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I get asked all the time by musicians & aspiring audio engineers that have dabbled in doing some of their own recordings, how do I break into the recording studio business? What are the first steps to making money and how do I go about getting clients? Well, those questions are not that straight forward to answer and I could spend hours explaining it. There are so many things to consider and think about before you ever take on your first client.
I thought the best way to help people with this would be to break this down into several different topics and every week or two add a new post to give you some new information to absorb and think about. This way you can start constructing a plan and begin your journey to becoming an owner of a professional recording studio……if that is something you really want to do! I know everything below may seem obvious but I can tell you that I have seen several recording studios in my area come and go because the person running them had no clue on how to run a business so before you just dismiss the details below, consider taking this advice to heart because I am speaking from experience here and I have operated my own full-time recording studio since 2005. So let's get started!
Step 1: Why do you want to be the owner of a recording studio?
You really need to sit down and ask yourself this question and be completely honest with yourself. I know the obvious answer is to make money! No kidding? LOL…but to become a successful recording studio you must understand that this is a business and just like with any business you need to understand way more than just how to mic up a guitar cabinet! So, if your really serious about owning a small business, even if it’s to make some “extra money” on the side, then I would start creating some sort of a business plan. It does not have to be fancy layered with spreadsheets etc..just something that outlines items like: 1. What type of studio do you want to become? Are you a home-based business or are you planning on renting space in a commercial facility? My recommendation would be to start off in your home if possible to keep the overhead cost as low as possible. In today’s day and age, most of the larger commercial recording studios are going out of business. The cost of the overhead is extremely expensive and the amount of clients willing to pay high rates to pay for that overhead is diminishing every year.
Step 2. What type of work do you want to do?
Meaning, do you want to just mix records for people who have recorded their music in a different studio or themselves? Or do you want to also be a tracking studio? I ask you this because the start-up cost to run a tracking studio is far greater than operating a studio that just does mixing and mastering. So you need to decide what types of services you want to offer so you can pinpoint the answer to the first question “what type of studio do you want to become”.
3. Start-up costs
Once you know what type of studio you want to eventually start-up and operate you need to list what you need to get started. You probably have some gear already but here is a list of things you may want to include:
Computer for your studio
Software – DAW, plugins etc..
Audio interface with enough inputs to accommodate your studio's needs
Good pair of studio monitors for mixing
Microphones Cables – both XLR and ¼ inch
Mic stands, pop filters, mic clips etc..
Headphones for artists recording in your studio
Website to advertise your studio
Local business licenses if applicable
Insurance if applicable
Business cards, flyers and other promotional materials
These are the basics and there may be more items you want to include. The point is to make a detailed list of everything you can think of that you need to get started recording clients on day 1! When creating this list do not go overboard, especially on the gear!
In the next post, I’ll help lay out what you need vs what you would like to have….LOL. You can get by on a lot less equipment than you may think. Having said that, start that list and business plan. You’re on your way to being a recording studio owner!!
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