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Why did your studio close? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 23rd January 2015
  #1
Gear Maniac
Why did your studio close?

This place is filled with passionate people discussing expensive equipment, techniques and impressive studio builds... yet when something is posted about a studio closure it seems to be met with nothing more than "not another one!" or "Damn, thats a shame".

Obviously there is a huge number of reasons why a studio can close, but I am interested in hearing some stories from people whom have had to go through the process, and ultimately why they think it headed that way. Was it a failure to launch? A change in clientele? Falling out with a business partner?

I can start with a recent experience which consisted of folding a studio with two locations into one location. It was primarily due to rapidly rising rent and a failure to really grow the business large enough to justify two premises. While there is just a single studio now, it is booked solidly compared to the two studios both booked to 65% capacity. It was an expensive venture, and both backbreaking and soul destroying... but everyone is much happier as a result.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #2
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by madgansound View Post
look to why this forum now has over a quarter million members and you will find a large part of your answer.....
That is a load of belloni though. There have always been an abundance of people trying to make a living in the music industry. Some have. Some did. Some haven't. That remains true for 1960, 1980 or 2015.

The recording industry, nor any other industry has ever simply been a case of "build it and they will come". Statistically 9 out of 10 will fail, it is just a question of how long that will take.

To suggest that "market saturation" was the cause of your studio closing is just plain laziness really. The studio down the road is ticking along just fine...
Old 23rd January 2015
  #3
Old 23rd January 2015
  #4
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by nspaas View Post
You probably haven't actually ever owned a studio.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #5
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Building was sold under us, and after 10 years recording very "average" bands (at best) the idea of setting up all over didn't appeal.
It took another 10 years but finally got close to where I want to be, career wise. This month anyway!
Old 23rd January 2015
  #6
Gear Head
 

I worked in two recording studios in the past 10 years, both failed and closed. Why? Because they saw the industry crashing, but they did nothing to prevent themselves. They had no money as backup, so they needed to sell equipment while having less customers. They just kept going the business and crashed like so many others did.

When the second studio closed in 2013 I've taken all the money I've earned and saved over the years and startet my own business not only offering studio recordings but live recordings, video producing, live one shots, etc. etc.! I'm not getting rich, but since my wife has a solid job too,..we have a good life though.

In my opinion most studios closed down because they just didn't react when the homerecording era hits the industry. Most of the people just kept going with their stuff and failed ofc.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #7
Lives for gear
i see a push back around here: the super cheap, one-room setups with lackluster gear are struggling to find business because they do not have enough separation from the DIY crowd and the perceived (actual) value is just not there.

I know this because I attempted to join that crowd, but without budget to pay an assistant on any projects, tracking a full band in a one-room design is chaotic and difficult to execute, especially if you're offering a fixed rate (which they all want at this level). Couple that with generally terrible bands that are not well rehearsed and don't want to pay for prepro, and the whole thing is doomed to failure from the beginning.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #8
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Granny Gremlin's Avatar
 

Short version: BJ. The worst part is that it wasn't BJ that I was involved in (giving or receiving).

Long version: We used to do shows a few times a month to pay the rent on a super large space (the studio was mostly for private use and not even attempting to be a revenue generator; we also did a few other things - office space for small biz etc). We started doing all ages shows (no booze; flat rate; earlier finish; so much less work) but then the rich (spoiled) kids found out about us (seriously, they were the worst; I much preferred the 'at risk' youth - counter-intuitively well behaved). One (underage) girl was out to get back at daddy and blew 3 (underage) dudes in the alley behind the joint. Another tenant saw it, and complained to management (I assume, after having a wank). Building management was mainly this one grandma who lost her mind about the whole thing and demanded we stop all shows (despite it being in our lease that we can) or they would not renew the lease (up in a month).

.... Also I was gonna be a 2 time dad in a couple months and without shows we couldn't carry the place so that was it.

Now set up in a much smaller/cheaper place - no shows, just studio.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #9
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madgansound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleDev View Post
That is a load of belloni though. There have always been an abundance of people trying to make a living in the music industry. Some have. Some did. Some haven't. That remains true for 1960, 1980 or 2015.

The recording industry, nor any other industry has ever simply been a case of "build it and they will come". Statistically 9 out of 10 will fail, it is just a question of how long that will take.

To suggest that "market saturation" was the cause of your studio closing is just plain laziness really. The studio down the road is ticking along just fine...

My studio is not 'Closed' if that's what you are suggesting. I no longer advertise to the general public because I do not need to.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleDev View Post
You probably haven't actually ever owned a studio.
You are absolutely correct. I'm certainly not sitting in it right now. Truth be told, it is my professional space and not generally available to the public.

