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What is a Music Studio Business?
The music industry in the UK is worth a huge £4 billion and the music market in the UK is thought to be the biggest in Europe. Following a temporary drop during the Covid-19 pandemic, the music business has quickly recovered, with an overall growth of approximately 13% in 2021 and sales increasing by 4% in 2022.
The UK is known around the world for producing some of the most well-known musicians and songs of all time, including artists such as The Beatles, Elton John, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Adele and Ed Sheeran. With British music being hugely successful across the years and the music industry once again on the rise, now is a great time to set up a music studio business.
A professional music studio is a facility for sound recording. It is usually a soundproofed area that is designed specifically to allow a musician to achieve the desired acoustic properties. Studios ensure that sound is recorded with precision and accuracy.
A recording studio is usually a specific size, to ensure the room responds to sound appropriately and is soundproofed to provide sonic isolation between the different rooms. Absorption and diffusion materials may also be used to achieve optimum acoustics.
A music studio usually consists of three rooms:
- The studio room: Often called the live room, this is where the sound is created for the recording, usually by voices or instruments. It can often hold several artists or a band at the same time. It provides acoustic isolation for different instruments and is often separated by a glass window so that other people who are involved in the creative process can see into the room.
- The vocal room: This is a small room or booth that is often inside the studio room but is separated acoustically. It is specifically designed for recording lead vocals. A vocal room isn’t found in all recording studios.
- The control room: Where the sound from the studio is recorded and manipulated. This is often where the music producer, the sound engineer and other relevant people watch the recording session. This room is where any post-recording production takes place, such as editing, mixing and mastering the track.
- The equipment room: This is where any machinery that is necessary to the recording process is kept so that it doesn’t interfere with the acoustics. Equipment rooms are also used to store recording equipment that isn’t currently being used, such as amplifiers and studio racks.
A commercial music studio can target established artists or up-and-coming musicians. You could choose to rent out your studio as a recording space while not being involved in the creative process, or you could offer your customers the complete studio experience, including creating and producing the track.
There are several different types of music studios. Different types of studios will attract different clientele, will have different creative functions and capabilities and will have different costs attached. When setting up your business, you must determine which type of music studio you want to set up.
A professional recording studio
This type of studio has the optimum space and will likely have multiple dedicated live rooms for different instruments and vocals. It will also have optimal acoustics, such as a floating floor that isolates any external noises.
A commercial recording studio
This is a larger studio that is used for large-scale industry projects, for example, producing the audio for films, a large band or a choir. They are usually built on a much larger scale and are designed to accommodate a large number of people at one time.
A home recording studio
With the advancement of technology and the rising popularity of digital music, home recording studios have become increasingly popular and successful. Digital music has different equipment requirements than other types of music and this equipment is usually a lot smaller. This means that digital music can be recorded from a significantly smaller space. Home recording studios are usually built on a budget and can accommodate fewer people. They are often built in spare bedrooms, office spaces and garages that have been converted and soundproofed. Many musicians install a home recording studio inside their own homes for personal use.
There are many different tasks associated with running a music studio business. These tasks can vary depending on how involved you are with the music production.
Some of the tasks you could be responsible for include:
- Planning recording sessions.
- Communicating with customers.
- Setting up equipment.
- Ensuring the sound levels and recording is correct.
- Operating the recording equipment and adding effects.
- Editing, manipulating, mixing and mastering the sounds.
- Equipment maintenance.
- Logging and archiving the session.
- Resolving any audio-related issues.
- Ensuring your business complies with all safety regulations, including fire safety and electrical safety.
- Handling quotes and customer payments and preparing invoices.
- Marketing and advertising.
- Completing business and administrative tasks.
- Making business partnerships and professional relationships.
If you love making music and want to be part of the creative process, starting up a music studio business could make great business sense. You will need to have extensive knowledge of the music industry, technical competence and a high level of knowledge of recording equipment and music technology. You will also need strong interpersonal skills, the ability to work collaboratively and an awareness of studio management and financing. Creativity and a passion for music are also recommended.
Types of Customers
The types of customers your music studio business is likely to attract is strongly dependent on multiple factors, including:
The type of music studio you set up
This will be an integral factor in determining your typical customer base. As mentioned earlier, different types of studios have different capabilities and can accommodate various numbers of musicians at one time. When deciding what type of music studio you want to set up, consider the types of clients you are likely to attract, for example, a new, up-and-coming artist may be more likely to opt for a home studio and a choir may be more likely to choose an industrial studio.
Many musicians look for a music studio that is conveniently located for them, particularly if they only require the studio for a small number of days or they have other professional and personal commitments to consider. Studios located in big cities, such as London, Manchester or Glasgow, may attract more business than studios located in smaller towns. Consider your local music scene and whether there are a large number of local musicians and up-and-coming artists that may want to use your studio.
