I gotta get something off my chest.

We live in a strange time in history, especially when it comes to the way businesses are created. As someone who has built two successful businesses from scratch (and will likely build more in the future), I’m very interested in business.

I received an email the other day about the fact that the company Uber has not yet turned a profit, although its revenue has grown considerably over the last year. The writer of the email said, “That’s the way business works.”

Amazon famously lasted years and years before ever turning one penny of profit.

These “businesses” are funded by investors with deep pockets, in the hopes that one day they’ll gain enough market share to turn a real profit. Now, I know this has worked successfully for many businesses. I’m a big Amazon fan myself. But these businesses aren’t the norm.

The existence of these businesses tends to distort our view of what a business should be.

We think of a successful business as something that is popular and has a lot of customers. Profitability doesn’t really register. When you view business that way, suddenly the idea of spending (i.e. wasting) money on things doesn’t seem like a big deal. “Hey, we’re not really trying to make a profit, so let’s just spend money all over the place. We have an endless supply.”

It’s THAT attitude I want to address today.

Too many home recording studio owners have the same attitude, more or less. Even if recording is a hobby for you, and you have no plans of making any money from it, the following statement still applies to you.

You Need to Treat Your Studio
Like a REAL Business

Okay, so what is a REAL business?

My definition is this:

A REAL Business Makes a Profit


I didn’t go into massive amounts of debt to start Home Studio Corner. (Granted, I realize that running a web-based business is a low-overhead endeavor.) But I didn’t try to speed up the process by throwing tons of money I didn’t have at growing the business. I did it slowly, methodically. I invested my TIME most of all. It took over two years to get to the point where I could support my family from the business. Even then, I still had to treat it like a real business. If I spent all my profits on a new microphone, my family couldn’t pay the mortgage. Profit had to come first, then spending.

“But Joe, it takes money to make money.”


Depending on the business, sure there could be costs to setting it up, opening a facility, buying equipment, etc. But the aim should ALWAYS be on becoming profitable as soon as possible. Without profit, you can’t do anything. You can’t survive. You can’t take care of customers. You can’t provide jobs for other people and companies.

Now, how does this apply to your home studio?

My definition of a home studio is this:

A REAL Home Studio Releases Music


If your home studio is not releasing music (either your music or someone else’s), you do not yet have a real home studio.

Back in 2009 when I launched Home Studio Corner, I didn’t have a business. I had a blog. There was no profit, therefore it wasn’t a business. It was a hobby.

Owning recording equipment – heck, owning a LOT of recording equipment – doesn’t mean you have a REAL home studio. All of that equipment was designed for one purpose: to help you create and release music. If you are not creating and releasing music (whether you own one microphone or 30), you are a gear collector, not a home studio owner.

Does this ruffle your feathers? I hope it does. Because we need more home studios to release more music.

You can own all the right gear. You can buy all of my tutorials. You can be a Dueling Mixes member and a VIP member and cram that head of yours full of knowledge about recording and audio, but if that doesn’t lead you to going into your studio, putting in the work, and releasing music, you’ve missed the whole point.

I’ve met people who attend business seminars, read business books, participate in business masterminds, who have yet to actually take action on their ideas and actually launch a real, profitable business. I’ve met people who claim to have a “great business idea,” who will never act on it. It’s just an idea, not a business.

Same thing applies in the home studio world. No one cares that you know 18 different ways to compress a lead vocal if you never actually use that knowledge to release a killer piece of music.

The world needs you to release music. Not just create it, not just “work on it.” Carry it out to completion. We need you to make music.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Do you agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

  • Aleksandar Janković

    If something does get released and people enjoy it, then that’s great! But if not, I would be just as happy making music only for myself. Is that “real” music then? Does that give me the right to label myself as a musician? I don’t really care and I think the world and everyone in it will go along just fine either way 🙂

    • As long as you finish/release music. 🙂

      I’m not so much concerned with everyone being famous. It does the heart good to both work on music and finish it.

  • Steve Salterszo

    For me this is the fine line between pleasure and pain. The pleasure comes from making music period, for me. The pain comes from thinking “I’d like to turn this into a money making exercise” That’s the debate for everyone with a home studio. Ask yourself how many top music acts have lost the plot when people who were once friends, got together, made music, loved the joy they had from writing and playing instruments together, but then money, fame, whatever that is, came along and now they can’t stand each other, won’t speak to each other, after fighting in court over royalties etc.

