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How to Create a More Comfortable Studio Environment

Here are a few thoughts about a studio as a working business.

Keeping a steady flow of money is a challenge. At some point, you have to decide what kind of studio you want to be.

The kind that’s always attracting new blood to walk through the door for a quickie? Or are you looking to behold a studio that attracts repeat customers and makes them happy?

In an earlier article, I talked about a few things that can help a session in terms of manners. In this article, I’m going to talk about studio comforts and booking practices.

The Biz Grasshopper Experiment

Running a business anywhere, let alone NYC is no joke. Even if you have every hour of the day booked, you’re probably not making a giant profit. Many studios have shifts with different engineers. They book three bands in the same day if they can.

From the perspective of making money, this is totally understandable. However, from an artist’s point of view this can be a turnoff.

Studio time isn’t cheap. When you block out a studio for a day (10 hours), you’re expecting quite a workday. If you hit hour 10 and want to keep going because you have a good setup, it would seems feasible for an extra fee. It would take hours to get those sounds back if you had to do a reset. When a studio tells you no and you have to rip down in 15 minutes because another band is coming in, its a disappointment.

It’s best to leave a couple of hours in between sessions. A buffer so to speak. If you do this, everyone wins in the end. We’re just talking about a few hours.

Some other things to consider when running a business.

Campfire Song

It’s great to have an internship program. You do have to keep it pretty transparent though. As an artist paying for a session, if it feels like it’s being run by an intern, I’m turned off. It’s important for the main engineer to be in control at all times.

If you have an intern making edits and they’re struggling, step in. They need to gain experience, but time adding up is costing the client. We notice. Hearing things like “oh, shit” and “whoops” coming from an intern at the helm can be jarring when you just captured a keeper take.

Limit the amount of interns. One per session, two absolute max. Artists don’t want to feel like they’re at studio camp during a session.

Cellular Disorganization

If time is being wasted because mics or other various gear was not put away properly from another session, it’s a turn off. It tells me you don’t know who is in your room and what’s going on.

I tend to favor rooms with fewer staff and fewer walk ins. The gear tends to be cared for better and things don’t go missing.

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Wandering Mind Blues

Some studios advertise gear on their page that gets shared between multiple rooms (which isn’t advertised). It’s important to note that requests for gear be made in advance if it may be unavailable.

I sometimes book studios because of their vintage drum kits. If I come in to find the kit is not available day of session, I’m going to be very unhappy. Hint: I won’t be back.

I understand that you can’t have multiples of everything. However, making sure the client knows about the special request program is important.

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

Does your studio have access to a clean bathroom?

Sorry, but I don’t want to step into a cold, filthy, dorm like bathroom on a session. I don’t want to step over crushed cans of PBR either or smell smoke in the hallway. You want to give the air that you’re pro. Clean the bathroom. Make sure there is TP and the garbage can is not overflowing. And always make sure there is soap and hand towels!! It makes a difference.

Heatwave

Heating is expensive. But, musicians need to be warm to play well. The pennies you save on heat could be lost in future business. If I can’t get warm on a session… You guessed it, I won’t be back. I’m not saying it has to be a sauna, just average room temperature.

Soul Kitchen

Is there drinkable water?  A nice touch would be buying a Brita that you keep filtered water in.

Do you have a fridge for people to put food in? Do you have a sink accessible and clean?

When setting up a studio you should imagine a first date at your apartment. You want it to be clean, smell good and comfortable, right? You don’t want your date running for the door. I’m not saying you need candle light or anything, just some of the obvious basics.

Take a look around your studio, are there things you can do to make it a more comfortable experience for your clients? A few of these small improvements could increase your repeat business.

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Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at guitaristmarkmarshall.com

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