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Since we have no real " business" forum...
Old 11th December 2002
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Since we have no real " business" forum...

Lets talk about purchasing decisions.. I know we are slutz, and that the holy grail is out goal, but what sort of real world factors are involved in the biz side of your life? Again, Quality and sluttiness are the obivous additions to every list.. I am starting this thread because I have been asked a bunch latley by folks trying to start in the biz and asking questions like "how do I decide what is good enough?" I am not looking to steal secrets or whatever, but there are alot of guys making a living with da 38s and a ghost console because they fill a void in the market..

1. for me, I like gear to bring me biz, or at least have it return biz for me.. this is another obvious factor.. if your clients want gear X and will pay for it, buy it!


any other thoughts?
Old 11th December 2002
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Knox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yes . . the whole point is, it IS a business eh? Does the investment bring in more work? Does it allow me to go up in my rate to justify it?

Or do I work ONLY for 5 days for some client ONLY because he requested a piece of gear that costs me 5 days of work (THAT's stupid, unless the gear is to be used constantly and it will bring in work long after he is gone).

Many people foam at the mouth over some of this gear like heroin addicts. Hell I still get the "I wants" a little bit, but not like I used to. Not addictively.

If you invest $25,000 in upgrades . . . is it going to allow you to up your rates to pay for it accordingly? PLUS, the depreciation factor has to be considered at the end of the year or at re-sale. THAT is something I feel many of these small Pro Tools / computer based studios don't consider compared to us that have been around. If the Pro Tools rig cost $30,000 to buy and at the end of the year with a new Pro Tools rig coming out, all you can get for it is $10,000 . . . . well, there you go, you needed to make 'well over' the original cost to make it make sense. I have seen so many studios come and go over the years.

What about build out?

Are the purchases simply "boutique" purchases for ego? When I was young . . . . I had the "I wants" . . . these days I look at it as a business. I used to want to impress with my gear (will the women think it's cool? *smile*) . . .

Now it's, is there enough here to make a record? Of course there is. BUT . . . . some of these new purchases are for ME too . . to enjoy what I do and to a better job of what I do.

Though, as some purchases I just made over $4000. Did that allow me to go up in my rate to justify the purchase? No. What the last purchase did . . was bring more producers here then allow me to go up on my rate. Plus to make the quality of the product better that has been coming out of here . . . . Some sessions fell through that looked to be sure things. Business has been slow lately for some reason, so it may have not been a good time to do that.

Sadly, the hourly rates over the 16 years I have been here have not gone up per the investment. My studio investment over the past 10 years is probably 250% but the hourly rate has gone up 20%. That's sad.

btw . . I ONLY try to buy gear that will hold value these days. I also am not interested in digital and / or the "new thing" per se.
Old 11th December 2002
  #3
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Great post Steve!

I'm glad you started this thread.

So, those folks say, "how do I decide what is good enough?"

Good enough, is relative to what you can "hear" for yourself and not what you "heard" somebody else said about it. Good enough, also is as good as the "clients" and "bands" you keep.

Many people make a living (long term) with "DA38s" and a "Ghost" consoles, because they're good at what they do. IMO, it's not just because they fill the void. Remember, it's not always about the "gear", it's about the "ear".

Simple formula: Smart gear purchases shall bring you more (and/or quality) business. Every dollar you spend on equipment in a year, should bring in the equal amount in annual revenue.

I don't necessarily feel I must raise the rates to offset the purchases. Rather, the new gear purchases should bring in new clients and/or better work.

Sometimes we DO raise the rates, but as an additional rental fee. We have a base fee for the truck and crew. The client may ask us to include additional services and/or equipment extras as per their needs. Diversification is one of the reasons why we're still in business for 25 plus years. Providing our clients a variety of multiple "in house" options has been an economicaly sound idea for decades.

---------------------------------------------------------

Knox, I hear you loud and clear. I totally understand and agree with your point. For me, it's like this... If appropriate, I don't mind working for tomorrow's new gear, today. Many times, I buy new gear because I know we got gigs coming up to pay for it. It's that simple.

