Do you want to start a recording studio at home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a recording studio business with NO money and no experience plus a sample recording studio business plan template. Understanding how individuals turn superstars or music legends overnight lies in understanding how music are recorded and released. Indeed good music recording and production companies always play a part in making celebrities and super stars out of individuals with talent.
This industry is an industry you can pitch your tent in if you have ears for good music and you have what it takes to mix sounds to produce music that can be widely accepted. Starting a music recording studio needs substantial start-up capital, but it is without doubt a very lucrative business to go into especially if you live in an urban area where the demographic composition has enough young adults within the age range of 16 – 35 years.
It is believed that these sets of people are ready to do anything to become stars and be known; and music is one of the various paths they see and tend to take. For you to survive in this industry you need more than just being skilled in mixing sounds, you need to have the required capital and be socially inclined. Also you should be able to go all the way to promote artistes that sign under your recording label. It is important to note that once you are able to raise one celebrated music superstar under your label, you will struggle less to have artistes to work with.
19 Steps to Starting a Recording Studio at Home With No Money
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
When a Recording Studio is mentioned, we all unanimously know that they are businesses that provide facilities and technical expertise for sound recording in a studio. They also provide audio production or post-production services for producing master recordings and may provide audio services for film, television and video productions. It is also known that once the recording has taken place, studios often perform post-production services to master music recordings.
Within the past five years to 2017, the recording studio industry has worked out well considering great changes in how media is consumed. Experts estimate that the recording industry revenue has risen over the five-year period. But one of the greatest challenges it has been facing and will keep facing is readily accessible recording equipment and widespread availability of distribution channels on the internet.
It is believed that the industry will continue to provide valuable services to a variety of media producers in the general sound industry. Though the availability of recording equipment has been rising, it cannot be compared to the expertise that audio production studios provide to the industry consumers. Also the industry depends on continued support from artistes who bring unique content in need of recording, editing and mastering.
It is well known that musicians, film producers, videographers, radio broadcasters and advertisers all receive valuable recording and post-production services from recording studios. It is believed that the majority of the industry’s services are provided to TV, film and music professionals who depend on high-quality productions from the industry.
It has been estimated that the shifting tides of the music industry in recent years have rippled into the recording studio industry, but the pre-established need for industry services has protected producers from much of the structural reshaping that has occurred throughout other media licensing and distribution industries.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The Demographics and Psychographics of a Recording Studio is not complicated since we already know those who are in need of their services. When starting a recording studio, you should view the most common types of musicians in your local area as your potential target market. It all depends on your area; the most common musicians could be amongst the following;
- metal bands
- Animation voice-over artistes
- Television and film production houses
- Commercial businesses with videos online
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
When starting a Recording Studio, be sure to understand that different musicians have different problems and needs. Yes, they might all be able to go to a commercial studio because a professional studio has all the gear to tend to any type of musician. But as a new entrant in the industry, you need to segment your market and focus on one type of musician.
You should also understand that there are different ways of positioning yourself in a market that already has a few studios as competitors. You have to first and foremost distinguish yourself by being cheaper (which can be dangerous in the long run); or you can position yourself by focusing specially on a certain audience. This strategy is a unique and very effective strategy. You can either focus on rap music, pop, classic, reggae, blues etc.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
We all must have noticed that the rate of competition in the general music industry is getting intense with each coming year. This can be explained by the fact that in the 1970s and 1980s, there were consolidations in the general music industry which led to almost all major labels being owned by a very few multinational companies.
It is believed that this consolidation or rather development led to CDs production to flow through a handful of sources, with the majority of the sales going through the very industry leaders. But now, we have so many recording studios in all the nook and crannies of the united states.
