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H.A.R.P. vs. Chas sanford & small studios
Old 16th July 2006
  #1
Gear Nut
 
mic anon's Avatar
 

H.A.R.P. vs. Chas sanford & small studios

bought an old tape at the thrifty store for 25 cents with some preaching on it from
1989 but at the end of the tape there was some old news stories from '89 about

some major studios coming together and forming an organization called the Hollywood
association of recording professionals and they were pissed off about this guy (Chas sanford) who was running a studio from his home but was in violation of the zoning laws. They said he was taking business from the big studios like oceanway etc., so H.A.R.P. converged on this guy and got the courts to shut him down. Well at the end of the report (Headline News) the commentater said "the big studios might of won the battle but they will lose the war."

Some questions

1.Is there anybody on Gearslutz that was apart of that or know of someone that was?

2.What happened to Chas sanford?

3. Is H.A.R.P. still around fighting to keep the major studios alive in hollywood and the world?

In 1989 hen this story broke I was ten so its news to me,
It would be real interesting to hear form the original players or from those who new about it!

Thanks for the replies

Blessings

MIKE
Old 16th July 2006
  #2
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mic anon
bought an old tape at the thrifty store for 25 cents with some preaching on it from
1989 but at the end of the tape there was some old news stories from '89 about

some major studios coming together and forming an organization called the Hollywood
association of recording professionals and they were pissed off about this guy (Chas sanford) who was running a studio from his home but was in violation of the zoning laws. They said he was taking business from the big studios like oceanway etc., so H.A.R.P. converged on this guy and got the courts to shut him down. Well at the end of the report (Headline News) the commentater said "the big studios might of won the battle but they will lose the war."

Some questions

1.Is there anybody on Gearslutz that was apart of that or know of someone that was?

2.What happened to Chas sanford?

3. Is H.A.R.P. still around fighting to keep the major studios alive in hollywood and the world?

In 1989 hen this story broke I was ten so its news to me,
It would be real interesting to hear form the original players or from those who new about it!

Thanks for the replies

Blessings

MIKE
I saw Chas at AES this year... He's still around. He wrote a lot of hits in the 80's.
Old 16th July 2006
  #3
Lives for gear
 
absrec's Avatar
 

I have a friend that ran a studio built out of a house here in Atlanta. This isn't uncommon. However, they were doing live web-casts of bands playing over the net. They were found out and because they were not located in a commercial zone, they were made to shut down. It's a shame 'cause the studio was beautiful. It still gets used for private things, I believe. At least it wasn't a total waste.
Old 16th July 2006
  #4
Gear Nut
 
mic anon's Avatar
 

Thanks for the replies fellaz!
Old 16th July 2006
  #5
Lives for gear
 

I operated a gorgeous looking and sounding 24 track room in Dallas from 1986 until 1992. The studio was in a commercial building in a commercial district. I had a lease, electricity, phone, alarm, insurance, building maintenance (FOUR HVAC UNITS!!!) I sold out of the whole thing because I just couldn't make any respectable money because of people operating out of their houses and offering dirt cheap rates.

It wasn't like I didn't have business because I was booked full time.
We were at saturation point because the room ran about 18 hours per day.
We had five bands get signed to majors from material cut in our room.
I also did over one hundred live radio braodcasts and re-mixes for major label bands.
I could make money on live broadcasts, but with hourly rates of around $50.00 being charged locally by cut-rate guys the room could only make so much money in a given day. I had to match their rates to a degree to atract the local guys. I wasn't as low as they were, but their $34.00 an hour rate definitely pulled the rates I could charge down.

I contacted the guys with H.A.R.P. and was going to start a dimilar organization called D.A.R.P. (Dallas Area Recording Professionals.) No one was really interested and now they are all either gone or operating at less than their potential should be.

Once I initiated a campaign against commercial facilities operating out of residences I had an article written about me in The Dallas Observer titled "Mr. Mean Guy!" The artical was written by now Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. I was able to convince her that I was anything except "Mr. Mean Guy" and got second artical about all of the FREE sessions we did for old blues performers in the area. Good press... bad press... it's all good, but....

I was also bugged by the fact that the very studios that I felt were causing rates to be so stupidly low were advertisers in The Dallas Observer! In fcat, they were about the ONLY studio who did advertise there! I wasn't surprised.

About a year later I threw in the towel and left to work at a radio/TV production house.

I wasn't going to suffer because I wanted have a nice studio available. I just gave up and let my partner in the place have it. He sold it two years later.

The whole "home studio revolution" has not resulted in a bunch of people making great recordings. It has resulted in a bunch of people making mediocre recordings. In truth, most of the people that I recorded really didn't require the level of quality that we provided, but it was there at least. Maybe they can produce what they really needed and derive the satisfaction they were after themsleves. They sure as hell can't create what I could in that room!

There are some people who can make a good release at their house. It is hard as hell though! I cando it, but it takes MUCH longer and is MUCH more difficult. I have THIRTY YEARS of experience in real studios too! Even my recordings from the early days where I was still learning have qualities that absolutely cannot be achieved in a project studio!

I was at a premier full service facility last week and I realized that people who build their own enclaves and try to go it alone are limitinmg themselves and fooling themselves. If you can get an EIGHTY input SSL, Studer 827, 1/2" Ampex ATRT102, API pres, Neve pres, 1176s, Distressors, Manley... on and on and on in a well designed room for $125.00 per hour it is STILL cheaper than doing yourself. If you are just experimenting and satisfying your jones for hearing your material recorded than it's OK I guess. It isn't the same to have all of the potential of that room available for a decent rate.

