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My new studio complex currently being concieved

permalink   Thu, Feb 28, 2013 @ 7:25 PM
Emotional Overload Studio Project Plan

Maximum Music - Minimum Fuss!

For many of those who love music, it’s their life, not just a job or a hobby. Unfortunately it’s often a thankless task. Sometimes it means lugging heavy equipment around after hours of driving (not to mention practice) only to be told that by some unfriendly venue manager that you can’t play because you’ve not brought enough people- it actually happens, and it just about sums things up.

Musicians often have temperaments best described as artistic, sometimes egotistical, sometimes ultra sensitive and sometimes manic-depressive. Again, the bullies and rip off-merchants so common in the world of entertainment often fight them amongst themselves for “fun” and profit.

Those who actually get on in such an environment tend to be the most hard-nosed and tenacious, and often nasty, as opposed to the more imaginative, creative, just plain fun or otherwise talented.

Music industry figures have been quick to decry the loss of sales due to internet “piracy”. However, since the invention of the radio and tape recorder, fans have always taped off the radio, copied their friends LPs and so forth. It’s actually paid off for many acts, with publicity generating further sales of genuine media and concert tickets. Oddly, record labels have been known to pay radio and TV to play their records- it’s rather hypocritical that those on the receiving end of this payola aren’t considered “pirates” whilst kids at home are!

But the real issue is that whilst it’s never been an easy life for a musical artist, the modern commercial environment has become one at odds with such artistic achievement. In effect, the music industry has scared off both musicians and genuine fans.

Premiership football might be a million pound business, but it wouldn’t be possible without the Sunday leagues and the kick-abouts in school playgrounds, the fans of small local teams who stand and cheer through rain and snow etc. It’s this enthusiasm that generates both the talent on the pitch and the ticket sales at the turnstiles at the top.

There’s a time and place for money, accountants and lawyers- but just as such don’t kick the ball themselves, they are peripheral to the world of music but in the modern scene have assumed centre stage. So much so, that musicians are often driven to squabble over money that doesn’t exist and copyrights to music that has not been sold or otherwise licensed- suing for their share of nothing!

Our aim as a music production/rehearsal facility, social club and record label is to return creativity and friendship to a cold and clinical scene. Internet sites like Tribe Of Noise, and Indaba have created online virtual collaboration spaces fostering a huge amount of respect amongst their users. From a professional point of view, there is nothing stopping work created in this way, provided all involved give their permission from being exploited commercially. From an artistic and technical one, the material created in this manner is approaching and even exceeding the quality and diversity offered by the major commercial labels.

We feel that a “bricks and mortar” development of this scene is a logical and necessary step in a brave new music scene bringing back humanity and harmony to a culture that has lost a lot of it’s soul. In the world of the arts, a “scene” can exist without an “industry” , but the reverse is not true. If there’s going to be a way forward for musicians to have the possibility of making a living from their work, first we have to give them the ability to play at all. At present, many are discouraged by the unpleasant attitudes often found surrounding modern music.

One aim is to provide the features not found in the typical bedroom producer’s or home studio setup- the ability to record a complete live band and loud acoustic instruments such as drums, this being linked in to the online collaboration website systems mentioned.

A simplified, streamlined recording process forms a part of this- for instance drums and amplification permanently in place and connected to multi-tracking equipment. Thus a band could rehearse, perform or jam and have the results recorded with minimal setup time. The idea would be to create as much as a “plug in and go” experience as possible, all of which can improve the creative flow. Due to use of internet file-sharing, bands could mix and overdub in their own studios, or invite other musicians from around the world to join in.

We intend to form a “house band” of local musicians to provide backing to soloists and also perform session work on music recorded at this studio or online- providing a money making opportunity for commercial projects too. Sampling can be made use of, for instance allowing a drummer and bassist to create loops for rappers and so forth. There’s a healthy market for copyright-cleared sounds of this nature, similarly for film and TV incidental music etc.

Lastly, the simple and streamlined nature of this project does not require hugely expensive equipment, and facility costs could be provided easily afforded by the many low income and disabled players, with the possibility of cheap or free jam sessions that again could be used as a basis for online collaboration.

One of the best things about CCmixter has been its popularity amongst female artists, which in our local scene is sadly lacking- there’s also been a mixture of language and culture- to return to the previous example marrying a rap group to a rock group etc. All of this could be expanded with the real world facility’s creation of a local scene to compliment the online one.

