A Sound Investment

Here's a step-by-step guide to building your own home studio and tips on turning a profit

Michael Borneo, 42, always loved music and dabbled in it whenever he could find the time. "I played in a band and wrote songs," he recalls. "But I didn’t see much of a future in music, so I pursued a career in telecommunications." After all, 20 years ago the only people Borneo saw with in-house recording studios were the affluent, and it didn’t seem that his dream of having his own setup was remotely within his reach.

That was until Borneo rediscovered his muse a few years ago. While working as a communications consultant for his own firm, Telecommunication Services Corp., he got a project requiring him to install a local area network and telephone system in a music studio. "I wrote some songs for the owner and he was impressed," says Borneo. That was all the encouragement the corporate professional needed to approach a commercial studio and begin the production of a demo tape. Unfortunately, the high cost of renting studio time, engineers and music equipment quickly soured him on going the professional route, so Borneo purchased a keyboard and some other odds and ends in hopes of banging out tunes himself. Before he knew it, his dream was reborn. "I kept purchasing more and more equipment to get better quality until I found myself with a studio," he says.

Although Borneo’s experience was a little more complicated than it sounds, the development of small-scale or "project" studios has become a lot more common in recent years. New trends in the music industry are responsible for the surge. According to Anthony Collins, instructor at the Institute of Audio Research in Manhattan, "Ten to 20 years ago, record companies sent their artists to commercial recording studios for their demos and recordings. Now some record companies give artists advance money to purchase their own project studios." With the fees of larger commercial studios ranging from $75 to $300 per hour, "record companies realize that by investing in ‘project’ [home or small-scale] studios, they can save money while giving the artists more creative flexibility," Collins adds. Now, professional musicians and even wannabees like Borneo can master record producing from their homes without breaking the bank.

If you’re ready to build your own in-house recording studio, here are some tips on how you can determine the type of tools you’ll need and where you can purchase the equipment within the confines of your budget.

TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF GEARING UP
Before you hit the music stores, determine your equipment needs. The type of music you plan to write largely impacts the kind of equipment you need or whether you should consider building a project studio at all. Today’s popular music-rhythm and blues, hip-hop, gospel and jazz-are perfect candidates for project studio technology. Alternatively, music that requires orchestras often needs more complex acoustical setups for quality recording.

Think about the tools you’ll need with the product in mind. If you’re only interested in recording some

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