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What's the future for large format studios? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 16th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

What's the future for large format studios?

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
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Old 16th December 2010
  #2
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JoaT's Avatar
Let's pray for the generation of studio daytrippers. People who are willing to pay to experience the great tracking rooms, high end mics and outboard, large format studio and high end console.

And let's pray some of them are actually capable musicians too.

Other than that there's very little hope for the behemoths.

Sad. Truly and honestly sad.
Old 16th December 2010
  #3
mixmixmix
Guest
The future lies in the past

If you rediscover the joy of music making ( when you were 15 or 16 and really excited) you won't have to worry about the future. Talent and passion will survive anything, even digital.

Peace.
Old 16th December 2010
  #4
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Jon Nolan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mixmixmix View Post
If you rediscover the joy of music making ( when you were 15 or 16 and really excited) you won't have to worry about the future. Talent and passion will survive anything, even digital.

Peace.
^this.
Old 16th December 2010
  #5
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What will happen is great musicians and music will return. When It does record companys will invest in studios that will match the great studios of yesteryear. Million dollar studios will be billion dollars studios and crank out trillion dollar records.
Old 16th December 2010
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefy View Post
What will happen is great musicians and music will return. When It does record companys will invest in studios that will match the great studios of yesteryear. Million dollar studios will be billion dollars studios and crank out trillion dollar records.
I have faith that they will crack down on pirate stuff in the future.
Old 16th December 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carllock View Post
I have faith that they will crack down on pirate stuff in the future.
+1, me too

and about big rooms, many will survive, many won't. it will be a rough go for the next few years (at least) for alot of the big studios with a big investment and a big monthly nut.

it's true there's less demand for them today, but they are still needed. their numbers will dwindle for awhile, but they're not going the way of the dinosaur... (and neither is the music business BTW)
Old 16th December 2010
  #8
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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.
What some call 'The Berk in a Bedroom' market.

I don't quite see how a berk in a bedroom is going to record a pipe band, a church choir or even an ordinary five-piece rock band.
Old 16th December 2010
  #9
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The big studio heyday was in the mid 70's thru the 1980's
Old 16th December 2010
  #10
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by glenn Taylor View Post
The big studio heyday was in the mid 70's thru the 1980's
early 60's-70's ..by the mid late 70's SPARS was formed with a two 24 track machine minimum for membership as DIY rooms were being overtaken by trust fund kids who hired acoustical designers/consultants and 'off the shelf" consoles like MCI..anyone with money could now have their studio built and there was more "room" time available than artists to fill it

1968-75 sigma studio 1 philly 130 an hr -- room cost 50k to build --studios booked around the clock with 6 month wait to get in


in late 70's mid 1980's we had 11 rooms between philly and new york


1985 sigma studio 1 philly 185 hr --room cost 300 k to retrofit -- studio bookings open weekly

1995 sigma studio 1 philly 185 hr room cost 500 k

2000 sigma studio 1 philly 120 hr --room cost 1.2 mil.. ssl 900k console--studio hunting for work

this is real billed not POSTED hr rate

i was lucky there.. i started first eng seat in 1982 from then till the mid/late 90's i worked every day... then even the bottom fell out for me relatively speaking until i opened my new place [and learned "blow tools" which was what i used to call it before i'd never work on anything else]

add in icreased insurance rates, employee salaries etc and you get the picture
Old 16th December 2010
  #11
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I love how many people take it utterly for granted that music should be recorded one part at a time. By far the cheapest way to make a killer record is by recording killer musicians live. Assuming they are getting paid at least union wages, the cheapest way to do that is in a traditional recording studio.

Now that we're back to the singles market, we'll probably see a return to the older recording work-flow for purely economic reasons.
Old 16th December 2010
  #12
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I love how many people take it utterly for granted that music should be recorded one part at a time. By far the cheapest way to make a killer record is by recording killer musicians live. Assuming they are getting paid at least union wages, the cheapest way to do that is in a traditional recording studio.

Now that we're back to the singles market, we'll probably see a return to the older recording work-flow for purely economic reasons.
yeah if even 30% of the musicians playing on RELEASED tracks today could play it live together..
Old 16th December 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefy View Post
What will happen is great musicians and music will return. When It does record companys will invest in studios that will match the great studios of yesteryear. Million dollar studios will be billion dollars studios and crank out trillion dollar records.
I'm sure that there is already lots of great music and musicians out there. The problem is that nobody cares. It's not a problem with supply...it's demand.

If I had a large format studio, I think I'd target the film market, and treat music as just a fun sideline.

Cheers

Kris
Old 16th December 2010
  #14
Lives for gear
 

These threads bug me. If nothing changes in the economics of music the whole industry is fvcked. Even the bedroom warriors. It will just be a side hobby for all involved.

This has nothing to do with ITB, LFAC, Studio, Bedroom, Garage. This is all about economics. Bring serious money back into the game and you'll see serious studios. That's how competition works.

On another note, what Sigma and Bob bring up regarding live recordings and musicianship (etc) may certainly reduce the cost of production, but IMO that's just a welcome bonus. The real value is that you may attract people back to music on an emotional level, which would translate into more sales (in a normal market).