Emotional Overload Studios

1) Access to music – a safe creative and social environment for all musicians, particularly those disabled, unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged, for the facilitation of recording, rehearsal and education.
2) Internet connected to online virtual studios such as Indaba and CCmixter
3) Facilities for recording acoustic instruments, including choirs and drums
4) A record label making use of Creative Commons licensing


Complex to be comprised of three areas of approximately equal size.

- A reception area, including kitchenette at toilet
- A large control room area
- A soundproofed recording and rehearsal space


Control Room:

Digital Audio Workstation driving a 16 channel analogue input/output rig.

Mixing desk allowing 16-channel simultaneous recording, with 8x stereo dynamics processing units i.e. compressor/gate/limiters

Analogue Mastering Dynamics Processor, Equaliser and Spectrum Analyser

Reverb, Chorus and Delay devices

Guitar amp simulator

Separate mastering workstation

Digital Piano / Midi Master Keyboard (one 88 key weighted, one with plentiful virtual synth controls)

Electronic drum pad/kit

Monitor Amp and Speakers

Recording Space:

Drum Kit permanently mic’ed up with suitable microphones.

Vocal PA system

Guitar and Bass Amps with microphones and Direct Injection

Vocal Microphones, several makes and models to suit vocal style.

Wiring to join everything together.

Headphones, 6 pairs plus suitable amplification

Site Requirements:

Soundproofing of recording/rehearsal area with suitable window to control room.

Suitable security systems such as cctv/alarms

Broadband Internet and phone line

Furniture- chairs, fridge and so forth.

Ethos notes:

“Maximum Music, Minimal Fuss”

System design for maximum interoperability and minimal technical complexity. The idea is to for a musician or band to be able to turn up and rehearse or record with minimal equipment and fastest possible set-up time- plug and play. That artistic expression is as uninhibited as possible.

Use of online recording, mixing, session musicians and mastering via sites such as Indaba and CCmixter.

Encouragement of non-commercial open-source material creation with commercial licensing available where required- such as for sale of final product, and music for TV/Film/Videogames/Websites/Radio etc.
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permalink   stellarartwars Fri, Mar 1, 2013 @ 11:15 AM
Quote: Skill_BorrowerReally well articulated manifesto stellar. Hit the nail right on the head in so many ways. I really like the commercial aspects of it. I think a lot of music on this site could be sold, and probably is somewhere somehow. So, why not just do it ourselves in a minimal fuss manner as you put it.
I don’t think it actually needs any official physical studio location though; at least at first.
Would love to contribute samples and mash ups to this project.

Thank you. The whole idea of this project is to combine the efforts, licensing methods and work methods of sites such as this with the many local musicians I work with- effectively joining the two.
permalink   stellarartwars Sat, Mar 2, 2013 @ 7:41 PM
more on the plan…

Emotional Overload Studio – Making things pay!
Estimating rent and equipment maintenance/credit charges at around £7000 per year and staffing costs (1 full time technician, £20kpa, 1 part time technician, £10kpa and two apprentices at £5kpa each) of £40000, we’re aiming to generate an income of between £50k and £60k per year in initial trading period.
We believe that a good reputation and market-leading flexibility will lead to expansion improving profitability further.
We aim to open up to 24hours, 365 days per year as demand dictates.

Rehearsal based:
Hire of basic rehearsal facilities/equipment.
As above “with tape running” to create a “live in session” recording
Additional charges for DVD of multi-tracks for own mixing or building on.

“Produced” Multitracking
Hire of studio facilities on half-day basis
Major discount for artists choosing Creative Commons licensing
Mixing and mastering services, including online 3rd party solutions w/commission
Use of online collaboration tools , both commercial w/commission and CC
Production of test pressings/small volume CDRs with artwork and digital distribution (up front fees or commission) . For instance, for an artist to come in with a rough demo and have a professional iTunes release within a fortnight.

Session Musician Management
Maintain a database of local musicians wishing to collaborate on studio projects, both real world physical and online virtual. Advertise their services to potential clients, taking commission.
Expanding this idea to create a compact “house band” able to accompany live vocalists and other soloists. Market their skills online and to physical customers, again taking commission.
As well as musicians, the management database would also cover technical staff, composers and lyricists, graphic artists, photographers and videographers.
In addition, offer a free amateur version of the above, for educational purposes whereby a musician can improve their skills by playing on a creative commons project- this can be used as a testbed for recruiting new paid talent.

