Music Connection’s annual Recording Studio Survey collects data regarding trends and activities at commercial recording studios in the United States. We survey studio owners and managers across the country, including those from major music towns. This year, almost 90 studios responded to our survey, with most reporting great news for 2017. In fact, the recording business looks robust. Indeed, the tumultuous years many studios endured appear to be over.
STUDIO BUSINESS LOOKS GREAT FOR 2017
After years of struggle, the recording studio business began picking up a few years ago and now, in 2017, it is thriving. Indeed, 66% of all the studios that responded reported an increase in business. That is the biggest increase we’ve seen since Music Connection started doing this survey.
Although recording budgets don’t match the heady days of the ‘80s and ‘90s, they are picking up and getting close to what they used to be. In fact, for the second year in a row our survey respondents noted that recording budgets are increasing! That’s a godsend for studios, especially those that rely on label work. Additionally, major labels are booking more time, while independent projects have increased, surpassing indie label work.
Due to the tremendous amount of competition in the marketplace, the need for professional and polished productions continues to be at an all-time high. Artists and producers have learned that high-quality productions get the deals, and the only way to get the quality you need to compete is in a professional setting.
Our survey shows how the turnaround that began a few years ago is gaining momentum. In fact, only a few (.04%) small studios reported a downturn in business. Overall, this year’s survey indicates that the studio business is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
POP IS POPULAR – BUT ROCK IS ROLLING
Although different areas of the country produce different styles of music (e.g. country in Nashville, blues in Memphis, jazz in San Francisco), we noticed a consistent thread over the past few years. It should come as no surprise that pop music has retained its lead for the ninth consecutive year. The big surprise this year is that rock is back. It has surpassed urban for the first time in many years. Even Nashville, where 70% of clients are country artists, reports that rock is challenging country and pop genres for supremacy.
EDM & DJ PRODUCTIONS REMAIN STEADY
With the popularity of EDM continuing to grow, quite a few studios reported that many EDM artists and DJ’s are booking studio time. They apparently feel the need to have the best equipment and gear available at their disposal. As a result, EDM and DJ acts are using professional studios to create and/or finish their mixes and master their recordings.
RATES ARE HOLDING – WITH SOME INCREASING
For only the fifth time in Music Connection’s Studio Survey history we can report that 75% of all the studios that responded have maintained their rates, while 25% have raised them with no adverse effect. That is great news for the studio business, and bodes well for the future.
THE INTERNET IS ESSENTIAL
All the studios surveyed utilize the Internet to such an extent they consider its impact to be 100%. Whether it’s booking time via their websites, emailing mixes for review or remote tracking via live video feeds, studios believe the Internet is an essential tool for their business.
Major labels continue to book the most studio time, followed by independent (DIY) (Artist/Producer) projects. For the first time in years, indie label work has actually decreased––mostly because many indies use their own studios. The majority of studios (75%) continue to service the entire project, from start to finish. Other uses (photo shoots, video shoots, special events, TV shows, parties, etc.) have decreased due to the increase in business. Based on the first six months of 2017, the recording studio business looks better than ever.