For decades, recording studios around the world were able to thrive in a healthy music industry full of platinum albums, hefty recording budgets, and, most importantly, ACTUAL profits.
Things have steadily declined over the past 15 years with large commercial facilities closing down left and right. For many studios, the final nail in the coffin was the COVID-19 lockdown.
While many are failing, some are still thriving despite the struggles of many other studios. In this week's interview, our guest has turned things around in a big way in an iconic LA studio called Total Access Recordings.
Listen now to learn more!
In this episode you’ll discover:
- What it takes to get your foot in the door at a “legacy” studio
- How fresh ideas can save older recording studios from going under
- Reducing your overhead by using extra resources you have
- The cheesy romcom of one Socal studio in the late early 2000s
- Growing out of a brand image you struggle with
- Making a name for yourself in the local scene
- Finding a need and basing your business moves on that
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Click the play button below in order to listen to this episode:
“That's what we mean by networking. It's just nurturing. It's just building relationships genuinely with an open heart and open mind.” – Brian Hood
Total Access and Steve Ornest
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Brian: [00:00:00] Welcome back to another episode of the six figure creative podcast. I'm your host Brian Hood. And I am not here with my ball. Beautiful. Co-host I miss him so much. he couldn't make the podcast today because he had a pre a pre-existing appointment that he had to be at.
Brian: So that's just the way it goes when we have guests on the podcast today. And because we have a guest on the podcast today and because they don't have my co-host today on the podcast, unfortunately I have no pre episode banter conversation to have that mean, Christina, we have, so I'm just gonna go straight in this episode, we have a treat for you today because we have a steamer nest who is a, I don't actually know what your role is, Steve.
Brian: I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna be S and then you can correct me later. Steve is a uh, co-owner of a recording studio. That's been around since 1981. And this is a studio that's been around the block there they're in LA, or they actually on the outskirts of LA. And they've worked with the likes of no doubt, sublime, Pennywise, van Morrison, foreigner, guns, and roses, a bunch of other bands like that.
Brian: And S and Steve has done something really cool that I thought was worth coming on the podcast to talk about. And that is bringing that sort of recording studio call it like the legacy era of recording studios. Like the golden days when, you know, you're [00:01:00] selling gold and platinum albums left and right.
Brian: And everyone's buying albums and it's, it's easy to make the music industry work now back in, I mean, getting through the huge dip in in the two thousands in the teens, and now we're kind of coming back again in the stream era, Steve has been a big part of bringing this studio along for the ride in the modern era.
Brian: And I think he's done some really cool stuff along with that. So, first of all, I just want to say,
Brian: Hey Steve,
Steve: man. Thanks for having me on the show. Appreciate it. Huge fan.
Brian: We'll do, I'm glad to have you on. And we were joking about this before. We're both audio nerds and you more than even, I am a, an audio nerd because like you run a very legitimate studio and, and you're in your office now with like echo-y room
Brian: computer mind.
Steve: I didn't even have headphones until my wife found them for me.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. And, and just for anyone listening chances are, it doesn't sound as bad to you as it actually sounds. Cause we have like really cool software to like really judge things up. But first of all, thanks for coming on the podcast, even in coming on to share your story with us. So just to start things out.
Brian: You're telling an interesting story, kind of how you [00:02:00] got into this in the first place, because in most cases you never or rarely see an old guard legacy studio that came up the old school way, really adapting and embracing the new era and even more. And that's why so many of them have fallen off. Like, unfortunately I don't ever want to see those studios shut down.
Brian: That's just, that's just the, that's just the unfortunate reality of so many of those studios, but the few that actually come into the new world, very even fewer of those are actually partnering with in pairing with younger people like you who are part of the new wave of home studios. And, and I say home studios, liberal, it's really just people that are approaching the business of recording much differently.
Brian: So can you tell me the story of like how you even got connected with this to be on the first place?
Steve: Yeah. So I feel like a lot of people that wind up in this business, I didn't necessarily think that I was going to wind up ever owning a studio. That wasn't really what my trajectory was, but I sort of a funny story is that while I was going to high school many, many years ago I was the guitar [00:03:00] player that, you know, always came to class with the, you know, with the guitar around his back and long hair.
Steve: And it was like that
Brian: that guy
Steve: I was,
Steve: that guy, I think I was coined Steve metal seriously, and a freshman year of high school it's anyway, this girl saw me uh, you know, at the bleachers, practicing what I should have been in class and came over and said, you know, you're really good.
Steve: I should introduce you to my dad. He's a record producer. And I was like, oh yeah, like, who is. And she said when Davis and I was like, okay. And I like went home and looked him up and it was like, oh my God, this guy has done all these records that I like love, like, you know, work with Dio and black Sabbath and all these just like legacy, guns and roses.
Steve: And so anyway, I came back to school the next day and I was like, yes, you should definitely introduce me, dad. I want to meet this guy. I had a local game coming up. It was playing with some cover band. These guys that were like twice my age doing like eighties rock covers, you know? And I, I looked down at in the audience, turned up there she is.
Steve: And there he is. And after the gig, he came up to me and he's like, Hey man, you were great. You should come by the studio sometime. [00:04:00] And he gave me his, his business card. And after celebrating for a couple of days and be like, oh my God, this is amazing. I'm going to finally meet this guy, meet the studio.
Steve: I went there and we just sort of formed this, this bond and relationship. And I think probably because that's how he started was as like a guitar player. And he had opened the studio. Just to record his band in the early eighties, like, oh, this would be great. I'll just like find the space and, and, you know, as, you know, you open a studio and then it just becomes like, oh my God, how do I pay the overhead?
Steve: And you're playing a whole lot less than running a studio
Brian: Which back then was, was even more way more overhead than, than it is now to start a, a typical studio these days, like back then it took a massive investment. And that was almost always financed either by an investor who wanted their money back or alone, who was obviously going to get their money back.
Steve: exactly. Yeah.
Steve: so yeah, so fast forward a little bit, you know when he started calling me to come to the studio and play on recordings, I wanna play on like a dock and record. And again, I'm like a teenager. So for me, this is like a giant thrill and I'm getting paid a little bit. I'm getting to meet all [00:05:00] these amazing people And,
Steve: Um, In the process this is like some fairy tale story. My mom was, of course, Lynn dropped me off. I was like a 14, 15 year old kid and the two of them met and they wound up falling in love and getting married. So when it becomes my stepdad, which is the next sort of phase of this whole thing. And so I, I wound up going to, I played with a bunch of artists.
Steve: I played with the Trans-Siberian orchestra and all these, these people is like a teenager. And I went up going to Berkeley, a music school on the east coast. And, and it's funny because all this time in, you know, like when had given me ProTools lessons when I was like 14 or 15 years old, and, at that point, like when I was a junior in high school, I was like going to people's houses and recording them with like, you know, an eight track and like three SM 57.
Steve: So I was like, okay, I can record your band. And I really had little to, I didn't really know what I was doing, but I was figuring it out as I was going. So I feel like all of this time.
Steve: Like moving myself towards where I was going to wind up. Eventually. I just didn't know it. I still thought in my head like, well, I'm a guitar player and I'm going to [00:06:00] just go and play on records and play live.
Steve: But even when I got to Berkeley, like the thing that was clear for me that set me apart was not so much my playing cause everyone's great there, but more that I would bring in like a raging assignments and they would ask like, how did you record this? Like, what studio did you go to? And I'm like, no, I did this to my attic with like ProTools and a couple of microphones, you know?
Steve: So I started to get this like, indication that this might actually be the thing that I have to bring to the table is like arranging of course, writing and playing, but really just like the recording aspect of this stuff. I moved back home and start working at the studio and, you know, a couple of years in sort of have a chat with wind, you know, and he says like, look, yeah, I've been doing this now for 30 something years.