This is another important factor that many musicians will look at when choosing a music studio. They may look at your customer reviews or decide based on recommendations from other musicians. Your reputation may be based on the studio space and your equipment, your knowledge and skills, the competency of your staff, your interpersonal skills and the finished product.
Your pricing strategy
Different music studios have significant variations in price. You may charge a per hour, per day or per project cost and prices can vary significantly, from £30 per hour to £1,000 per hour. Different pricing tiers are likely to attract different clientele. Clients can usually be separated into three groups – budget, mid-range and high-end – with different types of clients having different prices they are willing to pay.
Previous artists and musicians you have worked with
This is connected to your portfolio and will show potential clients the types of musicians you work with. For example, a heavy metal band may look for a studio that has previous experience recording their genre of music. Your portfolio can also demonstrate whether you have worked with any high-profile names or produced any commercially successful songs.
Equipment You Will Need
Your equipment is an essential requirement, as without it you will not be able to operate your business. There are many different types of equipment you may need, with significantly different specifications. This means that equipment can vary drastically in price.
Below is a list of equipment that is typically required by a music studio business.
You will need a state-of-the-art, reliable computer which can be used to record, edit, mix and produce music. To ensure your music production runs smoothly, your computer will need to be fast running and high performing. A computer can be used to create and alter sounds in combination with musical instruments. Computers are commonly used in home studios and smaller recording studios.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software
This will be the primary software you use to record, edit, mix and produce music on your computer. You can use this software to create and record music and manipulate acoustic and electric sounds and instruments. DAW can be a separate electronic device or can be application software that is installed on your computer.
An audio interface
Audio interfaces are often the centrepiece of your equipment. Everything communicates through your interface. It converts microphone and instrument signals and sounds into a format your computer and software can recognise. Your interface also routes audio from your computer to your headphones or studio monitors. An audio interface will drastically improve your studio’s recording and playback abilities.
A studio rack mount
Rack mounts are most commonly used in professional music studios. They allow you to record several tracks at one time.
The studio rack typically includes:
- A multi-channel microphone preamp.
- A power conditioner.
- A headphone amp.
- A monitor management system.
- An audio interface.
Microphones are one of the most important equipment purchases you will make. You will need several different types of microphones to achieve different sounds and for different instruments.
There are three main types of microphones:
- Dynamic microphones: This type of microphone uses electromagnetism to turn sound waves into voltage using a magnet. Sound waves vibrate the diaphragm (tiny speakers on the microphone) and create electricity, which is converted into sound. Dynamic microphones are most frequently used in live music settings, for drums, bass instruments and loud vocals.
- Condenser microphones: There are large diaphragm and small diaphragm condenser microphones. Sound waves vibrate the diaphragm via a magnetic plate. This creates a boost of voltage which is sent through a phantom power supply, increased and then sent to the output of the microphones. Condenser microphones are commonly used in recording studios and are used for vocals and instruments such as pianos, acoustic guitars and bass drums.
- Ribbon microphones: These are the most natural types of microphones that are used to capture the sound of an instrument or a voice. They have a figure-of-8 polar pattern and conductive ribbon-like diaphragms. They hear most similarly to the human ear. They are frequently used for acoustic and electric guitars, vocals and room ambience.
Microphone stands come in a variety of shapes and sizes and different stands are used for different tasks. Some stands come with a flat base and others with a tripod base. Different stands are also different heights and allow the microphone to be positioned in different ways. You will need enough microphone stands for the number of musicians your studio can accommodate.
Studio monitors look and work similarly to speakers. In fact, they are a type of loudspeaker that has been designed specifically for professional audio production. Unlike standard speakers, they are not designed to enhance sound and instead keep all frequencies flat to ensure a purer, cleaner sound that is imperative for mixing. Studio monitors allow sound engineers to hear tiny details in the music.
You will need professional studio headphones that are designed specifically for music production. Although you can use normal headphones, studio headphones are required for tasks such as editing or arranging. Studio headphones provide high-quality sound reproduction and are best for professional music production.
You will need many different cables for different connectors. Most recording studios have an abundance of cables so that they never have to worry about being without them. Without the correct cables, your equipment will not work correctly. For example, you will need cables to connect your microphones to your audio interface.
A pop filter
A pop filter catches the blast of air that your mouth produces when you make certain sounds (specifically “p” or “b”) before it reaches the diaphragm of the microphone. Without this filter, this air can create a thumping or popping noise in your recording.
Acoustic treatments are pieces of equipment that you add to your recording studio to absorb unwanted ambience and frequencies and improve the acoustics of the room. They make your studio sound more neutral, with a controlled ambience and predictable recording qualities.
