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Production/ Recording

A New Price Plan for Recording Studios?

A New Price Plan for Recording Studios?

- by Wade Sutton, Rocket to the Stars

With the constant changes sweeping across the music industry and advances in technology making it easier than ever for artists to record and produce music on their own computers, some recording studios are looking for ways to keep singers and musicians walking through the front door.

Benjie Hughes, of Backthird Audio in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, implemented an idea that is definitely worth talking about.

I found out about Benjie after Neil Kristianson of Only Sky Artist Music Marketing brought him to my attention.  The concept Benjie is using for his business plan at Backthird, referred to as a "membership studio", was intriguing from the start.


The concept of a membership studio allows artists to pay a certain amount of money each month for a set number of hours in the studio.  Benji described the approach as something similar to Netflix.  Backthird has created three tiers to give artists opportunities to utilize the studio and equipment:

Starter Membership - $99 per month

- Up to four hours per month in the studio

- You can add more time for $20 per hour

- You use the studio during regular office hours.

Part-time Membership - $259 per month

- Up to 20 hours per month in the studio

- You can add more time for $20 per hour

- You get your own key to the studio

Full Membership - $399 per month

- Up to 40 hours per month in the studio

- You can add more time for $20 per hour

- You get your own key to the studio

Here is the thing:  If you sign up for one of these plans, Backthird does not provide you with an engineer.  You need to provide your own or, if you have the skills, you can do that work in true DIY fashion.


Benji told me three types of people have been taking advantage of the membership service.  The first type are your independent engineers and producers.  Many of them have their own clients and bring them to Backthird for some or all of their recording needs.  

The second group is made up of curious musicians wanting to see if they can use the studio for teaching, meetings, or as a more suitable environment for songwriting.

The third group, and this is the primary reason I wanted to write about what Backthird is doing, consists of independent artists.  For the purpose of this article, let's use a hypothetical band made up of four members.  For the part-time membership plan, that works out to around $15 dollars per week per member.

Say the hypothetical band is using the studio four to five hours a week.  You use the first three weeks of the month to write and rehearse songs.  Then, on the last weekly visit of the month, you record one of those songs and release it to your fans.  That keeps you relevant to your fans.  You are putting out new material on a consistent basis instead of doing what a lot of other bands do in recording a CD and then not seeing the inside of a studio for another year.  And, as Benji says, at the end of the year you have twelve songs recorded that can be repackaged as an album that can be distributed to a wider audience.  Or you can pick the five songs you like the most and release them as an EP.  Either way, it doesn't cost you any additional money because the songs are already recorded and the work is already done!  

Another possibility?  How many bands complain about not having a decent facility at which they can rehearse their live shows, instead resorting to rehearsals in cramped living rooms or garages?  With this, you can practice your songs at home and then rehearse and produce your live show at Backthird, giving you the space you need to figure out what your songs should LOOK like in addition to what they should SOUND like.  There are SO many ways something like this can be put to use.


That remains to be seen.  Benjie and Travis Brown, an engineer and Backthird's first subscriber, came up with the idea in 2012 but Benjie told me he didn't start advertising it to the public until nearly one year ago.  E-mail advertising and word of mouth has resulted in approximately six studio memberships at any given time (those are in addition to the regular hourly clients using the studio).  

If anything, you have to give credit where credit is due.  Benjie came up with an outside-the-box idea and was willing to put his money where his mouth is and acted.  With more and more artists taking the "do it yourself" approach, Benjie says he wants to work with those artists instead of working against them.

So, as an artist, would YOU take advantage of something like this if a studio near you offered it?

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After spending nearly twenty years as a professional radio journalist, Rocket to the Stars creator Wade Sutton now helps singers and bands all over world advance their music careers.  He offers classes and consultations on everything from how bands can better interact with the media to designing their websites and media kits.  Wade's articles have been read by people in more than twenty countries and have been shared by top music industry officials and voice instructors, marketing experts, radio stations, and artists.  You can learn more about him and his services


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