The industry is getting tougher and smarter as most companies in the industry now make use of the internet to spread their tentacles and increase their revenue. We believe that this is because they know that it pays a great deal not to concentrate only in the U.S. market, but go beyond the borders.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
There are loads of recording studios that have emerged over time. It is important to know these power brands so as to be on your toes as you strive for prominence amongst the various competitions. Here are some lists of well-known brands;
- Abbey Road Studios
- The Dungeon
- Trident Studios
- Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
- Sunset Sound Recorders
- Headley Grange
- Electric Lady Studios
- Sun Studio
- Studio One
- Rolling Stones Mobile Studio
- Capitol Studios
- Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Black Ark
- Hans Zimmer’s music lair
- Chase Park Transduction
We all know that the general music industry consist of a variety of businesses, companies and independents. Notably, the music industry over the years have adjusted and adapted well to the many changes and trends. Reports have it that the utmost concern in the music industry is profits gained from companies that partake in tasks like publication, distribution and production of music around the world.
Without doubt the creation and distribution of music happens in separate places. Example is that the retailing, manufacturing and wholesaling occurs in one place, and the production of the music happens in another place.
We must have noted that the publication of music sometimes needs the leasing of music as intellectual property, so that it can be used in live performances and different forms. There are a variety of sub-industries in the music field, which include live music, recording and artiste performance. Then there are the behind the scenes professionals and staff that offer assistance and representation. Also compositions are sold to publishing companies in the music industry.
Facts in the industry have it that these publishing entities collaborate with recording artistes and studios in order to build a music media. Then the retailers in turn sell this media to the general public as the final consumers. Then to actually complete the cycle, when these consumers buy the music, the retailers pay the recording company, who then pay the artiste and publishing company, who then pays the composer.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Indeed starting your own recording studio will take more time, and chances are you’re not going to accomplish it all within your specified time. Do not feel or see it as a tough part to owning a Recording Studio, and remember that when you are finished, you will have your own personalized recording studio that you can access at any time of day or night, where you will be able to play to your heart’s content — without having to continually dig up funds for a recording studio.
You don’t need to let franchises drip your bank account dry. You can choose to create a sturdy financial tourniquet by starting your own recording studio from the scratch or even at home. Though it will take up more time and hard work but at the end you will see how worthwhile it was. Below are d few benefits of starting your own recording studio.
- Starting your own recording studio gives you the opportunity and access to your own studio 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unfettered by other people’s schedules.
- Having your own independent studio gives you the leverage to design and arrange it however you want. You might think this is not a concrete advantage, but remember that a studio is more than just an office; it is where you bring your dreams and passions to life.
- Having your own studio gives you the opportunity to take as many tries as you want to get the very best results.
- Also it allows you to choose or dictate how your studio is being run
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
It is pertinent to note that starting a recording studio business is filled with financial and technical challenges, but it can be successfully actualized with the proper mixture of training, equipment choice, studio design and clientele. You should also know that studios are generally needed by customers on a rental basis to provide expertise and facilities to produce good creative music. Below are the few problems you may be facing when starting your Recording Studio:
- Training and experience
- Performing market research in your area
- Preparing your well detailed business plan
- Securing a facility for your studio
- Obtaining local business permits and state tax licenses
- Designing your interior studio
- Furnishing your studio with the necessary equipment
- Getting all insurance needed and marketing your recording studio
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Anyone who knows the industry very well will understand that building a recording studio is a rewarding experience if you have the creativity and tenacity necessary to be a focused entrepreneur. When starting a Recording Studio, you need to choose a legal entity for your business. For the sake of this article, you should know that structuring your business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) makes sure that your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.
LLC stands for Limited Liability Company. It’s also important to note that forming an LLC is the simplest way of structuring your business to provide personal liability protection. When a business is structured as an LLC, it becomes its own legal entity. The LLC is responsible for its debts and lawsuits, not the owners. The owners of an LLC are referred to as members. An LLC can have one owner (single member LLC) or multiple owners (multi-member LLC).
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
It is really important that one adopts a business name that is catchy and can be related to easily. Here are samples of names that might fit your Recording studio business;
- 641 Music
- Sound Bar
- Music Theatre
- Ethan Music Centre
- Venus Music Group Inc.
