anything...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dismaus82 View Post
I don't know where this concept started that even if someone has a significant investment in a studio that just happens to be located in their home, it's still not considered as professional as a studio that has cheaper gear and less money into it BUT rents a commercial space. ?!?!

This concept seems especially ridiculous to me in the context of the "more professional" studio (commercial space rented) using PRO TOOLS , downloaded computer module versions of outboard processing, and overdubbing every instrument/using pitch fixing for the vocals ???? VERSUS the "home studios" getting dubbed "semi-professional" yet have Neve Boards, Studers, Vintage mics, Vintage Outboard, and record mostly LIVE ..... what has the recording industry become??
Of course someone can have a 100% professional studio in their home. The only thing is that generally they need a home big enough that they can either build a dedicated premises in the garden, or convert enough rooms that it doesn't affect the rest of the house.

The "berk in a bedroom" (love that term) doesn't apply to these situations! if you can fit a neve desk into your "home studio", it's not going to be in a semi-detached house in Croydon.

There's 2 main differences between a professional rented room, and a professional "home studio" if you ask me - client facilities (you're essentially sharing your home with people) and noise considerations (even if you've got a fantastically treated room, you're still not going to be able to monitor loudly or record drums in the aforementioned semi).

That's one of the reasons, along with acoustical treatment and space considerations, that I'm sharing the rent of a room in a commercial place. I can't really do anything other than the occasional backing vocal overdub at home, certainly can't record loud sources, can't have clients attending really and all that sort of thing. Fortunately I'm not paying too much for it, but it's pretty much paid for itself these last few months with the amount of overdub sessions I've been booking, plus I've been able to charge more for mixes (and get said mixes done quicker due to better acoustics), and so on.

As it happens I have a friend who mixed a Taylor Swift single for radio over here in his daughter's bedroom, but that's really the exception! He certainly couldn't have done that if the A+R guy wanted to attend the mix.
Old 17th December 2010
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Poon View Post
This is interesting, because the studio I have/am building is not for profit. We have a lot of nice gear, a trained professional working there, but we are all in a band together. We record people to pay the bills and get new gear, but it is primarily for ourselves to use, and that is the way it always will be.

Music is in a screwed up spot at the moment. I would hate to see big studios go under, but I am not as interested in recording in big a studio. As a musician I enjoy tweaking sounds and trying new things without the added pressure of "this time experimenting is a waste of money".

We do however, send it away to get mixed and mastered. Which I think every big studio will start focusing on. The equipment to master and the outside ear to mix self recorded artists will likely become more valuable in this transition we are seeing.

$0.02

Absolutely true.
Old 17th December 2010
  #36
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Sigma's Avatar
LOL ..and SSL is outta the large frame console biz and how many Neve 88's have been sold? ..umm BECAUSE?

and there were only like 250 or so 9000 J and K installed worldwide
Old 17th December 2010
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slipperman View Post
There is going to be no revenge greater for large format studio rooms than outliving the doomsday pundits and "been there - done that" guys(who already washed out of the game into small potato-ville).
SM.
Yeah.. Because what this is REALLY about is revenge after all.. Right?

The people who will get the last laugh will be the guys buying API's, Neve's, and SSL's for $5,000.00 a few years from now while the guys who borrowed big money to buy large format consoles are still trying to pay their loans off. At least I never made *that* mistake
Old 18th December 2010
  #38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dismaus82 View Post
I don't know where this concept started that even if someone has a significant investment in a studio that just happens to be located in their home, it's still not considered as professional as a studio that has cheaper gear and less money into it BUT rents a commercial space. ?!?!

This concept seems especially ridiculous to me in the context of the "more professional" studio (commercial space rented) using PRO TOOLS , downloaded computer module versions of outboard processing, and overdubbing every instrument/using pitch fixing for the vocals ???? VERSUS the "home studios" getting dubbed "semi-professional" yet have Neve Boards, Studers, Vintage mics, Vintage Outboard, and record mostly LIVE ..... what has the recording industry become??
Kinda interesting that it has to have Neve, Studer, Vintage mics, Vintage Outboard and live recording to be a proffessional studio. Most don't hear the difference of the gear, they do however hear the difference between a pro and an amateur. Let the old boats sink. The top's coming down, the bottom is coming up. Few will be able to hold onto their pricey toys but all will be able to an amazing record cause its their skill that got them there and its their skill that will keep them there. They just need to realize the old clunker desk and big building is not an efficient way to do it and this doesn't mean that GREAT (as in as good or better than whatever name desk is your poison) gear can't be had and used daily. It means instead of a 4k you have an X-rack with a select few modules that you enjoy and a lunchbox with a few 1073's. You'll be employing a summing box (lots of them available, lots of different sounds). Quit pissing your pants, none of us "bedroom hacks" are going to be nipping at your heels and stealing your business. It just means you're work will speak louder than the crossarmed pose in front of the desk will and that's a very good thing.
Old 18th December 2010
  #39
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Wow! This thread seemed like an appropriate place to share my thoughts and ideas for some reason. Thanks for reminding me why I usually just stick to the Classifieds section!