I did however live in, staff and work in and share a professional studio for 7 years. I've worked at, staffed, hired, recorded at, mixed at and brought clients to a variety of rooms, in several countries throughout my career, and still hire out for tracking in my area.

So yes, I can tell you this, the common denominator through my experience is that the cost of living goes up each year, while the cost of studio rental goes down.

Why not share your experience on the perceived laziness studio owners?

Last edited by nspaas; 23rd January 2015 at 04:49 PM..
Old 23rd January 2015
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleDev View Post
To suggest that "market saturation" was the cause of your studio closing is just plain laziness really. The studio down the road is ticking along just fine...
I think he was thinking more along the lines of:

Quote:
Originally Posted by War in Moscow View Post
In my opinion most studios closed down because they just didn't react when the homerecording era hits the industry. Most of the people just kept going with their stuff and failed ofc.
of the 250,000,000 members...most are not professionals, nor are they aiming to be. They're home recordists, and home recordists can do a large chunk of what a studio once did.

Once upon a time - not so long ago - you had to go to a studio to get any sort of professional sound in many genres. If you worked at home, you'd struggle to multitrack drums for example - even 1" 24trks were expensive, cheap condensers were sparse (the Rode NT1 wasn't released till around 97-99 maybe? prior to that it was the AKG C1000). Most "good" home studios had an 8-tk 1/2".

Then came ADAT, and though expensive as well, a 16tk studio at home was possible.

And by around 2000, you could record 16 tracks to computer, and there were cheap condenser mics coming out too. By 2004-5, it was cheap enough to buy a multi-input sound card (I bought an 8-channel gadgetlabs card in 2000, feeding a spirit folio mixer). You could start to record most of your project at home - and now of course, computers were getting powerful enough to mix ITB.

So - the small-medium business was drying up. Now, most people can record anything short of a drum kit/string section very well at home. Your 2-3 week studio project has become a 1-day session to record drums, and maybe mixing if you're lucky. Even at the high end - I've engineered bed tracks for bands (some quite name bands) in larger studios, who then take it away and finish it at home, and send off to a mixer working in a small production room, if they don't mix themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleDev View Post
You probably haven't actually ever owned a studio.
I've personally never owned a studio - but I've worked in enough to see the ones that are run well, and those that aren't!

- first studio I worked in (Battery in London) shut because Zomba (label/owners) decided it wasn't worth keeping open. Fortunately they used it internally for library music, longterm leases and it's still a studio under the Miloco banner.

- I worked at a studio in East London, that was sold as a going concern, lasted a few more years then shut. Initially it failed because the guy running it, though he was a lovely guy, wasn't an engineer, didn't have the client base, chose his desk (Euphonix CS2000) poorly, and was located in Hackney before Hackney was cool. Despite the fact he had parking, people didn't want to come there. The next guys to take it on put in a decent desk, but still suffered from the "Hackney effect", and again didn't really have the draw to pull people in there. The live room was nothing special too - not enough to draw people out there.

- lots of studios fail because studio rates just haven't kept up with rents and other expenses. It gets to the point were the real estate is worth more than the business, which is losing money. Some places in London that fell foul of that are Townhouse, Mayfair, Olympic...Miloco lost The Garden when the building was sold and re-developed....

Eventually for some, the profits (or lack of) just aren't worth the time and investment. Jacobs I think went that way; Ridge Farm became a conference centre....most studio rates are lower than they were in late 90s, and we all know where inflation has gone....label budgets are lower than ever too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
I know this because I attempted to join that crowd, but without budget to pay an assistant on any projects, tracking a full band in a one-room design is chaotic and difficult to execute, especially if you're offering a fixed rate (which they all want at this level). Couple that with generally terrible bands that are not well rehearsed and don't want to pay for prepro, and the whole thing is doomed to failure from the beginning.
I think I'd rather quit than record dead end bands in a rehearsal room/studio setup. I applaud the guys who get by doing this, but much like live sound guys in small venues, every engineer I've met is bitter and doesn't enjoy his job very much - little job satisfaction in rushing through another EP in a weekend.

Reading about people straight out of college going "I'm going to start my own studio!" makes my heart sink. Start a career first; THEN get a space to work out of!


At the high end, the newer model is "producer/engineer with overdub studio". As a sole trader/freelancer, this works very well. You have a decent sounding space you can mix in, with a booth for vocals/guitars/whatever. Most people don't record a band live every day, so you don't need to invest in mics or preamps enough to do that.

