I have been earning a living from my recording studio business for six years. In the beginning I advertised to the public my recording services from home, which worked fairly well. I now operate my studio business within a rented commercial space on a high street.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge into starting a business around your studio and skills then you need to consider the pros and cons of either working ‘the studio’ from home or renting a space to operate in.
Running a recording studio from your home
No commute: Valuable time and money saved each day. This is time and money better spent on your business and personal lives.
No extra rent cost: One of the biggest benefits, only one rent or mortgage payment each month that supports both your home and business.
Family commitments: Working from home doesn’t take you away from your family, the family you work hard for. For instance, it makes you more available to help with family duties as and when they arise.
Space: You need to make sure you have enough space in which to work. You need to know what services you will offer to the public. If you want to record bands then you need to be realistic with what space you have available to you in your home. I recommend having a dedicated space for your studio business, especially if you are charging clients.
Work ethic: For some people, working from home can be a massive distraction especially if you have projects that need to be done by yourself. It can be all too easy to lose yourself in domestic duties or prolonged breaks. A trick I learnt years ago when working from home was to get up early and get ready as though I was going to work. I would leave the house and take a walk to buy a newspaper or pint of milk and return home. This worked for me, as on my return journey I would feel as though I was going into work.
Privacy: Your work may involve you having lots of different clients in your home for long periods of time and at varying hours of the day. You may have to let clients into your home that you do not know very well. You need to consider, if you share your home, how other members of your household would feel about extra people being around the place.
Security: Advertising is important, so is word of mouth, and reputation. You need to advertise your services and location in order for you to win work… just be careful how you do this. I knew somebody that advertised his home studio business to the public. Sadly, his studio was targeted and burgled. Along side his studio assets being stolen included some of his personal items within his house.
Running a recording studio from a rented commercial property
Work Ethic: There should be minimal domestic distractions to you and your work. I enjoy the focus I can give my business from being away from the house. It makes my home a place for me to be a Dad and family man, which in return makes my studio a place for me to be a provider and professional.
Location: Depending on your budget you can choose a location that you think best suits your needs… availability depending. You will also have a larger choice of property types and sizes… budget depending.
Professionalism: I feel more “professional” working with clients in my commercial space than at home. This is because my clients only know me in the capacity of work and have never seen into my home where my personal family life resides. I like to keep distance between my work and home life.
Cost: It will cost money to setup and trade from a rented premise. You have to budget your finances well and work out if you can afford the initial deposit, initial legal costs, rent, business rates, utilities, insurance, possible service charges and commuting / travel costs. These overheads need to be the business’s number one priority long before you even take a wage.
Terms: In the UK it is common for a commercial property leases to have a minimum 5 years on it. You need to be confident that you can forecast your finances over the length of whatever lease you are considering.
Setup: You may need to invest money into making the space workable for your needs and studio. You may need to soundproof the walls and ceiling so sound leakage is minimised and/or simply decorate the space to create an inviting atmosphere for you clients.
Commute / Travel: This is one to consider and is the polar opposite to the PRO description I wrote earlier. You have to be able to get to your business in a reasonable time. You need to factor the costs of using a car or paying for public transport, unless you are lucky enough to be in walking distance of your business.
Points to consider for both options
If you advertise your studio services at home or at a commercial property you need to be sure that you will not upset others around you. For instance, if you agree a 5-year lease on a commercial property you must ensure that the sound you will be creating inside your space will not upset your surrounding neighbours who can award you noise complaints from the council. You also need to make sure the location of your studio is not in a noisy part of London under a railway arch. Once you agree a commercial lease it can be very difficult to get out of it without serious consequences.
You need to be happy, confident and realistic with the decisions you make when locating a place to work from. You need to be able to earn money, find work and most importantly get in the habit of doing work.
In the beginning I used my ‘home studio’ as a testing ground to see if the recording job dream was something I really wanted to do independently. Years later when I chose to move the studio to a commercial unit I felt that I had made the right choice based on my experiences and skills in discovering clients and working to their requirements. I also appreciated the fact that I still had a long way to go.
Four years on from moving the studio out of my home to a commercial property has been a journey with lots of ups and downs. I can say now that I have found my rhythm and my business is happy… so I’m happy as well.
Apologies… reading this back I have noticed a lot of CONS for both options. I believe that if you are at the early stages of starting a recording studio business and that you are unsure where to put it then you’ll discover more PROS in the future within the work you’ll deliver and in the journey you’ll take in your business… regardless of it being at your home or not. There is no right or wrong way of doing anything… only what is right for you.