Starting a Studio? – “If you build it, they will come” or really “If they come, you can build it!”

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Not in this Business

The movie ‘Field of Dreams’ has etched this quote in all of our hearts forever, “If you build it, they will come” but does it work for the recording studio business. Not usually. The recording studio business is very unique. Usual marketing and business practices don’t really work the same. You can’t simply build a studio, register in the yellow pages or on the Internet, post some ads and start getting business. They simply won’t come. 

Referrals

The recording studio business is a referral-based industry. If you do a project with someone and they like your work, they will refer their friends and colleagues to you. It is very rare that someone will hire or book a studio without hearing examples or being referred by someone they trust. This is why traditional marketing doesn’t work.

The Goal

Your goal should be building your business through your clientele and equipment as you go. The mantra “if you build it, they will come” just doesn’t work for studios and I can give you tons of examples. If you start small, you can continue to grow as your business grows. So “if they come” and use your studio and pay you money, then “you can build it” by adding equipment and rooms to your setup.

I have consulted countless home and professional studios, and from what I know of the majority of people’s situations and circumstances, most people should do the following.

1. Don’t build a big studio in a commercial space.

2. Start off small in your home catering to 1 instrument/vocal at a time production.

3. Create a simple setup with a mic, preamp, computer based DAW, speakers and sufficient acoustics. Nothing too fancy.

4. Do it all in one room, using headphones for both of you while recording (it’s simpler and requires less money for acoustic treatment).

5. Take a crash course at a recording school, invest in books, or look around this site. The more you know, the better your finished product will sound.

6. As your business grows, get better equipment and more mics, maybe move into multiple rooms or make the jump into building a studio in a commercial space.

Tortoise or the Hare

This is the tortoise route, but like they say, “slow and steady wins the race”. Would you like to be successful and debt free with a great studio and thriving business in ten years or have a great studio with no business and tons of debt in ten months? Or of course you could just find some wealthy sap that thinks it would be cool to have a studio…Seen it…multiple times…it never works.

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