Archive for the ‘singintomymic’ Category

Half Steps: Buying Protection for Your Project Studio Investment

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Buying protection these days is certainly simpler than “buying protection” was during the prohibition. It’s not the muscle that keeps your business IN business, it’s financial stability, smart planning and loss prevention. Three days ago, Manila was under red alert (albeit only overnight) because a small group of disgruntled and detained soldiers walked out of their court hearing and holed up at a local 4-star hotel. Like last time (it’s their second attempt), it was hardly violent and resembled more of a press-con than a coup d’etat, which was a good thing because a violent, bloody engagement would only heighten damage costs and lives lost. The situation was resolved peacefully, and a day later things got back to normal in the city, although the hotel stays closed until today (it’s Dec 3) while surveyors estimated damages sustained among other routine investigation procedures and operations. A large sum of money is being lost every day that operations are halted.

This is an extreme case, but you’ve got to realize that situations that could potentially jeopardize your operation are plentiful. A pipe that bursts in your basement and floods everything (for home studio owners), a fire from a neighboring structure leaps to yours, a typhoon/hurricane hurtles through your area destroying anything in its path, a huge earthquake levels your city, or even just the neighborhood burglar making his holiday rounds (unfortunately, you left the studio double doors unlocked) are all incidents that have happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future: it’s the uncertainty that makes these risks seem incredulous or far-fetched, but when they do happen, they take the whole cake!

What’s important to realize is that there are steps you could take to protect your business from failing due to unforseen circumstances. This is the field primarily dealt by Risk Management, wherein you lower the chances of an act of God or accidental event from taking you out. A Risk Manager should be able to advise you upon consultation on what you could do to make your business more resilient physically. If possible, consider getting insurance coverage for your project studio: it’s relatively inexpensive (depending on your coverage) and worth the time and money, especially when you’re counting your losses while looking at the blazing structure where your studio is (or used to be). Here are some tips:

1. If your project studio is at home, ask your insurer if you need to declare your recording equipment. In cases such as Fire and Burglary/Theft insurance, the insurer would sometimes require you to list down the equipment inside an insured structure (known as Contents in insurance terms) along with their estimated values so that when a loss occurs, valuation by the adjuster is more accurate. Keep your receipts in a safe place.

2. If your project studio is in a commercial location and you still don’t have insurance or think that you’re insured, ask the building administration whether your monthly rental fee and association dues go to payment of some form of fire insurance. Usually, buildings are insured, but the contents of their tenants are not (they assume that you’d be getting insurance for that yourself, so it’s best to ask asap).

3. If your project studio is in a commercial facility with sprinklers, ask your insurer about Sprinkler Leakage and how you could have it included in your coverage. If a fire starts out on your floor and the sprinklers turn on, that’s great only if your studio’s being offended by the fire. Otherwise, you get smoke and water damage on your studio and equipment for nothing, and that’s going to cost you.

4. Keep a backup of all your computer data (if you’re going digital or analogue/digital hybrid) off-site and on-site. If your DAW is the lifeblood of your studio, it might be worth looking into Electronic Equipment Insurance, which provides a comprehensive cover for your hardware as well as your software.

5. Theft and Burglary is not exactly necessary for the small project studio, but a good insurance cover to have nonetheless, especially if you’re dealing with expensive vintage equipment. With the number of people going in and out of your studio, it’s difficult to filter out the meaning wells from the evil doers.

6. What to do if a client gets into an accident in your project studio? He touches a faulty plug and gets 110v straight to his spine, she slips on a newly polished spot on your hardwood floor and gets a concussion, they get a deep cut from running around the control room and accidentally step on a broken bottle of beer they dropped (accidentally also, we assume); Comprehensive General Liability is an insurance cover that responds to the accidents that happen to your clients when they’re inside your premises. If ever something happens to them inside your studio, CGL allows you a certain amount per incident wherein they reimburse you for costs. Have you ever claimed against a restaurant for medical bills you incurred after you had that plateful of bad oysters the week before? CGL reimburses the restaurant for claims made by its clients (in this case, food poisoning).

7. You can also check out the other common forms of insurance covers such as Typhoon/Flood and Earthquake, but just make sure that it applies to you and is necessary.

There are lots of other coverages you can avail of in non-life insurance aside from the ones covered here, but I won’t go into them anymore as I don’t know much about them. If you’re planning to run your project studio as your own business, check out some pre-need and health insurance covers as well.

Good luck and stay safe!