I didn't share my thoughts because I was looking for a war. I posted it because it's something I've been seriously thinking about, researching, and exploring for the better part of the last year.

I have to say.. I really don't understand the hostility and personal attacks against someone you don't even know. The assumptions you're making about me are so over the top ridiculous (and flat out WRONG) that all I can really do is laugh. The only person coming off as "threatened" here is you man. Feel better... Ok? It's not that deep!

Have a good one! thumbsup

Quote:
Originally Posted by slipperman View Post
Jeez. Somma you guys seem so THREATENED for enlightened aficionados of the "New Paradigm"?

I mean...

It's bulletproof, no?

I even got "facepalmed" by some guy from Cinci!!!

My FIRST FACEPALM on GS!!!

Whoooeeee!!!

It took almost EXACTLY 8 years!


All because I borrowed the old "Living well is the best revenge" maxim in passing.

Somebody musta jumped into the deep end of the pool a coupla years ago... and promptly got his ass chewed off by the sharks, to be that hurt in the ass.

Hey, don't shoot the messenger.

I'm STILL running the same "Home Production Shop" I have been for the last 25 years.

I've got exactly ZILCH to do with the big "Sound Hotel" thing. Never have. I just don't think all the wishing, speculating, pissing and moaning here on GS, or anywhere else in the world, is going to make them GO AWAY FOREVER.

The fact that there will obviously be FEWER of them, will almost undoubtedly mean the remaining ones will be STRONGER, at least in the short run.

There is still a place for those guys in the music biz. If you can't see it, you're pretty disconnected from who IS still working.

In the meantime:

Go picket Electric Lady or Sunset Sound or something.

LMFBO.

SM.

PS. Whoops! Not Cinci, Cleveland! Rocks! Or maybe not...
Old 18th December 2010
  #40
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For awhile I thought Large format studios such as Planet Studios in LA were bulletproof. Then we see Abby Roads go up for sale with a threat of closing.

Its dangerous out there for Large format studios. But I assume the best will survive. And the rest will be the rest.
Old 18th December 2010
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anteupaudio View Post
Some pretty major leaps have been made (in my opinion) over the past few years. For example, plugins are sounding more and more like gear. The WAVES API, SSL, and more recently CLA stuff and the UAD plugins have changed my life. I own a Neve and an SSL. Both are in good shape and both have automation. I'm mixing AT HOME with a PT HD 3 Accel rig, 2 UAD cards, a 32 channel SSL X-Rack summing system (with 2 SSL buss compressor) and a GML 8200 strapped across the 2 buss for EQ. Converters are 32 channels of Lynx Aurora. I'm having the most fun I've ever had mixing, recalls are nearly instant (which is helpful when 80% of your clients are from out of town) and I'm getting BETTER results than I was getting mixing on the board... something I *never* thought I'd be able to say with a straight face. I've been able to charge $85.00 per hour for mixing on this rig in a small, modestly treated room in my basement. What do my clients say? They say "I don't care what you mix on or where you do it as long as it sound like the records I heard that made me decide to work with you to begin with". How's that for a reality check?
I truly don't know what you're talking about. I'm using a VERY modest analog setup, consisting of a used television console that I bought for $1000 and a collection of budget outboard costing no more than $250/channel. Sonically and ergonomically, it TROUNCES the DAW. I can easily A/B plug-ins and outboard, and the outboard wins every time. I've stopped using plug-ins entirely, after hearing the unnatural and "hard" quality they impart to the sound.

