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A question about the number recording studios going down.g
Old 30th January 2017
  #61
Quote:
Originally Posted by livingloud View Post
Thomas,

you had a darkroom at home as a hobbyist and complain about home studios and "diy-mastering" ?

Hm. So you processed the films by yourself because you could do better than the pros? Or just cheaper? Or because you wanted full control of every small step of the whole process? Just because you were entusiastic or curious?

All your questions can be answered with talking to the guy in your mirror, I think.


I also want to add:
The greatest advance of our time is, in my opinion, that you can not define yourself as a pro-photographer by (or with?) owning a pro-camera. All the cameras out there are good enough to take a picture. You have to deliver content. Be creative. Be better. Or just accept that people dont need highest quality pictures for simple holiday snapshots. And because they dont need them, they will not pay for them, even if they can see the difference.

You will not have a successful studio just because of your gear. All the homerecording setups out there are good enough to get a song on the radio. "mastering" a song for youtube on headphones and a MacBook should be perfect if you just distribute it online, dont you think? Who has a big stereo system at home today? A few enthusiastst and people older than... 40? 50?

To me it seems as if you want to educate or criticize your clients. If you really have the opinion, that their work is not good enough, or they lack understanding, your studio will go down the same route your photo-hobby did. I would not want to call you arrogant in any way. But you should try to offer a service that people want / need instead of giving up because you are "to good" or the standard of the "world out there" is below yours.

Advertise itunes-Mastering. Advertise youtube-mastering. Do it on youtube and facebook. Your customers do not have a studio. They have a bedroom and live in their parents' house.
Thanks for the snarky reply.

I did my own photography processing because in the small town I live in (7500 people) there were no places that offered good quality photo processing or I would have used them. The "drug store" processing was pretty bad and no one did B&W anymore. I also had my own darkroom since I was in High School. I guess you just assumed a lot... I was not competing with any of the local photo processing centers nor was I doing work for others and my stuff was for my own enjoyment.

In the mastering business today every recording studio does "mastering" whether they can do it or not and they are directly competing with REAL mastering studios and are not doing it for their own enjoyment. In many cases they are doing a disservice to real mastering studios because musician hear how bad a job they do and figure it is better to do their own stuff which further takes more business away from the professionals.

As to audio quality and mastering. I still believe there are musicians who want quality and are willing to pay for it. The trick is to find them.

One of the best mastering studios, IMHO, in the US was in Nashville. I did my apprenticeship there in the 90's. All custom equipment including speakers and mastering consoles. They are no longer in business, they closed two years ago for some unknown "reason" which I am not privy to. Probably because, as you say, no one needs quality anymore. The two mastering engineers were again, IMHO, the best of the best so it was not for lack of talent or equipment.

As to what I want to do...I want to give musicians the chance to have really good quality mastering for a reasonable price. I am not trying to compete with Sterling or Gateway but I want to offer that level of service for people who want and need good quality mastering but cannot afford $400 an hour. If no one wants to use my services then I guess I will have to find something else to do. I also am not looking to offer good quality mastering for $5 a song as some of the people who contact us have asked me to do.

The advertising you suggested (thanks by the way) is good but expensive for the amount of clients it brings in. Most of my clientele come in from word of mouth advertising or from seeing our website. We are also getting a lot of people from this area who need or want our transfer services or restoration work which is keeping us very busy (165 hours of transfer work last month).

Again thanks for the reply...
Old 30th January 2017
  #62
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Timothy Lawler's Avatar
 

Tom, thank you for your openness in sharing your business situation. That unfiltered openness is pleasure to read, despite the hard place that music is in today.

That said, positivity is a critical element for any customer-facing business. So I say assess and adapt to the audio marketplace, crazy and dysfunctional as it is, but only in a way that feels positive to your personally, as that feeling will come across to your customers in every interaction.
Old 30th January 2017
  #63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Lawler View Post
Tom, thank you for your openness in sharing your business situation. That unfiltered openness is pleasure to read, despite the hard place that music is in today.

That said, positivity is a critical element for any customer-facing business. So I say assess and adapt to the audio marketplace, crazy and dysfunctional as it is, but only in a way that feels positive to your personally, as that feeling will come across to your customers in every interaction.
Thanks!
Old 30th January 2017
  #64
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Thanks for the snarky reply.