You get a gig to do an EP with a band; you hire the big studio for the day at £600 or whatever, you do the rest of the overdubs at your own space, in say 4 days. Charging the band for the use of the space, but at a fraction of the cost of the main room. Chances are 1-2 of these sorts of gigs a month pays the rent; the rest is profit.

I did this fairly successfully when I was in London, sharing the space with a colleague; pretty much every month I had a gig that rented the room (as well as me) which paid the rent, and the rest of the time I had my own studio paid for that I used for mixing, and production work.

I wasn't "running a studio"; I was running me as a business, the studio was just a tool.

This model is followed by many people now from the top mix engineers down. Rarely these days do you hire a top mixer and then pay for a studio for him - they all have their own spaces, either at home (like Cenzo or Spike stent), or permanent leases from a larger complex (Pensado, CLA, Brauer, Elmhirst etc). You pay an "all in fee" and the studio is taken care of.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
It gets to the point were the real estate is worth more than the business...
I rent. The dirt my building is sitting on is worth far more than anything above it. I try not to dwell on it, along with many other things I try not to dwell on.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Our landlord passed away 2 months before out lease was up for renewal, and though we had a handshake agreement with him, his kids decided to not give us the option to resign since our location in Williamsburg was turning into a goldmine for property owners.

My partner and I had just gotten into the black after 3 years (4 months to build out), so financially it wasn't as bad as if it had happened when I still had all the credit card debt from the build.

Quote:
So - the small-medium business was drying up. Now, most people can record anything short of a drum kit/string section very well at home. Your 2-3 week studio project has become a 1-day session to record drums, and maybe mixing if you're lucky. Even at the high end - I've engineered bed tracks for bands (some quite name bands) in larger studios, who then take it away and finish it at home, and send off to a mixer working in a small production room, if they don't mix themselves.
I effectually had to go freelance since I lost my tracking room. Now I have a mix room also in Williamsburg and head to a couple great studios (Mission Sound, Avatar, Strange weather) when I have tracking gigs. However, as mentioned above, the week long sessions are now 2 days due to budgets and artists home studios. I end up mixing more these days since clients still aren't able to make they're own radio ready mixes no matter how much gear they've bought.

Another studio I've worked at in the last 4-5 years is closing next month after 20 years. Again, they're located in Williamsburg and the landowners are looking to sell so a developer can come in and make more pricey condos for trust fund kids at NYU. (Not bitter at all btw...)

The studios I see lasting here in BK are not just ones that can adapt but also ones that either own their buildings or just started 10+ year leases.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #14
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fall out with partners. I will never have a buisness partner ever again.

Last edited by drtechno; 23rd January 2015 at 06:38 PM..
Old 23rd January 2015
  #15
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Analogue Mastering's Avatar
The money is really in doing "jobs" master stems, mix projects, touch-up stuff, do things that home recorders can't because lack of tools, or expertise how to use them.
A lot of few hour/days jobs,most of them remote over the internet.
I've never had a professional recording studio, but there were times I did favours to friends, recording them and mixing demo's, I could not imagine to take those on as real jobs for $100 a demo or so... The amount of time spend to get something decent in daw and then the follow up to mix it, get feedback on their own shortcomings... I would never have the patience, just too much hassle. commit, print to daw and let me make most of the stems.. Everything before that I try to stay away from as far as possible
Old 23rd January 2015
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post

Once upon a time - not so long ago - you had to go to a studio to get any sort of professional sound in many genres. If you worked at home, you'd struggle to multitrack drums for example - even 1" 24trks were expensive, cheap condensers were sparse (the Rode NT1 wasn't released till around 97-99 maybe? prior to that it was the AKG C1000). Most "good" home studios had an 8-tk 1/2".

Then came ADAT, and though expensive as well, a 16tk studio at home was possible.

And by around 2000, you could record 16 tracks to computer, and there were cheap condenser mics coming out too. By 2004-5, it was cheap enough to buy a multi-input sound card (I bought an 8-channel gadgetlabs card in 2000, feeding a spirit folio mixer). You could start to record most of your project at home - and now of course, computers were getting powerful enough to mix ITB.
.
This is pretty much how things evolved for me. Years ago (circa 1988) myself and friends would save money from gigs and book studio time. No one had any studio gear. As studio rates rose, I decided to buy an Otari 8 track and a cheap live board from a pawn shop, along with a compressor and an AKG C1000. Then I would take my Otari and tapes to a commercial studio for mixing. After a few projects like this which cost $3,000 to $4,000 each time, I decided I could no longer afford that and bought more analog gear, including a Sony Betamax VCR for mixdown and started trying to do mixing. Then I would take my mixes to a mastering engineer. Then came the time when I couldn't even afford the $500 to $1,000 or so for mastering. So, for better or worse, I decided I needed to attempt mastering my own stuff. Multiply my story by about 50,000 or so and that explains the demise of a large number of commercial studios.
Old 23rd January 2015
  #17
Lives for gear
Our (old) studio closed after a painter working on the same compound refused entry to the Fire Inspector. The Building Inspector was then called and, unfortunately, it turned out the property owner had never pulled a single permit and the entire build out (which predated my involvement) had to be demolished to avoid heavy fines.

