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Author Topic: ...On the recent studio closings...  (Read 14483 times)

j.hall

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2005, 04:41:51 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 15:17


Some people pull it off, most simply cannot. Not for an "incredible" sounding record, ime...


ok, fair enough....the adjective i used was a definite exageration....i'll give you that.

incredible is peter gabriel's up......can't be done for 20k, and it can't sound like that with out tchad blake.....you can't disagree there.

i have MANY MANY records on my shelf that sound great and were performed great that were done for less then 20k and in less time then your 28 day estimate.

j.robbins
steve albini
brian deck
kip beeleman
christopher walla
scott solter
tim gilles
jack endino
mitch easter
ben moore
ed rose

i can keep going, but that list is good enough....

all those guys have made great records for less then 20k and have done it (and some still are doing it) iin less then 28 days per record.

Level......it's a bad idea to use yourself as an example....unless you can say, "i did pink floyd, the wall in 5 days for 2 dollars" it's best to stick to records that are easily found.

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j.hall

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2005, 05:05:10 pm »

compasspnt wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 15:13



Actually, I agree with you.  I was only citing reasons I believe have lead to the decline in large studio business, not necessarily pontificating on the relative morality of the situation.



sorry terry, in the hail storm of posts and my frantic urge to slam a reply in, i missed your post.

i wasn't trying to "paint you in a corner".  i just read your post and took a snipet for my own rant on the excessive nature of the current music biz (or not so current).

i'm no seasoned pro.....and have never claimed to be, and i try to not come off as thinking i am.

every industry needs seasoned pros....people that have seen it all and done it all thousands of times in there specific job.

i just don't think that there is anything so special about mixing a record, or producing one that warrants so astronomical fees.

in a job that i'd like to think is pro artist, MANY of the people in the "elite" seem to be as anti-artist as you can find.



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RMoore

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2005, 07:34:02 pm »

Level wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 22:28

 
March 2 1969. April 22, 1969, Kind of Blue. Miles Davis. Hello!



Do you mean 1959?
Cheers,
RM
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Linear

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2005, 07:58:10 pm »

Hi,

I'm really not sure what to make of all this over here. We have a couple of bigger studios, but a majority of them are small scale operations. The bigger ones closed down years ago. Budgets for albums have always been smaller here (Aust).

I think having smaller shops with in-house engineers will be the way of the future. major label stuff is not what it used to be, and despite what many think, there are a bunch of people out there that want to make good sounding records, usually self-funded, usually with no huge asiprations for getting signed to major labels. This situation is when it becomes critical to be able to make a good-sounding record for under $20K (I'd say under $10k).

In reality, what percentage of albums in the top 100 really needed a large facility to record in?

My slant on this is that prior to the CD (pre-1984) there was no 'home recording' equipment so if you wanted to record, you needed to go to a pro studio. when CD's came out, there was a huge injection of cash into labels when everybody repurchased their catalog. After that frenzy was over, MP3's came out, semi-pro audio equipment came out, etc etc and it's been downward ever since.

I do think however that this is just a phase, and that music is far too important for quality stuff to go the way of the dinosaurs. Once this fad of cheap-sounding throwaway music has passed, real music will come back. The cream always floats to the top.

I also look at what electrical audio/big blue meenie have been doing and think that this will be the only way to successfully carry on a largeish recording business.

Terry recently tracked in Sydney (I suspect Studio 301 - am I right?) and that operation was bought by Mr SAE as a flagship operation for his business. It doesn't turn a profit (his words from an interview in audio technology) but he runs it anyway, no business could run that size here and still make money.

I wonder how the studio business is going in the UK? Seems like alot of the larger studios do lots of film work too (AIR, Abbey RD) for their bread and butter.

Interesting times.

Chris
Linear Recording


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pipelineaudio

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2005, 09:09:24 pm »

"3. Corporate greed bottom line pushers. They don't care about the music, they simply are looking at the bottom line and have the latest greatest gear, meanwhile the studio owner can't even turn a knob, let alone engineer and pays their personnel McDonald's wages. I am willing to bet their are more of these than we really care to know about.
"

riiiiggght

you show me one studio that PAYS mcdonald's wages and I will be there in five minutes soldering iron and knowledge in hand and with a HUGE smile on my face

Im no slouch, I have done this all my adult life, and if someone can guarantee me  mc d's SOLID wage I will be your slave grinning ear to ear

jfrigo

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #20 on: February 04, 2005, 11:42:16 am »

Linear wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 16:58


I also look at what electrical audio/big blue meenie have been doing and think that this will be the only way to successfully carry on a largeish recording business.


