‘Deeeeeep Impaaaaakt Recoooorddinnggs’ crooned the singer outside of my mum’s place as I recorded what would become a minor melody for my studio.
Just 2-months back I’d be working full time at Deloitte – sat looking at tax returns. And now here I was with a singer who’d come to pen down vocals at my studio…
What a journey it had been!
Today I want to walk you through the mechanics of how I (and so you) can go ahead and build a physical services business in any industry from scratch.
The story begins with me handing in my resignation at Deloitte once I decided that corporate life was not for me.
The first couple of things I immediately did was fall back upon the superpower that I’d had since I was a kid.
I like to read.
And I’m good at reading –
And then try something that I’ve read (exactly how I got inspired to do 52k words)
This was the first book that I bought whilst I was STILL at Deloitte serving my notice period.
During this period I would also go on to buy these books:
And other ‘non-Amazon’ buys!
But effectively several things happened:
- I handed in my 30-day notice at Deloitte and had that time to figure out how to launch my music career
- Realised that a sensible way to do this was to set up my own recording studio to record my own music and the music of others and charge them for it
- Start reading about how to create a recording studio and decided I’d set up a studio at my parents’ place, converting a spare room they had.
- Call several studios and be laughed away with my £3k budget to set up a working recording studio in a space that was 6 metres by 3 metres (the size of a room with a double bed)
- Enlisting Ren from Bollo Studios (where I started my own music career) to help me source the best equipment (while also Googling it)
- Buying a Macbook, a preamp, a mic, a soundproof booth, a mixer, and a cracked version of Logic Pro (from Ren) and Ren helped me set it all up
- Visiting Bollo Studios to learn more about the actual music mixdown process
This all happened whilst I was still working at Deloitte.
The challenge alongside this was that I needed soundproofing to get great-quality audio.
I’d already decided that I was going to focus on recording vocals – predominantly rappers, and singers if I came across any.
The idea of instruments had no appeal to me whatsoever.
I’d made good progress – but at 22 years old in 2010 I still needed to build an actual recording environment, promote the actual studio and then find my first clients.
But the pressure was on as I had done the above in perhaps the first 15 days of my notice period.
And that gave me another 15 days….to go before I’d leave Deloitte and then have ANOTHER timeline to pay down their bill.
Deloitte had informed me I’d need to pay back several thousand £ due to my education being partially paid for (the chartered tax accounting qualification I was starting) should I leave.
I.e £3-4,000 of money I just didn’t have.
I’d explored finding another job, trying to switch to the marketing department at Deloitte just to pay down this bill – but none of these things made sense with the timeline I had to pay this back (less than 60 days)
Furthermore, they weren’t actually interested in my switching departments and doing anything else other than what I was hired to do – be a remuneration tax consultant
So a music studio it was –
Now the competitive advantage I had in this process was that I’d already spent 3-4 years recording myself as a musician in other people’s studios, so I had a decent understanding of my expectations of the ‘client’ – as it’d been me for many years.
But still – I couldn’t do all of this alone.
And this is also where I began to realise I’d need my dad to help me.
And help me he did. With both the money I owed Deloitte AND building out this studio.
So – once I’d got the microphone, the microphone stand and a pop filter – the next step was to build an actual recording booth around the mic stand.
This was an element I was struggling with but I figured out the following things:
I needed soundproofing and this was the key to getting ‘clean vocals.
And soundproofing was all about sound absorption and creating ‘dead spaces’ without any echo whatsoever.
Doing this in the whole converted bedroom/spare room made no sense as the other part of the room would be where the guests would stand around waiting for the rapper to record vocals and I would also be mixing down.
While the musician was recording we would need to be relatively quiet – but with the help of a recording booth AND soundproofing – we could do a pretty good job of this.
So after a quick discussion with my dad after work one day, we decided we’d need to build a rectangular cabin with a sliding door and that the sliding door itself would need a square cut out, so I could communicate with the musician.
My dad and I drove to the local carpenters he typically used to get wood cut, and using the measurements we’d made in my WIP recording studio we had wood pieces cut out that would serve my studio purpose.
After taking them home my dad and I sanded down the rougher edges and varnished it. We then put together the three sides of the booth that were made out of wood and placed the fourth panel on one side of what would be the entrance.
We now needed to decide how this booth would ‘open and close’.
A sliding door seemed to be the most sensible option – and for this, we’d enlist the help of my dad’s local Indian builder.
He came, and for around £70 he added a sliding door that would allow musicians to exit and enter.
