What is one of the most important parts of our daily studio routines? Surely it's keeping our studios secure? Of course it is, but I fear many guys with studios have not got sufficient security systems in place to counteract thieves. Notice I said systems (plural), not system (singular). Well planned security systems are a combination of more than one security measure. Having a strong door lock or a CCTV camera are both not enough to deter thieves.
Years ago, when I started my recording studio, a friend also launched his studio business from his house. He didn't have any security systems in place and ended up being targeted by thieves, he was sadly robbed at knifepoint. The burglars stole his computer, some of his studio gear and cash. This was a horrible experience for him to go through, it took him a long time to recover from. For me looking in on his experience the lesson was loud and clear, from that moment on keeping myself and my studio safe from thieves was going to be a top priority in my daily studio routine.
Thieves Are Everywhere
It doesn't matter if you have a small studio setup in a college dorm room, a bedroom, a garden outhouse or a multi-million dollar complex... thieves are everywhere and they are very smart... and organised.
Sure, there are some opportunists out there that will attempt to smash and grab (given the chance) but thieves these days will most likely break into your studio because they have done research and worked out a plan of action. Our job as studio owners is to counter as many opportunities that thieves could use to illegally gain access to our studios.
In this article I list several ways I protect my recording studio from thieves.
Securing your studio starts with quality locks. My studio has three, all with different keys that I store in different places in my house. Smart thieves, if they were determined enough, could possibly get through any type of lock, that's why I installed three in my main studio door in the hope that three locks will slow down any potential break-in.
Alarms & Full Security Systems
Easy install security systems are extremely affordable these days so there is no reason not to invest in one. In my studio I have a Yale Easy Fit Alarm System installed that has door contacts, motion sensors and a keypad. This package cost me less than £300, all the components work off batteries and over WiFi, all controllable via my smartphone. This system took me around 30 minutes to install and gives me great peace of mind that if my main studio door were to be compromised the alarm would sound and my phone would instantly notify me. I did several tests and the system is flawless.
Don't think or one minute that CCTV alone will deter thieves. The only benefit of CCTV is that the footage will hopefully show you the events of a robbery. Footage may or may not be helpful to police or insurance companies. I have CCTV cameras hidden in my garden pointing at areas of my property that thieves could exploit. In the past I have had people steal headphones and other small items from my studio whilst in session with me. I caught them doing it on CCTV but there was very little I could do after the fact as these guys paid cash on the day for their session and I never saw them again.
Like modern easy fit alarm systems, today's consumer CCTV systems are also quite powerful and fairly inexpensive. The main advantage of CCTV is that we can use them to view the inside of our studios and perimeter remotely via WiFi.
Gear Locks & Mic Lockers
If a thief did gain access to your studio then you should have some systems in place that will either make it hard for them to steal your gear or, at the very least, have obstacles in place that will slow them down. I have a bike lock wrapped around the feet of my Mac Pro attached to the back of my heavy studio rack. If a thief thought he could quickly steal my Mac Pro then they would have trouble doing so as it will not move further than 30cm from the rack.
Lockable cabinets are also very handy for keeping small expensive items in, such as microphones. I have an off the shelf toolbox with lockable draws. I was going to bolt this to my studio floor but instead I've loaded over 40kg of old dumbbell weights in the bottom draw making my mic locker a pig to move, let alone lift.
Try to make the outside of your studio as incognito as possible. Avoid putting "Studio" signs up as these can draw unwanted attention. When I was building my current studio I opted not to have windows. There were many reasons for this choice, one of them was security. However, without windows, the cabin looked as though it was now a workshop. I wanted the cabin to look like a generic summer house so that it wouldn't draw any attention from my neighbours. It was a simple fix, I repurposed two windows and hung them on the face of the studio. From a distance, my outhouse looks like any other garden cabin and not a workshop that could possibly house expensive gear of any kind.
Exposure To Public
If thieves had made an attempt to break into your studio then there's a very good chance they knew what they wanted to steal. If you advertise your studio online try not to give away your studio's full address, instead, advertise the area that you are in.
Have Insurance - If The Worst Does Happen
God forbid the worst does happen, but that's what insurance is for right? Not always.
If you pay for insurance always check that you meet your insurance terms, for example, some insurance companies insist on certain types of locks, ensure you have those types of locks as insurance firms don't always make payouts easily in any type of bad event.
If you don't have any form of studio gear insurance that will cover you in the event of theft then you should at least look into some options and consider the event of a robbery. What would you do if you had your computer stolen, could you afford to replace it or wouldn't it be better for you if insurance covered the cost of replacing it?
What Studio Security Measures Have We Missed?
Apologies for the scaremongering post but studio security is an important topic to talk about. As always, posts such as these are based on our own professional studio experiences. If you use a different security measure in your studio that you believe would be a nice addition to this article then we welcome you to contribute in the comments below.