Steve: And there is going to be a point where I'm going to want to be a lot less involved in spending all of my hours in this room that I've spent the last 30 something years and, you know, building a career. If this is something you really want to do, like you have to figure out a way to make this actually make sense.
Steve: And it was super [00:07:00] scary. I mean, I remember going home that day, just being like, oh my God, like I that's talking about like imposter syndrome, like there's huge shoes to fill. And I also don't want to feel like I'm the reason that this like legendary place is gonna come to an end or so I had to quickly sort of think about like what I knew, like what I could bring to the table to make sure that this place that already had amazing bones and a legacy could continue on in a time where everything is like home studio.
Steve: think that
Steve: pretty much brings us to current. That's been like the last like decade pretty much.
Brian: Yeah. So I'm just thinking, as you're telling this story, I'm like, this sounds like the most generic movie I've ever seen. it's like a bad nineties movie where it's like, this kid just got his guitar, the blue, yours just playing and some famous producer meets him, was like, Hey, Hey dude, come by the studio.
Brian: And like, and then fast forward through the generic montage scene with the bad music playing like the producer marries your mom and
Brian: you start, you start recording on [00:08:00] famous records and that's how you make it in the
Brian: music business. Like,
Steve: Who's going to, the question is who's going to direct it. If it's Michael bay, there's going to be explosions. We know
Brian: yeah. It's, it's going to be, it's going to be a hundred percent directed by one of the romcom directors out there. I don't know their names, but it's, it's the same person who's done. Like all of those, like the holiday, that movie,
Brian: kind of stuff. So, so to bring this part, not to, not to like diminish any of that, I'll just say, it just sounds like a generic movie
Brian: because of.
Steve: That's why I laugh when I tell it. Cause it's so it's as ridiculous. Still when I say it out loud.
Brian: All right. Let's let's, let's take this back further. I don't think I ever actually said the studio's name. It's total access recording for anyone who's curious. And for anyone who, who was in LA for the past, like 30 years in the music studio world, you've likely heard of that.
Brian: But when said something that, that you said was daunting, it was something that, that makes you, it shakes you as a creative, who was like, you were very passionate, led getting into this business, which is how pretty much everyone listening right now got into the business. They, they were, they passionately followed something that they were interested in and to create a field and they, [00:09:00] and then they had this, what I call the oh, moment.
Brian: James, have fun. Bleeping that out. Uh, The, oh, moment. Oh Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh, moment. That was for my editor just to play with them a little bit. They have the, oh moment where they, say to themselves, what wind said to you, which is you have to have a way to make this actually make sense as a business.
Brian: So from that moment on, like, what did that, what did that process look like for you as you start to work with when in total access recordings to, to make it make sense in the modern era of, of recording?
Steve: Yeah, so there were a few things. I think the first thing that we both talked about that was an obvious is that, you know, the space that we have is like 3,500 square feet. So it's not, it's not capital records, but it's also not a home studio. It's a huge space. and one of the things we realized is one of the rooms that we have, which used to function as like yet another isolation room was like never getting used.
Steve: I mean, it just, it just wasn't, you know, because even if we have a full band that's tracking at the same time, we still have [00:10:00] two rooms that we can use. And so we had this like back room that while it was great to have just extra space, because why not? It wasn't being used all the time. So we wound up at finding a producer that turned that back room into.
Steve: Essentially like a personal suite for him, but it's also a space for him to just house all of this gear. He does post-production work. So most of the time he's like on the road doing like the American idol thing and working for us. So he's not even there that often, but when he is, it's just a place that he can have stuff set up.
Steve: So anyway, that immediately cut our overhead almost in half, So that was like, step one was like, how do we lower the overhead so that this is something that I can move forward with and just know, you know? So that was the first thing that helped tremendously. The, you know, and the other thing too, is like, we're still doing, I still do work with a lot of those legacy artists.
Steve: And I started early working with Wayne with some of these bands, just as a way to, so they can be able to introduce me to them and sort of gain their trust and let them let them know that I, I work closely with him. And so even like, you know, eight, nine [00:11:00] years ago, I was working with some of these bands that now are coming back that I'm working with.
Steve: And a couple of which, like I'm going to be mixing a, a, a black Sabbath, like a live black Sabbath record in a couple of months. So we still do those projects. But one of the things I realized even then is that those sorts of projects are timed. Like they are going to run out like far black Sabbath deal.
Steve: Like there's still a huge legacy for those artists. And they will go on for a long time and we've cultivated that. But I don't really see that as necessarily being like the future of this business. I see it as being like the local community. And there's so much local talent like here and what we call the south bay.
Steve: where we're located is actually like 30 miles south of Hollywood, Los Angeles. So even though it seems like we're, oh, it's big city. We're, we're really not restorative. Like the only studio like this in a really like far radius. So the one thing I started realizing is that a lot of there's so much talent around here.
Steve: And as I was going out to shows and I was talking to artists, you know, they knew who we [00:12:00] were, but they felt like almost nervous to, to ever approach us. They're like, oh yeah, we know total access, but we can't afford it there. was like, that's interesting like that, to me, it was like, there's something here that needs to either change, or we need to figure out a way to make sure that we can get like amazing talent into the studio and not make them feel like they're being alienated because they can't afford it.
Steve: So they have to just do everything at home where they have to go to some like local place that's cheaper that maybe doesn't have the experience that we do just because they're not ready for us. So. I came up with something that has worked and again, this will not work for everybody, you know, and I sort of stumbled into it, but it's worked really well for us, which is that we do project and song quotes and hardly ever do book rate by the hour.
Steve: And that has changed everything. And the reason for it is if, you know, I tell like a young band when they come in and they say, well, how much do you charge? Which is like, if someone calls and asks that, first of all, I always try to get them into the studio. I never just say on the phone over $125 an hour, cause you're probably not [00:13:00] going to get that business.
Steve: It's not helpful. You know, there just sounds like a lot of money, you know, like, well, that's going to be a fortune, so I'll call somewhere else until they give me a lower number. We'll never win that bid. And if we don't try to, so. The thing that I found though, is that if we're to offer a package like, you know, yeah, we'll do three songs for you guys, and we're going to figure out a song rate that makes sense.
Steve: And that includes everything. It includes all of the crew production, the recording, editing, mixing, mastering, you leave with something that's commercially competitive and you're never going to have to apologize for it's going to just be great. And that's it. And that number is still like high, but it's, it's a lie.
Steve: It's, it's a lot less scary than doing the hourly thing. And man, it, started working and that caught on like wildfire and that's, that's like 90% of the business that we do now.
Brian: Yeah. So I've got, I've got a ton of notes here for this. So a thing that is interesting is. the reputation that you've had and, and the amount of time you've been around and the business that was built there. When you came in as a legacy business that comes with legacy issues, I [00:14:00] have a couple software companies, and this is the same thing you see in the software world.
Brian: They call it like legacy code, something that was built into the app long, long ago, airlines are notorious for this Delta's. All old, old, old code, all their booking systems. And it is the reason why it occasionally just craps out out of nowhere. And then you're stranded and stranded in Atlanta.
Brian: It's the reason it's legacy code. It's these legacy issues. So you have these same similar legacy issues. And I wrote a few of them here, and this is just interesting for anyone kind of falling along, even if you're not a legacy studio, which I hope a few are listening right now, because a lot of these people have not made these changes that you've talked about making, one was just legacy, overhead, meaning you have those expenses that have been piling up over the years and you, you found a really good way to get rid of one of those issues, which was extra space you weren't using.
Brian: So you, you turn that isolation room into a personal suite for the, for the other producer. And that literally cut your overhead and half, which is always a good thing. That means if you have money in the. That money now last twice, as long, if you make no income, you can live twice as long without going under.