Education and Social
We aim to hold a “Jam Club” where members pay a regular fee to meet other musicians and play and record together. Recorded material would be then available on CD (and DVD in multi-track form) for members to play with, sample etc, and would also be available on sites such as
Building on this, the venue and gear would be available for a fee to musicians and technicians wishing to hold a masterclass for instruments, performance and equipment.

Bespoke Music
For a suitable fee, original music could be composed and performed by in-house musicians for TV, film, radio and website.
A related project is best described as “pro-Karaoke”, where an amateur singer can record a professional sounding cover song, complete with CD artwork, with live musician available at the higher end of the market. This aspect could be tied in with promotions in the media- such as Valentine’s day with vouchers and so forth.
permalink   stellarartwars Tue, Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:18 PM
I’ve recently achieved the financing for this venture through a family loan. Amazingly planning laws here in England require a change of purpose for a recording studio- it’s considered entertainment rather than manufacturing. There’s a legal loophole we’ve discovered that allows to get around this by means of it being a private facility of our production team as opposed to directly hired by the public- i.e. they hire us not the studio. Planning is one of the many areas of British life that is one law for the poor, no law for the rich :(

There’s suitable venues in central London but the fair from even the surrounding suburbs is extortionate.

Still, getting this going somehow anyway, if anyone in the London/Essex (or further even) area want to get involved please contact me as if things work out there might be jobs in the future. Especially welcome is advice.
permalink   mwic Wed, Jan 22, 2014 @ 7:41 AM
Quote: stellarartwarsif anyone in the London/Essex (or further even) area want to get involved please contact me.

I’m not there but love this concept. Have some more free time nowadays because I’m (happily) unemployed. I will do menial things if you want.
permalink   stellarartwars Thu, Jan 23, 2014 @ 6:11 AM
Something I’d like to do if possible is have the main DAW dual boot Windows/Linux, I’m looking for a 16-channel analogue in/out which will work with both. I have three Terratec Phase 88 8x analoge IO boxes which apparently do, but there’s a few dead channels on them.
permalink   stellarartwars Thu, Jan 23, 2014 @ 6:14 AM
Thanks for your offer, I’m sure we could meet in the real world or online and discuss this. Something I’m likely to do in the next few days is set up a GoogleDocs account for the details and business plans, which you could browse and add suggestions.
permalink   stellarartwars Mon, Feb 10, 2014 @ 10:23 AM
New computer system I’m putting together for music
(I’ve left the pricing from business plan in as it’s interesting for those interested in the UK in buying or upgrading, italics note existing items)
Windows 7 64bit £60
Mainboard, i7 CPU, 16GB ram £550
Case, PSU and optical £100
Hard Drive 1TB removable x2 £100
21” Screen £100
EWS88 soundcard x2

Total £910

Cakewalk Sonar 8.5 (or upgraded)
Reason 7 £275
SampleRobot £260
ReCycle £192
NI Komplete £400

Total £1220

Controllers / Peripherals
Axiom AIR 25 £250
Nektar Panarama £250

Total £250
Grand total £2630

One of the ideas behind this studio is a mix of ultra-high tech digital with heterogeneous vintage analogue connectivity, recording and processing. In addition, due to the open source nature of the project, there is an emphasis on sample creation (for profit as well as fun) and editing.
permalink   stellarartwars Mon, Feb 10, 2014 @ 8:25 PM
I’ll add to that ProTools and Reaper from a commercial point of view, which adds another £600 to the price, but should cover a lot more compatibility bases.
permalink   Beluga Ten Wed, Feb 19, 2014 @ 8:25 PM
Some great ideas here. I wouldn’t have thought an outer London location was too bad, as long as you’re reasonably near a main route (M25/M11/A12, etc.). Having said that, I’m located well north of Watford, and up here there are recording studios literally in the middle of nowhere, as well as in the middle of cities.

Bear in mind that some pro musicians won’t touch a computer unless it’s got a fruit-based logo on it. Linux is a pain to work with for music, as much as I like it otherwise. My DAW is PC/Windows based, but many folks aren’t.

