Growing up, kids have all kinds of big dreams about what they want to do with their futures. These are usually glamorous things like NBA players, actors, rappers, etc. For some kids, owning their own recording studios is their dream, but is a child’s dream all it is, or is owning a recording studio a reasonable sound investment?
Owning a recording studio is a good investment depending on several factors, including where you’re located, how much business savvy you have, and how familiar you are with the music industry. Startup costs can be expensive, but if everything falls into place, long-term profits can be immense.
This article will take a closer look at what it takes to make a recording studio profitable. We’ll also look at several other relevant factors, such as the associated startup costs, potential profits, and how to know if a recording studio might be a good investment for you.
Is Owning a Recording Studio Profitable?
A recording studio isn’t going to be profitable overnight. If you’re talking about building a high-quality, top-of-the-line professional studio, it may not even pull down a profit in the first couple of years. That’s because the startup costs of such a venture are so high.
If you’re starting out in the recording business, opening a small home-based studio is much more likely to be profitable than a large, professional studio. That’s because your startup costs aren’t nearly as high, and you don’t have the additional costs of renting a building, paying staff, paying additional utility bills, etc.
If you don’t have a ton of initial costs and your overhead is low, then yes, owning a recording studio can be very profitable, especially if you live in a good area for music production, have a good head for business and music, and market yourself effectively.
What Costs Are Associated With Owning a Recording Studio?
The costs associated with owning your own studio will differ depending on whether you have a professional studio or a home-based studio, and those costs can vary wildly between the two different types. Let’s start by looking at the costs of a professional studio first.
Costs Associated With Professional Studios
The following is a list of some of the most common expenses you’ll have when opening a professional studio outside of your home:
- Equipment costs
- Building insurance
- Liability insurance
- Fees for licenses, zoning, etc.
- Monthly building rent
- Separate utilities (electric, water, HVAC, trash, internet, phone, etc.)
- Potential staff salaries
- Office supplies
Now let’s compare those fees with those you’ll incur by setting up an in-home studio.
Costs Associated With In-Home Recording Studios
The following are the typical costs of an in-home studio. You’ll notice that a few of the items appear on both lists. Still, overall, the in-home list is shorter, and you’ll be responsible for paying for a professional studio in a separate building.
- Equipment costs
- A slight increase in utilities (primarily electric, but potentially water, as well)
- Potential staff salaries (if you hire someone to help out occasionally)
- Office supplies
Depending on where you live, you may still have to apply for a business license and pay other local/state fees associated with running your own business. You’ll have to check out the rules and regulations for operating a home-owned business in your area.
However you look at it, though, you’re going to have far fewer costs when opening a home-based studio than you will if you set up something in a building outside your house.
For more information, check out to see whether you need a studio to make music.
How Much Does It Cost To Open a Recording Studio?
Again, the startup costs of opening a recording studio will be vastly different depending on whether you’re opening a home recording studio or a professional recording studio, and that’s not even taking the building rental and insurance costs into consideration. We’re just talking about the different types of equipment you’ll need.
- A PC
- A DAW/audio interface combo
- Audio/recording software
- Microphones + mic stand
- A pop filter
For a professional recording studio, you’re going to need everything listed above. But you’ll also need more, including:
- A patch panel
- Cable snakes
- More monitors, mics, mic stands, and pop filters
- Sound-dampening panels
- Digital mixing board
The equipment costs alone are outrageous for a professional studio. That’s because people spending money for a professional studio expect more than they would if they were booking time at someone’s home studio.
All in all, the difference between the two startup costs can be massive.
Rick Camp of RC1 Productions and Master Mix Live put this difference into sharp perspective when speaking to Recording Connection. He said, “A home studio, or a project studio, can cost anywhere from three or four hundred dollars up to, you know, 10, 20, $30,000 to build. A professional studio starts around 40 to $50,000 on up to a few million, or better.”
How Much Money Can Recording Studios Make?
How much a particular recording studio makes depends on a lot of factors. One of the biggest is location. As with any product, you have to have something that someone wants, and there are only certain areas where music is a big, profitable business. However, that doesn’t mean you have to relocate to Nashville, Tennessee or Los Angeles, California to open a music studio.
It just means you should be sure there’s a market for music in your area before you invest a lot of money into building a studio in your home or outside of it.
You also have to be willing to put in the work to market yourself and your business appropriately. In some ways, this is even more important for in-home studios than professional ones. If you have a professional studio, you’ll have a building, a sign, a listing that appears on Google searches, etc.
If you’re operating your business from inside your home, no one may ever find out about it unless you market it. Once you get a few satisfied customers, good word of mouth will help you, but you have to get those first few customers first. You’re going to have to get your business’ name out there and let people know what you do.
Entrepreneur claims that recording studios can pull down more than $100,000 yearly; however, that doesn’t happen overnight or without a lot of work. It does go to show you that there is money to be made in recording studios. However, as with any business, money isn’t guaranteed.
How Do I Know if a Recording Studio Is Right for Me?
If you’re trying to decide whether owning a recording studio is right for you, there are a few things to consider.
First, do you even like music? That’s crucial to a career in a recording studio. You’re going to be surrounded by musicians and the world of music all day long (if you’re a successful recording studio owner, at least), so if you aren’t really that into it, this probably isn’t the best career path for you.
You also have to know, or be willing to learn, how to operate recording equipment, sound engineering software, computers, and other equipment.
Furthermore, you must have a good head for business. Loving music isn’t enough; you have to be able to handle the business aspect of owning your own business, as well. Otherwise, you’ll need a partner who’s willing to deal with that side of things for you.
Music studios can be a lucrative investment if you’re in a good location, know how to market your business, and have a good idea of how the business world works. However, they can also be a massive waste of money if they flop. With any new business, you’re taking a risk. We advise you to start small and try to build yourself a base of clients from a home studio before moving to the professional level.
- Home Recordio: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Professional Recording Studio?
- Music Industry How To: 17 Ways to Make Money with a Recording Studio
- Pro Tools Expert: How to Start a Recording Studio
- Musicians HQ: Can You Make Money with a Home Studio?
- Home Music Producer: Is a Recording Studio a Good Investment?
- Entrepreneur: Recording Studio
- SonicScoop: The Dos and Don’ts of Owning a Recording Studio
- CoSound: Transform Your Recording Studio into a Profitable Business
- Reboot Recording: Home Recording vs. Professional Studio Recording
- Recording Connection: How Much Does a Recording Studio Cost to Build?
- How to Start an LLC: How to Start a Recording Studio
- Wikipedia: Pop Filter
- Wikipedia: Digital Audio Workstation
- Wikipedia: Patch Panel