Hi Thomas,

I had to check the meaning of "snarky" - that was not my intention. Sorry.
Of course I hat to assume a lot - since I dont know you

As you said, you processed your images by yourself because you wanted "High end".
Undoubtedly there is still a market for "High end" in audio and photography. But it has become a luxury- and enthusiasts-market since a guy called Mr.Jobs invented the iPhone, and the devices' quality is decent - I would say: much better than most users want or need in daily usage for both photography and walkman-functionality.

If you run a business, in most cases, it is about doing something that your customer just can`t because lacking tools or knowledge, or something that you can do cheaper or faster.
You obviously decided not to take the "cheaper or faster" route. So perhaps you should try to aim at the "high end" customers instead, and not at "middle class" - which is, as you stated yourself, what the studios offer after recording, or your clients can diy (or, at least think they can, which is even worse)?

You processed your high-end negatives/pictures by yourself. Why should a band think they could not be able to do "middle class" with some Logic-plugins? They dont even need expensive hardware to do so.

Perhaps you just aim at a market that is not there anymore. The 500 studios have become 5000 bands with their own DAW and 50 studios with their own mastering plugin.
If you dont want to be "cheaper and faster", there is probably only the "better and expensive"-thing left?
Old 30th January 2017
  #65
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Gary Ladd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyDandy View Post
It could also be that the musicians are moving to cheaper places where you can make a basic living working a day job. That was a big part of the artist boom in weird places like Astoria, Oregon or Bisbee, Arizona or the early grunge scene in the Northwest US. With how real estate prices have spiked in, for example, Seattle and San Francisco, I don't see how any musicians could afford to live in the ecosystems that support studios. Just as an example, I'd say over sixteen years the number of little music studios in little SW Idaho have quadrupled and we've actually got something you can call a music scene now, just because musicians can afford to live here.
Add the NYC region to that theory, and you get dozens of world-class studios that have sold off their gear and vaporized.

And yet, every hour someone pops up from the subway with the fantasy of being the next "big thing"...

It appears the "biz" is now 90+% DIY, yet many haven't embraced and/or digested what that means.

Party on Garth, party on Wayne!

Old 30th January 2017
  #66
Quote:
Originally Posted by livingloud View Post
Hi Thomas,

I had to check the meaning of "snarky" - that was not my intention. Sorry.
Of course I hat to assume a lot - since I dont know you

As you said, you processed your images by yourself because you wanted "High end".
Undoubtedly there is still a market for "High end" in audio and photography. But it has become a luxury- and enthusiasts-market since a guy called Mr.Jobs invented the iPhone, and the devices' quality is decent - I would say: much better than most users want or need in daily usage for both photography and walkman-functionality.

If you run a business, in most cases, it is about doing something that your customer just can`t because lacking tools or knowledge, or something that you can do cheaper or faster.
You obviously decided not to take the "cheaper or faster" route. So perhaps you should try to aim at the "high end" customers instead, and not at "middle class" - which is, as you stated yourself, what the studios offer after recording, or your clients can diy (or, at least think they can, which is even worse)?

You processed your high-end negatives/pictures by yourself. Why should a band think they could not be able to do "middle class" with some Logic-plugins? They dont even need expensive hardware to do so.

Perhaps you just aim at a market that is not there anymore. The 500 studios have become 5000 bands with their own DAW and 50 studios with their own mastering plugin.
If you dont want to be "cheaper and faster", there is probably only the "better and expensive"-thing left?
I have some good friends who own an engraving shop. They do signs and trophies. They work 5 to 7 days a week and 8 to 10 hours a day just to keep up with the demand for their services. No one can do what they do at home so I get your point.

It is too bad that the lowest common denominator is what seems to drive the music business today. Cheap, cheaper and super cheap seem to be what many musicians are looking for today. They want audio consoles, microphones, processors and DAWs and plugins and they want them all cheap (just look at some of the threads on this web board where someone wants a "A" level DAW and they want it for $10.00).

When I started into recording I had an Ampex 601, an Ampex 620 and an Altec microphone and that served me well for a couple of years until I got really good at doing on location recordings. Then I started to upgrade. Today people want to start out with a fully loaded studio with all the play toys and they never take the time to even learn how to work much of it. Somehow in their minds more and more equipment equates into better and better recordings and mixes. All their money is tied up in equipment and of course they have no money to work with any other professionals. Everything is DIY because all their capital is tied up in what they are using to record and mix.

