Letting engineers "freelance" in your studio.

Discussion in 'Tape Recorders' started by Mises, Jan 28, 2007.

  1. Mises

    Mises Guest

    As the title of the thread implies, I am just wondering about the whole concept of letting freelance engineers use your studio.

    Is this practice very common, and/or is it confined mainly to the larger studios who can afford to "take a hit" (or have people on staff to repair broken eqpt) if some equipment gets broken?

    What, if any, qualifications are imposed on these people. I'd imagine you wouldnt just let somebody off the street come in and start messing with your $450,000 mixing board and $3,000 preamps and $2,000 microphones... so how do big studios handle this?

    I was considering doing this because my small studio is exploring alternate ways to generate revenue. I'll be honest though, I very much don't like the idea of people touching my stuff. If they break the equipment, who sucks up the cost of that?

    I could just see the writing on the wall there.

    Me: "Hey, why the F* doesnt my Earthworks preamp work"?

    Freelance Engineer: "I dont know, I didnt touch the thing, I swear"

    Me: "I was just using the thing yesterday. You were the only one in here since then.... Whos gonna pay for that $*^t, it was $2500... and I need it for a session today! I dont have the time to send this thing back to get it fixed?".

    Freelance Engineer: "I dont know man. I swear."
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Not to be smug but if you want to generate income, start a recording school. Talk about nightmares with gear. But seriously, "teaching" people how to mess with gear is where the money's at.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Like in any business you have to have some "ground rules" You could ask for a performance bond which is a fancy way to say if they break it they pay for it and all the whensoevers and wherefores can be spelled out in advance. If you are at all picky about your gear this is probably NOT a good way to generate income. There are a couple of recording studios around here that allow "guest" engineers to work on their equipment and it is done at odd times (evenings and weekends) and the owner is not present for any of the sessions so it is basically their word against yours when it comes to who broke the equipment. The other problem is that people are using the studios to make money so you have to set your rates lower than they normally charge so they can make some profit too and that can be tricky. I would think that there are better ways to make some money than renting out your studio. The other problem is that if you are NOT there the recording session could turn into a party very quickly and then who knows what would happen.....best to really think this one though VERY carefully
  4. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    You could hire an intern or assistant. Teach him/her the ropes and when you rent out the studio to a Freelancer, have the assistant there to make sure everything goes according to studio policy.

    For freelance engineers who may be unfamiliar with your studio, the assistant is there as a guide to help them. New engineers may not know the patchbay routings or where to go to get that wacky adapter cable that someone always ends up needing. The assistant is there for that.

    For you, the assistant is there to make sure that all your equipment is handled properly and doesn't dissappear.

    The down side is in you having to hire a new employee. Interns however work for free. In some cases, you could charge freelancers extra $$$ saying that they have to have a studio employee with them at all times and the extra money covers that. Put that money in the intern's pocket and he'll make sure everything is AOK.

    That's how it was for me when I was interning. A new engineer would come in and I'd hook him up with whatever he needed and keep an eye or three on all the studio's stuff.
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    It really does depend on the nature of your studio as to whether you want to contemplate this.

    In MANY of the larger markets, it's almost expected that a "guest" AE is going to come in for different parts.... e.g tracking AE, then a mixer... maybe even a sub-specialist like an Alisha or Nuendo guru, etc...

    IMO, the physical size of the studio and how "commercial" it is will dictate whether the studio will be "for hire" or if the facility is basically for "rent".

    When it's for rent, you often see security guards, receptionists, etc... and there's almost always a studio tech there to keep an eye on the whole operation.

    On the other hand, I'm not sure that it's real smart to hand the keys to someone who you don't know... if you don't have a tech and/or insurance on every last piece of gear and inch of fabric in the place.

    My .02
  6. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Good post.

    Interns/studio techs./etc. would be a MINIMUM. Your business insurance policy might actually require it.
  7. Mises

    Mises Guest

    Business insurance policy.... chuckle. :wink: I dont even make enough money that I could afford such a luxury.

    I do like the idea of holding classes for laymen and people who want to get into audio. I see a lot of studios doing that nowadays, I guess for extra cash. I think I might go that route. "Introduction to MIDI", "Intermediate MIDI", "Vocal Coaching for Real World Recording", "Intro to Audio Engineering", and about 4 other classes I thought of that might attract some of the younger crowd.
  8. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Everyone should have insurance. It can't be more than a grand for a year.
  9. Sajin

    Sajin Active Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Uh actually yes studios do have guys walk in off the street and use the gear. Your assistants or you are supposed to enforce studio policy as prOgr4m said. The freelancer unless he or she is also the client is not responsible for damage to the gear. The client is, and the assistant, or you if you don't have one, should be the buffer between anyone getting in your room and screwing it up. If you have jitters about this and people "touching your gear" then its kind of hard to be in the "studio business" booking time to outside clients. Busted speaker cones, spills, blown mics, all occupational hazards of running a studio. Make your clients understand that they are responsible for damage to the equipment, have them sign paperwork reflecting their responsibility to you like Bethel said. If something goes wrong on your end best believe they are going to ask for "downtime" and then they'll want money back or be compensated for time lost. Protect yourself! Otherwise the educational avenue is a good way to go too.

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