Some types of acoustic treatments you could install are:
- Bass traps: Bass traps are a type of acoustic treatment that offers broadband absorption and are particularly good at absorbing lower frequencies (the type of frequency that typically causes the most acoustic difficulties in a recording studio). They reduce reverberations and standing low-frequency waves to ensure the sound of the recorded track is not affected.
- Acoustic panels: Acoustic panels are sound-absorbing panels that absorb frequencies in the low middle to high ranges. They are particularly effective at controlling standing waves, where sound reflections bounce back and forth on parallel walls. They reduce background noise and reduce reverberation and echo.
- Acoustic diffuser panels: Diffusers scatter any sound energy that exists in the room to allow all frequencies to disperse randomly. They address distortion issues to create a sense of spaciousness in the music by treating sound aberrations.
- Reflection filters: This type of acoustic treatment is most effective for vocal recordings. They act as a physical barrier between the areas of your studio where unwanted sound typically comes from and your microphone. They keep your vocal recordings clean by absorbing any sound around the microphone.
A workstation/studio desk
This is the centrepiece of a production studio and is usually found in the control room. They are available in varying sizes and are designed to create the ideal environment for recording, mixing and mastering music. They are often tilted and have a pull-out keyboard drawer for storing pieces of equipment. Your workstation will likely hold your computer, keyboard, editing and mixing equipment, microphone, studio monitors and any other equipment you require.
A mixing board
Also called a mixing console or a mixing desk, this piece of equipment is frequently found on your workstation. It is an electronic device that is used for mixing audio signals and for sound recording and reproduction. The mixing board will be connected to your microphones, instruments and recorded sounds. They come with a variety of channels (usually up to 20 channels) and can be used to set levels for the recording, control the volume and output and add effects to your recordings.
You will need enough studio chairs for the number of people who will be in your studio at one time, including music producers and sound engineers. Studio chairs are similar to desk chairs in that they are usually on wheels and provide adequate back and neck support.
Monitor isolation pads
These pads are placed between your studio monitors and the desk and prevent sound vibrations from transferring through the surface of the desk. They create a buffer of acoustic isolation between your sound monitors and the desk and improve the sound.
A control surface
This is a piece of equipment that is designed to mimic the equipment used in recording studios in the past. They have features such as faders, rotary knobs, buttons and displays and can be used for editing. They are a type of MIDI controller that can help to speed up your workflow and perform more advanced mixing techniques.
If you have long cables (e.g. from instruments or microphones), a direct box prevents interference and excessive signal sound by taking the instrument-level signal and converting it into a mic-level signal. Many audio interfaces and mics already have direct box channels in-built but if you are adding cables or instrument jacks to a new location or need to add more DI inputs, a direct box is recommended.
A digital converter
A digital converter converts analogue audio into digital audio and digital audio into analogue audio. Many pieces of equipment have a digital converter built in; however, professional studios often choose to purchase a high-quality digital converter to give the best possible digital conversions.
A CCTV system
Because you will be storing expensive equipment and private recordings, CCTV can protect your business from potential break-ins and theft. A CCTV system can cost between £300 and £5,000 depending on the specification of the equipment, how many cameras you require, and the installation costs.
A website is a way for potential clients to find your business, see information and photographs of your studio and see the services you offer. Your website can act as your online portfolio, showcasing previous work and client reviews. Ensure your website includes your contact information, your location and a thorough description of your services and equipment. You should also include an about page, a contact page, a blog and testimonials.
Reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi will be integral to your business as you will need it for much of your software and equipment to function correctly. You will need to ensure your Wi-Fi doesn’t cut out in the middle of a session.
A business phone
A smartphone can be used for keeping in contact with your clients and having constant access to your emails. Having a work phone also helps to keep your business separate from your personal life.
A fully stocked first aid kit
A first aid kit is a necessity, as you will be working with potentially dangerous equipment and products. Ensure your first aid kit is restocked regularly and is easily accessible.
You will need to keep your studio clean at all times. Not only does this make your business seem more professional, but it also ensures you are complying with health and safety legislation. You may choose to hire a cleaner or do the cleaning yourself. Some cleaning equipment you may require includes a sweeping brush, hoover, mop, cloths, disinfectant, and antibacterial and cleaning products.
Business cards can be used for advertisement purposes and handed out to clients and potential clients. The business cards should include your business name and logo, the services you offer, your location and your contact information.
When you are creating your business plan, an essential step is calculating the approximate costs of setting up and running this type of business. Calculating your typical costs allows you to estimate your initial investment requirements, any monthly and annual costs, your pricing strategy, your profit goals and your acceptable profit margins.
There are many different costs associated with setting up and running a music studio business. Some costs will be one-off costs that you will need to pay when you are setting up your business, whereas other costs will be ongoing costs you need to pay regularly – most likely daily, weekly or monthly.
The typical costs associated with this type of business can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of music studio you open and the size of your studio.