Speaking of DIY I will replace a lock on my front door or fix a cabinet hinge but if the need someone to build me a new room or put up new kitchen cabinets I hire a pro. Why is that so foreign to so many? Do what you can comfortably do yourself and hire someone to do the important stuff that will impact your career. If you are having fun with music and it is a hobby then you can DIY to your hearts content but if you are trying to make a living and get your materials notice then it pays BIG TIME to hire a pro.

FWIW
Old 31st January 2017
  #67
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post

It is too bad that the lowest common denominator is what seems to drive the music business today. Cheap, cheaper and super cheap seem to be what many musicians are looking for today. They want audio consoles, microphones, processors and DAWs and plugins and they want them all cheap (just look at some of the threads on this web board where someone wants a "A" level DAW and they want it for $10.00).

...

If you are having fun with music and it is a hobby then you can DIY to your hearts content but if you are trying to make a living and get your materials notice then it pays BIG TIME to hire a pro.

FWIW
Perhaps it is not "cheap, cheap, supercheap" - but how would you decide if the rental-fee of a middle-class studio for 2 weeks and argueing with a "old fart" (reference: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/moan...nostalgia.html ) who thinks that youth of today has no idea what music is about - if this rental fee is the same amount of money that a good portable DAW costs?

Perhaps I am one of those also (age:39). When I was younger, I was touring as a live sound guy for many years. Now I am only doing my own songs with no commercial interest. I have a lot of gear at home (cheap stuff from recording-studio perspective, pretty good stuff from live/touring-point of view) just because I wanted the tools that I loved to use on jobs at that time. Of course i will book into a big studio to track vocals when 12 songs are ready, but I will surely go on vacation to London for a week and book 3 days in Abbey Road or fly to LA and walk into one of the big rooms. The price-difference is just too small to visit a studio that has lower interfaces than I have at home, and of course i would prefer to walk into "holy ground" instead of visiting some "middle class" - studio. It is not only about the quality of the end-product, because - as I already said - the quality is not the problem anymore. I am sure I could do good enough at home for self-publishing on the internet/itunes without people laughing about me (regarding the sound). It is more about the fun, the old stories, using the same mic that Frank S. already sung into,...


If you offered me "hgh end for low price (or something like: for an affordable price, I will turn your good homerecording into competitive radio-stuff) " - well. Then we would be talking. It is not that I dont trust your expertise. It is just that I would prefer to buy another guitar instead of spending 1000$ for mastering my tunes that will possibly be played on macbooks only, and nobody but me and you will recognize the difference. Or, if they do, they dont value it.

So, as already said - If you dont want to go the "low" route, I think you should try to sell your service as what it is: a high-end-luxury-thing for people who want more than homerecording-sound.


Dont blame your potential custumers for "having it easier" to buy gear. Or to gain knowledge for free on youtube. Or for not having to use historical tape-recorders. It is not their fault that technology has advanced, and looking down on them because it has been much harder for you when you were young will not help your business.

If I want to play guitar, I can just order one online for 50$ and learn "knocking on heavens door" in less than an hour with youtube tutorials for free. And I do think that this is great and a wonderful time to live in. All the knowledge of the world is at our fingertips. For free. There is no need for "knowledge-protectionism" or "everything has been better 50 years ago" because it was more difficult.

Making a business of doing some intransparent secret magic is not that easy anymore. Sure. But being honest is always a good idea, isnt it?
Old 31st January 2017
  #68
Quote:
Originally Posted by livingloud View Post
Perhaps it is not "cheap, cheap, supercheap" - but how would you decide if the rental-fee of a middle-class studio for 2 weeks and argueing with a "old fart" (reference: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/moan...nostalgia.html ) who thinks that youth of today has no idea what music is about - if this rental fee is the same amount of money that a good portable DAW costs?

Perhaps I am one of those also (age:39). When I was younger, I was touring as a live sound guy for many years. Now I am only doing my own songs with no commercial interest. I have a lot of gear at home (cheap stuff from recording-studio perspective, pretty good stuff from live/touring-point of view) just because I wanted the tools that I loved to use on jobs at that time. Of course i will book into a big studio to track vocals when 12 songs are ready, but I will surely go on vacation to London for a week and book 3 days in Abbey Road or fly to LA and walk into one of the big rooms. The price-difference is just too small to visit a studio that has lower interfaces than I have at home, and of course i would prefer to walk into "holy ground" instead of visiting some "middle class" - studio. It is not only about the quality of the end-product, because - as I already said - the quality is not the problem anymore. I am sure I could do good enough at home for self-publishing on the internet/itunes without people laughing about me (regarding the sound). It is more about the fun, the old stories, using the same mic that Frank S. already sung into,...