    My philosophy is “keep it real” I write, record, mix, produce and master my own songs, I release them to the masses on all popular digital outlets and have I made a dim? No!, I offer my music on a ‘name your own price’ FREE if you want it basis. Do I honestly care I haven’t made money, No!. I love making music, I love writing songs, I love playing guitar. What I hate is when people see it, or get side tracked to seeing it, as a money making exercise only.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing anyone from making money from all of this, what I am saying is, “Don’t let it consume you to the point where, money, is the be all and end all. Enjoy your studio, don’t worry about gear, or making money, make music, that’s where it’s at.

    • Great thoughts. But I think you missed my point. This whole article isn’t about making money. It’s comparing a studio to a business. What makes a business real is that it makes money. What makes a studio real is that it makes music.

  • Nikos Tsarmpopoulos

    Very good article. This is applicable not only to music studios but all sorts of investments, meaning that money spent on equipment is spent wisely only if this equipment is used to produce and create/generate value.

  • Matt Love

    I’m interested in the concept of a home studio being a ‘REAL’ business… it kinda takes the wind out of the studio facilities… but in truth, like myself, i’m not sure how many home studio owners could actually track drums at their place (i mean, a sexy big ol’ room etc)… thanks for posting 🙂

    • True you can’t get a huge drum sounds, but you’d be surprised the sounds you can get in a small room. Check out the drums on my latest album, Better This Way:

  • Bernie Rominski

    Hear, Hear!!

  • markinator

    I would have agreed many years ago, prior to the advent of desktop music recording and publishing. Back then, investment in analog magnetic tape decks that could multi-track was a major business decision. Unless you were personally wealthy, you needed to get that money back through sales. Today, the term “studio” would still need to abide by basic business principles, and although someone can purchase the best recording software, that doesn’t mean that they’re a studio engineer!

  • Joe, I agree. Making music was the whole reason I wanted to get into the studio. The problem is who wants to pay huge lump sums of cash just to be able to record and produce something professional sounding? Not me. I don’t have unlimited budgets. Thus the Home studio became the focus, because after all if you can produce your own tracks in the privacy of your own home, with minimal overhead, you have won, right?

    Ahh, but this where many people get “lost at sea” to use an analogy. I believe it to be unwise to equivocate spending time watching Youtube tutorials and investing money in recording equipment with ACTUALLY producing music. I think that’s your whole point. On the contrary many people feel they must invest in better equipment to get better results, and that is true to an extent, if you know what to look for and hone in on.

    Anyways, that’s not to say gear doesn’t make a huge difference, but gear is unintelligent, for a nice analog recording console is useless, if it doesn’t have an competent operator. You see my point? No amount a better gear will make you a better recording engineer, because if you don’t know how to make the gear work, then the gear is vanity. The same can be said for a lot of other things in life, but the whole point is, it is WHAT you do with said gear, and HOW you use said gear to serve the purpose of the goal, will determine your results.

    Anyways, good article. I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s about making music first and then secondly striving to make better sounding music. Thanks for sharing.

    • I loved this: ” I believe it to be unwise to equivocate spending time watching Youtube tutorials and inv esting money in recording equipment with ACTUALLY producing music.”

  • Alexander Jobes

    I completely agree with you. I have seriously been getting it together for about 1 year now. My first “real studio” experience was in 1992. After that I wasted so much money on other peoples studios that it hit me one day. With all this money that I have spent I could get my own equipment and start recording at my convenience. I finally got my equipment together and I’m finally getting to know how to use it. It’s been about 5 years since I started purchasing my equipment, but now I am ready and I plan on hitting the indie scene very hard in 2016. If you spent your money on being to do the thing that you love then you should do it til you can’t do it any longer, regardless of who likes it or not!!!

  • Greg

    You must have been a fly on my wall,cuz my wife and I were just discussing that very subject before I read this and you and her are so right.She claims I’m too much of a perfectionist when it come to my music and am using it as an excuse to procrastinate. To a point she is right but I also am at a lost as far as where to start to turn it into a legitimate business.As far as the studio,I’m set up…..as far as the music,I have quite a few songs I would love to get out there.One of the things on my bucket list is to hear at least one of my songs on the radio.I guess what I’m looking for is what avenues to take to get this ball rolling without spending a lot of money to find out nothing is happening.But Joe,you are spot on as far as me,my studio and my music and my wife thanks you for that swift kick of reality.Thanks so much for opening my eyes…….