My partners then cut a deal to merge with a much better space in SF proper and it all worked out pretty well in the end. It was really hard on some of the guys though, having to literally destroy their dream like that.
Old 25th January 2015
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Psycho Monkey mostly nailed it.. though I think the end started much earlier than he does.

In my opinion.. the writing on the wall was the ADAT/Mackie revolution.

When that stuff hit (1992-1993) - it was revolutionary. In 1990, $3500 would have bought you a CASSETTE 8-track and a crappy 16ch tascam mixer to go with it.. one with a single effect send and 4 subs. In 1992, that got you a MUCH cleaner sounding Mackie and an ADAT.. which could easily be expanded. By 1995-1996 - everyone was taking $8-10k and buying 3 ADATs, a BRC and a 24/32ch Mackie mixer and opening a 'studio' in every strip mall and charging $15-20/hr.

I was running the crappy cassette 8track and Tascam out of an apartment and charging more than these strip mall studios - because I knew what the hell I was doing (I also freelanced out of a bunch of real studios and had spent a good amount of time as an intern at a serious studio).

This was the beginning of the end, IMNSFHO. It really opened the door to 'I can do this myself' to a LOT more people than would have tried before.

Then came the DAW.. and powerful laptops.. and ipads.. and ****ty recordings everywhere.
Old 25th January 2015
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

There were a lot of reasons why my studio closed...but it probably didn't help when my studio partner's girlfriend decided she liked me better.
Old 25th January 2015
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by biggator6 View Post
).

This was the beginning of the end, IMNSFHO. It really opened the door to 'I can do this myself' to a LOT more people than would have tried before.

Then came the DAW.. and powerful laptops.. and ipads.. and ****ty recordings everywhere.

LMAO !
Old 26th January 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Then came the DAW.. and powerful laptops.. and ipads.. and ****ty recordings everywhere.
I'd say that sums it up pretty well.

On a side note, I don't seem to mind ****ty recordings done on cassettes and prosumer reel to reels near as much as garage band recordings trying to sound like the big boyz.
Old 26th January 2015
  #22
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FireMoon's Avatar
One or two places I know shut down because they didn't have the foresight to build the place gradually gear wise. They started off with relatively large investment in the gear of the time, to watch half of it fall out of use over the next few years as trends changed and then suddenly, the place needed a complete revamp rewire, new main speakers, power amps etc etc within a very short time frame. With the biz contracting so much, they simply couldn't justify the risk.
Old 26th January 2015
  #23
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monkeyxx's Avatar
very informative thread, thanks
Old 26th January 2015
  #24
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foamboy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleDev View Post
To suggest that "market saturation" was the cause of your studio closing is just plain laziness really. The studio down the road is ticking along just fine...
Really? You can't be serious. Either you don't really use the internet much OR you just don't get out much. I think madgansound has a VERY good point. Saturation,huh?

Do YOU own a studio? If so where is it and what's it called? What kind of studio work do you actually do....commercials,voice overs,audio books...what? Or better yet,what does this so called "studio down the road" do? Maybe they can help all the lazy people that you refer to jump start their downtrodden dreams of owning a studio.

The reality is that any industry that creates a DIY atmosphere will always end up competing with itself.

Sure,SOME studios have reinvented themselves as "schools" and have joined in on some these national recording schools,but this is a far cry from having a working studio....you know,the ones where musicians go to make records.

I don't own a studio,but I also don't need a studio. I have learned enough to make my own music sound good enough to sell to any local and regional minions that care to support me. And TBH until I get a big budget deal (lol) I doubt that I will ever step foot in another studio unless I want to try my hand at mixing my stuff on some big $$$ gear. I know dozens if not hundreds of musicians that feel like I do and very few of them get out of their bedroom to mix/record and they are selling product just fine. I think you need to really analyze the music/entertainment industry before you go insulting people that have worked VERY hard trying to keep their dream alive.