Brian: and the fun thing about being a business is [00:15:00] we don't really play in this world to win. We're not like a winner take all kind of business. Like it isn't like the eighties, east coast, old school business practice. We play something called an infinite game. We're playing a game that we're essentially just trying to keep playing.
Brian: And so if you can cut your overhead in half, that means you can play twice as long. And it's twice as easy to keep playing this game so that we don't have to give up or file for bankruptcy or something worse. So you reduce the overhead. And I think anyone listening right now can take this to heart because the longer you're around, the more legacy costs you incur and a good example in the first place to look for anyone listening right now is go look at all the piled up subscriptions that you have that are no longer using right now.
Brian: Like Steve, I know if you went through your bank account right now, and I know I, if I did it right now, I'm going to find some, some expenses that I have to cancel because I don't use anymore. And that's
Steve: Every year when I do taxes, I do that. I'm like, how did I pay $49 a month for that thing that I've never used? Or I used once
Steve: and then forgot.
Brian: and so, yeah. So just as a legacy studio, you have, you have even harder things to deal with this. It's easy to cancel software typically, but to deal with extra space [00:16:00] that you're not that you're under utilizing. That's a much harder thing to figure out, and I'm glad you were able to do that. Second, second legacy issue that you've experienced so far was clients like these legacy clients are moving on to other things, or they're just retiring or something else where they're not really, they're not really going to be coming back to you for ever.
Brian: So you've got to think through what's the next step, which is attracting new clients, the new wave, the new younger artists, which leads to the third legacy issue that you had to deal with, which was your own reputation was working against you, which meant you had such good clout, such good positioning, even that you were actually pushing people away because you were almost too high value.
Brian: And people assume that because you're a legacy studio with a big big console in there and really nice live rooms that you're going to be way. Price range for them. And so you did something uh, interesting that I, I, I love I practice. I preach. I tell everyone in the world, you went to a flat rate pricing, you were doing packaging pricing focused on something that we call pricing based on outcome, not ours.
Brian: And that's, that's kind of the old school way of, [00:17:00] of studios being ran, which is you just price per hour. And you had like an hour rate or a day rate. And that's just how they paid. Well, younger artists don't want to do that. And the reason is they're not paying for hours, the paying for an outcome. And if they come into your studio and you're charging, just call it a hundred bucks an hour.
Brian: I don't know what your rates would have been. Had you not moved to packaging, even if they end up paying the same or more for flat rate, they at least know what to expect. No one wants to go into the studio on an hourly rate, especially an hourly, hourly rate that high, not having any clue when that clock is going to stop,
Steve: yeah. And not to cut you off, but 100%. Correct. And it also changes the environment when an artist comes in and it's an hourly rate that they've locked themselves into. I find, regardless of who they are and how many times they've done it, it just changes like the urgency in a way that's not actually productive towards the outcome.
Steve: Like it makes everything feel like, well, this has to get done in a certain period of time because we can't go over budget as opposed to let's chase that one. That's a great idea, man. Like, let's chase that and it might take [00:18:00] two hours to set that up, but that's okay. Cause
Steve: that's, that's
Steve: part of
Steve: you're paying for, you know?
Brian: yeah. So we had we had Mike McDermott, the CEO and founder of FreshBooks on the podcast on episode 1 65. he was a big proponent of, aligning your incentive.
Brian: When you're working with a client and when you charge per hour, their incentive is to get done as quickly as possible. And your incentive is to give the best outcome as possible because, you know, if you have a great outcome, then they're going to they're going to a, be happier with the outcome and B they're going to refer other people to you.
Brian: And so you're, as soon as are aligned or misaligned when you're pricing hourly, because you're fighting each other, but they're aligned when you have a flat rate because you now still want to give them the best, the best possible result. And they are willing to put in the work without rushing things, because they're trying to stop the clock so that it cuts off the bleeding of their bank accounts.
Brian: so with this change, as you, as you, as you came into this role, what were some of the challenges that you came across as trying to w were there any, if I don't want to project here, but were there any, were there any things that you had to push back on that, that, that when [00:19:00] wasn't really willing to do or that when was hesitant on?
Steve: Yeah. I mean, I think it's first of all, it is always I know for some people two weeks difficult, like working with family in our case, it's, it's actually always been fairly easy for the two of us, because I know when has always wanted to make this work for us. And for me moving forward, even though I was completely unaware for most of my life that I feel like I was sort of being like groomed in this direction of like, this is probably where he's going to go.
Steve: So I had no idea. I was just like, I'm going to be a guitar player guy. But I think the whole time, like when new, like I, this is what's going to probably wind up happening. So, but even with that said, there's definitely sort of the, like, you know, the, the old dog new tricks thing. And I think part of it was like, like one of the first things aside from what we talked about.
Steve: With getting the, uh, the extra space sort of taken care of in the studio. One of the first other things that I did was I looked around and thought to myself as like an artist or someone that played guitar in different studios growing up, one of the things that was always a turnoff is when you walk [00:20:00] into a studio and one of two things, one, it feels either like really clinical, like you're in a dentist's office.
Steve: Like that always freaked me out or too, like, it's just gross. And we'll talk about this even later, when you know about like the rehearsal business that I'm opening and how that plays into that as well. But not that this was either, cause we always did a great job of making it feel vibey, but I feel like it was like sort of hippie vibey, but not seeing all the way through like the control room had these awesome tapestries that were hung, but they were just like hanging by like thumbtacks.
Steve: Like it wasn't actually. So we decided to do like a full remodel of the studio and that took a little bit of, you know It took a little bit of, of urging him just to say like, Hey, I know this is going to be the right move. Like we need to invest in making sure that this is like the best version of what we're already doing.
Steve: So we invested in doing that and we made sure now, like the control room, how we have these like Moroccan lamps that are hanging and we have like, all the tapestries are paneled around the room and it just looks really clean. The bathrooms really clean and even something as simple as having a really [00:21:00] clean bathroom, like with, you know pre COVID of course, like towels that people can wash their hands on.
Steve: And that we have like washed every week, instead of just like little things that make the experience for someone that come in, say like, wow, this is, this is awesome. Like, I literally have people say to me, man, I can't tell you how many studios I've been to. This is the cleanest bathroom I've ever been in.
Steve: You know, it is like silly as that is. That's big. Like that's those little things make people feel like they're, they're more comfortable spending in an environment like So we did that. And then we had an anniversary party at the studio where I invited some like local press and just like a ton of local bands and people that I've made connections with over the years, just so that they could see the space.
Steve: And that was so helpful because I feel like a lot of times people call the studio and they ask like, oh, you guys are still there. You know, it's like, like they know of us, but there, and that was like, every time someone would say that it was like a punch in the stomach, I'm like, it's great that they're calling.
Steve: But at the same time, you're like, oh my God, I'm so happy to hear that you guys are still in business. So like, we need to figure out a way to raise [00:22:00] local awareness. So that was another hurdle that we
Steve: to overcome.
Brian: yeah. So I'm laughing at you're still alive. Like
Steve: you're still there.
Brian: yeah, we'll discuss some of that. I also, I want to talk about the um, again, I just, I love taking notes here and this stuff, because a, I hate podcasts to interrupt constantly with, again, this interrupting constantly and be, I don't want to forget stuff that I want to go back to when I'm talking to you.
Brian: So there's, there's one thing I wanna talk about right now, which was being better than everyone else. And you, you did something you said. Just the small things, like a clean, a clean bathroom with clean towels, which is such a stupid thing to talk about, but it, it actually shows a really important thing that like, most people don't even do the basics when it comes to keeping their clients happy.
Brian: Like you said, people, they, they like have a really sterile environment, like a dentist's office, or they're just, they keep it trashed because they're just like that all they want to do is get stone and make music and they don't care about that. Like how could the cleanliness, so there's like, there's a very happy medium between like the creative.
