Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Designing Studios to Meet Multiple Functions

Jun 1, 2010 4:46 PM, By Lisa Horan and Kevin Hill

Jupiter Studios

Jupiter Studios

It doesn't seem that long ago that offering CD duplication—in addition to recording—was a prime example of a diversified service. Today, it's a completely different story. With technology as accessible as it is, many studios are going way outside the box and developing much more intricate add-on niches. In many cases, these additional services require additional space. At the very least, they demand a thoughtfully designed space that can effectively accommodate multiple functions, whether the services take place at the recording facility or in a second location. This month, we take a look at three studios that are managing multiple recording-centered businesses and reveal how they are transforming what could be chaos into success.

Jim Callahan, owner of busy St. Louis recording facility Jupiter Studios, is knee-deep in the development of a new live music venue. The Jupiter Club is being designed as a House of Blues–esque establishment that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. Located in a historic church building, the multipurpose complex will feature a restaurant and bar, and will serve as a dual-purpose private event space and live entertainment venue that will host national recording artists and shows. “The project has been a ‘ginormous’ undertaking so far,” admits Callahan. “In addition to the 20 hours per week that are devoted to running the studio, another 30 are spent in meetings about the club, but most of the pieces are in place and we’re looking forward to the launch next March.” Callahan says that beyond merely serving as a place where touring acts can perform, the Jupiter Club will also offer Web broadcast, live recording and video recording capabilities, which will be an added draw.

For Durham, N.C.'s Sound Pure Studios, a guitar shop and pro audio sales business have been great at drawing in an additional client base. Now, the company has taken its efforts one step further by adding a video production wing. In a short amount of time, this companion service has grown considerably. “Video has really become the face of the pro audio business in many ways, and so far it’s been a productive use of our time and energy,” says studio owner Todd Atlas. Of course, it wasn’t even as easy as buying a few cameras, shooting, editing and delivering a project. Atlas wound up converting office space into video editing suites and hiring additional staff. “Over the next few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if our video billable hours exceed our audio billable hours, so making the investment and reconfiguring the space will have been well worth it,” says Atlas.

Eric Yoder’s journey has been marked by a series of investments and risks since he founded his Chicago studio Horse Drawn Productions in 1998. The facility used to be situated in an 850-square-foot space that was primarily used for producing commercials, jingles and other recording projects; Yoder purchased a 7,000-square-foot building in 2009 that can accommodate not only his recording studio, but his ever-expanding array of add-on businesses. These services include a music/audio instruction program offering classes on music, vocals and production, as well as Pro Tools, Logic and other computer-based applications and techniques; a repair facility for musical instruments, amplifiers and other electronic devices; a separate mastering studio; a live room that is used for artist showcases, performances and CD-release parties; and an artist-marketing division. “From the time I began as a freelance engineer, I was offering instruction on some level,” says Yoder. “I learned pretty quickly that lessons that focused on Pro Tools, mixing and production were in high demand, so it made sense for me to expand lessons to classes, and to do that I needed more space to do it in.”

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