Now, if you don't know what you are trying to commit to a recording and are rehearsing ideas I guess spending weeks and months in your project studio is OK, but iut all happens MUCH quicker in a real studio!

Then again, the I can do it all myself concept is VERY alluring.

There is no-one present to burst your bubble when you work in seclusion and because most recording gear is used to record material that VERY, VERY few people are going hear it really doesn't matter what it sounds like!

Basically, the difference in a project studio and commercial facilty designed for music recording is the acoustical space. A real recording environment requires a large space and that costs money, requires HVAC, etc...

In truth, most all project studios would have to become a "commercial facilty" if the owner's dreams of more "stuff" was carried to it's full realization. Unless, you have deep pockets, the big toys don't come free and big toys require big spaces and big spaces require rent and electricity for gear and HVAC.

So yeah, I have a home studio and I probebly always will. I can make pretty good sounding recordings as well, but I sure as hell could make them easier in a real studio! I just don't care to foot the bill!

NO ONE WOULD BUILD A STUDIO TO MAKE MONEY!
They don't MAKE money.
They might make some money, but it's always a hobby.
This is why almost all big fancy rooms are owned by people with deep pockets.

This is also why studios come and go.
Do you know how many rooms I have seen come and go since I entered in 1975?

People just give up!
None got rich off of owning a music room!

hmmmmmm. maybe project studios ARE a good idea!

Sorry to be so "positive."

Danny Brown
Old 16th July 2006
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Tibbon's Avatar
I was thinking the other day about how an Engineer's union would work, or a studio owners union. The sad thing is that it wouldn't, and obviously the HARP didn't work.

That's what I don't understand AT ALL about bands that want to do it at their drummer's house or whatever on their system to save money. It's to their 100% advantage to do it all at a major studio IMHO. Balanced electric, room design, a decent patchbay, HVAC and the aeron chairs and a nice sofa alone cost 10x more often than many of these home studios are able to put into it, but yet it costs little to go do a few hours at a major studio.

Artist are always seeming to talley up how much they think they could 'do it' for at home for some reason. mBox, cheap speakers, microphone, preamp, pirated software, etc.. The cheaper the better. They don't realize that in a real studio they will have spent more on their patchbay than the home musician spent on their entire setup.

I happen to have a home setup, but it's mainly for writing and synth work. Truthfully there is very very very little difference in me doing my synth programming here and at a major studio. But i'd rather take my stuff somewhere to actually record it, or mix it and of course somewhere else to master it.

I think that musicians today are getting worse, less committal, and cheaper in general. They need someone that can comp their singer heavily, and edit their drummer to hell and retrigger every sound of his because he's inconsistant. They are all way too worried about it being radio material as well, but at the same time have NO confidence that their album will sell well, so they want to be cheap about it.

Labels are being cheap too. Even indies used to pay SOME to artists for recording time.
Old 16th July 2006
  #7
Lives for gear
 

All too true!

Yes, indies used to pay me about $10K to do a twentyone day album project.
For a one guy shop that was OK money.
In my case I wasn't a one man shop.
In fact, if it was just me I could have kept the place going and payed myself a decent wage.

I bet small labels don't pay that kind of money for production anymore!

Of course not!
People are willing to do it at home and foot the bill for them!

Danny Brown
Old 16th July 2006
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
Diablo's Avatar
 

Just my recollections from reading the LA Times back then, because at the time I was happily operating my cassette 8 track MR8 at home:

The HARP people were fighting all these "home studios" operating as a business illegally because the big studios were bleeding money and these "home studios" were popping up all over the place undercutting their rates. But these weren't your "joe average" home studios, these were full blown pro-designed places with SSL's, etc, installed into rock stars homes or name-brand producers houses. Interviews with some of these guys made it clear that they intended to finance the gear by renting out the studio and that pissed off the HARP people to no end. I remember Eddie Van Halen being quoted as saying that his home studio was never rented out, but that he would sometimes let his friends use it for free. He had gotten some heat from HARP and he was defending himself in the paper.

There was really two battles going on at the time, because Los Angeles had some heavy duty restrictions about who could operate businesses out of their homes, I think, it was something like, only business that didn't have any commercial equipment, could get a home business license. So they only allowed writers, dog walkers, etc. to get a license. So a lot of people that had been flying under the radar while operating various assorted businesses out of their homes, got into the act and started protesting to City Hall, that the restrictions were unfair and not in touch with the times. I think that after a few years LA gave in and allowed more kinds of home business, and as long as the neighbors didn't protest, the home based business could stay.

Of course, LA probably really only allowed it because of the 1% tax on the value of all equipement in LA County.

This is just what I remembered....
Old 16th July 2006
  #9
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
I remember those days well. Times change. Business models change (or the business owners give up or die). Times are changing again. And yet once again, I am forced to change with them, or find another profession. Do I like it? He!! no! Can I stop it. Well....no. No organisation like HARP or the Musicians Union can stop technology or "progress" from changing the face of our industry - for the good or for the bad. If you try to hold on to the past or "the way it's always been" or "what's fair" or "what's better" you will go out of business or die trying. Have you seen the front page stories on the LA musicians union or international union papers this month? What a joke! The union is dying and trying to hold on to their glory days. The nostalgic days of old are gone. The sooner we ditch those old stories of the past, the sooner we can go on with making a decent living. HARP and the Musicians Unions are just outdated versions of the "good ol boys clubs". As much as I would personally like everyone to record at real studios and use real studio musicians and real recording engineers - it's not going to happen. Move on or be left behind....
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