This will be the first of a probably never-ending series within my blog that will outline proper recording studio etiquette. As the owner of a commercial recording facility for sixteen years, I believe I am as qualified as one can be to speak on this subject. Hopefully, you will at least be entertained and perhaps learn from my observations and analysis.
Since this is lesson 1, let’s start at the beginning. Real recording studios operate like doctor’s offices and law firms, not fast food restaurants. Recording studios see clients by appointment and will most likely be unable to accommodate you walking in off the street. It is totally unprofessional to show up at a recording studio, presumably while staff and clients are in sessions, and ask for a tour or worse, try to buy studio time on site for immediate use. This happens at my facility at minimum once a week. Someone calls asking for our hours and informs us that they will be coming by in a little bit to do some recording. It’s even worse when they show up at our door wanting to use the studio. These are people who have never used our facility before and have no history with us. I then have to explain that we are booked for the day and that they have to call and set up an account before booking sessions. Busy studios like ours usually book a week to ten days in advance. Even if no one were using the studio I can’t just work with someone I’ve never met who walks in off the street. I have seen a couple of ragtag studios attempt a fast food business model and almost all of them fail because inevitably, people either go to real studios and see that is not the way the business is practiced, or worse, the studio gets robbed and eventually closes because they can no longer obtain affordable insurance.
I once had a new client call the studio to inquire about using the facility. After a nice conversation he told me he wanted to schedule some time so I began to take down his information so I could set up a new account for him in our system. When I asked him for his name, he gave me a nickname. I told him I was cool calling him that but I needed his legal name for liability purposes. He told me he didn’t give out his legal name to anyone. I told him that we would be unable to do business together. He got angry. I explained to him that we can’t have people using our $100,000 + facility without a responsible party attached in the event something is stolen, broken etc. We need to know with whom we are doing business. I told him I’m sure his physician and lawyer knew his real name and if he wanted me to be his engineer, so would I. He gave in under the pressure of the logic of my argument, but I was almost upset with myself for even making the argument in the first place. How likely would it be that this person would make a good client if he’s that unprofessional? I should have just told him to have a nice day and hung up the phone.
So in summary… Studios aren’t restaurants. You need an appointment and you need at least a semi-formal business arrangement. If you don’t want a copy of your invoice, that’s fine. But it will be in our system and accounted for. If this is unacceptable to you, I believe there is a so-called studio in Northeast being run by undercover cops that would gladly accept you walking up to the door and knocking.