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Freelance guys: how do you go about renting a tracking room?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by alteredstate, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. alteredstate

    alteredstate New Metal Member

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    Hey guys,

    I've been working freelance for a while now and have put out some respectable sounding releases purely on my own. I used to have a dedicated home studio space before I moved and now I'm stuck up in an apartment until I get a new housing situation worked out, and once that happens, it'll still be a while before that space is prepped for session work. Since moving I've worked with friends and my own bands/projects, who don't mind sometimes being my lab rats and tracking in odd locations or their basement if I bring enough trapping / panels. But obviously, this is a terrible solution for a number of reasons, difficulty and length of setting up, potential for error, quality of recordings (especially drums - I work differently than a lot of guys here and almost always do live drums) and it would look appalling to any band who doesn't know me.

    So, I'm trying to start building my recording career forward and getting new clients again and I wanted to know how my fellow freelance guys went about renting rooms for tracking. Do I just email a bunch of local studios and see who'll cut me a decent rate on renting just a room or two out (as I wouldn't need much beyond maybeee their desk if I was familiar with it and monitors) for a couple of days here and there? That doesn't seem like the best way to go about it but I can't really think of any other way so I figured who better to ask than the knowledgeable folks here? Maybe it's just me, but it feels like an awkward next step that I'm not entirely sure how to take and I'm hoping you guys can help me through it.

    Also, on one last final and irrelevant note, I'd like to express my gratitude to this forum. My account may be new, but I've been lurking and learning here for years and using it to supplement what I learned at school, internships, or my own sessions. This site is an amazing tool and I feel like that needs to be said. So yeah, you guys are awesome. So much thanks!
     
  2. Sloan

    Sloan Sounds like shit!

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    I haven't found myself in this position yet, but I've often thought about putting together a small mobile 16+ channel rig just for getting raw tracks at band member's houses or practice spaces. Also look into building relationships with other recording obsessives in your area to see if you can cooperate on sharing a space and work.
     
  3. aortizjr

    aortizjr Member

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    I went through this a few years ago, but I did end up finding a house to rent that was far enough from the neighbors to not be an issues. However, I had to move and the new place I am in I can't be loud.

    Right now I am doing rehearsal spaces and rented a basement studio recently because the bands have been super low budget lately.

    But it is like anything else, you have to build up the relationships. Basically make friends with studio owners or even nicer home studios.

    I have a website with samples, so I printed off a couple pages of the gear I had and brought a CD with me. E-mailed or called them for an appt explaining what I was looking at doing. Then showed them my portfolio of work essentially. All of them were completely willing to work with me... and why not? Another engineer out there pulling in clients and making them money, who wants that!?

    But the problem I ran into in my area so far were rates, because now I have pay a studio rate and charge a rate on top of that. Now to some degree you should be considering this because say it costs $30k to build a room, well at $30 an hour, that is 1000 hours to break even. So you are paying for it regardless. However at my level, I just have difficulty charging a rate I can live with hourly and a studio rate on top of that. Hence basements and rehearsal spaces I can get for $10 an hour.

    I have also considered breaking even on the drum tracking say at a bigger studio. But then making my money on the rest of the tracking and mixing. That is a careful game though as well.

    Anyway long story short.... put a good package together, present yourself professionally and start building those relationships. These are studio guys that do what you do, talk shop, bitch about bands, talk about great ones, offer to take them out for a beer. You never know, you may end up with such a great working relationship that you can both share a studio and not even need to build your own.
     
  4. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    I'm not sure if you're looking to book a commercial facility, or just looking to rent someone's private space, but It's all about building relationships at the end of the day. Most of the time it starts with a cold call explaining you need a space to track drums lets say as an example. Just about every studio on the planet needs business, and very few will turn anyone away that's willing to pay for it. In fact your skill level and product you're delivering is pretty much meaningless to a studio owner. They don't care what you're making in the room as long as you are competent with the equipment and you won't break anything. You'll come in and do a day (at their full price probably) or two, and you'll get to know the owner/manager. Then you book another day or two a few weeks/months later. Then again. Usually around your 3-4th visit in a year you become a "regular" in their eyes and you can start to see discounts, and more opportunities.

    This theory applies whether it's a 100 dollar a day Overdub room or a 1000 dollar a day large SSL room. It's about becoming familiar to people around town, and after a while you will have a reputation that kind of precedes you. Once that happens even new studios (to you) will probably be excited to have you come in, cause they'll see that you're potential yearly income.

    The biggest issue/problem you're going to have to solve is the cost and when you NEED it. Justifying the cost of yourself and studio time to a band is a hilariously shitty part of being an engineer. Everyone wants great sounding records, but no one wants to pay what it actually costs to do it. The key will be booking as few days as you need to, but still getting what needs to be done done...

    All and all it's a slow steady build. You'll be clawing your way up to booking a single day in one of those studios, but after a few years you'll probably be in and out of those rooms multiple times a month.
     
  5. evanwarren

    evanwarren New Metal Member

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    For the last couple of years I have had a space set up in a house that I share with another freelance producer, and I use that for recording guitars, bass, vocals, keys, etc. When I need to record a full drum set, I have a deal worked out with a guy that owns a really nice studio, and I just pay a day rate.

    I was able to meet the guy that I rent the studio from by making connections with different producers around town, so my advice is to start making friends around town (if you haven't already), and see if you can use their studios for drums.
     

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