Recording Studio Manager
The manager of a recording studio may be the owner of the company, partial owner, or an employee hired to manage the staff and day-to-day operations of business. This individual cooperates with all clients renting space and equipment at the studio, including producers, recording artists, and band managers.
The primary focus of the recording studio manager is the smooth and profitable operation of the facility. The manager is responsible for hiring engineers, set-up workers, and other creative and technical staff. He or she is also instrumental in selecting and purchasing new equipment, ordering repairs, and establishing a schedule for regular maintenance. The manager may assign in-house recording and mixing engineers to specific client projects, though these selections may be made at the discretion of the album’s producer and artist; he or she also assigns additional crew like the studio set-up worker, instrument techs, and a production assistant or intern to tend to the needs of the client. Additionally, this person is ultimately responsible for coordinating scheduling with the client for use of studio space and equipment. In most cases, the manager oversees and approves scheduling through a receptionist or other staff member. Monitoring multiple projects at once, the manager ensures that all production is proceeding punctually, time records for rentals are kept current, and client needs are met.
Another chief concern of the recording studio manager is marketing the studio to attract new clients, as well as maintaining positive relationships with existing clients. Most studios will have at least a small marketing and promotions staff, or they may contract those functions out to a third-party firm. Developing new business is integral to growing the business and maintaining profitability. Therefore, the manager will identify potential marketing and development opportunities, and put in place strategies for successfully pulling in clients. Of course, in the tight-knit community of recording artists, word of mouth counts and a good reputation is the best calling card. A Grammy or two will dramatically increase a studio’s bookings. With all staff, the manager is responsible for completing payroll and performing work evaluations. This person will oversee all accounting operations and reconcile invoices with clients and vendors. If the need arises, the manager may have to play collections agent. It is rare, but it happens; legend has it that Dr. Dre’s check to Paramount Recording Studios was lost in the mail for more than a year.
Skills & Education
An education in music business, recording arts, or a similar field is beneficial, but not required. The recording studio manager should be familiar with all equipment within the facility, such as digital and analog recording consoles, Pro Tools workstations, microphones, and outboard gear. Coursework in accounting, finance, marketing, and business administration is immensely useful. The manager should be an effective leader of his or her staff, creative and business-savvy. Of course, a passion for music is a prerequisite.
What to Expect
Prior experience in a senior-level position within a recording studio is required before managing the total operations of such a company; that said, there are studio managers who have been given the job by an owner (and probably a friend) without much industry knowledge or business experience, but they are the exception to the rule. Prior experience as a recording engineer, mix engineer, or producer is the typical path to management. Similarly, you can be hired at a studio as an administrative or management assistant and work your way up the ranks. While employed at the junior level, employees are given the opportunity to gain experience in all areas of the studio’s operations, thereby providing the necessary knowledge to run the place in the future. Internships and entry-level work as a receptionist, assistant, or set-up worker will help start your career.
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