by T. Perry Bowers
I work with a lot of young folks who are full of energy and excited about their prospects in the music business. They all believe they are going to make it.
I love their passion. They have such optimism and I would never try to dissuade them from pursuing a career by bringing up the dismal statistics on the matter. I would rather encourage them. I want them to have no fear and believe there is a chance for them. Because somebody has to believe! And some of them will make it. I’ve seen it happen and it will happen again.
However a recording studio is a business. Like any business it needs to make money to stay in business. If you want to record in a recording studio you need to pay their fees. Your talent and passion are great, but they don’t pay the studio’s bills. Don’t take it personally if the studio owner doesn’t give you free studio time because you can sing like Adele, freestyle like Tupac or shred like Eddie Van Halen.
It’s not a record label. Recording studios do not hand out record contracts. You pay as you go.
Sometimes recording studio owners will have connections in the record business. But studio proprietors rarely pass recordings to record execs unless the band or artist is the whole package.
What do I mean by whole package? I mean you’re a functioning, revenue-producing band or artist who already have an infrastructure around you. You have a manager, booking agent and/or lawyer. You perform the business functions of the band using the members of the band. You have your shit together.
No recording professional will send a volatile, naïve, unsophisticated, loose cannon to a record company executive. Our reputations are on the line too.
To work with a studio you need some basic business skills. Even though you will need to get into a creative, Zen-like state when you’re putting your music to tape, you’ll need your business cap on when you book your sessions.
Start with a phone call or an email. Introduce yourself by name. There’s no need to give a long introduction about what kind of an artist you are or how long you’ve been slaving away in your basement. To be blunt, the studio owner doesn’t care. “Do you have money to spend?” is the only question in the proprietor’s head.
Have a way to pay electronically – cash is a pain. If you want to take a physical tour of the studio that’s the time to put down cash, when you’re both standing there in person. But most of the time, booking a session is not done face-to-face. Trying to arrange a time to meet just to hand over some cash is very inefficient.
Get a PayPal account or a bank account with a debit card. Get Venmo, a credit card or buy a prepaid card at Wal-Mart. However you do it, step into the new age of commerce. It’s a wonderful world of efficiency.
Money and a way to deliver it are important; so is following through. Arriving for your appointments on time is critical. It makes the studio guys happy and you get to work on your dreams. No amount of talk will ever get you to where you want to be but action can.
That’s why when you first call a studio you don’t need to tell your life story. We’ve heard it all before. Be the one that blows us away with your talent, your work ethic and your business acumen. Be the guy who talks little, moves big.
My Dad was in the construction business where things were usually done with a handshake and a lot of my business is still done that way. You have to have a little faith in the world around you.
So if you want to record your music, contact a studio. Tell them your name and that you’d like to start recording. Take a tour of the facility if you like and put some money down. Work hard and show the studio you get things done. Bring your most powerful creative flow.
You never know whom the studio owner might talk to about their current client list. You could be on their mind. Your talent and how you conduct your business will impact what people think of you.
If you don’t show up on time or can’t pay for your studio time when it’s due, it doesn’t matter if you have all the talent in the world. You’ll get nowhere and everyone around you will see that.
The way you conduct yourself is your résumé. Take it seriously and you’ll eventually get the gig.