    • Mark

      Hi Greg,
      I totally hear you. That’s about where I find myself. I would say step one is get those songs and that equipment together. This weekend, plug in, start a click and lay down some parts to one of those songs. Keep going til its complete and plop it up on iTunes or something. If you wait until you have every question answered, more questions just show up. You know a piece is music has to be recorded – so there is a next step…. you can figure out what to do with these finished items later. At least they will be there so all you have to do is package….
      As I said I am totally in the same place – and I keep finding excuse. As someone else said, time to “record, release, repeat…”

  • Eric Gowan O’Neill

    I’m on it Joe! Putting out four EPs this year to get myself used to finishing something. I did one last year and it was super fun. This year I have already put out two so that’s a 200% increase in “profitability.” I’m getting truly addicted to it. Here they are for a listen. https://ericgowan.bandcamp.com

    • You’re a rock star, dude.

      • Eric Gowan O’Neill

        Ha! Thanks. I’ll tell my fiancée.

  • barry williams

    I am in total agreement with what you said can’t add or take-away well said

  • Pete

    Being “with” The Recording Revolution (maybe you know the site 😉 since March this years, opened my eyes to see the difference between owning a lot of stuff and actually using it to release music. Releasing music, fall on your face and then move on to release more music with the risk of falling on your face again is probably what a lot of people scares oft to do it.
    Your article confirms what I’ve been persuing since six months now: Use the tool and get your music out there!

  • Great article, Joe!

    I think a big part of this is setting goals and pursuing them. It’s too easy to just twiddle around in the studio, not really working toward anything. We know we want to make music, but we don’t have a solid goal with a deadline approaching. So we twiddle around and learn new techniques, get better gear, and think about all the music we’re going to create someday. In the meantime, we don’t do any meaningful work.

    Of course, learning and improving our craft is important too. It’s what Stephen Covey would call “PC” activities. We need to always be improving and getting better.

    But often we lose focus on “P” activities: actually getting work done. There needs to be a healthy balance of both if we’re going to have a “real” (or “effective”) studio.

    I actually wrote a post about that recently. Finding the P/PC balance in the studio so that we’re effectively both learning and doing. http://indieartistlounge.com/the-ppc-balance-of-effectiveness-in-the-studio/

  • Alessandro

    You caught me. Wonderful post, maybe I print it out and frame it in my (unfinished) home studio… I got some unanswered questions that literally block me, like “what I have to do to get clients?” Or “why do they come to me and not to that wonderful studio that has more experience and gears than me?”…
    As always, any advice is welcome!

    • Those are great questions worth pursuing, but the point of this article wasn’t that you need to make money, it’s that you need to make MUSIC.

  • Nigel Thompson

    Agree whole heartedly Joe.
    Unfortunately I am that person. I love the tech and only really record my bands, mix the shit out of it and release it to the band ha ha.
    I love it though and would love to do more recording etc . I am having a go at mastering my friends dance music tracks at the moment and really enjoying it.
    I have some awesome gear and a great ear and a very time consuming and profitless hobby not a business in any sense of the word.

    Maybe one day I’ll charge a fee for something and become a business,

  • Jerry

    Hey Joe, thanks for another great post. I just love reading your blog, cuz it makes me relax… I think we all get better at writing, recording and mixing from one EP/album to another. But I was just wondering how often do you have the temptation to go back and remix or even re-record the songs you released from the past? Is that a sin? haha

    • I avoid going back and re-doing things.

  • Sean

    Dude. Well said 🙂

  • ‫ניר שחל‬‎

    Thinking about this… I agree to most of what you’re saying, due I also have a slight feeling i disagree to some point.
    True, you should think of your home studio as some sort of a business, meaning have dead-lines to projects, have a time schedule, and really look to have income more then spending.
    I also agree that you should finish songs/projects in you’re home studio & release them in some way or the other…
    But, what’s wrong with someone just making music for the fun & art of it? with his friends or by himself. Even without making a penny out of his hobbie, I still think he does own a (non-profitable) home studio.


    • Walt

      That’s what was on my mind, too (Nir?).

      I have a home studio that I did not put there for the primary purpose of starting a business, but for the sheer love of recording instruments and vocals and putting together something great and creative with those sounds. If I make money from that, great, but if I don’t, I’m doing something I love. I’d still call that a recording studio…

      Another thing I like (sometimes love) to do is electronic design engineering. Because that is what pays the bills, I MUST spend 45~50 hours a week on that. Now it’s a job and the excitement is not as high (though definitely not gone) and often stressful due to the pressure to turn out flawless designs on a schedule and budget that are both usually tight.

