Starting a Professional Studio From Scratch- Getting Off The Ground

Starting a Professional Studio From Scratch- Getting Off The Ground

It’s not easy starting any business from the ground up, and starting a professional recording studio from scratch is no exception. You will need space, gear, time, patience, and of course, clients! But when you don’t have anything in your professional portfolio yet, it can be tough to attract potential clients. Here are some tips for getting off the ground when starting a professional studio from scratch, and getting a few clients in the door:

Here are some tips for getting off the ground when starting a professional studio from scratch, and getting a few clients in your door:

Choose a name so you can be referred to by your clients. Think about designing a simple logo to put on a card or sticker. Keep it simple but easy to recognize. The Nike Swoosh logo is a perfect example.

Get on social media! Get your name out there. Post some pictures of your space and make a short introduction to the studio and staff.

Make business cards. Having all your info ready to share at a moment’s notice without needing a pen or piece of paper is always handy, plus it looks professional.

Know your market. Who are you targeting? What do your future clients look like?Local rock bands or classical ensembles?

Go to local shows and listen to the performers. You can hand out business cards to everybody you hear or be more selective in who you approach.

Add bands/performers/studios on social media pages. You really can not be “too connected.”

Just like many industries, a huge portion of the music industry is based on networks and “who you know.” Most bookings start as recommendations from a trusted friend or colleague. This means it is very important to build your network and your reputation. Introduce yourself to artists and other studios, get your name out there.

Work honestly and be proud of what you do. A good attitude and pleasant demeanor paired with a strong work ethic will go a very long way in any industry.

Be nice! When word of mouth recommendations are a major factor in your booking, you can’t overlook the power of kindness of patience to leave a good impression on your clients. No matter how good your work may be, nobody will want to work with a bully or someone who looks down on or talks down to them. Word will spread either way, so do your best to make sure they are saying good things.

Tips for getting the most out of a session:

Once you have some bookings lined up, you will need to get those sessions set up and knock them out of the park. Keeping detailed notes for each client/project is very important to remember all the little details before and during a session. Here are some tips for getting the most out of a session:

Like any relationship, managing expectations is crucial.

Communicate clearly and exactly what you are expecting of your client. If you do not make it clear to them, you cannot expect them to know what you want from them.

Make it clear to them what they are getting from you for the price they are paying.

Get familiar with the material. Go to a rehearsal or, better yet, a live show to hear the songs in action.

Have your room selected and your instruments picked out. Select your mics and decide on placements to capture the sound you want.

Get the entire session prepped and ready to hit record BEFORE the client arrives. This includes getting mics and mic stands up and patched appropriately, having your DAW sessions set up and ready to start, and cleaning up any unneeded or unnecessary cables, instruments, garbage, or clutter from the recording space. Nothing will lose a clients’ respect as quickly as making them wait an hour to start because you aren’t set up and ready. If you don’t respect their time, they will not respect yours.

Always use a contract

Contracts are important for several reasons. They protect you and the client in several ways. A contract will provide a written and signed statement of your agreement and its terms. This is important for referencing the terms you agreed upon later down the road. It is also legally binding, so if either party defaults on their end of the bargain, the other is protected by the law. Writing up a contract can seem daunting, so here are a few tips for writing up and using contracts.

Writing up a contract can seem daunting, so here are a few tips for writing up and using contracts:

Use a reference. Use Google to locate some sample recording studio contracts or contract templates. You can also find contract examples in music business textbooks.

Learn the basics of business and copyright law. There isn’t enough time or space to outline and detail the intricacies of a huge field of study here, but the better you understand the internal interactions of the industry, the better you can protect yourself and your clients from problems and disputes down the road.

When you find what you are looking for, you will need to tailor the contract to fit your studio’s and your client’s needs. There is nothing wrong with copying sections or entire contracts from the internet, just make sure you read it thoroughly and it spells out exactly what you want.

Try to be as thorough and precise as possible to avoid scenarios that your contract doesn’t account for (loopholes).

Pay a professional to look over your contract and help you finalize it. This is an area where it is a really bad idea to cut corners and get sloppy. Getting the contract water-tight will protect you and your client and help prevent problems down the road.

Make sure to tweak it as needed when problems and loopholes arise.

Summing it all up (excuse the pun)

Starting a business, especially a professional recording studio from scratch, can be a daunting task. Remember, just like any new venture, it will be a learning process for a while. You will make mistakes and overlook things. You will forget important gear and equipment or bookings. When you start operating with clients, you will soon start to see where your approach is working and where it is not. Make the adjustments to your process as needed to keep everything as efficient as possible. Don’t forget to have fun! You started doing this for a reason, don’t let anything get in the way and make you lose sight of that reason!



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