How do I start a career recording with Ardour?

This is for anyone working in the field to answer.

I want to know how you got started, what challenges and pitfalls you encountered and how you dealt with them. I want to know what you do first thing in the morning, what kind of income you have and how long you expect to work in the field. I also want to know how much time you are able to devote to outside interests.

I’m 21 years old, and headed into my second year of university for neuroscience. My field of study is really cool, and I enjoy learning about brains and biology and the wonders of creation, but I’m not really sure what I’d ever DO with the knowledge. I’ve yet to talk to anyone or read anything that sparks my industry as well as my imagination. On the other hand, music has long been a passion in my life. For almost as long as I’ve loved science (but maybe not quite as long - thanks Ms. Frizzle) I’ve loved playing music.

I’ve studied music for 10 years now, primarily percussion, and about 4 years ago started to get interested in ‘computer music’ with GNU/Linux. A few fateful hardware purchase has me (somewhat comfortably) relegated to Macintosh land, but Ardour and some promising applications draw me back to my earlier love of GNU.

So what am I to do with this connundrum? drop out of school after only a year, much to the certain chagrin of my mom? To what end? Should I seek out a program such as International Academy of Design and Technology of Trebas Institute? How do organizations like the CBC choose who to hire? What does it take to open a working (and profitable) recording studio?

I welcome all advice.



It takes a lot of time to build up a CV (a list of good productions made) as a producer, and without one, the customers doesn’t exactly hang on the trees.

I started my recording studio (The Aasimon studios as a demo recording studio, cheap for hire, alongside my studies as a computer scientist.

This way I don’t have to live from the studio, but am free to scale the amount of energy pout into it as I wish, and in the case of me getting tired of the studio business (or the studio business getting tired of me) I can simply fall back on my education.

The positive aspects of this strategy has been further enhanced, since I now hold a software/multimedia company, through which I buy all hardware needed for the studio, hence enabling a lot of tax returns :wink:

Hope this is useful.

Hi bennyp,

I have a small home/project studio that I use for my music projects and occasionally for others. It’s a very long term goal, especially if you don’t have lot of cash to invest at one time, so first thing I suggest you absolutely don’t leave the school. Instead, I would start to build a network of contacts, slowly acquiring the gear you need and start building your studio as a gloryfied hobby in parallel with a sure income from another work.

I’m pursuing the goal of having an home studio since many years now, and I can tell you it’s very, very hard to make a living out of it. Today people can do a lot at home, so what you are selling it’s not your gear or space but your knowledge and experience. Also, there’s a LOT of competition…

Biggest problem for me was to find a suitable place to play and record without disturbing neighbours, big enough to accomodate at least a quartet. Then there are acoustics treatments, microphones, stands, cables, preamps, monitors, outboard effects, synths, analog mixers, etc etc… but all that doesn’t make a succesful studio: you have to use all the gear/instruments at its best and especially being known for that: the main promotion tool you have is word of mouth, so at the beginning you may want to work almost for free, making a good product and building a database of contacts: musicians, singers, actors, producers, etc… (which is a great resource but that will reveal only after years)

You want also to differentiate your offering: for example I do also web design and consulting.

Go where the music is and leave business cards to everyone. If you find some cool band or musician, offer them to record for free, you’ll gain experience and references (and contacts)

This is a good book on the topic:

Another route would be to go to work on an established big recording studio: don’t expect big incomes at the beginning (if any at all), but a lot of learning with knowledgeable people and hi-end gear…


Great, thanks for the replies, keep them coming!
I’ll keep my eyes and ears out and pitch a few musicians here and there.

Is that like, a Shakira shakedown? Cause if it is, then I’m there :wink:

Seriously, though thanks for the perspective.

The music industry is going through a major shakedown at every level

Some clever young fellow might want to take advantage of that… Just saying.

Hello. I just about make a living from recording and playing music.

I don’t think it’s worth opening a recording studio as the first step into being a recording engineer.
It’s extremely expensive and take a long time to recoup your investment, and much of it depreciates rapidly. (Apart from Ardour which slowly gains value over time. :slight_smile:

I know people who are doing very well with small portable rigs. They record people at their rehearsal rooms, gigs, other studios and have a small room at home where they can do pretty much anything except for drums and guitar amps.

This is a good way to start because:
Your investment is about a millionth of opening a ‘real’ studio with a live room.
You get to go to interesting places with new acoustics and get a lot of experience, meet prospective clients (it may be you record the band of the guy who happens to fill the coke machine, who cares? Experience is all!)

Hiring another studio for couple of days with a kick ass drum room to lay down the basics, then doing all the rest at your home studio can work very well. Also you will pick up loads of tips from the in house engineer.

You will take ages to get stuff done as a beginner, which is the main reason people will not hire you. People will pay for quick efficient and high quality work, but will not want to pay for you while training. Recording friends bands for cheap is a great way to get experience, and you can spend as much time as you like. Do whatever you can, for free if it must.

Many of your possible projects (TV stuff, acoustic music, whatever) may not even need a live room and a desk.

Don’t expect to make ANY real money for a long time, certainly not enough to live on.

This is a difficult business at a difficult time. You could spend a year working on the best album ever recorded and not make a cent. It’s not fair, it’s not clean, it’s ART, and people don’t have to buy it!

Hey all,

Thanks you so much for your heartfelt and well thought advice.

I think I’m going to start slowly. I’ve started putting it out to friends that I’m available, and I don’t really expect to get paid as of yet.

I’m still going to droll over the latest and greatest gear, but I’m getting better at appreciating what I have, thanks to G-d!

At some point I’m going to have to explain all this to my mom, which is a conversation I’m nervous about, but I’ll make it through.

Feel free to leave any more comments you wish.

P.S. I’f you’ve never listened to “Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra”, then you really owe it to yourself to get the CD and give it a go.

Benny, don’t do it. Stick with neuroscience for now. The music industry is going through a major shakedown at every level, especially in the recording sector.

Been to Trebas in the mid '80s. Did the Demo/Home studio for hire thing back then too. People looking to book a recording studios are looking for essentially 3 things: great sounding room (or rooms) with inspiring vibe, very good selection of microphones and last but not least competent/talented/creative engineers.

So unless you are the new Daniel Lanois, musicians nowadays figure that whatever you can do for them in your garage they can do it in theirs with the software that came with their audio interface. It’s hard to convince those misguided souls otherwise.

If you’re really into music though I would pursue a carreer in it in some form and switch my education track to reflect that. Let’s face it a science program at uni is a pretty demanding thing, it’s always going to be more than a “backup plan”.