Which is what exactly? Seems their model is to have an "outsider" image, target indies, and have in-house talent that draws? Seems somewhat promising. But remember, a big part of Steve's high profile came from doing some traditional, "old model" record label hits.

It will take some doing to knock out the freelance engineer model, but I agree that studios are getting smaller in order to survive. I've been doing a lot of work at a place that's been open less than a year but seems to be onto something - high quality though certainly smaller than Hit Factory sized rooms, with some attached talent, though not actually staff, and the residential, out-of-the-city vibe. There's actually a full time tech on staff too, which is nice. www.studiometronome.com. He was going to build a big 9000J room (had mucho $$$ in the architectural design already) and decided late in the project planning to downsize as the big room made little business sense.

The music biz is definitely changing, but I'm not as pessimistic as many seem to be. It's changing, not dying. We may not know exactly what it willl look like in 10 years (making the right guess determines who will make it) but it won't be all kids in bedrooms posting their stuff for free or near free on MP3 sites. Adapt or die; just because the old model is in crisis doesn't mean a new model won't eventually become evident. We need to try new things, not keep hammering at the old model hoping it will come back.
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bblackwood

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2005, 12:03:13 pm »

jfrigo wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 10:42

Linear wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 16:58


I also look at what electrical audio/big blue meenie have been doing and think that this will be the only way to successfully carry on a largeish recording business.


Which is what exactly?

Quality staff that works for the good of the entity instead of good for self. This means taking low paying gigs at times to help fill the coffers that pay everyone. Quality staff is the key here and the thing that many of the larger studios seem to have forgotten about in recent years - but the very thing that Steve and Tim (and other studios that are able to remain afloat in these times) have focused on...
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Brad Blackwood
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JGreenslade

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2005, 01:02:45 pm »

Quote:


I wonder how the studio business is going in the UK? Seems like alot of the larger studios do lots of film work too (AIR, Abbey RD) for their bread and butter.



The larger facilities have been going the way of the Dodo for several years now here (I commented on Ridge Farm earlier today in GM's forum). As you assert, if Abbey Rd or AIR lost their film / media work they would be out of business pronto.

From what I've observed, the studios who've been hit the hardest have been the "industry standard" larger facilities, who were unable to attract sufficient work from film / TV and simply couldn't survive on the remaining scraps from the dedicated music industry.

There are a few "niche" studios that seem to be doing quite well, such as ToeRag or Heliocentric – these studios are not large sprawling complexes, but survive off the back of the individual sound their vintage equipment and dedicated staff afford artists.  

Property developers have been eyeing up much of what remains (such as Whitfield St studios), and you have to wonder how long the owners of these studios can / will resist their offers...

The way I see things, the "niche" / "museum" studios will be around for a while yet, there will always be artists who want the unique signature a Redd or Helios desk / vintage mic closet imparts into their project. As for the more conventionally equipped mainstream studios with their SSLs and 88Rs, I think the next couple of years are going to be really hard for them. Sphere in Battersea went down quite recently, the place was only set up in 2001.

In 10 years time the UK will still have the likes of AIR or Abbey Rd, there will be a few (possibly more) "museum" studios such as Toerag or Heliocentric, and the rest will be home studios – the "middle ground" studios are likely to suffer the most IMHO.

Justin
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Phil

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2005, 07:10:41 pm »

Linear wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 16:58


My slant on this is that prior to the CD (pre-1984) there was no 'home recording' equipment so if you wanted to record, you needed to go to a pro studio.

That depends on what you call 'home recording' equipment. Remember Tascam and the 'semi-pro' stuff? That was definitely prior to 1984. While the old guard sneered at that, savvy gear dealers started peddling to a new breed of recording studios, and that must have been the beginning of what we call pro-sumer today. As far as I was concerned, if it fit through my front door, it was 'home recording' stuff.
Quote:

when CD's came out, there was a huge injection of cash into labels when everybody repurchased their catalog. After that frenzy was over, MP3's came out, semi-pro audio equipment came out, etc etc and it's been downward ever since.