I got to say, I do foam at the mouth over gear like an addict. I love my toys much. And want (not necessarily need) my stuff and plenty of it. But that's my problem. And I'm working on it. It's hard to kick the habit when you can depreciate it over five years. heh heh
Old 11th December 2002
  #4
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
I typically buy gear for one of two reasons - either it will allow me to work faster or it will make my work sound better.

Reason 1 is what caused me to get the Pro Tools rig, and is the reason that I'm working on a 48 input console with 48 tracks of DAxx machines (plus a couple os spare machines) - if I can have a track for everything and everything on its track, it makes tracking and mixing easier and quicker. Of course, now that my Tascam machines are approaching 10 years old, I'm going to have to make a decision about whether to buy a couple of Radars to replace them, a PT HD system, or something else.

Reason 2 (improving the sound of my work) was also a justification for buynig the console (and could be the justification for a Radar...), but it's how I justify the compressors, the mics, the preamps, etc. If a piece of gear sounds audibly better to my ears than any other gear used in the same role, then I'll look into purchasing one. Of course, there is a cost/benefit ratio to deal with - that's why I don't (yet) have all the mics I'd like to have...

I'm the first to admit (though not generally to my wife) that I don't NEED as much gear as I have - Hell, I don't need a third of it. But this is not only my living, it's also a hobby. I don't drink, and I don't own a boat...

This month, though, all my money is going for acoustic treatment and cosmetic finishes for the control room - $1000 work of Guilford fabric will go up as soon as the maple panels are in place and finshed. And when I recover from that expense, I'm going to think about what I'm going to do for the ceiling...
Old 11th December 2002
  #5
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
I put out a lot of gear I own for hire.

So for me, gear buying is kind of like playing the stock market.

I try to make every purchase count in the studio AND as a potential hire item

Keeping up to date on hardware outboard & Pro Tools issues is good for business as well as my job as a producer/studio owner.

Old 11th December 2002
  #6
Lives for gear
 
hollywood_steve's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
business and gear buying

Knox made a very good point about buying gear that retains its value. Choose any five items in your studio; the odds are that you could only get your money back on 1 or 2 of them, unless you run a museum, not a working studio.

Personally, I'm a lot less hesitant about buying something if I know that I can turn it around for about the same price with little trouble. The obvious downside with that idea is that you are forced to limit your purchases to the "classics" (not sure how much of a "downside" that really is) or the rare new item that is an instant hit and always backordered.


steve
Old 11th December 2002
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Knox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: business and gear buying

Quote:
Originally posted by hollywood_steve
Knox made a very good point about buying gear that retains its value. Choose any five items in your studio; the odds are that you could only get your money back on 1 or 2 of them, unless you run a museum, not a working studio.

Personally, I'm a lot less hesitant about buying something if I know that I can turn it around for about the same price with little trouble. The obvious downside with that idea is that you are forced to limit your purchases to the "classics" (not sure how much of a "downside" that really is) or the rare new item that is an instant hit and always backordered.


steve
Steve . . what's funny is (or sad), think if there is anything in your studio that is digital, that has kept it's value or will. Or anything computer based for that matter.

Maybe a Lexicon PCM 42. (and to me the prices they get are pornographic when there is a Yamamha D5000)
Old 20th January 2003
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Re: Re: business and gear buying

Quote:
Originally posted by Knox
Steve . . what's funny is (or sad), think if there is anything in your studio that is digital, that has kept it's value or will. Or anything computer based for that matter.

Maybe a Lexicon PCM 42. (and to me the prices they get are pornographic when there is a Yamamha D5000)
for the most part I agree.

besides the PCM42, there are a few more digital goodies that still rock.

TC 2290
DN780
480L
2016

In my opinion, digital consoles, machines and computers seem to bite the dust within a few years if they're not upgradable.
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