If you offered me "hgh end for low price (or something like: for an affordable price, I will turn your good homerecording into competitive radio-stuff) " - well. Then we would be talking. It is not that I dont trust your expertise. It is just that I would prefer to buy another guitar instead of spending 1000$ for mastering my tunes that will possibly be played on macbooks only, and nobody but me and you will recognize the difference. Or, if they do, they dont value it.

So, as already said - If you dont want to go the "low" route, I think you should try to sell your service as what it is: a high-end-luxury-thing for people who want more than homerecording-sound.


Dont blame your potential custumers for "having it easier" to buy gear. Or to gain knowledge for free on youtube. Or for not having to use historical tape-recorders. It is not their fault that technology has advanced, and looking down on them because it has been much harder for you when you were young will not help your business.

If I want to play guitar, I can just order one online for 50$ and learn "knocking on heavens door" in less than an hour with youtube tutorials for free. And I do think that this is great and a wonderful time to live in. All the knowledge of the world is at our fingertips. For free. There is no need for "knowledge-protectionism" or "everything has been better 50 years ago" because it was more difficult.

Making a business of doing some intransparent secret magic is not that easy anymore. Sure. But being honest is always a good idea, isnt it?
Some good thoughts and ideas.

Maybe it is my current clientele but they do seem to want a lot for nothing. Maybe it's a "millennial thing".

I try and buy the best equipment I can find for the job at hand and then use it to it's fullest potential. I have always run my business on the premise my mentor taught me long ago "People are not coming to you for the equipment they have a problem and need you to solve it. They really don't care if you have an XYZ interface hooked up to an ABC computer. All they want is for you to solve their problem(s). How you do that and how successful you are depends on how well you solve their problems." That premise has stood me in good stead for years. The problem now is that there are less and less people needing my expertise because they are all doing DIY audio and there are, at the same time, more and more people promising to solve "their problems". From my perspective it is a no win scenario.

I am to the age when I can retire when I want to. I love what I am doing and love working with and mentoring interns as they learn the craft of audio. It is very rewarding and I feel as if I am doing something good for the profession that I so dearly love. If the economics don't work out in my favor anymore I can always retire and sell off the equipment.

FWIW

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 31st January 2017 at 03:15 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 31st January 2017
  #69
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doom64's Avatar
Yep...I came to this realization about five years ago. I saw how much money all of the audio gear companies were pulling in and the money that I was not pulling in.

So, I started another business but I still mix a decent amount of audio and occasionally record musicians but very rarely these days. Steve Jobs and Steven Slate made my services nearly obsolete.

My bread and butter is no longer audio production. People either don't see the value or don't have the money to hire me. Just as has.been stated several times in this thread. They can buy audio gear and then sell it used but if they hire me they can't sell used services you know what I mean? And if they buy used gear they may be able to break even when they re-sell their used equipment instead of hiring a recording studio. Makes sense because people aren't buying music like they used to.
Old 31st January 2017
  #70
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frans's Avatar
Some people here responded in a "you're old, you don't go with the times, close down" tone. Well, about the example with Uber, it didn't change much except more $$ for less folks on top, paid by the driver who gets paid less. Some kind of progress, huh? So, apart from what "the market" dictates ... are you sure you want to live in a world where all that, the knowledge, the art, goes down the toilet? Are you all going to throw your arms up and give in, let others shape the future? Let others decide what happens to all that is important to you? Then, what do you live for, anyway? I will persist and keep on doing what i effing like and make it work by willpower, like i did the last 30 years. Low overheads help. The world deserves people like Thomas. Your grandfathers won the war and now you give in to "the market"?
Old 31st January 2017
  #71
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doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
Some people here responded in a "you're old, you don't go with the times, close down" tone. Well, about the example with Uber, it didn't change much except more $$ for less folks on top, paid by the driver who gets paid less. Some kind of progress, huh? So, apart from what "the market" dictates ... are you sure you want to live in a world where all that, the knowledge, the art, goes down the toilet? Are you all going to throw your arms up and give in, let others shape the future? Let others decide what happens to all that is important to you? Then, what do you live for, anyway? I will persist and keep on doing what i effing like and make it work by willpower, like i did the last 30 years. Low overheads help. The world deserves people like Thomas. Your grandfathers won the war and now you give in to "the market"?
Technology changed the market. Like the horse and buggy went away when Henry Ford came onto the scene. And how craigslist seriously hurt newspaper classified ads.
Old 31st January 2017
  #72
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
Technology changed the market. Like the horse and buggy went away when Henry Ford came onto the scene. And how craigslist seriously hurt newspaper classified ads.
In the case of mastering, if it weren't for lacquer cutting and Loudness War I (the jukebox one), there probably wouldn't be such a thing as mastering. Or there wouldn't have been before Loudness War II (the earbud one).
Old 31st January 2017
  #73
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As a young, optimistic, and motivated person just stepping foot into this industry, Iv spent many nights wondering how to develop a strong cliental. Iv learned that the ability to do so is more relevant than your ability to develop a quality product; not that a good product isnt vital, its just not worth anything without clients. Iv decided the best thing I can do is get kids who would never otherwise get into a professional studio, into a professional studio. Without giving away too many details, as I think my plan is original and will prove effective, the idea is to develop a community. And to utilize and capitalize on this generations need for things like social networks and instant gratification.