ART VLA beats LA2A plug. Aphex Compellor beats Fairchild plug. Toft ATC-2 beats 1176 plug. Chameleon Labs 7720 beats SSL plug. Symetrix piece of crap beats DBX plug. Shure SE-30 purchased for $15 beats your favorite "smasherizer" plug. Studiomaster (!) console EQ beats Pultec plug. If you have DIY skills, you can build an LA2A or Pultec clone for under $500 and the difference will be even BIGGER.

After working ITB for 10 years, it was a hell of a shock to discover that cheap analog beats expensive digital.

I do recalls by recording stems into a DAW and adding or subtracting stems as necessary. I'm not giving up my real tape echo, real chamber, etc. to satisfy control-freak silliness.
Old 18th December 2010
  #42
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Hi,

Thanks for your well put response! I'm curious as to exactly what plugs you're using. If you're talking about the bombfactory stuff, I totally agree. Have you checked out the UA stuff or the WAVES CLA stuff though?

Also... This may be important... When I track, I use a lot of pretty high end stuff. Stuff I plan to keep even if I *do* ultimately decide to sell one or both of my large frame consoles.

I grew up cutting to tape so I'm used to (and prefer to) commit as much as possible during the recording process (even if I'm tracking to ProTools instead of tape). I EQ, compress, etc. on the way in. I'm not a big fan of "save all of the decisions until later and fix it in the mix".

I suppose if I weren't tracking this way, I may have a more difficult time getting the results I'm after. But, as it stands, the "best of both worlds" approach is working out well for me, personally (and to my surprise). Keep in mind that I've been mixing this way for the past several months BY CHOICE. My entire studio is up and running and I can go mix on an SSL or a Neve whenever I want to. Nobody could possibly be more surprised than I am that I'm comfortable working this way.

I also have a plate, a couple echoplex's, a Lexicon 480, and some other cool stuff. I'm thinking about picking up even more "oddball" stuff that not everyone has (or they don't make a decent plugin version of).

I have a feeling people who hear me talking about ditching the console and mixing with ProTools and a summing system automatically assume that I'll be throwing out my mic collection, my awesome sounding rooms (in my opinion), my collection of preamps, all of my outboard dynamics, etc. etc.. Let me be clear... I'm interested in finding more productive, reliable, and (where possible) less costly ways of working without sacrificing sonic quality... I'm not going to make ANY decision that I feel negatively effects the quality of my work in any way as that would be pretty damn counterproductive.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
I truly don't know what you're talking about. I'm using a VERY modest analog setup, consisting of a used television console that I bought for $1000 and a collection of budget outboard costing no more than $250/channel. Sonically and ergonomically, it TROUNCES the DAW. I can easily A/B plug-ins and outboard, and the outboard wins every time. I've stopped using plug-ins entirely, after hearing the unnatural and "hard" quality they impart to the sound.

ART VLA beats LA2A plug. Aphex Compellor beats Fairchild plug. Toft ATC-2 beats 1176 plug. Chameleon Labs 7720 beats SSL plug. Symetrix piece of crap beats DBX plug. Shure SE-30 purchased for $15 beats your favorite "smasherizer" plug.

If you have DIY skills, you can buy pre-printed circuit boards for LA2A clones, Pultec clones, etc. and build them for around the same price as a TDM plug-in.

Admittedly, total recall is an issue. I get around it by recording stems into a DAW and adding or subtracting stems as necessary. I'm not giving up my real tape echo, real chamber, etc. to satisfy control-freak silliness.
Old 18th December 2010
  #43
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anteupaudio View Post
Advancements in technology (and a change in how records are made in general) have allowed for other, very viable options. Those options sound (sonically) better and better every year (more detail below).

Great rooms (a killer sounding tracking room and accurate control room is something a plugin can't currently compensate for), awesome vibe and comfort for clients, engineers/producer who have great ears, get great results, and take a real personal interest in every project they work on. The more versatile you are as an engineer, writer, producer, musician the better. As long as you have some good mics and at least a few nice outboard pre's and eq's, nothing else really matters. You can make AMAZING records like this without sacrificing ANYTHING sonically.

Some pretty major leaps have been made (in my opinion) over the past few years... I'm getting BETTER results than I was getting mixing on the board... something I *never* thought I'd be able to say with a straight face.

While I think a handful of studios with big boards, etc. will always remain I think most (if not all) studios in markets outside of NYC, LA, and Nashville will have to re-assess if they want to stay in business...