- Collison studios
- Broken Records
- Nightingale Theatre
- Copycats sounds
- Alfred Music Group
- Golden gate Studios
- Beat Lane
- Natty Productions
- Believe Production Group
- Hogwart Music Company
- Illegal All Starts
- Manuel Centre
- Kings House Recording
- Fiona Outdoor Theatre
- Mixed Blood Theatre
- Red Label Theatre
- Anointed Promotions Inc.
- Pouting Films & Entertainment
- Revelation Pictures
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Without doubt, music and insurance to a very unique extent work together. As tiresome as it might seem, it is very beneficial for you as a focused entrepreneur to stay insured at all times because of some unforeseen circumstances. Here below are some of the insurance covers that you will need;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
When starting a Recording Studio, you should be prepared to secure your intellectual property. We all know that if the music recorded by your artiste is not protected by law, then the music can be easily pirated. Music tend to be pirated just almost immediately they drop, but when pirates know that the music that was recorded in your studio is well protected by the law, they will be wary of getting themselves into trouble, which on its own is a major gain of having your intellectual property protected.
Also ensure that the logo for your recording studio is well protected and legally recognized as part of your company property by the law. It is important that you trademark your company logo as well as get the copyright protection for each new song that is being produced in your studio.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
No professional certification is needed to start or manage a Recording Studio. The general music industry is that plain and simple, which means that any entrepreneur who has an interest in music can launch his or her independent Recording Studio without going for any special certification.
All you need is the passion and experience to start a Recording Studio and survive in the industry. But be warned that getting certifications in other fields like human resource development might help your business integrity stand out.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Just like most businesses, you will need state permits and licenses to run a recording studio. Some states in the United States need businesses to obtain a seller’s permit. A seller’s permit allows states to record and collect taxes from goods (and sometimes service) sales. Legal documents needed for a Recording Studio may include;
- Music licensing
- Certificate of occupancy
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Sellers permit
- Non–disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement
- Insurance Policy
- Employees Handbook
- Contract Document
- Trademark registration for your logo
- Tax Payer’s ID number
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Sincerely, it is important to note that the investment needed to start a sound recording studio is very huge, but the profits that the business can potentially generate are even larger and more enticing for any career focused entrepreneur.
It has been proven that building a sound recording studio is much easier than it was at one time, simply because of the advancement in technology and the human mind. For those well versed in the industry, many recording studios that specialize in voice-overs for radio advertising, CD recording and DVD recording are even home based operations and they are making it huge.
Anyone who doesn’t have experience in the recording industry is well advised to stay clear of this particular business opportunity-unless the business is approached or established as a joint venture enterprise with a person or company that has experience in the industry, but lacks the financial backing or business experience to ensure the enterprise succeeds.
When you want to raise funds, the first thing is to draft a detailed business plan for the business. When you have a good business plan, you can easily convince investors to invest in your business. There are several options when it comes to raising money to finance your recording studio. Some of the options are;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Applying for loan from bank
- applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations
- Sourcing for soft loans from family members and friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Note that you are going to be spending a lot of time in your recording studio, so it should be somewhere comfortable, accessible and as enjoyable as possible. You need to understand that if your basement creeps you out, or you don’t like the way the guest room always smells, either make the space comfortable for yourself or put your studio somewhere else.
Always have it mind that you will be simply shooting yourself in the foot by setting up a studio you know you will be hesitant to use or you feel so uncomfortable in. Here are some points to consider when selecting a set-up area:
- Always remember to give yourself more space than you think you need. It is believed that this will allow you to comfortably accommodate new equipment, instruments and band members.
- Bear in mind to choose the quietest area around you. Interior rooms are generally superior to exterior rooms in terms of noise, especially if you live near a highway or bus stop.
- Remember that the ideal space will have a high ceiling and irregular walls/surfaces, though this isn’t necessarily mandatory. (While you can’t cheat a ceiling, you can help to create irregular surfaces by bringing some furniture into the room, like a dresser or a folding screen.)
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
When starting a Recording Studio, there are several factors that will contribute to determining your success in the competitive industry. One of the most important of these factors is the background and qualifications of your managing team. Other important factors include the location and genre of music focused upon.