I'll never accept the argument that inexpensive gear is to blame for the music biz woes.
Quote:

I do think however that this is just a phase, and that music is far too important for quality stuff to go the way of the dinosaurs. Once this fad of cheap-sounding throwaway music has passed, real music will come back. The cream always floats to the top.

The magazines used to talk about the 'consumer demand for better audio'. Bullshit. They want louder bass - that's how important music is to the average person. Music is not the primary force in the lives of the public at large. Music is the accompaniment to a nubile in pelvic motion on MTV (wanna point fingers? point one their way); music is what you jump to while stoned and looking to get laid; music is what you turn up loud in your car so people will think you're hot shit, and to piss off the neighbors - music is also a lot of things good, but it needs to be kept in perspective.

Until these studio closing threads erupted, I never realized how much the 'elite' glorified themselves, and held the rest of us in contempt. I've worked all my life in the music business, and supported myself shoving faders and watching meters. I'm nowhere close to being an industry legend, but the industry legend names don't mean diddly to most of the people who plunk down 15 to 20 for a CD either. The engineer or studio doesn't mean anything to them - it's all about how the music makes them feel in the groin.

Geez - this is all about cowboys isn't it? When you walk into town wearing a six shooter, and you think you're the meanest SOB in town, you expect everyone to kiss your ass. When some unknown shows up that's a little faster, and blows a hole in your heart, do all the pundits stand around and talk about the quality or price of the armament? Or how it's all gone downhill lately?

You know, the good ole days could be just ahead.

Phil

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Phil Nelson

electrical

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2005, 08:53:57 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 12:03

jfrigo wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 10:42

Linear wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 16:58


I also look at what electrical audio/big blue meenie have been doing and think that this will be the only way to successfully carry on a largeish recording business.


Which is what exactly?

Quality staff that works for the good of the entity instead of good for self. This means taking low paying gigs at times to help fill the coffers that pay everyone. Quality staff is the key here and the thing that many of the larger studios seem to have forgotten about in recent years - but the very thing that Steve and Tim (and other studios that are able to remain afloat in these times) have focused on...


This is precisely it. If you have a good studio (that's a whole can of worms right there), it will not attract a clientele if it isn't run by people who care and are good at it, and it cannot earn more than the clients think it is worth. Not what it is really worth, but what the clients think it is worth.

Good staff is the number one critereon for making the clients content and comfortable. By "good," I mean that they are trained, active, prepared for anything and prepared to do anything to get the job done.

If you have good staff, then:

The equipment will all be in good repair
The studio will be clean and easy to work in
There will be no question that the equipment is fully under their command
Client equipment can be repaired immediately as necessary
There will be no "down" time
Nobody will have to scratch his head and figure something out on the clock
The clients will not want for creature comfort
The clients will feel respected and catered to
There will be a body of referrals of other clients who enjoyed themselves
and ultimately, the clients will feel they got their money's worth.

I dream of a $20k budget. I don't see one of those in a year. If your studio's business model requires budgets of that size, then you will be sleeping in the park before long.

If you feel independent bands (and their "paltry" budgets of $1000 - $5000) are beneath you, then you are welcome to join the pool of old-school institutional studios who are wishing in one hand and shitting in the other. No prize for guessing which fills up first.

If you and your studio are not prepared to work all day, every day, for less than you think you deserve, then you should not expect to survive. Those of us with a knack for survival come to think of it as normal, and are not put off by it.
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steve albini
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electrical

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2005, 09:05:38 pm »

jfrigo wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 11:42

Linear wrote on Thu, 03 February 2005 16:58


I also look at what electrical audio/big blue meenie have been doing and think that this will be the only way to successfully carry on a largeish recording business.


Which is what exactly? Seems their model is to have an "outsider" image, target indies, and have in-house talent that draws? Seems somewhat promising. But remember, a big part of Steve's high profile came from doing some traditional, "old model" record label hits.

Hooey.

I supported myself and my studio for many years before I ever got within spitting distance of a "hit." Doing it every day matters much more than doing it once for a famous band. Doing hundreds of records for bands who appreciate it is much better at creating a trustworthy reputation than having your name on the back of a record-of-the-month.

And it isn't an "outsider image." It is an entire existence -- an entire culture -- that exists "outside" the cliche of the mainstream music business. Bands, labels, engineers, studios, promoters, gigs, venues -- it's all there, just not competing for attention with U2, Sony, Humberto Gatica, Cello, Clear Channel and House of Blues.