The game has changed.. PERIOD. It's adapt or become extinct. And the good news is, adapting no longer means having to sacrifice sonic quality if you're just willing to open your eyes (and ears) and embrace what's out there...
IMO a well articulated, insightful post. And based what I'm seeing here in LA, with the struggles many of the bigger studios are having, I think you're pretty spot on. Seems you struck a nerve with some of the posters here; too close to home perhaps? It'll be interesting to see where they are in 2 years.
Old 18th December 2010
  #44
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I think great rooms and boutique mics will still remain a valuable commodity for quite some time which will help a handful of major commercial facilities in big cities stay afloat.
Old 18th December 2010
  #45
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anteupaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azure View Post
IMO a well articulated, insightful post. And based what I'm seeing here in LA, with the struggles many of the bigger studios are having, I think you're pretty spot on. Seems you struck a nerve with some of the posters here; too close to home perhaps? It'll be interesting to see where they are in 2 years.
Hey... Thanks.. That was nice after being attacked for sharing my thoughts and opinions!

Maybe I did strike a nerve but I really wasn't trying to upset anyone. Watching what's happening to studios and the music business in general is awful and heartbreaking. I'm just trying (for once) to step out of my own comfort zone (big analog desk, lots of outboard gear, etc.) and I'm trying to look at what my clients and I *need*, not what I *want* in an effort to better serve the people I'm doing work for.

The guy who got all upset can think I'm doing this because I'm broke, out of work, a ****ty engineer, I smell bad, or whatever he likes. He'll really be scratching his head when I open a 2nd location sometime later this year though (which is also part of my plan)..
Old 18th December 2010
  #46
Gear Maniac
I am constantly dumbfounded by the fact that bands will pay $25 to $35 an hour (at least here in Los Angeles) to rehearse in a room with $1,000 worth of PA equipment. Then when they are told your recording studio with hundreds of thousands of dollars in gear, and you as an engineer is $35 to $50 an hour they look at you like you are crazy.

The truth is they dont really need to go into a studio to record anymore, most of them can do it at home, even if its an M-Box and a SM 57. IF they aren't really talented enough, a neve console and a u47 isnt gonna make any difference. If they are talented enough, the end product although not sonically pristine will still be a great song and performance.

However they cant rehearse in their apartments, so they need to rehearse somewhere, and if its in a crappy little room with a blown up sound system that has 27 other bands blaring away all at the same time so you cant even here yourself think, they will manage to find $100 to rehearse for the night. They need a place to practice, but they may not need a place to record.

But its not just the crappy wanna be bands who dont need the project studio, its the producer who used to book the big rooms who can do nearly everyting at home or in a small room that is killing the big guys. It doesn't take any space at all to have an HD rig and a couple slamming pres and other outboard that sounds just like the slammin pres and outboard at the $1,200 dollar and up room.

A real studio with tape, a great live room and a great engineer still sounds worlds better than protools, but it simply isn't needed anymore to make what is considered a major label quality record. Sadly, it is a luxury.

I am currently refurbishing an old Harrison console and have a 2" machine, at the same time I have no delusions that is going to make me more money than a digi 002 would. I equate it to owning an old wooden sailboat. When I get it all looking and working like new, everyone will want to come and take it out for a ride for free. More than likely, that will be my only reward.

The only guys I know who are making a good living, are guys with smaller but respectable set ups who have somehow carved out a good word of mouth niche for themselves. Wether they are doing soundtrack, editing or music production.

The big studio has died - rather sadly - because of a lack of true need. There will always be a need for a few of them in big cities but that is probably about all. The only thing that could save them is the greatest marketing campaign ever. I suggest they find the guy who did the "cougar" campaign for older women, you know the one where they convinced young guys that older women were totally super hot. Older girls were having a real rough go of it until that came along. That is truly marketing at its finest.
Old 18th December 2010
  #47
Lives for gear
 