The money is in the kids. We are eager to invest in this generations artist development and our own personal pursuits. Find what we want, and develop it into a platform to sell us your services.

I sincerely wish the best for all new and experienced engineers! Times may seem tough but its only because of the change in mindset and approach to the industry, adaptation to the times is necessary I believe.
Old 31st January 2017
  #74
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Our knowledge is not obsolete. People can buy the gear but you cannot buy the experience nor can you purchase the unique creative perspective afforded to the engineer. Our position is more valuable than ever, With the ever increasing detail of audio reproduction, artist need someone who can provide focus that is backed with skill in their productions. I believe in the power of sound, speakers are getting better (not louder), recordings produce less noise, processors are more precise. We can use these tools to make music sound better than it ever has. Our challenge is finding a new market, a new demographic (sorta), and a new way to reach our clients.

To the future!!!!!!!!!!!
Old 1st February 2017
  #75
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doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by coollin View Post
Our knowledge is not obsolete. People can buy the gear but you cannot buy the experience nor can you purchase the unique creative perspective afforded to the engineer. Our position is more valuable than ever, With the ever increasing detail of audio reproduction, artist need someone who can provide focus that is backed with skill in their productions. I believe in the power of sound, speakers are getting better (not louder), recordings produce less noise, processors are more precise. We can use these tools to make music sound better than it ever has. Our challenge is finding a new market, a new demographic (sorta), and a new way to reach our clients.

To the future!!!!!!!!!!!
If only it were that easy...Bottom line is, if people stopped buying food at McDonald's one day, they would go out of business. People are consuming music in record numbers but most of the money is going towards the companies that provide the distribution platforms not the content makers.

Credit where it's due, YouTube has studios for some of their larger content makers to shoot videos at. Let me know when Pandora, Tidal, Spotify or Apple open a few music studios/a record label.
Old 1st February 2017
  #76
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
If only it were that easy...Bottom line is, if people stopped buying food at McDonald's one day, they would go out of business. People are consuming music in record numbers but most of the money is going towards the companies that provide the distribution platforms not the content makers.

Credit where it's due, YouTube has studios for some of their larger content makers to shoot videos at. Let me know when Pandora, Tidal, Spotify or Apple open a few music studios/a record label.
Thats not true. All challenges are relative to perspective. Anyone can go buy the tools to cook a burger yet McDonalds is still in business.
Old 1st February 2017
  #77
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Maybe Im being naive. But I believe the industry still has life, it just needs to shift pace and regain momentum. This thread was great perspective, yet nearly disheartening to a career I am working very hard to establish myself in. If its taught me one thing it that the industry needs a fresh approach.
Old 1st February 2017
  #78
Quote:
Originally Posted by coollin View Post
Maybe Im being naive. But I believe the industry still has life, it just needs to shift pace and regain momentum. This thread was great perspective, yet nearly disheartening to a career I am working very hard to establish myself in. If its taught me one thing it that the industry needs a fresh approach.
Maybe you will be that person who brings "that fresh approach". One can only hope.