So you say to yourself,this chump sure does blow a lot of hot air for somebody who has never owned a studio. Well,this is actually true,however I have an uncle who used to do SERIOUS v/o work for major sports teams,advertising agencies,bla,blah,bah and as soon as radio stations decided to sell advertising packages which included in house voice talent and air time my uncles business quickly started going down hill. This was the mid '90's and his studio went from 5-6 sessions a day to about 4 a week all within a years time. He was a very active player in the v/o industry yet, the consumer/client didn't care. Even though he had a very recognizable voice,he still was competing against a budget and the local radio stations who teamed up with ad agencies squashed him like a little bug. He worked hard to keep his doors open,but he finally sold his studio and bought a ProTools rig(basic) and did some v/o work out of his house. The irony to this is that he was one of the first studios in the nation to get a Protools rig back in the day and he spent well over $25k for a whopping 8 tracks. After he sold off his sudio to pay off debt,he purchased his existing PT rig for less than $1k...another one of these...

You obviously have your opinion and I have mine,but quite frankly I find it very insulting to refer to anyone as lazy unless you actually know that person and it is true.

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P.S. Psychomonkey's post says it all and very eloquently!

Last edited by foamboy; 26th January 2015 at 02:17 AM..
Old 26th January 2015
  #25
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vernier's Avatar
Seen many studios come and go .. most I recorded at are gone, Cherokee, Heider, and a couple dozen others . . end of an era. There's new ones of course, so thats cool.
Old 26th January 2015
  #26
Lives for gear
 

I would gamble 9/10ths of all the members here have never owned a commercial facility. and 5/6th have never worked in a commercial facility.

Ive been freelance and staff at multiple commercial facilities both music and post production.

My current room is my own and is in a dedicated large building behind the house.

My point, very few people here can truly comment on this tread. Is that a bad thing? No. Home recording technology is much much better today. Most guys can do what they need to in their bedrooms. However I always view guys that record at home as potential clients. Even though they can get their tracking and takes just right, they are always disappointed with the mix or master they themselves produce. A lot of my business comes from guys who are relatively inexperienced and need to go to a commercial facility to achieve a proper mix or master.

Final point. The home recording revolution has without a doubt had an impact on the commercial places, however its has also created an entirely new type of client base for studios. I would bet I have completed more than 100 projects that were recorded in a bedroom or a garage at full rate. The "band" or "artist" was unable to produce a mix or master that they liked(no surprise). They figured out that fact one their own and I get a lot of repeat business from the same guys including a flow of new ones frequently. I now own my own place but its still a considerable downsize from the places I was formally employed.

Last edited by Ienjoyaudio; 26th January 2015 at 02:35 AM..
Old 26th January 2015
  #27
255447
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Consumers paying less (and to the wrong people.. spotify etc.)>artists (clients) receiving less for their content> less artists with money to spend on studio time = studios close. The majority of money (more than ever before) is leaving the industry (CEO 1/2 billion $ personal paydays etc.)... It doesn't take a genius to figure out the end result of this vicious cycle we're currently in. 1% / 99%.
Old 26th January 2015
  #28
All you need to make a studio successful is the best artists/engineers/producers in the biz. Anything less that that, you'll have lots of competition.
Old 26th January 2015
  #29
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narcoman's Avatar
 

My studio was making a large profit every year (generally high 6 figures and one 7 year profit year!) and set to grow. (look for Cream studios to see my old place).

The company holding the lease were not playing fair and allowed the lease to fall back to the freeholders. Despite numerous attempts to take control of the lease Segro, the freeholder management company, decided to pull the lease based on the poor performance of the leaseholder. In that I lost one of the greatest 5.1 rooms in the UK

SO its not always change in industry that shuts these places!!!

Having said that - halfway through building a room to match near home.

Last edited by narcoman; 26th January 2015 at 03:04 PM..
Old 26th January 2015
  #30
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foamboy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ienjoyaudio View Post
Final point. The home recording revolution has without a doubt had an impact on the commercial places, however its has also created an entirely new type of client base for studios. I would bet I have completed more than 100 projects that were recorded in a bedroom or a garage at full rate. The "band" or "artist" was unable to produce a mix or master that they liked(no surprise). They figured out that fact one their own and I get a lot of repeat business from the same guys including a flow of new ones frequently. I now own my own place but its still a considerable downsize from the places I was formally employed.
This may be true,but personally speaking I have not been able to find a local studio that did better work on my stuff than I did. And it certainly did not justify the hourly rate they were charging. The improvement was not worth the fee. But I do believe that you are correct in that there is a "new" market that can be tapped in to,at least for a little while.

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