I’ve written and looked over business plans before, so here are some random ideas copied and pasted from my notes, which may or may not be applicable:

Do you have a marketing budget yet? You’ll probably need one (even printing flyers costs money!). Think about: who is likely to be interested, how to reach them, whether they’d be willing to pay what you’re charging them, why they would come to you (rather than another studio), and whether there’s enough of them to cover your running costs and turn a profit. Count on only a fraction of interested people actually getting their wallets out.

Don’t forget equipment insurance and public liability insurance. Also future software/hardware upgrades, staff training on new equipment, unexpected technical failures, etc.. Think about costs of staff recruitment, sickness, employer National Insurance contributions, etc.. Most importantly, don’t forget that you’ll have to pay tax and (if applicable) VAT, and these will eat into your profit margin.

Every new venture involves risk. Decide in advance what “success” would look like, what “failure” would look like, and plan what you would do in each circumstance. Be prepared to stick to this - no-one likes to think about exit strategies, and hopefully you’ll never need to use one - but if you do, it’ll save you money and heartache.

That might seem like a lot extra to consider - but better to add it into the plan now, instead of finding out later that you’re running out of cash.

Lastly, take all the free advice you can get now, but remember that some of it might be worth what you paid for it ;o).
permalink   stellarartwars Wed, May 7, 2014 @ 10:36 PM
Here’s some more planning. I’m trying to “Open source” the business plan to some extent as other enterprises on the same lines would be very welcome.

There’s a temporary website we use just for enquiries and discussion, and a little presentation on the concept is here.

Comment welcome, and once again thank you for your interest and advice

permalink   stellarartwars Thu, Oct 2, 2014 @ 3:01 AM
All very true indeed. Rob and Phil are working on the marketing side of things at the moment, something we’re looking at is CCplus and non-chart music projects such as adverts etc- for example Best Christmas Yet was used last year as a national newspaper jingle (minus my vocals) , so there’s an angle there.

We’re going to be doing some commercial projects too, which could pay well as we’re able to deliver very big productions at about 1/5 the times and thus costs of the major studios.
Platinum Butterfly
permalink   Sat, Sep 6, 2014 @ 1:54 AM
Hi there, i’m busy to step from commercial made vst’s to only freeware vst’s. I also use reaper as a DAW for it. I want to explore how easy it is to make good music with as much freeware as possible.
I don’t know if it is helpful, but if you want i can share results with you if you are still working on this project.
permalink   stellarartwars Thu, Oct 2, 2014 @ 2:24 AM
We’re now running almost entirely open source. The only commerical SW we now use is Reason and AutoTune, both of which will with some fiddling work suprisingly well on KXStudio Ubunto distro.

As for the marketing side- hey we’re not wanting big money but do need to pay our way and make a living- some of our team and our manager are working on that.

We’ve now got appropriate premises, though wer’e looking at refiting costs of about $5k. We’ve got 90% of the equipment we need already now.

Ardour is superb, and you can sync to Rosegarden for better MIDI support. The only problem concerns the bugs which is only to be expected from alpha/beta releases. Essentially, the package is ProTools, about five years behind the time compared to commercial releases. Yet PT and Jack together promise the most powerful DAW system I’ve come across.

If I had any more money than to be on the breadline, I’d be donating $100,000 to their developers. Soon as Ardour 4 (stable release) comes out, there’ll be little use in using anything else.

I’m working at the moment on setting Ardour up with 24 analogue inputs/outputs for total integration with analogue reel-to-reel tape, so far results have been more satsifactory than Cubase in that respect, although Reaper will do this very well and I run that on my Windows box.

Thanks for your help and support to everyone who has offered advice.

Please continue your advice and comments here.

If you’re interested in what direction a commercial Stellar Art Wars production would likely sound like, this is a good one from the 90s.

That in itself is interesting from a marketing point of view, as it’s pretty good, but it’s questionable whether it would do well today in the harder, colder and more serious vibe. We wonder the conspiracy theorist types we are (which BTW now seems to include everyone from the 80s/90s London r&b scene) is it a cse of the public getting what the public want or the public wanting what the public get. Still, fashions ultimately change back from time to time.

Peace, and once again, thank you.

On the site, there’s an open source business plan PDF file for download, please feel free to check it out and send us suggestions.