Knox's Avatar
 

I understand what you are talking about . . . I have owned a studio since 1984. In 86 I opened to the public (was never really my intent) . . . I have enjoyed doing this for many years . . . though not as much anymore. I was always proud of the place . . the gear. Each time I moved / built a new place / upgraded gear . . I was proud. The investment and overhead of course went up . . . the rates went up accordingly (for awhile) . . . and with each upgrade / new studio . . a new level of musicians . . . now the overhead and outlay per the rates I can charge (as Mike was showing in his post) is ridiculous. New clients call . . . you tell them about the great live room w/ rock wall for drums / the iso rooms / the vintage gear / the properly designed / built control room etc etc . . . and you get silence. Then you hear . . . "you got AutoTune?" or "ya wanna buy some beats?". . . . it sucks (overall)!! And the loyal clients who appreciate the place . . are getting out of the business because it sucks these days to make money in the music business or they hate what they hear (musically) these days and want out. The thing for me is . . . doing what you are talking about (getting rid of consoles / going more ITB) leaves me totally / absolutely cold. I will just get out of the business before I will do that. There is no passion for me in making music like that (PT / summing boxes / plug ins) though I understand your need to do it business-wise because this IS a business. One of the great things about doing this over the years was the absolute joy in the act of recording music. I find NONE of that with plug ins / sound replacer / PT / staring at computer screens / Autotune etc. I love tracking live bands to tape. I would rather have my face sandblasted then to sit in front of a computer, making music daily . . . TRYING to emulate the sounds I am used to . . . . or recording the type of music that would attract. I have a PT HD system . . . I hate staring at that thing. NOW if I want to stay current (for outside clients) . . I will have to upgrade to the new PT / hardware / sync boxes etc. . . screw that! I would rather spend my money on a new motorcycle and enjoy life and happily record to my tape machine or just get out completely. I understand your dilemma as a business man though . . . but music (for me) is not strictly about the business. I HAVE to enjoy it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anteupaudio View Post
Hi,

Thanks for your well put response! I'm curious as to exactly what plugs you're using. If you're talking about the bombfactory stuff, I totally agree. Have you checked out the UA stuff or the WAVES CLA stuff though?
.
Old 18th December 2010
  #48
Gear Addict
 
anteupaudio's Avatar
 

The motorcycle sounds like the best idea in this thread so far.

I understand everything you're saying and agree with most. I've been doing more and more tape work over the last year or so. I just bought another 2" 24 track machine and picked up a 1" 8 track headstack for it. I already have 3 albums lined up to track that way. It'll be refreshing and fun after the big 250 + tracks per song project I just finished for a band from Boston.

I think people should record however they want to record so long as it makes them happy. For me, I have to mix it up every so often or I get stuck in my ways and bored. I don't want to make the same record over and over again. I want to continue push myself to get better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knox View Post
I understand what you are talking about . . . I have owned a studio since 1984. In 86 I opened to the public (was never really my intent) . . . I have enjoyed doing this for many years . . . though not much anymore. I was always proud of the place . . the gear. Each time I moved / built a new place / upgraded gear . . I was proud. The investment and overhead of course went up . . . the rates went up accordingly (for awhile) . . . and with each upgrade / new studio . . a new level of musicians . . . now the overhead and outlay per the rates I can charge (as Mike was showing in his post) is ridiculous. New clients call . . . you tell them about the great live room w/ rock wall for drums / the iso rooms / the vintage gear / the properly designed / built control room etc etc . . . and you get silence. Then you hear . . . "you got AutoTune?" or "ya wanna buy some beats?". . . . it sucks (overall)!! And the loyal clients who appreciate the place . . are getting out of the business because it sucks these days to make money in the music business or they hate what they hear (musically) these days and want out. The thing for me is . . . doing what you are talking about (getting rid of consoles / going more ITB) leaves me totally / absolutely cold. I will just get out of the business before I will do that. There is no passion for me in making music like that (PT / summing boxes / plug ins) though I understand your need to do it business-wise because this IS a business. One of the great things about doing this over the years was the absolute joy in the act of recording music. I find NONE of that with plug ins / sound replacer / PT / staring at computer screens / Autotune etc. I love tracking live bands to tape. I would rather have my face sandblasted then to sit in front of a computer, making music daily . . . TRYING to emulate the sounds I am used to . . . . or recording the type of music that would attract. I have a PT HD system . . . I hate staring at that thing. NOW if I want to stay current (for outside clients) . . I will have to upgrade to the new PT / hardware / sync boxes etc. . . screw that! I would rather spend my money on a new motorcycle and enjoy life and happily record to my tape machine or just get out completely. I understand your dilemma as a business man though . . . but music (for me) is not strictly about the business. I HAVE to enjoy it.
Old 18th December 2010
  #49
Lives for gear
 