Some of the expenses you can expect to be responsible for include:
Unless you choose to set up a home studio business, your premises will likely be your biggest expenditure. You will need to rent your premises on a monthly or annual basis. Rental prices can vary significantly, depending on the location and the size of the premises. City centre locations and newly built premises usually have the highest rental costs. Rental costs are often calculated per square metre. They can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually. Your rental costs may also be higher if you are renting an already established studio.
Refurbishment and installation costs
Unless your premises previously operated as a music studio, you will need to refurbish or convert your venue to install the equipment you need for your music studio and to make your premises fit for purpose. If you opt for a home studio, you will need to convert your existing space. The task of converting your space and installing your equipment can be extensive, time-consuming and costly. This is because renovating your space to make it acoustically ideal and installing all your equipment requires specialist skills. You may also want to design your studio to make it attractive to musicians and to ensure it fits your brand. Renovation costs can vary, from £500 to £30,000 depending on the level and scale of work required.
Your equipment is one of the most important purchases you will make. To run a successful music studio, you will require a large amount of equipment. Consult the list above to determine the type of equipment you require. The cost of your equipment can vary significantly, depending on the specification of your equipment and how much equipment you need. The bigger your premises is and the more professional your studio is, the more equipment you will likely require. You may opt to purchase less equipment initially and then expand your equipment as your business grows. Equipment for a music studio generally costs between £10,000 and £300,000.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment
Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Although some of your equipment will come with warranties, repairs and replacements are inevitable – particularly because your equipment will likely experience excessive usage. Some equipment will also need to be updated or replaced as new technology is released. Regularly cleaning and maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly can extend its lifespan, but potential repairs and replacements and the finances needed for updating your equipment should still be factored into your budget.
You may choose to set up a music studio for musicians to hire out independently, meaning that the musicians will supply the staff themselves. However, you could also choose to offer a complete service and provide a fully staffed music studio. If you don’t want to complete some of these job roles yourself, or you don’t have the relevant skills and knowledge, you may need to hire staff such as:
- Audio engineer.
- Studio manager.
- Music producer.
- Studio technician.
- Mastering engineer.
You will need to pay any staff you employ at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour and account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay, maternity/paternity pay, National Insurance and any company pension contributions. However, because many of these roles require individuals who are highly skilled and trained you will likely have to pay a higher wage or hire staff as independent freelancers for each job.
Your business website
A business website is an essential advertising tool and allows potential clients to find your services online. You should ensure your website is attractive to customers and provides all relevant information. You should also utilise search engine optimisation (SEO) so that your website ranks highly on search engines, such as Google. Your website will need regular monitoring, updating and upgrading. You may opt to set up and run your website yourself or hire someone to do this for you. You can expect to pay between £20 and £100 per hour for someone to set up your website.
When creating your brand identity, consider how you want your music studio to be perceived by people in the music industry. Consider the type of music studio you plan to set up and the types of clients you are likely to attract. Branding can include creating your business’s visual identity, design and aesthetic, your business name and logo and your website. You could hire a professional to help you with branding or do some or all of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the level of work required.
Advertising and marketing
Advertising is an essential practice to ensure the success of your business. Advertising and marketing help your music studio to attract clients and can help you to maximise your profits. It is recommended that you spend between 1%-3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover (or your desired annual turnover) is £100,000, you should spend between £1,000 and £3,000 on advertising and marketing. You may need to invest more money when you initially set up your business or when you are trying to grow your business.
There are multiple coverage options for a music studio business, including:
- Public Liability Cover.
- Personal Accident Cover.
- Unlimited Professional Use.
- Legal Assistance.
- Musical Instruments, Accessories and Office Equipment Cover.
- Buildings and Content Cover.
- Employers’ Liability Insurance (if relevant).
- Business Interruption Cover.
Insurance prices can vary depending on the level of coverage you choose and your insurance provider. Prices typically start from £10 a month for a basic level of insurance.
Typical Pricing for Customers
Once you have calculated the approximate costs associated with setting up and running a music studio business, you can then determine your pricing policy. You may choose to charge your clients per hour, per day or per task.
The prices typically charged to clients of a music studio business can vary considerably, based on several factors:
- The type of music studio you set up.
- The type and specification of your equipment.
- Whether your music studio is staffed.
- Your reputation.
- Your skills, knowledge and experience.
- Your location.
In the UK, the prices typically charged by a music studio can range significantly, from £30 per hour to £1,000 per hour.
Safely Running a Music Studio Business
Safe practices in your music studio can help you to protect the health, safety and well-being of you and any visitors to the studio.
Some ways you can safely run your music studio business are:
There are many potential hazards in a recording studio. Controlling these hazards can help to protect the health and safety of you and anyone who visits your studio.
Some potential hazards you should be aware of include:
- Trip hazards – particularly if you have long cables and equipment on your floor.
