• Saff Southgate

In The Know – The 101 of Running an Independent Studio

Updated: Aug 19

Ever wanted to set up your own music business? Support the local trade? Find somewhere to let your musical inhibitions run wild?

I've sat down with Eddie Evans, owner of Station Road Studios to have a 101 about the successes and challenges of running your own local music business in 2020. As the years have passed by we have seen the corporate world of music take a spike. Gone are the days where independent businesses ran the world! What I want to know is what it takes to run a local music business today, and what we can do to keep the art alive!

What inspired you to set up and run your own practice space and studio solo?

It wasn’t inspiration as such. It was a must. I’ve always needed a space to teach drums, somewhere where I wouldn’t get noise complaints! I did co-run a studio before SRS but sadly we couldn’t make rent. I think that was a big inspiration; my failure of the first studio. I felt the need to be successful.

What do you hope to achieve?

A creative environment to teach, write, rehearse and record in. Allot of practice spaces I’ve been to in the past were so run down you wouldn’t want to stay there for long! I’d like SRS to be the HQ of bands in the area. A home from home.

Do you have any words of wisdom for any of our readers who are looking to open their own studio? What advice would you give them?

Be prepared to work 7 days a week! It’s not easy work, especially when you are funding it by yourself. I wouldn’t rely on income from rehearsals as a main source of income. It pays the rent/mortgage and bills allowing to have a ‘free’ space to teach and record in. You really must have multiple sources of income to make it work. You don’t need to be a millionaire to start a studio. Start small and work your way up the ladder. Projects aren’t always successful. But don’t let that stop you from your dreams. Keep pushing!

How do you feel about what's offered to musicians locally?

Locally in Stroud, it's great if you're into Jazz Blues, Folk, Funk, and anything in-between. There are many venues here. However, for heavier players, there’s not a lot on. Venues tend to stick with what will bring an audience in to make bar sales. I don’t blame them really. There is an alternative scene in Stroud but there is nothing to accommodate it. As a whole we have some fantastic venues; The Prince Albert, The Crown in Sceptre, The Sub Rooms – I’m sure I'm missing many more.

Do you think the corporate industry has had an effect on locally run studios?

Yes, and not for the good! Independent studios rely on rehearsals to keep the doors open. Without naming anyone in particular, a very large multiple room rehearsal spaces with millions of pounds worth of funding are popping up all over the UK in every major city. It’s very hard to compete with and It doesn’t help the local economy. If you care, go independent! We need your help!

On another note, as recording becomes a more DIY thing, it becomes harder to make it as a career with a studio. Especially when artists like Billie Eilish record an entire grammy award-winning album in a bedroom! It's great that everyone has access and an affordable option to record at home, but somewhere to someone, it will have a negative impact. These big artists should be setting an example and some are not. But times have changed and we need to adapt! I’ve seen studios open and shut within a few years. Like I said before – multiple sources of income!

What do you think sets your business aside from the others out there?

We do a bit of everything at SRS; rehearsals, recording, videography, and tuition. I’m mostly always there to catch up with bands, offer advice and help out in any way I can. In terms of quality, I feel we provide the best acoustically treated rooms in the area. We've got some great gear with help from Zilla Cabs and Ashdown Engineering. Our online booking system is something a lot of independent studios don’t have. Yes, it costs us a bit of money, but it’s almost hassle-free and I’d say totally worth it.

What's next in the future of Station Road Studios?

We'd love to start putting on our own shows, showcasing some of the bands we have rehearsing and recording at the studio. It’s whether or not venues are willing to give it a chance. Maybe we will have our own dedicated stage for Stroud fringe, who knows. Its a lot of hard work to put something like that on and we are already pretty busy!

As a frequent user of Station Road Studios myself, I can really vouch for the amazing space on offer! The overall presentation of the business really does set it aside from the other studios I have used. The rooms are incredibly spacious and open, with warming character. And the equipment on offer really is amazing, and in brilliant upkeep. There really isn't a question that Eddie doesn't know the answer to musically. And yes, I will admit to being guilty of using a corporate studio, but it really doesn't compare. I think its essential that we are supporting local businesses! If someone is willing to support you through your ventures, you really should support them back!

With 24 hour access, 365 days a year. Why not give Station Road Studios a try?

Whether you want to receive expert coaching to become the next Lars Ulrich, or mixing your way to the next bestseller, Station Road Studios is the place for you!

– Saff Southgate (Writer)

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