Lance Lawson's Avatar
 

Let's hope that some large room studios remain. If not then sooner or later all there's going to be are home studios types where nothing can actually be recorded live. I believe that the space recorded in is equally important as the gear recording it. Even if your home/mini studio has the best gear on the planet it'll still not sound like Columbia Studio A.
Old 18th December 2010
  #50
Lives for gear
 
sound_music's Avatar
 

just for the record, a "small and nimble" business model doesn't necessarily mean "no console". the digital/summing way is cheap and you can get great results with it, agreed, but "cheap" is relative. all depends what you're doing. would i want an all digital setup for a tracking room? no way...

i agree 100% leaps and bounds have been made in the digital realm, great plugs, software emulations, etc, that's all true. (i use them every day) but here's the problem: good sound still costs money, and a great room and qualified people in it are part of that cost. for me, so is a proper console.
Old 18th December 2010
  #51
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shushstudio View Post
we have all seen so many big name studios disappear at a rate of knots over the last few years and it seems set to continue .. The current crop of technology, can and will make large format studios virtually redundant .. large format with become a beautiful and rare dinosaur curio .. (mammoths in ice perhaps) .. all in all.. It's natural selection, yeah, it's darwinism.... It's the future. Here's to the future.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jordanvoth View Post
most don't hear the difference of the gear, they do however hear the difference between a pro and an amateur. Let the old boats sink. The top's coming down, the bottom is coming up. Few will be able to hold onto their pricey toys.
This is fantasy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by etch-a-sketch View Post
now we have a situation where the companies that sell the product keep asking for lower and lower rates from the companies that manufacture the product. And this has eventually driven a lot of manufacturing plants (studios) out of business.

This is going to cause the companies that design and sell the products to buyout the factories, once again putting them under their control. Or they will build their own new factory. Ultimately, they will go back to the original business model where manufacturing is done in-house.

And this doesn't just pertain to record labels. Composers for film, sample library companies, music libraries, etc are all subject to this.

No matter how you try to justify outsource, at the end of the day (or decade!) it is cheaper to make a music product in your own facility with your own people than outsource it. And conversely, you'll make a lot more money off your studio as a studio owner if you sell the product you make in the studio than if you simply sell the use of the studio for others to create product in.

You'll start to see new record labels with their own studios rising up again. You'll also see independent artists using their home studios for some things... And going to a bigger studio when needed. As more and more people outfit their homes with $100k+ worth of gear, they'll start to realize all the recording gear marketing hype is just that...hype. In the end, acoustics dictate 98% of the sound you get when recording, not the gear. And that proper acoustics can cost waaaaaayyy more than any recording gear...

Studio owners that have desirable acoustics in their studios, several iso booths with good sight lines, and a nice selection of instruments (guitars, amps, drums, piano, etc) are going to get the business from the home studio crowd. And studio owners that have this stuff would be wise to start looking at ways to create product they can sell with what they have, instead of just renting out the use of the space/gear to others.
This is reality.
Old 18th December 2010
  #52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Halloween View Post
For awhile I thought Large format studios such as Planet Studios in LA were bulletproof. Then we see Abby Roads go up for sale with a threat of closing.

Its dangerous out there for Large format studios. But I assume the best will survive. And the rest will be the rest.
Abbey Road was never really up for sale, regardless of what the papers said. It'll be the last large studio to go, if only because of the heritage.
Old 18th December 2010
  #53
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
...Somewhere along the line people decided (for various reasons) to separate the factory from the rest of the company...
The bread and butter of both the first generation of independent studios and session musicians was radio and TV advertising. Songwriter demos, vanity recordings and fledgling record labels made up only a tiny part of their income.

The outsourcing of albums was largely based on the desire of successful artists to be able to do drugs in the studio and the common practice of studios kicking a percentage of the fees billed to the labels back to the artists. Major label studios also had union engineers who demanded that they work on these outside sessions.

By the '80s it no longer made financial sense for labels to own studios. Instead they started writing "all-in" deals where the managers and lawyers got a percentage of the studio budget and the artist got to keep the change if they didn't spend the entire budget. That was pretty much the end of large studios being profitable.

What's next?

Probably management companies replacing labels and owning most real studios. Motown, by the way, was a management company that had its own label.
Old 18th December 2010
  #54
Lives for gear
 
Ernest Buckley's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shushstudio View Post
We are/have been witnessing a seismic shift in how and where music is recorded. What is the future for large console/room studios?
I thought we covered this already and it was agreed that there would always be a need for large format consoles for orchestral sessions and sound for film work.
Old 18th December 2010
  #55
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slipperman View Post
The rampant "here's my purportedly unbiased conclusions which just happen to perfectly support my small business model" threads are insanely funny.

