PopMark Media's October 2011 Confessions of a Small Working Studio: Lessons From Studio Owners

Oct 17, 2011 3:38 PM, By Lisa Horan

Lesson #10: Expect and Embrace Sacrifice

Success in the recording business will not come without some sacrifice, so be prepared to make some of your own. “I work a lot,” admits Dennis. “There are no shortcuts in what I do. I work hard, I live by the calendar so I can get everything done, and I recognize that I’ll have to sacrifice having much of a personal life to do the job I do, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.” If you’re not willing to work hard—sometimes for small material gain—the music industry probably isn’t for you.

Lesson #11: Put the Client First

Every lesson you learn along the way should culminate into one important reality: The work you do is not about you, it’s about your client. “Your clients come to you because they expect you to record and capture their art, not because they want to help you pay your bills for the next month,” says Woodhouse. “It’s your job to put them front and center, to highlight their artistic expression and to add a little more on top to justify why they chose you over the other guy.” If you keep that lesson in mind, you’re on the right track.

Some of Our Favorite “Lessons” from Past “Confessions” Interviewees

“My ultimate goal is to make sure that my client is happy with what I deliver, and I will work on a project until I feel it is acceptable, but at the same time I have to monitor myself and force myself to stop if I see that I’m putting too much time into a project and not getting a fair amount back.”

—Kevin Kniowski, May 2011

"If we’re asking a band to spend their hard-earned money at our studio, especially given the current economy, they have to know that you care how their project turns out. It’s really important to imply a promise that they’re going to leave happy and that we’re going to make sure of it.” 

—Doug McBride, September 2010

“I could set up high-quality Neumann mics in a home studio and the sound would be okay, but the reality is, what I get is not going to sound the same as it does in an acoustically treated space that has been specifically created to record music.” 

—Adelio Lombardi, November 2010

“Just because you have a Pro Tools box doesn’t mean you know how to use it. The more you read and study the craft, and the more you learn about the business of making records, the better you’re going to be able to handle unexpected curves that vocal sessions tend to throw at you during sessions.” 

—Vance Powell, August 2011

"I was fortunate enough to be able to capitalize on [opportunities] by doing the best that I could do on every project that I was given, and I think that is what is largely responsible for what I've been able to do."   

—Andrew Dawson, March 2011

“You’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to be prepared—always!”

—Darlene Love, July 2011

“It's a big deal for artists to go a long way from home to do a recording project, so establishing a sense of familiarity and comfort before they ever set foot in the studio is really important."

—Steve Tviet, June 2010

“We can’t have a client feel like they’re dealing with some apathetic stranger.”

—Andy Symons, October 2009

Lisa Horan, Stephen Joseph Antonelli and Kevin Hill, co-founders and owners of PopMark Media, will be sharing some of their own lessons at the 131st AES Convention in New York on October 22nd when they will be featured on a panel entitled “Lessons from Savvy Owners,” which is sponsored by SPARS. 

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