Old 1st February 2017
  #79
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frans's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
Technology changed the market. Like the horse and buggy went away when Henry Ford came onto the scene.
I don't sell "technology". I sell the point that I know what works soundwise and music/arrangement-wise, what it should be to fit together and what to do if it doesn't sound like they want to. So far neither the internet, nor magazine pages are able to teach anyone out there all that. Ears, jugdement. Technology? The promise of it all, but leaving out you still have to learn recording like you have to learn an instrument and the basics take, say 2 years constant practice. They never write about that in the recording mags for musicians that mostly go over buy this, buy that.
Old 1st February 2017
  #80
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frans's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
Let me know when Pandora, Tidal, Spotify or Apple open a few music studios/a record label.
This is a crucial point - these (insert insult here) only TAKE from the musicians and - let's call it 'music industry'. They bleed it dry without putting money back in. They don't invest, they let others pay the bill.
Old 1st February 2017
  #81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
In 2010 we sent out advertising materials to 500 recording studios within 100 miles of our mastering studio here in Northern Ohio. Currently we are getting ready to send out some new advertising materials and in getting ready updated our lists and of the 500 studios in 2010 we can only find about 50 or less in the same geographical area using the same search criteria. Is that really the case that their are only 10% of the studios still offering their services on the WWW?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post

My original search 16 years ago was "recording studios Ohio" also "recording studios Northern Ohio" and recording studios in all the cities around here like Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, and any others I could think of after looking at a map. I did the same this time but only came up with less than 50 studios where in 2010 it was well over 500. Not sure what the differences are today but it seems like a lot of studios have disappeared or are no longer advertising on the WWW. That is a lot of studios GONE in 16 years.
2010 would've been 6 years.
Curious if your initial mailing was in 2000 or 2010?
Old 2nd February 2017
  #82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waltz Mastering View Post
2010 would've been 6 years.
Curious if your initial mailing was in 2000 or 2010?
My bad. Or original mailing went out in 2000. We did a subsequent mailing in 2010 and we were getting ready to do another mailing in 2016. Sorry for the confusion. We looked up all the studios in 2000, sent to the same studios in 2010 and we getting ready to do the same last year but then decided to actually see if all those original studios were still around. The first mailing had a request on the envelope that said "return requested" the second mailing in 2010 did not have that message. I honestly have no idea how many of the studio we looked up in 2000 actually existed in 2010. We got back a few returns in 2010. I do know that in 2016 the number of studios we could find dropped to 50 from 500. Quite a sharp drop in the number of studios.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 2nd February 2017 at 09:35 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 2nd February 2017
  #83
Gear Maniac
Maybe the issue goes back to that "voices and choices" thing, people crowdsource their problems to each other today and there's a perception that knowledge is cheap because others give it pretty freely. After all, making another copy of a YouTube video with the same tutorial to serve to someone else isn't incrementally very expensive. Having someone's time dedicated to you specifically is expensive and while generalist knowledge is cheap, specialist knowledge is expensive. For example, the OP Tom had his own darkroom as he discussed because he wanted good quality photos the local market could not provide and his town was too small to have a professional darkroom. That's about having a basic level of pro gear to meet the minimum standard the market demands that the local Walgreens photo lab could not. Contrast that with a professional darkroom, where the staff has general knowledge to help everyone and there's members of the community in the darkroom who are specialists who can help each other, that's part of the value. For example, if back in the day I'm one of the lucky ones with a cigarette company paying me for photos for print ads (and they were really the last ones who gave photographers an honest budget to work with) and they want to do a promotional campaign involving a sports shoot, and I know nothing about sports photography, I can ask the guy I know who shoots for Sports Illustrated who happens to work out of the same darkroom for tips and we paid it forward by trading knowledge.

I'm just theorizing, but there may be a few things in play here in terms of social dynamics. Kids aren't used to having someone dedicated to helping them, they are like Japanese consumers these days, they do a lot of homework on their own on cost vs. features and expect the technology to do the heavy lifting and accept they need to scream to get any customer service. Differing from those same Japanese consumers, they are used to promises of individual service and those promises being lies. So while they don't put value on personal service, they do put value in the community. They may not see value in the studio and the person who runs it, but they do see value in community. I have to wonder if just as the old professional darkroom had value in community if there's some way to bring that into the professional studio model. Like a subscription model?