The underground/independent music scene is both vibrant and productive, and everyone whose livelihood depends on music would do well not to dismiss it.
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jfrigo

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2005, 09:12:07 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 09:03


Quality staff that works for the good of the entity instead of good for self. This means taking low paying gigs at times to help fill the coffers that pay everyone.


Sounds like a return to an older model when staff engineers were a studio's best asset. However, in contrast to the old model, it also seems that studios need to shrink to stay competitive. What were the conditions that caused the shift from staff engineers to freelancers, and are those conditions sufficiently different to support a return to the staff model? I don't know, but I'd like to formuate an informed opinion. Reactionary conclusions that fail to consider the full picture are often flawed, so we all need to think this stuff through before settling on an answer that seems to fit the limited data at hand.

A return to staff engineering in a sleeker, more efficient studio package sounds like a nice idea that I wouldn't  be opposed to at all (nor would all the new recording school graduates looking for jobs). What I want to know is: can it work? I have a feeling that there are some other problems that still need to be worked out before that model graduates from a success in a couple of isolated cases to the new paradigm for successful studios.
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jfrigo

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2005, 09:42:57 pm »

electrical wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 18:05


I supported myself and my studio for many years before I ever got within spitting distance of a "hit." Doing it every day matters much more than doing it once for a famous band.


I understand all that and agree with it. All I'm saying is that you can't ignore the contribution those few big credits have made to your reputation, and somebody trying to copy your business plan may not fare as well without something to set them apart like those big projects do for you.

Quote:

And it isn't an "outsider image." It is an entire existence -- an entire culture -- that exists "outside" the cliche of the mainstream music business.


I'm not accusing it of being somehow false. Everybody has some kind of image, whether it comes naturally, or they work at it. There's nothing negative about that, so don't take the comment as a criticism. On the contrary, the vibe you create works and is an assett, and if we're analyzing what makes your operation a success, I think that's a valid thing to add to the list. It has been effective for Fletcher, EveAnna Manley, Mixerman, Electrical etc. That's not to say these people are affecting it. It's the real deal, but it happens to be effective in the marketplace right now, and there's nothing wrong with talking about it while analyzing what's working in the industry right now.

Quote:

The underground/independent music scene is both vibrant and productive, and everyone whose livelihood depends on music would do well not to dismiss it.


I think that's obvious, and I'd be surprised if anybody here wasn't happily doing indie work and hoping for tons more. I wouldn't stay afloat without the indie side of my business, but more to the point, I wouldn't be happy if I weren't working on plenty of indie projects. I'm no more excited about the current crap released by the majors than anybdy else.
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bblackwood

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2005, 11:07:17 pm »

jfrigo wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 20:12

What I want to know is: can it work? I have a feeling that there are some other problems that still need to be worked out before that model graduates from a success in a couple of isolated cases to the new paradigm for successful studios.

Look around - it's not new nor is it uncommon. All of the current studios that are successful and are built for the long haul are doing this...

Quality staff has always been the way a studio stayed alive. Even during lean times, if you have good, attentive, well trained staff, clients will find a way to work with you, whether you are a little more expensive (or not) or out of the way (or not). Ardent is another great example - you get the best staff and engineers under one roof, all well trained, and you get it for less money than you'd pay almost anywhere else.

I learned a lot from my many years at Ardent - John Fry is an incredibly smart business man on many levels - one of the main things was to always give your best to your clients, regardless of what they're paying you to work for them. I believe that attitude has helped my company do well right from the get go, and  I will always run my facility just as John, Steve, Tim, and many others have for years, as it's a proven method of success.
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Brad Blackwood
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jfrigo

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Re: ...On the recent studio closings...
« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2005, 12:22:51 am »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 20:07

I will always run my facility just as John, Steve, Tim, and many others have for years, as it's a proven method of success.


Mastering studios especially have always been about staff engineers, and post houses have been as well. Also, in the secondary markets, indie music studios, as you have pointed out, count on staff engineers. In the major markets, they need to have good staff to survive, but it's staff seconds and runners, not first engineers. This is where the freelance model took hold. Freelance engineers in many cases essentially became the client instead of actual artists. I'm wondering if we'll see the flagship rooms in the major markets downsizing and moving toward this staff firsts scenario, or perhaps we just won't have many (or any) flagship rooms left in major markets? It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
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