- Electrical hazards.
- Falling objects.
- Slips and falls.
- Noise hazards – this is key for a music business where sound can be above the recommended noise level.
Properly maintain and set up equipment
Any equipment you use must be properly maintained, correctly set up and safe to use. You must protect yourself and any visitors to your studio from accidents or injuries caused by equipment. You should also perform regular equipment inspections to ensure your equipment’s safety and help extend the lifespan of your equipment. Maintenance includes regularly checking for faults, regular cleaning and ensuring it is functioning correctly.
Check and maintain electricals, electrical outlets and plumbing
Not only can this save you money by avoiding expensive damage, repairs and replacements, but checking and maintaining electricals and plumbing can help to protect your equipment from faults and protect the health and safety of everyone who visits your business. Implement a system for regularly checking outlets and plumbing and ensuring they are up to code.
Carry out risk assessments
Risk assessments are a legal requirement for businesses with more than five employees. However, even if your business has fewer than five employees, risk assessments are still recommended to ensure the safety of you, your staff and your customers. Risk assessments can help you to identify any potential hazards and risks in your business and how these can be reduced or eliminated. As part of your risk assessment, you should:
- Identify hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement relevant safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
Implement security measures
Security measures can be implemented to protect your business. Your studio will likely store a lot of expensive equipment and valuable recordings. Some ways you can protect your equipment and materials include installing a CCTV system, using secure and reliable locks and installing an alarm system.
Implement cleaning policies and procedures
Strict cleaning procedures must be in place on your premises. This includes cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising all equipment and surfaces between clients. You should clean regularly throughout the day and perform a scheduled general cleaning of your studio.
Keep a fully stocked first aid kit
If someone in your studio has an accident or sustains a minor injury, it may not be serious enough to warrant medical intervention. Instead, you may be able to offer treatment yourself. Having a first aid kit that is checked and replenished regularly and is easily accessible is recommended.
Health and safety training can help to ensure safe practices in your music studio and can ensure that you and any staff you employ are aware of and adhere to safety procedures. Some training you can complete includes First Aid, Health and Safety for Businesses, Fire Safety Awareness, Assessing Risks and Electrical Safety.
Obtain a criminal record check
If there is a possibility that children or vulnerable people could use your music studio, applying for a criminal record check can assure your clients of your suitability to work with vulnerable people. The type of check you require depends on the country you live in:
- England: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Wales: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Scotland: Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.
- Northern Ireland: AccessNI.
Complying with legal requirements is essential when setting up and running your music studio.
Legal requirements can vary depending on:
- The type of recording studio you set up.
- The equipment and machinery you work with.
- Whether you hire any employees.
- Whether you are involved in producing and releasing the music.
Some of the legal guidelines you should be aware of are:
Apply for a licence with the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS)
The MCPS is a division of the Performing Right Society (PRS). The PRS represents the owner of the copyright of any piece of music. By being registered, the PRS will pay royalties when your music is:
- Broadcast on TV or radio.
- Performed or played in public.
- Streamed or downloaded.
The MCPS pays royalties when your music is:
- Copied as physical products, e.g. CDs.
- Streamed or downloaded.
- Used in TV, films or radio.
Royalties will be paid to songwriters, composers and publishers, so depending on your role in the creative process and your contract, you may be due royalties.
Create business contracts
Contracts should be created between yourself, the musical artist and anyone else who is involved in the production process. Ensure your contracts are watertight and legally enforceable. Any terms should be clearly laid out, including any expectations and the agreed-upon payment amount. Contracts also help to protect you in the event of a dispute and add to the professionality of your business.
Comply with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988)
This Act gives copyright holders exclusive rights and control over their music and how their music is used. You must ensure you do not intentionally or unintentionally sample, copy or use another artist’s music and if you do want to feature someone else’s music or sound in a track, you must seek the appropriate permissions.
Comply with invoice requirements
When sending invoices to your clients, there are certain pieces of information you must include:
- The word ‘invoice’ and a unique invoice number.
- Your business name and address.
- The client’s name and address.
- A brief description of your work.
- The total you are charging the client and when the payment is due.
- The payment method.
Keep in mind that if a client pays you later (after the date specified on the invoice), you have a legal right to interest and a debt recovery fee.
Comply with fire regulations
You must ensure fire safety measures are implemented in your studio, particularly because you are working with electrical equipment and chemicals. There are multiple fire regulations you must ensure you comply with. For example:
- Perform a fire risk assessment.
- Comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
- Implement any necessary fire safety measures.
- Implement emergency procedures and ensure these are clearly displayed on your premises.
Comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989)
The Electricity at Work Regulations state that any workplaces that use electricals must construct electrical systems in a way that prevents danger, maintain electrical systems to ensure they are safe, ensure electrical equipment is checked by a competent person annually and conduct Portable Appliance Tests (PAT). Your music studio will have a large amount of electrical equipment so complying with these regulations is imperative.
Comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
PUWER regulations apply to you and any employees you hire. You must also ensure any visitors to your studio comply with the PUWER regulations, even if they are not employed by you. You must ensure any equipment in your studio is fit for purpose and is maintained and inspected regularly. You must also ensure that health and safety risks are minimised to an acceptable level, that you have the correct knowledge and training to use the equipment, and that protective measures are put into place. Equipment should also be used under appropriate conditions.
Appoint a competent person
A competent person should be appointed to help your business meet your health and safety legal duties. You can act in this role yourself or appoint another person to fulfil this role. The competent person should have the skills, knowledge and experience to identify any hazards in your business and put controls in place to protect people from harm.
Prepare a health and safety policy
The law states that every business in the UK must have a specific policy for managing health and safety. Your policy should state exactly how you will manage health and safety in your studio and state who is responsible for specific tasks and how and when these tasks are completed. Follow the recommended tips from the Health and Safety Executive when creating your health and safety policy. You should make your policy easily visible to any visitors to your business.
Comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974)
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act lays out the duties of businesses in the UK regarding ensuring the health, safety and welfare of everyone in your workplace. As you are the business owner, you will be responsible for protecting the health and safety of your employees and any visitors to your studio.
Comply with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992)
Manual handling regulations can help to protect you and any other people in your studio from sustaining an injury or illness as a result of manual handling tasks. The regulations apply to a variety of activities, such as the lifting or moving of any objects, bending down, reaching high and repetitive movements. Because your studio will have a lot of large, heavy equipment, you must ensure you follow manual handling regulations if you are moving any of the equipment.
Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013
RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur in your studio. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document. These regulations apply to any incidents that involve you, your staff or your customers.
Ensure your website complies with guidelines
If you set up a website, there are several guidelines you need to comply with, including:
- Privacy policies.
- Cookie legislation.
- Service descriptions.
You must also ensure your website is accessible to people with disabilities, in line with the Equality Act 2010.
Comply with employment legislation
If you employ any staff, you must ensure you follow employment legislation, including the Employment Rights Act (1996) and the National Minimum Wage Act (1998). You must also comply with legislation relating to recruitment, working hours, sickness, discrimination, dismissals, and maternity or paternity pay.
Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)
You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information, such as your customers’ contact details. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. If you use a CCTV system or process personal information such as payroll information or customer accounts and records, you will need to apply for a licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office and renew your registration every year.
Appoint a first-aider
All workplaces in the UK must have an appointed first-aider. In the event of an accident or injury, you will then be able to administer the necessary first aid. Although a first aid qualification or certificate is not legally required, it is the easiest way to demonstrate your first aid training.
Apply for a music licence
If you play any music in your studio that was not created by you or that you don’t have the rights to, you will need to apply for a licence with the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) and/or a Performing Right Society (PRS) Licence. You can apply for both a PPL and a PRS online.
Register your business
You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.
Positives of Owning a Music Studio Business
Owning a music studio business can be extremely rewarding in many ways.
Some of the main pros associated with this type of business are:
Be part of a great industry
If you are a music lover, being part of the music industry is likely to be extremely rewarding in many ways. You will have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and make rewarding business and personal connections. People from the music industry regularly collaborate on projects and other studio owners may keep you up to date on new technology and equipment.
Do what you love
People who work in the music industry are usually extremely passionate about music and music production. If you run a music studio, you will be able to work with many musicians, work creatively and do what you love every day. Enjoying your work and doing what you are passionate about can be extremely rewarding and make it feel less like work and more like a vocation.
Control your workflow
You will have complete control over your workflow and how much you work. You can choose how many clients you accept and how large your business responsibilities will be. As your business grows, you can opt to hire front-line employees and take a step back from the day-to-day responsibilities associated with your music studio.
You can use the studio
Many people who set up a music studio are keen musicians themselves. Having your own music studio gives you unlimited access to superior equipment and studio time. This allows you to develop your music for free. You will also have the potential to invite your friends and fellow musicians to your studio for jamming sessions. Having a music studio can be a great combination of work and play.
For many people in the music industry and particularly those involved in the creative process, the connections you make when collaborating with musicians and other people in your industry can be extremely rewarding. You can learn new techniques, explore a wide range of genres and have the opportunity to consistently learn and grow. This can be beneficial to you personally and professionally.
Following the creative process from beginning to end or seeing what a musician has created in your studio can be extremely rewarding – particularly if the musician is happy with the end product or it is successful commercially. Not only is it rewarding to do what you love, but seeing satisfied clients and the final creation can also be extremely satisfying.