      I want my recording studio to remain an exciting place to “work”, working with whoever I choose, on what I choose, without the pressure of using it to pay the bills. I’d still call that a recording studio, but success is measured more by how much I, and the musicians I work with, enjoy the process and the results. Even the process of setting up the studio itself and improving it can be an exciting process, whether you end up turning out one recording project or thousands of them.

      That kind of studio can be every bit as serious, but exists with different priorities. Thanks for bringing up that view…

      • Nir

        Thank you Walt for shearing this!

        I have quite a few friends on Soundcloud – and they all have different jobs that pays their bills… and they ALL make amazing songs & music! without selling it or earning anything (or, almost anything) from their home studio.

        I totally think that you can have your own “musical playground” to enjoy, relax and whatever… and still you won’t make it your “main” income place. And that’s totally OK.

        Nir (yeh, you got my name right! 🙂

    • You missed my point. I’m not saying studios need to make money, I’m saying they need to make music.
      Just like a business isn’t real if it doesn’t make money, a studio isn’t real if it’s not making music.

  • Justin Burnett

    Joe I just wanna thank you for posting this, I have been only releasing a few songs a year and sometimes less because of my fear of not knowing enough about EQ and Compression even when people tell me I know so much. Everybody in my hometown knows I make great recordings and yet I still feel I’m not ready to release an album even after I’ve put 8 years into learning how to mix and record all off of a $300 mic a mic pre-amp and a desktop or laptop whichever was available.

    When I first started I thought I would need to spend thousands of dollars to ever get my music to sound as good as the artists on the radio then I stumbled across people like you who were telling people like me I could release great songs with the equipment I had. And guess what ? I haven’t looked back since, I’ve recorded so many other people and not finished anything of mine not so much as an Ep because of my fear of the project not sounding “professional” or up to my standards I think we all struggle from that every now and then.

    Also all I do is work with vocals, Hip Hop and R&B artist from around town and they bring there beats and all I do is mix there vocals into the song. So really all I’m doing constantly is Eq and Compression then a little Reverb or Delay to give the vocals a little finesse and then whatever else the artist wants done. I have your original version of Understanding EQ and I also have Graham’s ReThink Vocals so my question is that all I need to study considering all I do is vocals ??

  • Yeah. Hit that one close to the mark Joe. I unfortunately find myself in the “gear collector” category far too often. As a business owner myself, I really can appreciate how you are looking at this, and think there is a lot of wisdom there.

  • Craig Higgins

    Very inspired piece, Joe. I sometimes feel that even though my home studio is mainly for me and my creations, as opposed to getting clients, I am often moving at glacial speed to get songs completed. I think it has to do also with being a “one man band” but nevertheless, I agree that in this day and age, we have to strive for completed works…that “Point A to Point Z” path. So much dust has collected on my unfinished works.

    • I totally get it, Craig. I’ve found that the last 20% of a project can be the most difficult part, but I also tend to learn the most from it.

  • Jerome

    Whew , Joe you are the proverbial “fly on my wall”. Thanks for saying what I’ve been ignoring all to long as being true. I’ve bought more crap over the years under the guise of “gotta have this to do that” and have released “SQUAT” in the interim. Sure I’ve mixed yours and everyone else’s stuff , but me? Ziltch , nada goose egg .
    As MJ said “Gonna make a change”. Thanks Joe , a stiff kick in the , (let’s go with teeth ) is needed sometimes.

    • My apologies to your “teeth” 🙂

  • Inspirational words today, Joe! We’ve discussed irrational fear of releasing personal music before. You and my wife think too much alike. Thanks for the extra motivation today!

    • When are you gonna come hang out in Nashville? Hmm???

  • Patricio

    Joe, this is just the motivation I needed right now. Will save this e-mail for future reminders 🙂

  • Johnny Fuller

    Man, who put a bee in your bonnet!?!

    Great post, though, Joe. Let me pose a question…

    If you provide recording services to clients, and they don’t ‘release’ their music, does that mean I’m just an equipment collector? When I was younger, I wrote music all the time. I was in many bands and ALWAYS had stars in my eyes.