There are two things in business to consider, sales & expenses. You cannot just focus on one or the other. There are only so many expenses you can cut before you reach the point of diminishing returns. To give the most extreme example, I can cut my labor cost down to 0. But then the doors are closed.

So while this thread (and many others) get focused on costs, we have to equally focus on sales. Sales come down to one thing, value. Value is the product of price versus quality. Again we have the same problem as we had on the expense side, you can only go so cheap before you reach the point of diminishing returns. It is next to impossible to give away bad musical product even if it is free, so there has to be a certain level of quality.

I think we have done everything we could in this last decade except for improving the product. I think this is where the focus has to go next. We are competing realistically against 50 years of recorded music, we have to do better if we're going to tap into that market.

But right now, unless there is money in the system to be made you cannot reasonably expect an improvement in the product.
Old 16th December 2010
  #15
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sound_music's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Now that we're back to the singles market, we'll probably see a return to the older recording work-flow for purely economic reasons.
that would be great. only problem is that 90% of the groups i seem to get these days can't cut it live in a room together. there are exceptions, but not many. it always seems to be more hassle to set up and try live, not get the takes, and have to re-track almost everything individually in the end anyway! (and unfortunately in my neck of the woods good hired-guns are hard to come by...)

a shift back to the older recording work-flow would certainly help separate the wheat from the chaff! i'd welcome it...
Old 16th December 2010
  #16
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Infernal Device's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefy View Post
What will happen is great musicians and music will return. When It does record companys will invest in studios that will match the great studios of yesteryear. Million dollar studios will be billion dollars studios and crank out trillion dollar records.
This will happen when people ditch the cell phone trend and go back to payphones.
Old 16th December 2010
  #17
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Sadly, I'd say a lot of them have a restaurant, parking lot, design firm, storage, or band practice space in their future.
Old 16th December 2010
  #18
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Mike Brown's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I love how many people take it utterly for granted that music should be recorded one part at a time. By far the cheapest way to make a killer record is by recording killer musicians live. Assuming they are getting paid at least union wages, the cheapest way to do that is in a traditional recording studio.

Now that we're back to the singles market, we'll probably see a return to the older recording work-flow for purely economic reasons.
We just had a band in for a 10-day lock out with all songs live.

Came out fantastic!
Old 16th December 2010
  #19
TML
Lives for gear
 

GET SMALL

I respect the "craft" and anyone who has the balls to keep themselves alive in this industry. You can be in it for a number of reasons. Many of us are by-products of the technology that has change the music industry. I had a 4 track back in 84' then adats in 91' and Mix Plus in 99'. Had these tools not been available, I might not be on this sinking ship with you all..lol Currently, the entire global economy is changing.... not just an upgrade to PT9 This has cause a "lowest common denominator" effect. The new generation is not being educated to know the difference between tape, 24 bit or an MP3. They can't track at the same time cause they don't have the skill. LESSON?? It's not their fault. We're just overrun by a million guys who know 2 power chords in drop tuning and feel that their ability to use autotune on G-Band proves they have diminished our value in the market. Not so. Every younger kid I work has a studio on their laptop. But they keep coming back. The still need to be shown the ropes... guided and coached through a record. There will always be very talented musicians, engineers and producers who will bring incredible sounds to the masses. For most of us who do this for a living I encourage you to "Get Small" until we are in a better place. Have the ability to reinvent and changed on a dime like a speedboat rather then the Titanic.
Tim
Old 16th December 2010
  #20
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
Sadly, I'd say a lot of them have a restaurant, parking lot, design firm, storage, or band practice space in their future.
look at new york studios..hit factory etc CONDOS lolz!
Old 16th December 2010
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by sound_music View Post
that would be great. only problem is that 90% of the groups i seem to get these days can't cut it live in a room together. there are exceptions, but not many. it always seems to be more hassle to set up and try live, not get the takes, and have to re-track almost everything individually in the end anyway! (and unfortunately in my neck of the woods good hired-guns are hard to come by...)

a shift back to the older recording work-flow would certainly help separate the wheat from the chaff! i'd welcome it...
It seems strange but this is happening because of all the schools budget cuts. No music programs anymore. Because of that, no well-trained musicians. And also because of that the average high school graduate has no musical education at all... which means they will listen to less proficient musicianship and not be able to tell how bad it is. If we all had to take choir and/or band at least for a year or two in school, we'd know what a key is and how bad it sounds when you don't play "in" one! LOL Kids today don't get that basic education in schools anymore. And so they can't "hear" what we hear.

It's weird to say this, but hopefully games like guitar hero and rock band will inspire a new generation to learn how to play an instrument. Guitar Center has seen a 30% increase in guitar sales every year since the first Guitar Hero came out. There is hope...
Old 16th December 2010
  #22
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kooz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
It seems strange but this is happening because of all the schools budget cuts. No music programs anymore. Because of that, no well-trained musicians. And also because of that the average high school graduate has no musical education at all... which means they will listen to less proficient musicianship and not be able to tell how bad it is. If we all had to take choir and/or band at least for a year or two in school, we'd know what a key is and how bad it sounds when you don't play "in" one! LOL Kids today don't get that basic education in schools anymore. And so they can't "hear" what we hear.

