There are dozens if not hundreds of studios across London, all whom help contribute to make London the worlds capital for music. I’ve been running Mill Hill Music Complex for the last 34 years, so I know many of the challenges and issues facing studios in London.
There is a widespread belief among some London Music Studios that anything which is bad for the competion is by default good for the business they run. In actual fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There are plenty of customers out there for everyone and there is a chronic undersupply of studio space. What this means is that it is hard for bands to actually secure space for regular rehearsals. When bands cannot get together regularly, they often collapse and this takes customers away. The real competition for studios are the other things people do with there lives. Last year we saw studios empty at times during the olympics, football and the other events. It only takes one member of the band to decide they want to watch Arsenal in the Champions League and a booking will be cancelled. Most bands want to rehearse on a Tues, Weds or Thursday between 8-11. There will never be enough capacity in London for these times. If a band rehearses at another time, it is because they can’t get a slot then usually.
The signed band, week long lock out market is a completely different beast. In our experience, the bands that use us for lockouts prior to tours are ones we have a good relationship with and are professional enough to get their bookings in early. They use us because they know what they are getting and will only shift if we can’t actually book them, which again means that the competition is not an issue.
Whilst some studios are geographically close to each other, most have a decent sized catchment and a ready supply of bands. It is my opinion that studios should work together on common areas of interest. What could these be?
Here are a few:
1. Sharing information about equipment thefts. It suits no one to have customers pilfering equipment.
2. Business rates. If a studio down the road is paying more rates than it needs to, this doesn’t benefit anyone.
3. Dodgy practices by suppliers. We also sell musical equipment and have seen some highly dubious activity from a few suppliers recently.
4. Sharing information about licensing issues etc.
5. Exchange information about local venues etc
6. Exchange information about grants for music related projects.
7. Equipment sales.swaps. We all have spare gear that other studios may have a use for and vice versa.
8. Share info on deals which could save other studios money etc on insurance or banking.
9. Collaborate on gear purchases. One supplier is currently selling 6m guitar leads for £1.86 a lead if you buy 120. If you are paying £2.50 a lead, why not get together with a couple of other studios and take 40 each? That would be over £25 on a £100 purchase. Worth having?
Every studio is unique and has its own vibe. The reason some bands like a studio can be completely unfathomable, but if they are comfortable then that is good. I believe that studios should talk to each other either formally or informally. If a customer gets their gear nicked,let all of the other studios know. If you get your gear nicked, let the other studios know.
Sites like http://www.rehearsalstudioslondon.net/ are a great resource for musicians. If customers don’t like a studi, in this day and age they are savvy enough to find another studio, if they are happy they will stay put. It is up to all of us to figure out how to market ourselves, but why let other studios flush money down the drain.
Every studio has challenges, rent and rates rising, energy costs soaring. We need to pull together and be a bit smarter in how e deal with the rest of the world. Things won’t get any easier.