Brian: Trash mess of the, like the natural creative that doesn't wanna ever clean up and the over [00:23:00] sterilized, like commercial facility that has to be pristine and perfect. Like there's a nice balance. I think you've struck pretty well, but people don't even do the basics and most people are bad at what they do.
Brian: So just by doing the bare minimum, it actually goes a really long way towards making clients happy, making them feel comfortable, which makes a better performance, which makes them want to come back to you again and again and again. And, and I think, you know, that inherently, which is why you would you push for this remodel.
Brian: So let's talk about that remodel for a second. Cause I think this is something that I've seen conversations. I've seen people do remodels and I've seen it done wrong, and I have seen it done. Right. And I'm curious what your thoughts were when you guys discussed how you wanted to approach this remodel, because those can get incredibly expensive and out of hand, if you don't think that this the right way, because people want to do everything with no ROI in mind, or they want to do it as cheap as possible with, without the right, without the client in mind.
Brian: So how did you guys approach this remodel conversation and budget?
Steve: Yeah. So I just started putting a list together of the things, just looking around the studio that I thought could work more efficiently, or that might [00:24:00] enhance the experience of someone that's going to be working in a studio. And I mean, the first thing is we have a ton of gear, so it's not like a run out and just like buy if the next hot thing.
Steve: Cause there's always going to be that we don't need that. We have plenty, we have all that we need in that facility. And of course, there's always times that you get things, but that wasn't a part of what we needed for this remodel. But part of it. We did need was some of that gear over the years needed to be serviced, you know, and that was one of the things that I started seeing was that, you know, not to mention, you know, not to get into the nerd
Steve: zone, I know what you do,
Steve: I'm going to
Steve: say, it just cause I want to I want to hear
Brian: You want the lucky we, we retired, we retired, we call it now the gear lust alert. That's what we renamed it.
Brian: Well, we
Brian: that after we switched to six-figure creative, but we might bring, we might bring it back for you, man.
Steve: That's awesome. But yeah, so we have, you know, in the control room, like a rack with all these compressors, as, as one would expect, and, you know, we have like safe 3, 11 76 is right. [00:25:00] But like one of them wasn't working and one of the other ones had a light that was off. And then in the console, a bunch of the lights would intermittently switch, just like little things that weren't affecting our workflow because you don't have to be owning a studio, running a business.
Steve: You start knowing what all of those skeletons are and you learn how to just work around them. Like, cause you can't always have everything functioning at a hundred, otherwise you'd never get any work done. But so I started making a list of those things that I thought it'd be great just to not have those, those issues.
Steve: You know? So first was just like enhancing what was already there as far as gear is concerned. The second thing was, like we talked about just some of the aesthetic issues um, which weren't really like huge issues. They were small fixes. We have a great vocal booth that had like no vibe to it whatsoever.
Steve: It was just like a room that was inside of a live room. So we did the same sort of branding idea in the control room of having these like really cool tapestries panel to all the way around. We did the same thing in the vocal booth. We hung this like Moroccan lamp. So we started putting this list together anyway, of all these things [00:26:00] that none of them were like exceedingly expensive, but we just sort of went back and forth and thought about like, well, how much are we willing to spend on this?
Steve: Like, what do we think would be like a good, a good place at least to start? And that's what we worked on. We put your flooring in the live room, just things that we knew, like walking through, like this needs to get fixed. This would be great if it was, you know, different. We got a better coffee machine.
Steve: We now, like we have, you know, an awesome, like an espresso so people can make espressos for themselves. If they're, again, it's those like little things like the clean towels and the coffee and it just. That sometimes people nickel and dime and businesses, and they don't understand that it actually costs you nothing to offer
Steve: makes the world a difference.
Brian: Yeah. So I, I have always been big on not nickel and diamond clients. And the reason is it takes virtually nothing. Like you said, to create a really magical, memorable experience. And I'm going to use, I don't know why I'm going to go here with this. This is so left field, but there is a, there's a company called SoulCycle.
Brian: Have you ever heard of this,
Brian: They've been around for a while now, [00:27:00] but they do something in the fitness industry that is like crazy, at least when they started, as they did not have people on recurring payments, like a lot of gyms do. But they still built themselves to a ridiculous level because all they did and all they cared about from the very beginning, the founders cared about the experience the person had when they were in the gym at soul cycle.
Brian: So literally every single thing they created was with experience in mind and they wanted to experience it was so damn good that people would tell others. And that would create that viral effect where you have to come in here, you have to experience this. You have to see this. I have to go back. I feel so good when I'm here.
Brian: And I think that any creative can take that same approach to their businesses and their, client interactions, especially in a recording studio where you were there for so long. And I think that. Including myself years ago when I was still actually producing bands in the studio before I kicked them out and focusing on mix and mastering, when I still had bands in the studio, I did do a lot of things that people didn't do, but there were so many [00:28:00] more things that I could do if I only thought about how was the client experience here, but I, but I will say the one thing I got right, was I never nickel and dime them.
Brian: I had things for them to do like video game systems and tons of video games. And I had like, you know, I had waters and drinks for them. And I had, I did have clean bathrooms and I even had a place for them to stay at the studios who didn't have to get a hotel. So I did a lot of things. Right. But there was so much more I could have done for relatively virtually no money.
Brian: If I would've just put the damn effort in. And I think, again, Steve, you inherently understand a lot of this stuff, but so many people don't, and this is actually another issue that people in the legacy era have when they had so much success with such little effort back in the day effort on the business side, there were just, you just had to be good at what you did.
Brian: You have a lot of expensive gear, and then you get a couple of big names and then you just ride that wave into the sunset. And that's how it used to be. That's not really how it is anymore with a few exceptions, but that's really not how it is anymore. So you really have to focus more on the customer experience.
Brian: When, the supply demand curve changes, you have to change the way you do your business and, and, all this to say the experience your client [00:29:00] has any with any interaction, especially in person matters more than anything.
Steve: 100%, man. I mean, that's really what people, I feel like that's what that is at the end of the day, what they're paying for, of course they need and want and desire to leave with a product that's commercially competitive and is hopefully going to do for them, move their career down the line. But I feel like the only thing that really makes, makes it any different than, than recording anywhere else or aside from, of course like the person you're working with is the experience like they are paying for the experience.
Steve: They, and you're you're 100%, right? The little things make so much of a difference with that. I'm still learning all the time, but I think that.
Steve: I'm not quite sure why so many people seem to forget that or they nickel and dime with things that are obvious. Like you said, with having like video games in the lounge or like things just to keep, it just makes it seem like such a fun place to be while they're there, aside from being creative and making music, there's, you know, there are other activities and then you can go in the kitchen and there's coffee and a bathroom is really clean.
Steve: And you have [00:30:00] like all of these really obvious things that I think work in a lot of other businesses. I mean, especially like these days, I feel like in newer, you know, like marketing and tech businesses, you know, if you ever walk inside
Steve: one of them, they have all of
Steve: those things.
Brian: they have nap pods for there.
Steve: yeah, exactly.
Steve: And then like they haven't figured out,
Brian: Yeah. we actually put a replay episode, a few episodes back at 1 74, how you're sabotaging your business with these five toxic mindsets.
Brian: What are those toxic mindsets was the scarcity mindset. And I think that's the root of why people don't do the most that they can do. Some of it's just sheer ignorance. Like you don't think about doing some of these things and that's okay. Like not everyone thinks through the client experience because, because again, we got into this because of passion and we're just focused on the act of being creative itself.
Brian: Instead of the client experience, this is part of being a business owner and growing and learning. But the other side, the reason that people nickel and dime is, you know, you need those things, but you're afraid to let them go because it costs you money. It
Brian: might've cost you 30 cents for that and espresso, but you don't want to give those away for free.