I know that this idea resonates as I was very closely following CrowdMix when they were first conceived, having become familiar with them because it married up some name A&R talent from the major labels from back in the day with bootstrap startup techies. Of course, the investment money flowed and it became one big cock up:

How Crowdmix collapsed into administration after raising over £14 million - Business Insider

Maybe one model for getting a studio to stay on the ground is to do what investors are looking for right now: anything that marries "Music" with "Community." I can tell you to Silicon Valley ears, "Music + Community + Maker = Profit" would be considered a viable business plan. Maybe try a new model for the studio that centers around community instead of the guy at the mixing board and look for investment with the idea that it could be a replicable model.

Yes, maybe I'm suggesting McStudio, but I'm a capitalist *****.
Old 4th February 2017
  #84
Lives for gear
Reading over this thread, one observation I have is that everyone is talking about *bands*.

I just pulled up the billboard top 100 and I count about 10 *bands*...and even at that something like Fitz and the Tantrums or 21Pilots are fully electronically produced records that have almost nothing to do with a band. Even a modern country record can hardly be called a *band*.

My studio books about 80hrs a week (3 people)- I would estimate about 10% are *bands* and of that, half of them are looking to integrate electronic production.

I mean no offense here but the traditional track-then-mix-then-master crowd is simply not understanding that there has been a shift in workflow for most of the industry. The way things work now is you have to pitch music that is 'radio ready', and then be able to make the changes that a publisher/label/manager/etc request. And those changes aren't limited to the scope of what can be changed in a mastering revision, sometimes it's "rewrite that 2nd verse".

It's not that I'm doing mastering in house because I want to hoard the work- it's because the old model simply doesn't work for the vast majority of my clients. It's objectively a bad business decision for them.

And this isn't just on the indy scale- I recently had a client sign a major label deal, track songs at the hit factory Miami and get them mixed by a big name down there per the label. All those *mixes* were peaking at 0dBFS, average -7 to -10, bright, etc. Due to some last minute changes I ended up *mastering* his project which mainly consisted of adding an echo to end one song and making some extremely subtle changes. Maybe his next project would get more time to come down the home stretch- but honestly I doubt it.

Of course none of this means that the 'old model' is completely gone, but the client base for that is obviously shrinking and the supply of engineers/studios/etc isn't.

To turn this in a more positive direction- maybe you can look for some new services to provide that people in this context need. Things like a mix consultation, manual auto-tune service, drum augmentation service or ???

I do think that the massive proliferation of home-studios does mean that it's harder to monetize a home studio. A lot of what people are left willing to pay for is in the commercial sphere- parking, ability to be loud, work late, large volume space etc. Things they can't get at home...

Best of luck- just trying to offer a little perspective. I started out in the early 2000's so there was never another choice than to learn how to deal with things as they are now...
Old 4th February 2017
  #85
Lives for gear
Case in point, after typing that I checked my email to find this-

I just found out that "xxx" will be airing on tv on wed. Feb 8th so I have days to get it up on iTunes. Could you put a good mix/master on it and send me the wav so I can upload to tunecore? or we can just knock that out first on Monday if you don't have time this weekend. thanx lemme know.

This is an artist who has a BB hot 100 hit, was signed to Darkchild records, and that TV placement along with some others will be where I recoup prod fees. And most importantly when someone asks me "why I'm the only one in the room getting paid?" I can answer with "because I have clients that turn a profit".

Not trying to rub anything in here BTW- just trying to share what's working here and a little context.
Old 4th February 2017
  #86
Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
Reading over this thread, one observation I have is that everyone is talking about *bands*.

I just pulled up the billboard top 100 and I count about 10 *bands*...and even at that something like Fitz and the Tantrums or 21Pilots are fully electronically produced records that have almost nothing to do with a band. Even a modern country record can hardly be called a *band*.

My studio books about 80hrs a week (3 people)- I would estimate about 10% are *bands* and of that, half of them are looking to integrate electronic production.

I mean no offense here but the traditional track-then-mix-then-master crowd is simply not understanding that there has been a shift in workflow for most of the industry. The way things work now is you have to pitch music that is 'radio ready', and then be able to make the changes that a publisher/label/manager/etc request. And those changes aren't limited to the scope of what can be changed in a mastering revision, sometimes it's "rewrite that 2nd verse".

It's not that I'm doing mastering in house because I want to hoard the work- it's because the old model simply doesn't work for the vast majority of my clients. It's objectively a bad business decision for them.