You should be aware that a recording studio located in a highly populated area with many competitors must have a focused niche, whereas others in an area with less competition may only survive if they target all areas of the market. You should know that these unique factors will determine the extent of success your recording studio experiences, which will direct the investor’s decision and assist your internal planning.
It is also important to note that the operational structure of a recording studio is based on the needs of the market and its requirements. In the industry, some recording studios may have several rooms and a producer in-house that helps with ideas on how to improve music recordings, and others may simply provide a general purpose recording studio with minimal instruments for artistes. Below is a list of the essential equipment needed to start a professional recording studio business with a commercial studio (budget $25,000 to $50,000):
- DAW/Audio Interface Combos
- Connectors and Cables
- Cable Snakes
- Patch Board
- Studio Monitors x 6
- Amplifiers x 4
- Crossovers x 4
- Speakers x 8
- Headphones x 10
- Microphone Stands x 15
- Microphones x 15
- Pop Filters x 5
- Mobile Sound-Dampening Panels
- Digital Mixing Board
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
If you wanted to make a recording some seven decades back, you just need to place a microphone in a room. The microphone will be connected to a cutter that would take the sound energy and translate it into grooves on a disc or drum as you PR your artiste performs. Immediately the performance is over, you stop the machine and remove your master recording. And if the performance wasn’t good enough, you throw out the master and start again from the beginning.
But in this our modern age, recording has now evolved into a multistage process, allowing for great care to be taken at each step along the way to assure the highest possible quality for the end result. Also nowadays not all projects happen the same way. There are musical projects that are done in a more tradition sense with live musicians playing the fundamental tracks, while some other projects are almost entirely programmed. Listed and properly explained below is the process of recording a song in the traditional sense;
- The Pre-Production stage
This unique stage in the recording process is mostly over-looked but may well be the most important part of the process. This stage actually refers to what happens before a note gets recorded. Note that a good producer can help to get the song into shape (if it isn’t already there). Nailing down the correct tempo, the correct key, the correct feel and groove and over-all arrangement is so important to the journey of every song.
- The Bed Tracks stage
In this particular stage, the band comes in with all their gear. Drums are set up, tuned for the room and mixed with multiple microphones for the different drums and some ambient mics in the room to catch the overall sound. Other instruments e.g. bass, piano, guitars are placed and mixed relative to the amount of sound separation desired between each instrument. If more separation is required, instruments can be directly plugged in, or musicians and or instruments/amplifiers can be moved further away or into separate rooms.
It is important to state that the more the players are separated from each other, the greater their reliance will be on the headphone system and visual cues to feel what everyone else is doing. Also note that the individual microphone signals from the recording room go back to the control room where they are routed to separate tracks on a multi-track recorder (Non-linear hard drive system or tape recorder). Bass drum might be recorded on track 1; snare drum on 2; toms on 3, 4, and 5; cymbals on 6 and 7; bass on 8, etc…
- The Overdubs stage
At this stage and with adequate sound separation between the different instruments recorded during the bed track session, certain parts can be replayed later and refined. An example of this would be to keep the drums and bass from the bed tracks, and overdub the guitar tracks, solos and vocals later.
Using this process, each musician can be given the time and attention to allow them to focus on their part and record the best performance possible. Within this stage too, editing can take place after recording to further improve the performance by combining takes to create a composite (comp) track of the best sections of multiple takes of a part.
- The Mixing and Mastering stage
At this stage, each individual part has been on its own track so it can be adjusted. Mixing is the process whereby all the individual parts are balanced relative to each other to build a whole stereo (or multichannel) mix of each individual song.
Automation can help this process, adjusting the levels as needed all through the course of the song. After all the songs are mixed, mastering is the final stage of the process where the mixes of each song are ordered and processed to form a complete album.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
It is very important that you know that the marketing section of your recording studio will be made up of three main parts including the market positioning, initial launch and business growth. You need to understand that a recording studio is largely based upon referrals acquired from the performance and merit of the producer. You also need to know that not everyone may have a referral, so they research prospective producers online.