Brian: That scarcity mindset. And that [00:31:00] stops people from, from being a Go-Giver. We had a really, really good conversation on episode one 53 with Bob Burg, the author of the Go-Giver he's the person who came up with the phrase, the Go-Giver like, go listen to that episode, go read the book. The Go-Giver if you struggle with this, because it is, it is one of the most crucial things as a solo business owner, as a creative working with clients that have to come back to you and pay you money in the future, or refer clients to you, being a Go-Giver is the only way to be successful in, in the modern era where the speed of communication and the speed of learning about people, how people are treated is so, so fast.
Brian: Like you won't, you won't make it. So let's shift gears here a little bit and talk. Um, You made a lot of these changes with the studio, and if there's any changes you think are worth continuing to talk about make note, we'll come back to those, but you're making a lot of these changes and especially with the pricing and the, the renovation.
Brian: And the question now is like, how, how are you getting the word out to the public about this, about these pricing changes about the new way you're doing things about being the new, fresh face on the old [00:32:00] legacy brand, you know, like, how are you getting the word out about this? Because you, you told me before this interview that like before you were even on the, the website had just said coming soon for over a decade.
Steve: Yeah. I mean, perhaps even longer when I first met when, and I, I tried, I looked up, I found him online and found all these, you know, thing, articles, interviews, and discography and the whole music thing. And I was like, whoa, this is crazy. And then of course went to, I found a website and went there and it was just like a blurry screen that said cutting soon.
Steve: it's, it's not Wynn's fault. I mean, he's, he did so many things right. With his business, but it's, it's back to your point of like the legacy problem thing, which is that he opened the studio in 81. He was in his twenties. He had immediately success, like within a couple of years of opening. He did his first doc and record, which went platinum.
Steve: And then after that had great white and then guns and roses. And then, you know, and then the MD's Wade was sublime
Steve: no doubt, and
Steve: just continued
Steve: way. So.
Brian: he's the author of the fairytale life.
Steve: Yeah, you're right. Yeah. Like, so like, it was really just, [00:33:00] it was like a legacy built on word of mouth and that was really it, there was no online presence.
Steve: And so that was like one of the first things. Now our website, admittedly is not perfect. I built it myself. It's actually going to be renovated again soon. And I'm having someone do that for us instead of me trying to do it myself. But I got all of the basic information that we needed up on the site and it works.
Steve: And we have oftentimes now when people call they're calling because they either found the website because they typed in local recording studio, whatever we popped up, there's pictures of the space. They can see, you know, the artists we've worked with contact information. We get a ton, like that's a huge part of what we're getting work from now is just submissions from.
Steve: And for having a Yelp presence, which love it or hate it, that's just a huge part of where business is right now. And a lot, a lot of people will call saying that they found us on Yelp. So there is that. So that was like, kind of the step one was like, okay, we need to have some sort of an online presence.
Steve: And having that party that we did help to invite someone from a local newspaper that did [00:34:00] a really great spread. And just having that like available online when you type the studio in was super helpful. But the other thing for me, and this goes even further back, so about, you know, 10 or so years ago was creating certain relationships like locally with so where we live there's like there was pre COVID.
Steve: Unfortunately it, it has closed since, but there was like one great local venue. And we also have, you know, Los Angeles rock radio station called K rock, which is like the big, you know, radio program out here. And they have they had a show. On Sundays called vocals only where they play like the best new talent.
Steve: A lot of times, like the stuff that they play a wind up being like signed artists, and it sort of feels like, why are you, like, why are you guys playing this? It already is. They already sort of have legs on them. But in any event, it's kind of a mix of like, what is already sort of working and then just like up and comers.
Steve: So anyway, I set out to create relate in some of these relationships already had, like at the venue, I'd already played there over the years, but I reached out to the owner of the venue and let him know like what we were doing. [00:35:00] Please come to this party that we're going to have the studio. I'd love for you to see the space.
Steve: Again. I know you've been here in the past, just like, you know what we're doing. There's also a lot of local record labels. Like even in the south bay, we invited them to come and see the space, let them know what we're doing. Things have changed. Your artists can absolutely afford to work here. We'll work with your budgets.
Steve: Like we'll make sure, you know, so all of that happened and. Started getting some local bands in the studio. And one of them did a song that wound up on this Chiraq program is locals only. And the woman that ran it was Kat Corbin. And she's sort of like a, a huge industry figure out here. And I started a relationship with her and she was like, Hey, this is a great song.
Steve: Anytime that you have anything that is this great. Send it to me and I'll just fast pass it. And if I like it, I'll play it on the show. And that over the last few years has sort of turned into something where now local artists, like I remember being in a, at a venue a few months ago and someone, someone pointed at me and they're like, you're the guy that gets bands on K rock.
Steve: And it made me laugh because I'm like, man, that's hilarious. Like not [00:36:00] real, like sort of, but not, you know, it's. So I think just having some of these, like working on cultivating relationships that were either already there or just needed cultivating was part of the success of moving this forward.
Brian: you mentioned something that is I hope people didn't miss because it's really easy to zone out and think like, oh, he just has all these connections. I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna keep doing my dishes here and not think of not listen to what he's talking about. But Steve, Steve is is clever and he's doing, he did something that most, most entrepreneurs, freelancers, especially studio owners won't do.
Brian: And that is be a social hub, be the center of social the old school social network, which was like a network of friends being the hub of that. The center of that is incredibly valuable because you are literally creating value for people. So I'll give you an example of myself, cause I just love to talk about myself now.
Brian: So, when me and my wife got married, like one of our goals was we wanted to make sure we were a, a good solid hub of. Because if you don't have a good solid hub, the center of the group, [00:37:00] like, things don't happen. Like Hangouts don't happen. Dinners with friends, holiday things, parties, like all of these things don't happen.
Brian: And the, the lack of that thing happening is a lack of value being created in the world. Connections really good conversations, really being filled up emotionally. And so we, we make it a point to do that. We do, we do events, we do things. We, we bring our friends together as much as we can, especially now, now more than back in 2020, but before that even.
Brian: Some of these things as well, and this creates value. So I'm saying like in the, in the business world, it's exact same way. I see this all over the place. There's that? There's the one freelancer or the one person who's like the social hub or a center area for people to gather. They put the time effort, energy of connecting people and they reap the rewards in a magnificent way because they're willing to put in the work.
Brian: And when, when people say networking is a way to get clients, I shutter because I
Brian: hate that.
Steve: I was just going to say to you, like the term networking makes me cringe, especially out here in Los Angeles where everyone, you know, there's always that preconceived notion that everyone here
Steve: like [00:38:00]
Steve: that they're just trying
Steve: to do things for themselves
Steve: some ways it very much is man,
Steve: I'm originally
Steve: an east coaster, so yeah, I know.
Steve: Totally. But yeah, you're right. The, the, the term networking is just so cringe, inducing, and I think really what it is, isn't it? Cause people will ask me. And then how do I make that connect? Or how do I get that? You know, I'll, I'll be working with an artist and you're like, I saw this artist that you worked with is playing this at this festival.
Steve: Like, how did they get that? How do I get there? How do I network with those people? And I'm like, you don't, you just focus on cultivating relationships, like instead of worrying about those things, like worry more about being great and cultivating relationships with people that you already have. And I think that's, that's like the giant misstep for people is they always think that it's someone they don't know already, but a lot of times it's like starting with what you already have and
Steve: then just
Steve: going out from there.
Steve: If that makes any sense,
Brian: Yeah. So I want to give a really good example just to really like drive this point home. There's a guy here. I mean, there's tons of people [00:39:00] here. I'm not, I don't want to say this is the only person doing this, but there's a guy here in Nashville by the name of Billy Decker. I'm going to give him a shout out here.
