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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why owning a studio like this will mark the downfall of your musical career

 What will you do when you achieve success? Buy a state-of-the-art recording studio? No - that will be the worst decision you make in your entire life...

By David Mellor, Course Director of Audio Masterclass

Take a look at this studio. It is someone's own, personal home studio. Wow! It has all the good stuff, doesn't it?

It has an SSL SL4048G+ Special Edition mixing console, one of only ten similar models made, one of which is owned by Bob Clearmountain.

The studio acoustics were designed by Andy Munro, who designed the prestigious Air Studio (famed haunt of Beatles' producer George Martin). Munro designed the studio to be sufficiently soundproof to monitor on the huge Dynaudio M3A main monitor speakers a full twenty-four hours a day.

The studio comes with a house in a fashionable area of London, with all the usual features and facilities, plus a fitness room. The studio has never been rented out and has at all times been non-smoking.

The price for all this... �995,000 UK pounds, equivalent to around $1.8m US dollars. Sounds like a bargain.

Now I have to say that I don't know who the current owner is so my next comments may not be relevant in this case. However the evolutionary history of popular music has shown this cycle many, many times...
  1. Musician works for years in studios.
  2. Musician has hit record and makes a lot of money quickly.
  3. Musician thinks that spending all of his money, plus a substantial loan, on a state-of-the-art recording studio is a wise idea.
  4. Musician puts in a lot of time and effort supervising the project. Becomes sick and tired of the whole thing.
  5. Makes a few recordings in the studio, none of which are successful.
  6. Thinks about renting out the studio but is stymied by planning/zoning restrictions.
  7. Stops using it and twiddles thumbs for five years.
  8. Finally decides to sell up.
  9. Uses money from sale to pay off remaining finance.
  10. Lives and dies in poverty and obscurity.
As we can see, investing in an expensive home studio was not a good idea. Let's suppose the musician is you and go back to square one (you should be so lucky!). This is what you should do...
  1. Work for years in studios.
  2. Have a hit record and make a lot of money quickly.
  3. Realize that you, like so many people, may be a 'one hit wonder'.
  4. Invest all of the money you made in property (real estate) or your pension fund. Do not buy a Ferrari.
  5. Continue working and build on your success so that you have another hit record.
  6. Invest all of the money you make in an established non-music related business that is rock solid and will earn you money and retain its value for decades. Perhaps buy a low-end Porsche.
  7. Continue working and have another hit record.
  8. Realize that you are on a roll and enjoy your fame and fortune.
  9. Have the sense also to realize that it will not last forever.
  10. Have fun while it lasts. When it's over, relax, live off your investments and play golf.
This really does make sense - if you have a hit record, then you already have what it takes to have a hit record. You have just proven it. So to stand the best chance of having another hit you need to do pretty much the same things in pretty much the same way. Taking a totally different track and buying a state-of-the-art studio, and putting in the energy it needs to set it up properly, just has to be the wrong thing to do.

I'm hoping that a few people reading this might recognize themselves from earlier years and share their story. If you have blown the fruits of your earlier musical success, please tell us about it. We all would like to know - david.mellor@record-producer.com

Details on this studio for sale are available at MJQ (of course bear in mind that by the time you read this article, the property may have been sold).

Comment on this feature in the Record-Producer.com Forum
Publication date: Friday September 30, 2005
Author: David Mellor, Course Director of Audio Masterclass


  1. In this post very nicely describe all information regarding studio like this will mark the downfall of your musical career. This all information are very useful for all people who like music.

  2. I'd go for the Ferrari. I certainly wouldn't buy a studio like that. That's for people like Pete Townshend. I would spend money on a nice home. A home is something that can be turned into cash if need be, left for children, wife, mistress or dogs and it's an investment. I can't believe that people who had loads of hit records aren't anything like as well off as I imagined.