A positive work environment
A music studio can be a great place to work. You will likely be working with a variety of musicians and industry staff who all bring different skills, knowledge and experience to the studio. You will also be spending extended periods of time with your clients, which enables you to build positive relationships and create a positive work environment.
You will likely have a lot of face-to-face contact with many different clients. You may spend extended periods of time with them, while you discuss their vision, give your recommendations and when recording music. If you enjoy connecting with other people, running a music studio gives you the opportunity to spend time with many people from different walks of life.
Design your dream business
Regardless of what type of music studio you choose to set up, you can design your perfect business. This includes the size of your business, the types of equipment you purchase and the types of musicians you work with. You can also design your business’s aesthetic and branding to ensure it reflects you and the type of business you want to run.
Pick and choose your clientele
You will have the power to accept or decline any potential clients. If a potential client seems difficult, their music goals don’t align with your own or they aren’t your target clientele, you can decline to work with them.
Gaining exposure for your music studio is relatively easy, especially with the rise of social media. You can post your creations online and utilise platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to reach more people. Your clients may also tag themselves at your studio or post pictures and videos of the recording process, which can be extremely beneficial to your business.
As mentioned earlier, the music industry in the UK is consistently growing. This means there is a constant demand for music studios. There are plenty of opportunities for new music studios, particularly if you set up your studio in an area that has a good local music scene.
Potential for expansion
There are several opportunities for expansion, for example, you could begin offering additional recording services, expand your premises or open another music studio. Having the option to grow your business maximises your business opportunities and provides you with more opportunities for success.
Unlimited income potential
As your business and your reputation grow, you are likely to see increased demand and higher profits. You may then begin to charge higher prices. You could also expand your business and partner with other professionals in your industry. The music industry is consistently growing and has many opportunities for success. This means your music studio has potentially high profit margins and unlimited income potential.
Be your own boss
You can make all key decisions yourself and steer your business in whichever direction you choose. You can choose how involved you want to be, the type of music studio you want to set up, the services you offer and whether you hire employees. You can make the best decisions for you and your business.
Negatives of Owning a Music Studio Business
Although owning a music studio can be rewarding in many ways, there are some potentially negative aspects to this type of business that you should be aware of, for example:
High start-up costs
Starting up a music studio business requires a high investment. The cost of your premises, refurbishment and installation costs and your equipment can be extremely expensive, meaning you will require a large amount of capital to set up your business. Not only does this mean you may need to source outside investment, but it also makes your business high risk. Having a large initial investment also means it will take longer before you begin turning a profit.
High operating costs
A music studio can be expensive to run, particularly with rising utility costs. Much of the equipment you use will require a high amount of energy and will need upgrading and replacing fairly regularly. Additionally, you may also have to consider the cost of renting your premises. Because your operating costs will be high, you will need to ensure consistently good business in order to make a profit.
High time commitment
Creating and producing music can be a time-consuming process. If you are involved in the creative process, you may find that you are spending hours in the recording studio. Your work doesn’t end when the musicians have finished recording the song. Instead, you will then spend many hours editing, mixing, manipulating and mastering the record. This can be a long and arduous process and it may feel like your business is taking over your personal life.
A lot of skill, knowledge and experience is required
To run a successful music studio business, you will need to be highly proficient in a variety of skills and will need to have high technical knowledge and knowledge of the music industry and preferably experience working in music studios. It can be time-consuming to gain the appropriate skills and experience.
Building your clientele can be difficult
Successful music studios often spend years building up their client base. This could mean you initially receive less custom and may have to charge lower prices, meaning your profits may initially be significantly lower. If you have invested a lot of money into your business and can’t make a profit when you first launch your business, this could result in your business failing.
Unsociable working hours
Music studios don’t operate the traditional 9-5 and often work late into the night and at weekends. This can negatively impact your personal life, particularly if you are working the majority of evenings and weekends. Even though you can choose your operating hours, not operating during popular times can have a detrimental effect on your profits.
Some clients may be difficult
Musicians are notorious for being difficult and demanding in their requirements and expectations. Some musicians and music producers may have unrealistic expectations and unrealistic timeframes that they expect you to work in. To avoid complaints or negative reviews, you may feel like you have to cater to these clients, even if their demands are unreasonable. This can be stressful and time-consuming.
Musicians and music producers typically invest a lot of money into their products. If they are unhappy for any reason or there are any technical or sound issues, this can create liability issues for you. Not only can this be stressful, but it can also be expensive and negatively affect your reputation and your business.
High risk of your business failing
Starting up a music studio business can be risky. Many new businesses fail which could result in you losing money or getting into debt. Your business could fail for several reasons, such as high local competition, an ineffective business plan or if the UK encounters another recession or period of financial difficulty. Because a music studio requires a high initial investment, if your business fails, you will potentially lose a significant amount of money.