Brian: He was on episode 13 of our podcast. And that episode was titled how social skills help Billy Decker dominate the Nashville mixing scene. So he's a country music mixing engineer here in Nashville. And he was like, he might've, he actually might've been our first guest on the podcast. I, I, I'm not, I don't quote me on that, but we typically don't have, especially in the first hundred 50 episodes, we never had guests.
Brian: It was just me and my co-host talking. And so Billy did. Is a master of networking. I'm using that in air quotes here. If you're not watching the video on YouTube, he's a natural, a natural networker because Billy Decker is incredible at nurturing. That's really what networking is. When people say networking is the solution to getting clients.
Brian: What they really mean is nurturing the relationships, but not just nurturing. Billy Decker is also a master at building brand new relationships. And he does it because he is an avid. Open book and he is open to say, he just says yes to everything. I don't know how he gets anything done, because like I send [00:40:00] people to belly, like, they're like, I'm new to town.
Brian: I'm trying to get into country music, blah, blah, blah. I'm like, have you talked to Billy yet? Like, I'll just send people their way. And he'll like, bring them over to the studio and meet them and have like, and what's, what's crazy is because he's such a Go-Giver and he's so open and so honest and so nice and so caring and also good at what he does.
Brian: That's an important part of that because of that, he builds and nurture these relationships to the point that when these people, 10 years ago that were new to town and just getting started and Billy Decker was an open book to them and brought them into the studio and showed them around and was super nice to them.
Brian: Like they now. And when it comes time somebody in my circle needs, country music, mixing their songs mixed or whatever. I'm going to recommend Billy Decker hundreds at a time. And that's how he stays booked up. That's how he has opportunities. That's how he has his own plugins, because he did that exact same thing with his business partners who put out his plugins and so forth and so on.
Brian: So I'm not going to talk on that anymore, but that's what we mean by networking. It's just nurturing. It's just building relationships genuinely with an open heart, open mind, open hands and not trying to clasp. I'm using hand motions here. If you're watching on YouTube, if you're not go watch our [00:41:00] interviews on YouTube.
Brian: So any thoughts on that, Steve, I talked to you much when I get into my room, I'm on my soap box right now.
Steve: No, no, me too, man. I take it.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, uh, again, let's shift gears here because want, I want to talk about this before we wrap this up and that is expanding into other revenue streams.
Brian: This is something that a lot of people, Due to early, or they don't do it all, which is also a mistake. And, and I I'd like to kind of get your thoughts on what you're doing and then I have some follow-up questions as to what you're after, after you tell us what you're doing for other revenue streams.
Steve: absolutely. So, one of the things that I wanted to talk about is that aside from having bands come to the studio and, you know, producing songs, mixing mastering all of the basic obvious services, we also in the last like 15 or so years have done quite a bit of music licensing. And again, it's that world is, is funny.
Steve: It's extremely relationship driven. But I started doing this, you know, pretty much straight out of college. I started working for this company called.
Steve: Where I've right. You know, sync [00:42:00] music for them. And a lot of times, you know, those deals are the kind of thing where, you know, you're not necessarily all the time, like making any sort of upfront, it's just like a backend sort of thing, which might work when you were like 19 years old.
Steve: But obviously as it goes down, unless you're just putting so much content into the machine, it might not make sense to even have that be a part of what your business model is. But because I did so much content when I was younger and I was able to sort of cultivate this relationship with this company in the last like five or six years, they've been, they've expanded their business to doing custom content.
Steve: So they'll have like a client that needs a song for a commercial, but they don't want to have to pay like the, you know, the master fee for using. So they'll have, they need to hire someone to say like, do a sound alike or they need, I just recently did this um, awesome audio book called margarita in the spotlight.
Steve: It was to say about this like young country band. And they needed a bunch of original music for it. Cause it's not audio book. So they wound up hiring me to do. And those games wound up being fantastic. Like not only musically and creatively, but also [00:43:00] financially super rewarding on the front end. So, and that is just from years and years of like doing all of this work with these guys.
Steve: So that's been a revenue stream, just the licensing thing. That's
Steve: super helpful for us.
Brian: I was going to say music licensing is the area that so many people I see wanting to get into that and the, the problem. And here's why, I want to talk about your, also your rehearsal space here in a second, your upcoming revenue stream.
Brian: But I want to, I want to talk on this for a second. Basically. Licensing is an interesting beast. It is so lucrative, like you said, it can be, but it is also incredibly relationship driven. And this is when I say people trying to get into revenue streams before they're ready. I see 70 people saying this is something I'm working on while.
Brian: And so I'm just going to, I'm going to soapbox for really quick. I'm so sorry to do this with a guest on, but people move to other revenue streams too early. I'm not saying you do this because you, you actually have been successful with this and you cultivated relationships. I'm just for anyone listening right now.
Brian: And this is, this is for my listeners. They struggle in one area, maybe their studio, maybe they're a designer, maybe whatever it is that they're struggling with to get clients they're not making enough to make ends meet. And so they look [00:44:00] to these other areas as a means to supplement their income. And what happens is the same skill set they're lacking to be successful in, in revenue stream.
Brian: Number one is going to be the same exact thing that holds them back from being successful in revenue stream. Number two. Now, if you are successful in revenue stream, number one, you can likely take those same skills and be successful to an extent and revenue stream. Number two. But I just want for anyone listening right now who was like, oh yeah, that's music licensing.
Brian: I'm gonna get into that now because your, but your studio was failing. Like, don't do that. Like get revenue stream number one, figured out. So that's Brian on the box. but music licensing. Can we talk about, you don't have to give specifics, but like, can you talk about what some of those deals look like and, and how you either negotiate or is it just like, they're going to tell you what to do and how much they're going to pay you and you just say yes.
Brian: Thank you. Please be more.
Steve: Yeah, no, it's, it's actually mostly negotiable. But again, I think that that is just because of years of cultivating and them knowing that they can come to us and we're going to deliver content that they're going to be able to use and it's going to make them look good because in some ways the whole [00:45:00] cock, the custom content and bottle means that they're working really as like a middleman, you know, like you have this licensing company, that's just contracting a studio or a composer to create this music, and then they're charging whatever they charge on top of what you're charging.
Steve: So sometimes it's a hundred, you know, a hundred percent or whatever their, their fee is. So really what it is is sort of just like we were talking about before, it's just being great and cultivating a relationship, you know?
Steve: Getting into appointments, as far as like specifics on deals. There are times where we have to turn stuff down, but usually we'll try and make it work.
Steve: Like most of the time I will because, it could be anything like they'll call and ask us to do something that's like that game that I talked about, you know, where it was like for an audio book where you had to do all of this custom content. So I'll try and usually figure out like what object.
Steve: I think it's just like anything, just like any sort of custom quote that you're gonna come up with. Like how much time is this actually going to take? And then just try to figure out sort of like what that might look like if you were to charge something and make sure that it's not going to make them go running for the Hills, but also more [00:46:00] than enough covers your costs and make sense for you.
Steve: And then sometimes there's like a round of negotiating and what's the kill fee, which means what if the client gets it and hates it, you know, is there like any, like if they just say, you know what we don't want to do. What do they still owe you for the time that you've already spent? And in which case, usually our kill fee is usually a hundred percent.
Steve: Like that's something we don't negotiate on because if we're going to put a ton of time and call our contacts and have great players come to the studio, everyone's getting paid. The good news is that we've never had at least not yet knock on wood AI project,
Steve: where they turned around
Steve: and said, we hate this.
Steve: So it's like
Brian: but it's good that you have a kill fee in your contract for that.
Brian: And I think a lot of our listeners right now, they're like, oh, should I have a kill fee? And my contracts and my clients like likely no, because in most cases, unless you're working with a big corporation, you don't need that sort of protection. And also you're not going to go to collect on that from your client, because the last thing you want to do is start suing your clients to collect on, on kill
Brian: fees. Yeah. It's like, they're, they're using a kill fee because they want to get out of the contract. So I'm going to Sue them to collect that. No, [00:47:00] that's not how it works. I would say stay away from that. But this is just something kind of came to my head. Do you think that's a scalable, a scalable revenue stream for your business?