It's weird to say this, but hopefully games like guitar hero and rock band will inspire a new generation to learn how to play an instrument. Guitar Center has seen a 30% increase in guitar sales every year since the first Guitar Hero came out. There is hope...
Right, it all gets down to education. Arts education specifically...or perhaps a Liberal Arts education is most accurate.

Whatever happened to the idea of balance? I guess it all gets down to $.

I have been soooo lucky.
Old 16th December 2010
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

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
Old 16th December 2010
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
Core's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Byre View Post
What some call 'The Berk in a Bedroom' market.

I don't quite see how a berk in a bedroom is going to record a pipe band, a church choir or even an ordinary five-piece rock band.
Home recordists record five-piece rock bands all the time. It's usually done with a lot of overdubbing, of course, but most big studios aren't recording full bands live either. Your point about pipe band or church choir is true, but pipe bands and church choirs don't make hit records.

There are a lot of talented engineer/producer guys out there who are making successful albums in their homes. James Paul Wisner (Dashboard Confessional, UnderOath, Paramore, etc.) does most of his work at his home in Florida. There are a thousand mini-Wisners out there, talented young kids with ProTools rigs in their parents' garages, and they're offering production as well as recording at a relatively low price. The "future" the OP is referring to is actually the present.
Old 17th December 2010
  #25
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i see more and more good musicians build their own studio, fit for their purpose. They often don't really know how to operate it, and than they hire people like me to do it.

Often they got money from gigs (the prices went up due to lost sales) to build a rather decent one and study it carefull. So acoustics are done like it should. The equipment is partly owned by musicians and partly rented mostly. They also see an album more as promo for their livegigs than as source of income, because they know they got pirated. A friend who plays in a succesfull reggaeband with an own studio, said in an interview recently: 'i saw we got pirated, that means we are succesfull...' and he was proud of it. Others just give their music away on the internet for free, and get way more gigs trough that to earn money. All of them are known in their scene on international level...

But the time for the big studio's is over for a big part. There is simply no budget anymore for recording in studio's who cost over a grand a day. Some will remain, sometimes because of a rich owner who keep the studio artificial alive by sponsoring his hobby, sometimes as specialist studio for things like classical or so (who still got sales and budget), and a few for the big pop names because of the big name of the operating engineer or their history... (see the Lord Alge brothers as example)

Postproduction studio's and broadcaststudio's are also not in danger, and get more and more used by musicians to record also (at least over here). But that's mostly classical and jazz and folk music, not pop, rock or urban.
Old 17th December 2010
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Big studios will exist as philanthropic endeavours until the demand side can be worked out.

Hint: all you guys who hope they "fix" piracy are looking in the wrong direction. Piracy is a reaction to the fact that there's no value in an mp3. Better distribution channels and products that are interesting to the consumer is how you overcome (not fix) piracy. You can't litigate, you have to innovate (to be cliche)
Old 17th December 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
It seems strange but this is happening because of all the schools budget cuts. No music programs anymore. Because of that, no well-trained musicians. And also because of that the average high school graduate has no musical education at all... which means they will listen to less proficient musicianship and not be able to tell how bad it is. If we all had to take choir and/or band at least for a year or two in school, we'd know what a key is and how bad it sounds when you don't play "in" one! LOL Kids today don't get that basic education in schools anymore. And so they can't "hear" what we hear.
+1 good point, rarely raised in these parts. the lack of free musical education in schools surely has alot to do with the lack of bands that cut it as a cohesive unit in the studio. the foundation is often missing in alot of today's musician's toolboxes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
It's weird to say this, but hopefully games like guitar hero and rock band will inspire a new generation to learn how to play an instrument. Guitar Center has seen a 30% increase in guitar sales every year since the first Guitar Hero came out. There is hope...
lol, we'll take a hand wherever we can get it these days! similarly, i don't think tabs are particularly great as far as teaching tools go either, (GH is of course lowering the bar right down the the pavement in that regard) but at least they stir up interest in music and instruments... rough times!
Old 17th December 2010
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sound_music View Post
lol, we'll take a hand wherever we can get it these days! similarly, i don't think tabs are particularly great as far as teaching tools go either, (GH is of course lowering the bar right down the the pavement in that regard) but at least they stir up interest in music and instruments... rough times!
True, but at least its a start. It's a spark that hopefully leads to flames!
Old 17th December 2010
  #29
As for my prediction about studios... I've said this before and a couple other people have touched on it.

Studios are a great "example" of the ultimate outcome of outsourcing. Originally the studio was "the factory" where a label's product was made. All of motown's albums were made at Motown's studio. Stax's albums were at stax's studios, capitol's albums were made at Capitol's studios. And so on...

Somewhere along the line people decided (for various reasons) to separate the factory from the rest of the company. It lasted for a while... but ultimately what makes the money is not the manufacturing itself, but the product that is being manufactured.

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.
Old 17th December 2010
  #30
Deleted User
Guest
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??
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