Next came the soundproofing problem
Fortunately, as we were converting a bedroom the floor was already carpeted so that was one thing.
However, we still needed to soundproof the wooden walls of the newly made recording booth.
With more Googling, I found that soundproofing is basically made out of carbon fibreglass.
Naturally, the next thing I Googled was where to buy carbon fibreglass.
As it turns out – loft insulation is made of carbon fibreglass – and I could get loft insulation for a couple of £ per bag from B&Q (a local DIY/appliance type store)
This was all I needed to know, so I purchased a couple of bags. As it also turns out – if you’re exposed to carbon fibreglass it’s really bad for your lungs – so I needed to consider this given I was running a recording studio.
I also got a wooden nail gun as rather than laying this down on a loft floor and stacking it up I needed to get this loft insulation nailed to a recording studio booth’s inner walls.
So keeping all of this in mind, I figured I’d needed some kind of fabric/old curtains to wrap the carbon fibreglass in.
I got my mum involved this time.
We didn’t have any old curtains or old fabric my mum was happy to nail to a wall…but what we did have was Southall (Little India) not but a couple of miles from us.
So the fabric was purchased from there and the loft insulation, once removed from its plastic packaging was promptly wrapped in metres of black fabric and stapled to the wall.
We were almost there!
Now the room was tiny but I wanted to make it LOOK expensive.
The outer doors of the studio still looked very much plain and I needed to do something to make it feel more like a recording studio.
And nothing says it more than vinyls!
This time I headed to the local charity shop and was able to pick up a bunch of random vinyls for 50p apiece. I figured 20 should do it. So with £10 and some actual nails now – I was able to cover the broadest side of the outer booth with vinyls and instantly it somehow felt…I had an ACTUAL recording studio.
I also wanted to make it look like I had real musicians coming to the studio. So I went on a recruitment drive and enlisted a male/female/black/white/Asian person from within my network to pose as a client.
Using this and some cropped photos with various filters and frames, I splashed out onto a dedicated personal Facebook account setup for business the Deep Impakt Recordings brand.
My first client came whilst I was still working and agreed to come on a Wednesday evening. It was great motivation for me over the two nights preceding this to fix up the studio as best as I could and nail down how to mix properly.
The next stage of my grand master plan was to photograph every musician that came into the studio against that vinyl backdrop alongside some other set photos; adding them as a friend on Facebook via my fresh setup account and tagging them in the photos.
I added filters to the photos alongside labelling them with Deep Impakt Recordings and banked on these musicians being proud to show off ‘studio time’ alongside photos of the studio. When you’re just starting out it’s a huge sign of validation – to publicly demonstrate that you’re an active part of the community.
Then I noticed/figured that Jermaine (my first client, a 17-year-old college student who was recording his first song had lots of friends in the space as well.
I was able to find an automated messenger bot on Facebook that would auto-invite friends of my friends to connect with me.
This would prove to be a great way to rapidly grow my network of musicians.
As I quit Deloitte and the studio progressed and this model seemed to be working – I noticed that musicians would come late, stop/start sessions, consider 60-minute sessions (as per how I charged) to be 80-minutes long and I was constantly burning CDs for them
Got a cheap PC for ‘waiting musicians’ (the guys waiting for their fellow rapper to ‘drop some bars’) to surf the internet and post on Facebook; a clock to begin a timer countdown (60 minutes is 60 minutes!) and posted pricing for buying CDs etc
I’d also put their music out on YouTube on the Deep Impakt Recordings channel, adding 20 people per day via the Facebook scraper tool (until I reached a tipping point and people started adding me)
Deep Impakt Recordings soon grew a life of its own and I’d have people travelling for up to 6 hours to come to the ‘Blue Room’ recording studio (because of the blue walls and blue light I had set up) at my mum’s house to record.
£15 days turned into £60 days and then £150 days as I started to offer studio 1-day packages. I upped my rate to £20 per hour and my popularity grew.
At one point, I was pretty confident I was amongst the fastest-growing studios in London; or certainly West London.
With just Facebook and my phone number and no website or anything else – I’d built brand musicians knew about and considered better than many of the bigger studios they went to.
This was a great period of growth in my life which took me to South Africa, building out a 2nd recording studio and hiring a team of engineers.
This was all before the fall of course….
Right, that’s all on Deep Impakt Recordings guys – if you have questions/comments/thoughts/want to hear more about this story just hit me back and I’ll do what I can to help.
Otherwise, catch you tomorrow for the continuation of my 1,000 hours of therapy – because this story is certainly connected.