So you’ve got a band together and you want to find somewhere to rehearse. If you’ve never booked a rehearsal room before, what things should you consider? For a band to develop, the first thing you need to do is ensure that the atmosphere at your rehearsals is creative and the environment is productive. It is interesting to note that what bands think they want and what they actually want is often two completely different things. Of course it is up to you as the customer to decide, but here are a few questions you should consider. These tips are designed for people looking for a London rehearsal studio, but apply to most musicians anywhere !
You have to find a studio that everyone can get to easily. Of course if three of the band live in one locality and a fourth member lives 50 miles away, this is not necessarily possible, but give some consideration to how everyone will get there. Work out a convenient location for where you can all get to before you start your search. At our studios we list all transport links, local bus and train timetables and travel information –https://www.millhillmusiccomplex.co.uk/contact/findus/
– this should give anyone arranging a session a reasonable idea of the logisitics of organising a session. We are lucky to have excellent transport links, being close to several major roads and also the Thameslink rail line (we are in Zone 4). We also have plenty of onsite parking. That is a big consideration for many bands who lug around heavy gear.
2. Time of rehearsal.
So you’ve worked out what area you want to rehearse in. You then need to give some consideration to the time. Generally if you don’t have 9-5 jobs then rehearsing in off peak periods is usually far cheaper. At our studios there is a general 50% discount on most studios for off peak rehearsals (Check our prices and availability – https://www.millhillmusiccomplex.co.uk/product-category/studio/
) . Most other London rehearsal Studios offer similar discounts. If you have to rehearse in peak hours, then bear in mind that this is when studios get busy, so it is wise to book sessions 3-4 weeks in advance to secure the specific day and time you require. Mill Hill Music Complex are flexible on studio session times, but many other studios have rigid fixed times (6-9pm, 9-12pm is common). Make sure that you give this consideration when booking. We find that 7-10pm and 8-11pm sessions are most popular for people who have jobs to go to.
3. What equipment do you need at the studio?
Having worked out the location and time of the session, you should next consider what equipment you require. Every studio has a different policy towards what equipment they provide and what they charge for it.
Some provide nothing and every item is chargeable. Some will provide everything and build that into the room cost. Most will provide a minimum of a PA and a couple of mics as the standard. At Mill Hill Music Complex, the hire of a PA and Backline (drums, guitar and Bass amplification) is included. Extra items such as instruments etc can be hired. It is worth enquiring as to the general state of repair of drum kits. We have well maintained kits, but sadly this is not always the case. Also enquire whether cymbals etc are included in the cost of kit hire. Bear in mind that if the kit is not included as a standard part of the room hire and has to be assembled and taken down, this will eat into the productive time you have available. Also make sure that the spec of any gear is suitable. Will the amps be loud enough etc.
4. Does the studio sell spare strings, batteries and drum sticks?
This could have a major bearing on the productivity of your session. If you break a string or drumstick, or your effects pedal battery gets low, this could scupper you. At Mill Hill Music Complex we sell these items, but if a studio doesn’t then be sure to buy some spares before the session.
5. Check the studio out before you book.
It is worth having a look at a studio before you book. Nothing is more depressing than meeting up with a new band at the first rehearsal, only to find that the rehearsal room is not what you thought it was. If you’ve booked it and the other new band members think it is disgusting, the band may split up before it even starts. You may even be lumbered with the bill !
6. Check the studio rules etc.
What are the rules if you want to book an extra hour etc? We often get customers who have rehearsed at other studios and have fallen foul of rules and fallen out with the studio as a result. I would guess that the most contentious issue for all studios and customers are late cancellation charges. Our studio charge the full rate for a session if less than 72 hours notice is given. Many musicians feel that if they haven’t turned up they shouldn’t have to pay. Sadly, as we have a business to run and staff to pay, we need to ensure that any cancellation gives us a suitable opportunity to relet the room. Before we implemented a cancellation policy we’d sometimes have four or five bands simply fail to show up on a night. Not only did this mean we couldn’t pay staff & rent, it also meant we’d turned away people who did want to rehearse. Always check the cancellation policy of the studio. We now email all customers with the studio rules when they book a session. We find that generally means we all know where we stand. Bear in mind all studios have generally imposed rules because they’ve had problems in the past. Studios are nearly always run by musicians and for musicians. The rules are not imposed because the studios are being awkward. It is so they can run as smoothly as possible for the benefit of everyone.