Half Steps: How Marketing Affects the Project Studio (part 1)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

We often hear how advertising and the media can affect consumer spending habits and their capacity for decision making. We sometimes hear how the media can offer more choices to the consumer, thus opening up more options as regards consumption, and we also sometimes hear how the media can narrow down or even dictate the competition. We sometimes hear some individuals blame the media for overemphasizing certain things and blowing up news ‘facts’ out of proportion. But what we do know (yet sometimes not understand fully) is that advertising and the media has become ingrained in the way we live, spend and interact. I feel that the discipline of Marketing instills in the student a way to view the consumer and how she/he reacts to stimuli from outside a box looking in, leading to a greater understanding of the why’s and the how’s of what we do. If we are able to take ourselves away from a situation in order to study it unattached, we let go of biases and preconceived notions, leading to an unadulterated flow of information and greater learning. This is the advantage of knowing what Marketing is, and although I’m not an expert by any means, this two-part post will try to show how Marketing can benefit your project studio.

The Need to Market

In a time wherein we are barraged by information more often and at a quicker pace than ever before, how does one enable his product or service to stand out? This is the fundamental problem posited by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book Positioning. With so many things going on, how does a brand (in this case, your studio) set itself above from the rest in order to be recognized? Is it worth going after the industry leader by offering value added service and undercutting, only to be dealt the same blow by the one in second place when you’ve arrived at the top? The answer to these questions may be a yes or a no depending on your appetite for business and scope, but what the authors maintain to be integral to both is the notion of Market Positioning.

The Need for Positioning

What’s the first brand that comes to mind when you think of photocopying? What’s the first brand that comes to mind when you think of a vehicle with high standards of safety? What about cola? These are questions that, when asked, provide the researcher with details about a target market or segment’s mindset. If the answers are Xerox, Volvo, and Coke (and most likely, they will be), then you know that you’ve armed yourself with significant information about that target’s perception of the market. These brands get first place in the minds of that segment, simply because these brands were one of the first (if not the first) to market themselves according to their positions. Xerox for photocopiers, Volvo for safe cars, and Coke for cola soda (‘The Real Thing’). There is great recall with these brands because they have positioned themselves in the minds of the consumers. According to Ries and Trout, the way to do this is to be ahead of everyone else so as to gain the attention of the consumer (Volvo for safe cars), and to build brand loyalty. The way I see it, you have to find or carve your niche market, project the image of your company as a provider of a particular kind of need, and make sure your clients don’t leave you for someone else anytime soon, or at all.

I’ll give some examples on how to position a project studio in my next post. Until then!

Half Steps: Your Own Project Studio Venture

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Greetings to all! It’s definitely a pleasure to be among contributors who I look up to and recognize as authorities in their respective fields in Tweak’s Studio Central forums. I’ve been browsing the forums and reading Tweak’s guides for a little over two years already, although I haven’t contributed much in terms of posting in the forums. I recognize that the help I’ve received as well as the advice I’ve been given have been instrumental in the development of my knowledge as an engineer and hobbyist.
Since this is my first post, I’d really like to start out, if I may, by introducing myself and what it is that I do, followed by a brief description of what this blog (which I have titled Half Steps for no apparent reason other than it sounded music related. I could call it “Romantic Asteroid” or “Big Hard Explosion Stick For You, Ladies” also if you want).

I own and operate a small project recording studio that’s just starting up with my friends that caters to independent artists and bands. I hold a day job in an office as an assistant, and so I have some time to write in my personal blog (and in this one, hereonafter). After work, I head on over to the studio to check up on how things are going, and to engineer a session if there’s a booking. It’s a lot of work coming from both ends, but it really makes me happy to be able to balance (most of the time, at least) both duties.

My initial aim for this blog is to write about several aspects of a Project Recording Studio. One would be operating the recording studio as a small business on the side, that is, moonlighting as a proprietor while keeping a day job. Since our studio is just starting out and I’ve seen some of those kinks and quirks involved in such a start-up, I’d want to share them with you guys. Generally, I won’t offer a solution that is the end-all-be-all answer to the problem, preferring a healthy discussion over it, and I’d really like it if everyone chimes in if they feel like it. The blogosphere thrives on participation! :) Second, I’d like to input some of the coping mechanisms I’ve learned recently when it comes to balancing both office work and studio work (it really is a bit of a duality), as sometimes one can actually complement the other! :) And lastly, this blog will be an outlet for me to publish some first hand thoughts on being a novice engineer and post some of the key things I’ve learned through the months that have passed.

In closing, I’d like to thank Tweak for giving me a chance to write some stuff in his blog, and I’d like to acknowledge the other contributors here (Blue Bear, joepilling, nanashi, fooman, _controlfreak, everyone!) for being true sources of inspirational advice for other project studio owners/engineers/producers/employees/assistants the world over.