And this isn't just on the indy scale- I recently had a client sign a major label deal, track songs at the hit factory Miami and get them mixed by a big name down there per the label. All those *mixes* were peaking at 0dBFS, average -7 to -10, bright, etc. Due to some last minute changes I ended up *mastering* his project which mainly consisted of adding an echo to end one song and making some extremely subtle changes. Maybe his next project would get more time to come down the home stretch- but honestly I doubt it.

Of course none of this means that the 'old model' is completely gone, but the client base for that is obviously shrinking and the supply of engineers/studios/etc isn't.

To turn this in a more positive direction- maybe you can look for some new services to provide that people in this context need. Things like a mix consultation, manual auto-tune service, drum augmentation service or ???

I do think that the massive proliferation of home-studios does mean that it's harder to monetize a home studio. A lot of what people are left willing to pay for is in the commercial sphere- parking, ability to be loud, work late, large volume space etc. Things they can't get at home...

Best of luck- just trying to offer a little perspective. I started out in the early 2000's so there was never another choice than to learn how to deal with things as they are now...
Thanks for the different perspective. I agree with most of what you said. I do think the "recording mixing model" is changing. The problem is it may not be driven by what you have said but rather, in a lot of cases, by people wanting to DIY everything including the mastering.

I started into professional recording in the early 70s. There was a real sense of collaboration and records and CDs were done with the input from a lot of different people including the producer, the engineering staff and the musicians. (Look at the Beatles for a good example.)

Now people (many of my clients) seem to want to do everything themselves with no input from anyone. They work in a virtual vacuum with only their input. That maybe why a lot of music today sounds so strange to people, such as myself, who are use to old way of doing recordings.

Recently I had one mastering client who told me that I was the first person to hear the final product and I was simply amazed that he had not sought input from others as he was doing his magnum opus.

As to the process, I agree that things have to be changed, sometime at the last minute, but I think if the musicians would really listen to their music with critical ears they might find a lot of problems before it reaches the mastering stage. I get stuff in all the time that is so close to being perfect if only the person had taken the time to critically listen to what they had done it would have been a perfect recording and mix. Again running things buy someone else is ALWAYS a good idea and listening on multiple playback systems also helps
hear problems that the musician may not hear in their own studio.

FWIW

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 4th February 2017 at 06:59 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 4th February 2017
  #87
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Thanks for the different perspective. I agree with most of what you said. I do think the "recording mixing model" is changing. The problem is it may not be driven by what you have said but rather, in a lot of cases, by people wanting to DIY everything including the mastering.
I think the majority of people who are really bent on doing everything themselves are doing it because they know, at least on some level, that their music isn't going to be viable in a large enough market to justify a team. Of course there are some that are just control freaks etc- but the highly collaborative world still exists too.

On the other end of the spectrum, people working in genres that are in demand for shows, syncs, label action, placements etc are just as collaborative as ever- if not more. Look at how many songwriters there are on a modern hit record.

I think a more apropos analogy is a synthesist- which at one time was a job in the music industry. It was created by tech, and then ironically destroyed by tech. But it didn't mean that people didn't collaborate before or after synthesists. And some synthesists made the transition to sample lib devs, and then even to software devs (eg Eric Persing).

One thing that is absolutely true is that the music industry is very difficult to make a 40+ year career out of. Maybe it's worse in that regard than it used to be, but I suspect it's always been hard.
Old 4th February 2017
  #88
Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
I think the majority of people who are really bent on doing everything themselves are doing it because they know, at least on some level, that their music isn't going to be viable in a large enough market to justify a team. Of course there are some that are just control freaks etc- but the highly collaborative world still exists too.

On the other end of the spectrum, people working in genres that are in demand for shows, syncs, label action, placements etc are just as collaborative as ever- if not more. Look at how many songwriters there are on a modern hit record.

I think a more apropos analogy is a synthesist- which at one time was a job in the music industry. It was created by tech, and then ironically destroyed by tech. But it didn't mean that people didn't collaborate before or after synthesists. And some synthesists made the transition to sample lib devs, and then even to software devs (eg Eric Persing).

One thing that is absolutely true is that the music industry is very difficult to make a 40+ year career out of. Maybe it's worse in that regard than it used to be, but I suspect it's always been hard.
I think this from NPR might be interesting to read for people in the music business today. FWIW.

How Much Does It Cost To Make A Hit Song? : Planet Money : NPR
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