Business Overview

A recording studio is useful for recording music, sound effects, and voice-overs used for advertisements, animation, and soundtrack dubs in different languages. A recording studio may also serve as a place to teach and train others the audio-engineering skills necessary to make quality recordings.

Who is this business right for?

People who love music and like to be around music typically gravitate to this business. It helps to have computer skills and to enjoy working with music recording software and electronic equipment.

What happens during a typical day at a recording studio?

The activities of a recording studio include:

Marketing Efforts to Find Clients - A recording studio needs a steady flow of clients to be profitable. A professional recording studio needs to generate revenues 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.

Marketing efforts 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)

 

Conducting Recording Sessions – Setting up the studio for a recording session by placing/positioning microphones on stands and setting up amps and monitors as needed. Checking to make sure all the equipment is operating perfectly. Booking any audio engineers, background singers, and support musicians as required for the session and making sure that they arrive on time for the session. While the recording sessions are in progress, the important job is to take care of all the client’s needs.

Marketing the Output of the Recording Studio – This includes sales efforts for any creative product produced at the studio, such as music CDs, song downloads, ringtones, and training materials. Examples of this effort include uploading music for digital downloads to iTunes and posting products for sale on Amazon, and then managing order fulfillment.

 

Conduct Training Sessions – A recording studio is useful for teaching classes in audio engineering in order to create extra revenues when the studio is not booked for recording sessions.

Maintaining the Equipment and Facilities – Equipment needs to be in good working order at all times. The facilities need cleaning each day in order to attract paying clients.

What is the target market?

For music recording, the clients are musicians. For animation voice-overs, the clients are television and film production houses. For translation dubs, the client is any commercial enterprise with videos online that wants to expand marketing efforts to include foreign languages. This is an excellent niche for a freelance worker with a home recording studio because jobs are readily available and posted on freelance systems online.

How does a recording studio make money?

Clients pay standard rates for studio use, charged by the hour and sometimes for the equipment used during each recording session. Additional hourly charges cover support technicians, which consist of at least one qualified audio engineer with expert knowledge of how to operate the equipment. Session players and background singers are usually available for an additional hourly rate per person. Discount rates exist for extended rental periods.

Products created in the studio sell online at competitive prices. iTunes downloads of songs retail for an average of $0.99 per song download, with about $0.70 commission paid for each sale, if the songs go on iTunes through a qualified digital distribution company such as Tunecore. Tunecore charges fees for its services. There is a one-time administration fee for the music publishing and a set annual distribution fee for each song or album. Music CDs sell through websites, eCommerce systems like Shopify, and on Amazon. The sell for an average price of $8 to $10 plus S&H. Here is a beginner’s guide for selling on Amazon. Profits for selling music CDs online are $2.50 to $4.50 each after deducting fulfillment costs. Downloads sell more easily than physical CDs.

What is the growth potential for a recording studio?

Some musicians, such as Justin Bieber, started with a modest home recording studio. He posted videos on YouTube, was discovered by talent manager Scooter Braun, and then became internationally famous. This is rare, but it does happen.

A recording studio may be part of a record label that promotes certain musicians, music styles, and bands. An example is PayDay Music Group that is an amazing success with the DanceHall and Reggae music styles.

A freelancer may be very happy and make a nice income by using a simple home recording studio setup to make voice-over recordings for animation or translation dubs for videos.

The largest facilities for recording studios are the ones that cater to recording soundtracks for major motion picture films. These studios are massive and can record live full orchestras. There are not many of them, but the ones that do exist have annual revenues in the millions of dollars.