Brian: Or do you think that's just something you just take on when you get it? Like, is that something that you can actually scale up and
Steve: I think it is. And, and the reason I think so is that because some times what'll happen and is, you know, instead of just this company, APM contracting the work from the years of working with them, sometimes some of these companies that they've acted middleman for will reach out directly. And of course, we'll contact APM and say, Hey, we just got a call from this company.
Steve: Is it okay if I take the lead? And they'll say, of course, like you just go ahead and work with them. So I do feel like cultivating, that is the same thing as cultivating a local talent, where you wind up being like one of the guys that they know they're going to get great content from. So I, I think it's, it's definitely a healthy income stream for us.
Steve: And it's something that's, it's
Steve: in the back of
Steve: my mind
Steve: is like, how can we scale this up more?
Steve: But it's never been like the main
Brian: this is like way off topic for what I wanted to talk about, but I still want to talk about it, so I'm [00:48:00] gonna bring it up. But do you ever think about, like why when is it time to focus solely on this new, like exciting revenue stream that seems to be working and going all in to try to scale that up versus maintaining or growing what has worked in the past?
Brian: Cause that's the, that's honestly going back to the core of this conversation as a legacy studio, you have all these revenue streams that you've kind of tagged along over the years. That may be shrinking now. And then you have the new stuff that's kind of coming up. At what point do you just say, like, if I put all my focus on this new revenue stream or this, this new area, I'm going to see more success than trying to drag along the old stuff with me?
Brian: Like, do you, is that something that's ever entered your mind or do you think
Brian: about it
Steve: It just keeps me, it keeps me awake. You know what I mean? we were sort of joking earlier that when we were first chatting about like the work work-life balance, which I struggle with, and I know a lot of others that do this do as well,
Steve: I also, you know, this is sort of such a sidestep, but I'm very much like a routine creature.
Steve: And I believe that all successful people have to have some sort of routine, but I, I wake up pretty early every day and I will [00:49:00] spend like, at least an hour, just like making notes about things that I want to think about, you know, like for the coming week or even like bigger picture, like over the course of the next month, here are just like some things that need my attention.
Steve: And, and that, that does come up sort of frequently, I guess I've tried to like, think about all of these revenue streams as like zooming out from them instead of it. Like, I'm never going to be in a situation where I'm gonna be able to put all of my energy into licensing as the main stream. Cause I don't think that that's going to be like the way forward for the studio is like, oh, we're a licensing studio.
Steve: All we do is work with these companies. But since it's like, you know, a fifth or a quarter of our income or somewhere along those. That's about as much attention as I'm able to really give it, you know? And so I think it's more for me. And again, I don't know if this would work for everyone or if you have ideas of how I could be doing it better, but I zoom out and I think of it as just pushing all of those things that are important to me, and that seemed to be working
Steve: I try
Steve: that maybe aren't
Steve: working as well.
Brian: yeah. I'm not going to comment on it too much because like everyone's priorities are different, especially [00:50:00] when we're in a creative field, because we're not just a brick and mortar business that just looks at it as a business.
Brian: We also have a creative itch that we're scratching. So it's up to us to balance where that, where that is, where like, even if something could be way more lucrative, like you could go all in with music licensing, just use that as an example, but that if that doesn't scratch your creative itch, it's really hard to, to make that work because yes, it could be more lucrative.
Brian: Yes. You could go all in with it and get more clients and scale it up and to be way better business, but she'll hate it. And it's now just a job and you might as well just gotten a job somewhere. So I understand having to balance that. And maybe even you do enjoy it with it being one fifth of your time, but doing it full-time would be miserable.
Steve: I think you're right, right. I think that's actually what it is, is like the reason that it stays as being like one fifth of my attention or whatever
Steve: was throwing out is because that's like as much
Steve: I really
Steve: want to give
Brian: We don't believe in just making money to make money. Like that's th that's the whole thing is it's your business. You have to decide how you want it to be. And like, I try my best not to push people in directions for solely on a monetary decision. And everyone listening needs to, to understand that, like, [00:51:00] don't feel this unnecessary pressure to build your income in an area that you're going to hate.
Brian: Now don't get me wrong. This is not what I'm saying. Here's what, here's, what I'm not saying is you don't have to try to do things that stretch you because you're uncomfortable with them because you will have to do that if you want this to be an income stream. But I'm just saying don't blindly chase money.
Brian: As all I'm saying, you will still have to stretch yourself and do hard things that is inevitable, but you don't have to go into areas and do things that are against your creative soul. So let's shift real quick as we kind of wrap this conversation up, Steve You're you're talking about you're you're in the middle.
Brian: Preparing and about to launch kind of like rehearsal spaces. And I've seen a few studios talk about this and ask questions about the business model behind this. Can you talk about like what you're doing with that? And then we can get into some discussions around like the numbers behind it or at least the model behind it.
Steve: absolutely. So this has been something that I've thought about for a long time, and there's a couple of reasons behind it. One is just over the years, you know, being a player and. You know, being in different cities where [00:52:00] you're like, say you're on tour with a band and you're like, you know, you're in Austin.
Steve: Cause you're going to play at south by Southwest and you just, the band just, just got in and you want to rehearse. So you look up rehearsal studios and there's like two places that you can go to and you pick the one that seems the least gross and you get there and it still grows. And the sound is atrocious and you're fighting through all these things.
Steve: And there's other bands that are, it's just like, that has annoyed me to no end over that it's so hard to find a place again, it's sort of like what we were talking about. You know, it seems like there was either the bottom or the very, very top. Like there were places like out here, or I guess
Steve: sir, or
Steve: staging that are crazy expensive,
Brian: We have some of those in Nashville as well. They're they're like really? They're more like a way to, to, to prepare for your tour. Like for big bands to
Brian: prepare for tour. It's not a rehearsal space.
Steve: they're only fancy in the sense that it's like a lot of space, but they're not even like that. Nice. It's just like, you're in an airplane hanger, you know, like here's like 5,000 square feet, you know,
Steve: to town,
Steve: we have [00:53:00] catering if you want it. But yeah.
Steve: the other thing, so that's one of, one of the reasons for doing this. The second is that I've always wanted a space that I can have a band come and do pre-production before they're going to come into the studio and not like there's a lot of times they're going to come and do pre-pro, but it's like a week before their session.
Steve: It's not necessarily the day before or five days leading up to sometimes it's a month before if they have other commitments. So I wanted to have a space that I wouldn't feel like I had. Put them in our library, Mike, everything up, do this whole to do, just to do a rehearsal session so I could give them some notes.
Steve: And again, what I would do for years is I would have to pick a place in town, drive out there, you know, 30 something miles to a place that was gross. That sounded
Steve: that there's
Brian: which by the way, 30 something miles in LA is like a hundred something miles, anywhere
Steve: yeah, I mean it it's, oh my gosh. Yeah. You have to plan around like eight hours of the day. It's like, well, if it's going to be anywhere between the hours of seven and 10:00 AM or three and 7:00 PM, like forget about it. So, yeah. So I've been thinking [00:54:00] about this for awhile. And then this unit came available in the same complex where we are that many, many years ago when had actually like put a little bit of attention.
Steve: He had, he had subleased it out as. Like a workspace for someone who was like a pretty well-known session drummer. So he had put a little bit of time and resources into building this room and then he wound up losing the space and it became an office, you know, for many years. So these people left and I went to check it out and it is literally the perfect bones for rehearsal space.
Steve: Still requires quite
Steve: bit of investment, but essentially what returning it into my partner and I that are doing this is a 1000 square foot suite. And it's only one rehearsal studio. It's basically the way that I'm comparing it to is like an Airbnb rehearsal suite. So when you book it online, you're going to get an entry code and the door handle has an entry code, the band.