Have it in mind that the more focused a producer appears for the specific niche of the artiste, the more likely they are to convert the lead, which will share the overall positioning of the studio. Secondly the initial launch generally consists of a combination of public relations and affiliate relationships. It has been proven that such market awareness combined with early stage strategic partners will enable a low-cost method of gaining early traction and generating low-cost leads in the huge competitive industry.
- Making use of Regional Marketing
It has been proven in the industry that the most effective marketing for a recording studio is performed based on regional sales and marketing. You should know that such marketing is focused around targeting those within a defined zip code for local bands and musicians. This may be done through a combination of directories such as Google Place, and also along with targeted pay-per-click ads.
- Leveraging Business Development
It is believed that business development for a recording studio is helpful for those that are located in highly competitive areas and seek referrals from other parties such as music agents, brand promoters and music stores that may interact with artistes either directly or indirectly through marketing communications in the industry.
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
Indeed the recording studio business is a people’s business, so the best marketing results will come from having lots of contact with potential clients in person, asking for their help in spreading the word about your recording studio, and making use of online social media as well as free postings on Craigslist. You should note that competition in the music recording business is intense, so reputation is everything.
A lot of recording studios become successful by becoming the focal point of an emerging music genre. You should know that the use of a recording studio by successful musicians attract others. Staying ahead of your competitors in the industry can be achieved by discovering hot new talent, and then producing and recording them. If they become successful, this is a great way to promote your recording studio.
You also need to know that a recording studio needs a steady flow of clients to be profitable. Without doubt, a professional recording studio needs to generate revenue at least 50% of the 24-hour day to be successful. The equipment is under-utilized if there is less than this amount of activity. This is why recording studios offer discounted “block-time” bookings of multiple recording hours during the least-used times of day in order to create steady cash flow. Ways to stay ahead of your competitors may include;
- Going out to meet musicians and bands
- Posting ads on Craigslist about the recording studio’s services
- Contacting advertising agencies and television or film production companies to get work assignments
- Seeking paid freelance jobs by replying to freelance job posts on online freelance systems (advertising jingles, audio dubs for videos, and other recording or sound editing work)
18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
It has become an obvious truth that once musical artistes become successful, they either would want to reshuffle their team or sign A-List team members. So if you are looking to retain successful artistes under your company, you need to continue to help them explore new markets and new opportunities. These things can be musical tours, concerts or anything that will make them sell more songs.
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
You should bear in mind that the key to the success for your recording studio is to keep your overhead low and earn revenue from multiple sources. Revenue may come from doing recording work and projects for others, creating products that sell and teaching others how to use the equipment. It is understandable that staying relevant requires attention to detail and a commitment to foundational marketing principles.
- Making use of Industry Resources
It is a known fact in the industry that lone rangers don’t survive long. An awareness of industry resources can hamper the isolation of ownership and result in a more stable (and more productive) leadership experience. Be very careful to understand that the best resources are usually the ones that leverage industry-specific experience and the input of proven Veterans.
- Be concerned about building A Community around Your Brand
Be sure to create a substantial social media presence for your team. Although they invest heavily in other marketing channels, most recording studios need to do a better job connecting with their customers. Direct mail campaigns featuring mailing lists from a reliable list partner can kick off a social media drive by blowing up your customer base and alerting them on your social media presence. Learn from the mistakes of your competitors.
- Unique Sponsorships
For those who don’t know, event and team sponsorship are proven methods of raising the public profile of recording studios. Always remember that successful sponsorship creates connection with customers; ineffective ones deletes customers and drain your marketing budget.
Always note that strategic sponsorship targets actual recording studio patrons. In an attempt to reduce costs and multiply outcomes, try teaming up with a complementary business to co-sponsor targeted events in your business area.
Other Ways include;
- Encourage loyal customers to engage in word of mouth publicity
- Ensure that adverts are placed in local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Make use of the internet and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and Instagram to increase awareness and also promote your business
- Distribute handbills and fliers in strategic locations around the area where your recording studio is situated
- Create an official and interactive website and employ Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies in order to pull traffic to the site
- Ensure that the official car and other attires worn by the staff during work hours are branded with a unique logo