It can be stressful
As the business owner, you will have a lot of important responsibilities, such as dealing with clients, managing your studio, handling your day-to-day responsibilities and ensuring health and safety. You will also face the additional pressure of being responsible for the success of your business. Running your own business can be stressful.
As you are self-employed, you won’t receive benefits such as pension contributions. You will also be responsible for doing your own taxes and organising your National Insurance contributions. You will also have a lack of job security.
Planning Your Music Studio Business
An effective and well-designed business plan is essential to the success of your music studio. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.
When creating your business plan, ensure it contains information such as:
- Your company information.
- Your company description.
- The services you will provide.
- Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
- The structure of your business.
- The operational plan for your business.
- The financial plan for your business.
Some of the factors you will need to consider when creating your business plan are:
The type of music studio you are going to set up
Will you set up a home studio business or a professional studio? Will you focus on a particular genre of music or specific types of recordings? Consider your skills, knowledge and experience, as well as your available capital and any local competition when deciding the type of studio to set up. You could also choose to initially set up a home studio and open a professional recording studio once your business and reputation have grown.
Your business summary
Your business plan should include a detailed overview of your business, including your location, the size of your business, the type of music studio, your equipment and your business goals. You should also consider who your target customers are.
The equipment you will purchase
Consult the list above to determine your equipment requirements. The equipment you purchase from the above list will depend on the type of studio you are setting up, the size of your studio and your budget. Once you have determined what equipment you require, you can then calculate the initial costs of purchasing this equipment.
Your target market
Determining your target market is a key step to helping your business succeed. Different types of studios and different types of equipment are likely to attract different musicians. Your pricing strategy will also be a key factor in determining your target market. Once you have identified the type of musicians your studio is likely to attract, you can then focus on how to reach these musicians and how to attract them to your studio. For example, if your target market is comprised of new up-and-coming artists, you may be likely to find them on TikTok or at local open mic events.
Your local competition
Analysing your local competition allows you to look at what they do well and what you think can be improved upon. Being aware of your competition is an important step to ensuring the success of your music studio. You should also look at the types of services and products they offer, their pricing and their typical customer base. Analysing your competition also allows you to investigate where most of your business will come from and how you can maximise on local opportunities and events.
Calculate the start-up costs and running costs
Consult the list above to help you calculate the approximate costs of setting up and running your business. Determine what equipment you need and the amount of equipment, as well as the cost of your premises, to help you determine your start-up costs and what your initial investment requirements will be. You should also calculate the approximate monthly and annual costs of running your business.
Financing your business
Because a music studio has high start-up costs, particularly if you are not setting up a home studio, you may need to source outside investment.
There are several ways you can raise the capital to finance your business, for example:
- A bank loan.
- A personal loan.
- A government grant.
- Venture capital.
- Financing your business yourself.
Hiring studio employees
As your business grows, you may need to hire employees (either as permanent staff or freelancers) to fulfil various roles in your studio. This would allow you to offer your customers a more complete recording experience. Hire employees based on the size and needs of your business and the requirements of your clients.
Your brand and unique selling point (USP)
Designing your brand is a great way to help you stand out from your competition. Your brand helps you to build a client base, focus your marketing and advertising and maximise your profits. Your brand story, the visual identity of your studio, your business name and your advertising are all key to your branding. Your USP is what sets you apart from other music studios. Your USP should make your business stand out and focus on what is likely to meet your customer’s needs and wishes.
Your advertising and marketing strategy
There are many ways you can choose to advertise your business. This can include partnering with other people in the music industry, advertising in your local community, advertising on social media and using paid online ads. Your marketing and advertising plan should detail what your brand is and how you plan to promote your business. As part of your marketing strategy, consider the most effective way to reach your target audience and attract potential customers. Create an advertising plan that is specific to the type of business you are going to run and how you plan to operate.
Your pricing policy
Once you have calculated your approximate costs, you can then determine your pricing strategy. You may choose to charge per hour, per day or per job. If you are involved in the creative process, such as mixing and editing the sounds and producing the record, your pricing is likely to be significantly higher and can vary depending on the required time commitment and the number of professionals you need to involve in the process (e.g. a sound engineer and a music producer).
Your sales forecast
You will need to determine how many clients you can feasibly work with each week and month. This will enable you to create a weekly, monthly and annual sales forecast. As your business grows, your sales forecast may change.
Your strategy for growth
An important consideration when planning your business is your strategy for growth. This is your business’s plan for overcoming any future challenges and realising your sales goals and your goals for expansion. Creating a strategy for growth can help you to plan ahead and make it more likely that your business will succeed. Consider how you will grow your client base and increase the demand for your services. Your strategy for growth is a key part of your one-year, three-year and five-year business plan.
What are your business objectives?
Your business objectives are crucial for creating a successful business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your music studio and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan to help you grow your business.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
Have you complied with all legal requirements?
Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.