Steve: We also have a load up door if you need it, let yourselves in and it's. Going to [00:55:00] be a space where the room is acoustically treated. It's all top of the line gear. It sounds incredible in there. And it looks, it's the same branding that we have at, at the recording studio. So we have the tapestries in the walls supervise.
Steve: There's also like a small writing, sort of like a Nashville writing room inside the space offer water and coffee. There's a lounge with TV and video games and the whole exact, like what we talked about before. So it's basically a place that a band can go, whether they're getting ready for a gig or going into the studio and they can spend time distraction for you without any other bands and just get work done.
Steve: and that's what we're doing.
Brian: So you're doing this. And then at like an hourly fee, are you doing it a day thing? Like Airbnb, like per night or per day essentially would be that like, how is the, how's the pricing going to be set up with this and keep in mind anyone listening right now, this is not a proven successful business yet. So like, don't go out there and start mimicking this yet.
Brian: But it's just interesting to talk about, because I like to hear about this and I'll probably bring you on, or at least pick your brain on how this turns out in the future. But how are you thinking about pricing this as of right now, without, without actually having done this yet?
Steve: Yeah. So, so one of the things I realized is that again, we're sort [00:56:00] of, it's like finding a niche that doesn't really exist, so you're right. It's unproven, but that's sort of been the story of my life is like finding the thing that's not there that seems like people need, so two things happened in the last year and a half during the pandemic is that two of the biggest rehearsal studios in one of the south bay and one in Los Angeles closed.
Steve: So there is literally now, like, no, some even like, you know, even in that rehearsal realm that we're not trying to do, which is like, you know, tons of rooms in one building, they just don't exist anymore. So I know that there's a need for this. And I mean, just like we don't even have the website
Steve: up for people
Steve: it opens next month.
Steve: So I'm really
Brian: a good sign.
Steve: Yeah, so we're, we're pricing it, you know, it's higher than the usual. I find that most of those hourly places are somewhere in the, like 30 to 40 something range depending on back line and what you need. So we've priced this at $49 an hour with a two-hour minimum, hoping that most people are going to be booking this like as half-day or full-day, which we do have [00:57:00] like price breaks.
Steve: If we get into that. And my thinking is that, you know, again, we're not trying to alienate like local artists that want to come and have a great space. We're also not trying to cater to everyone. Cause I think that's also, when you try to cater to everyone, you wind up catering to no one in some ways, you know, and I feel like I don't want to have 18, 19 year old kids coming in and just like turning everything up to 10 and destroying speakers.
Steve: And like, we're not trying to be that kind of studio it's really meant to be a place that just sounds great that a band
Steve: can Come and, and,
Steve: that's what we're starting off as.
Brian: Yeah. So you, you, here's the thing that I think everyone hopefully notice was when you talked about what you were creating you naturally actually went into the why first and there's a, there's a famous Ted talk start with why that's, that's kind of the gist of this.
Brian: It's like, if you don't understand the why behind launching a new revenue stream or business at all, it's going to be very difficult to understand what you should do and how you should do it. And so by starting with why starting with understanding the problem and the person you're helping it does make it a lot easier to start the business.
Brian: And just a note for anyone [00:58:00] listening like this, this sort of methods to me, it sounds like it would work really well in a city like LA or possibly even Nashville, but especially in New York cities that don't have a lot of rehearsal space for bands because they live in apartments or places where it's shared living or somewhere where you can't make a ton of noise, or so really dense housing areas.
Brian: So that's kind of one thing you have going for you, Steve, is there a. Is there anything you have in mind as far as how you're going to promote, or are you going to move? Are you going do anything around recurring billing or anything to, to get recurring revenue? Like what are you, what do you have in mind for it?
Brian: After you launch it?
Steve: Yeah, so the website's going to be up December 15th and then the opening is January 3rd. And we have like an open house sort of party that's coming up in December on the 19th. One of the relationships that I, that I've cultivated over the years is with a local PR team that works with a lot of like great artists and, and that, and he's actually helping me get some press like there's already been just since, you know, he did something a couple of days ago, put a press release out there, a couple of places that have picked it up online.
Steve: And so the idea is to get again, just to sort of raise local awareness[00:59:00] in the means of, you know, doing some press like some online, some, you know, some through like local papers and things like that. He's also reaching out to like a lot of the bands that I've worked with and their management and just like letting them know, you know, I mean, one of the bands that we've had in the studio over the years is Pennywise.
Steve: And for a long time, they would ask us like, can we rehearse at your studio? But it didn't really make sense. Like it doesn't our, our model where we are, does not make sense for it, for us, turn it into like a rehearsal facility. So this is kind of like a perfect solution for a band like that. And it's also not, you know, you're not going to a center staging or sir, where you're spending
Steve: $2,000 a
Steve: mean, it's sort of like the middle
Brian: That's great. So thinking like my brain is always doing stupid marketing ideas and we, we uh, we interviewed, Mike , on the podcast a few episodes ago back on episode, 1 66, the three simple steps for marketing that can't be ignored. So Mike was throwing out some really out of off the wall, crazy ideas for marketing.
Brian: That was interesting. And the whole thesis behind it was great marketing is actually something that makes you pause and consider what [01:00:00] you're looking at. And so his example he gave in that episode was like at the gym, putting the. Like fun mere house mirror where you're short and squat and fat. And that's your before photo.
Brian: And then your after is like the tall, skinny, like thin, and that's the after sign, you know, at a, at a, it was for a gym that's in a really high traffic area. So it made sense obviously, but I'm thinking through in your, in your rehearsal space and this, honestly it would work for any studio recording studio to is having we, we were going to do this in one of our Airbnb themes.
Brian: We were, we almost signed a lease here in Nashville and this is before all the permit changes here, we were going to do a really cool themed Airbnb, where we had like themed rooms for like Johnny Cash and like other kinds of like themed bedrooms and stuff for like just national theme stuff.
Brian: And one of the things we were going to do is have a really cool photo booth area where it's just like a tripod for your phone. We don't have a camera there, but we have the whole. And Fay and everything around it, too, for people to take fun photos when they're traveling to Nashville. And I think it'd be interesting just to try this, to see if you have like a theme to, but branded kind of backdrop and fun thing for [01:01:00] bands to why they're rehearsing just to, just to get a stupid photo
Brian: social media.
Steve: that is a really good idea. I
Steve: mean, I'm going to have to think on
Brian: yeah. It's, it's, it may be totally, totally off brand for what you're trying to do there, but it
Brian: makes sense in the air,
Steve: the other, the other day, my partner was like, what about trying to, you know, is there any way to, to bring in like VR sort of like that whole space into what we're doing?
Steve: You know? I think we start with where we are, but I'm sure we'll
Steve: find something that's going to be funny and clever that you
Brian: So I try not to talk about theoretical stuff that is unproven.
Brian: So I'll I'll of, I'll kind of end it right here. But dude, I just want to say, thanks for coming on here and chatting with us about all this and I'm excited for what you got going on in the future with both with the studio and the rehearsal space. Cause that's, it's always exciting when you have something new coming out, but can people go to learn more about you and get connected with you and, and, and all that fun stuff.
Steve: Yeah. So we're, we're online. Obviously on Instagram I am at, at CBRE nest or you've looked us up at, at T your email@example.com TA rehearsal.com through rehearsal. One's going to be launched here just in in the next week or [01:02:00] so.
Brian: Awesome. So that all those links will be in our show notes with the exception of the one that's probably not live yet the rehearsal space, but for anyone listening yeah, go check out those links in our show notes. And until next time, we'll see you all next week, bright and early Tuesday morning.
Steve: Thanks so much for having me Brian. so yeah,
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