There is going to be no revenge greater for large format studio rooms than outliving the doomsday pundits and "been there - done that" guys(who already washed out of the game into small potato-ville).

I think some are gonna.

Just a hunch.

SM.
Hunch? The best time to buy is when the market is flat, when has this not been true?

Christ, I just picked up a sweet SSL for pennies, some nice Studers etc. It boggles my mind. I don't think some of these dough heads remember when you could buy u47's for $500 not too long ago. Anyhow a very smart and respected friend of mine told Lou Dobbs on CNN - to paraphrase: "When everyone is talking about the inevitability of something, historically that usually marks the beginning of the end of the case in point."

All I know is that if money were no object, 99% of the people I know would work on a LFAC. That says to me that the format is not remotely close to being dead.
Old 18th December 2010
  #56
Lives for gear
 
cinealta's Avatar
 

Most major label releases will still need a room with great acoustics for recording live instruments (drums, guitars etc). Apart from that, the rest could be done in a "home" studio.

There's a youtube video where Mike Shinoda, of Linkin Park, said something like 30% of the new record was done at his home studio. He soundproofed a hallway for Chester to sing through, and got a U47, TG2 & LA2A. He said it cuts indistinguishably from the Neve vocals done at NRG. He's got PT running on a Mac laptop, some keyboards, SSL VHD rack and a few other items and recorded the keys at home. No console, or control surface, just mouse and keyboard shortcuts. It just looks like a master bedroom or something. A few traps thrown up in the corners. Not a bad setup to save 30% of your several thousand dollar recording budget. Maybe Ethan Mates can chime in on more details?

Nonetheless, I'm sure NRG is still getting tons of work.
Old 18th December 2010
  #57
Lives for gear
 
Robonaut's Avatar
 

How much do you think the decline of big studios is due to lowered standards for sound quality?

I mean, what's the point of recording on a big analog console, using vintage mics and FX when the final mix is just going to get ultra-compressed into horrible sounding crap?
Old 18th December 2010
  #58
Lives for gear
 
sound_music's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robonaut View Post
How much do you think the decline of big studios is due to lowered standards for sound quality?

I mean, what's the point of recording on a big analog console, using vintage mics and FX when the final mix is just going to get ultra-compressed into horrible sounding crap?
i hear what you're saying, but that's actually a common misconception. better quality audio translates far better when compressed into the various crappy digital formats. so actually the need for great sounding masters is greater today than ever before...
Old 18th December 2010
  #59
Lives for gear
 
Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

I was going to pass on this thread, as it seemed to be going in the direction that typifies GS (presumptive, self-catering, grandstanding). But I think that the posts have been, for the most part, insightful and on topic. So I'm going to jump into the waters with my own presumptive, self-catering, grandstanding post, if only to provide a different viewpoint:

I hate to piss on the parade, but I offer up my large format, large-room studio as a counter to the prevailing notion that this is a poor business model. And to further shock and annoy, I'll let you know that the doors have been open for only 4 months, after a 4-year build out from scratch. TheBridgeRecordingBuildPage

So, after gambling millions of dollars to open a contrarian outpost of recording, what is the result? Our client list, after 4 months, includes: Fox Television's "The Simpsons," (episode aired Dec. 4th), NBC's "The Event" (every episode recorded here), ABC's "No Ordinary Family," (pilot episode) huge upcoming series "The Cape," some Disney theme-park mixes, film mixes, TV mixes, independent film scores, big bands, latin bands, jazz bands, solo piano, chamber music groups, tuba ensembles, The Salvation Army Band, tons more, and we currently have a big film music mix in here that will take us into the new year.

Here's a pic I took just 5 minutes ago:



.

By completely ignoring the work that can be done by a guy in a bedroom (work that nobody is willing to actually go out and buy anymore, btw), and instead focusing like a laser on the one area of the industry that has *some* budget, I was able to build AND BOOK a successful large-format recording studio in the year 2010.

My biggest problem right now is to find more parking for the 70 clients that show up for some of these gigs.

All the best,

Greg

.
Old 18th December 2010
  #60
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
I hate to piss on the parade, but I offer up my large format, large-room studio as a counter to the prevailing notion that this is a poor business model. And to further shock and annoy, I'll let you know that the doors have been open for only 4 months, after a 4-year build out from scratch. TheBridgeRecordingBuildPage

heh
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