    Now, if somebody comes here to record, I help them in anyway I can (Value added?) by singing back-round, playing guitar, arranging or even getting other musicians to play on their projects . Now that I don’t play in a band anymore, I don’t really ‘write’ anymore but feel that fulfillment by contributing to their recordings.

    Could you define ‘release’. If they come here to record demos (I’m talking about cover bands, mostly) to use to promote their band and book jobs, would that be included in your definition of ‘Release’?

    • Yeah. I mean you’re working music that gets released to the world. If you’re not actually recording and mixing the project, then a lot of that is out of your hands. MY question would be…if you’re helping them with recording, why not take on the whole project for them? Record, mix, master?

      • Johnny Fuller

        I do!
        I hand it to them (I’ve even helped by making copies of the CD’s) and they go off and put it in their promo kits or what every they want to do with it. They pay me, and they’re happy, I get paid, and I’m happy. But, I don’t think they are ‘releasing’ it to the world. Mostly because it’s someone else’s music. And the whole point of being in a cover band (Well, around here anyway) is sounding as close to the original as possible. I have found that I don’t really change how I record the bands but the better the performers, the closer to the originals they get.
        I have done some original’s but they tend to be smaller projects and far and in-between.

        • I think you’re splitting hairs. You’re awesome. period. 🙂


          • Johnny Fuller

            Ha! It takes one to know one.
            Besides, splitting hairs helps to cover the bald spot!
            Seriously though, great discussion everyone

  • Terry Lester

    Very interesting article…. I’m gonna just let all that sink in for a bit. I actually copied and pasted so I can keep on my desktop. Thank you…. Very interesting indeed…..

    • Johnny Fuller

      Me too, Terry, me too

  • merseymale

    Sometimes I think I’m stupid; other times I’m probably just ignorant but this post has ensured I’ll never be either! Now I just have to go and prove that….

    • You’re not stupid. 🙂

      • merseymale

        As soon as I learn to read I’m gonna reply to this! 😉

        (I’ve forwarded this post, of yours, to almost everyone I know- even the non musical ones… It’s just the thing I needed to hear and they have high-fived ya back as well!)

  • Michael Ngugi M

    Hey Joe you are so right 😀 I am a software Engineer, but i really love music and i want to do it full time sometime in the future, so when i started recording i used audacity and my laptop microphone, learnt how to add effects mix and even compress vocals on my own just so that i could release something, and here is what i recorded, so i totally agree with you on this, there should be no excuse. Not the best in terms of clipping and stuff but yea here are two song just to be sure 😀 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12pDvFnFYMY
    Also a motivation song to record for recording chickens .:D

    • I love it. Releasing music on “sub-par” equipment. THAT’s what I’m talking about! 🙂

      • Michael Ngugi M

        😀 😀 😀

  • Brian Theoret

    Love the kick in the butt Joe!

  • Rob

    I agree 100%, and I’m DYING…literally, of aging…to get my stuff going. I’m not afraid of failure, cuz I already know that 75% to 95% of the world’s population will either not ever get to hear my music, or won’t like it. I’m not even concerned about that at all! Failure and oblivion constitute the only likelihood; effort is the only way to change the outcome.

    Right now, I drive trucks for a living. It’s just not the business I feel like I should be running. I have goals to get off the road and drive locally while working on a side studio business, recording my own stuff as well as that of others. I’m just out here getting a good amount of experience under my belt, so I have a shot at a good driving gig when I go home.

    Right now, all I can be is a collector of gear (not much going on with that so far), knowledge, and crazy ideas. It sucks, but I know it will change. I already have some recording knowledge and experience, so I think I will do well once I get going at last.

    What’s killing me is that I’m chomping at the bit–LOL!

    • Nigel Thompson

      I feel ya Rob really I do.
      I’m the same 10 hours a day on site 6 days a week laying wood floors. So little time left to really get into my passion.
      I Spose if we really want it bad enough we’ll find a way to make it happen.

    • Benjamin K.

      Me too i work on my day job 9-12 hours 5 times a week and sneak music in between =) But I’m still not married and have no kids =)

  • Charles Platt

    WOW!!! Thanks Joe this was a great wake up call for me and reality check!!

  • ssobiech

    Agree 1,000% Write, record, release, repeat. Maybe even put “forget” between release and repeat. The next one will be better, and the next one after that…

  • Wow that was a GREAT read! I’m guilty of LOVING knowledge. I do make music and help others but I haven’t focused enough on growing the business. Love this! Thank you.

  • Carl

    But it s a real nice kick in the butt!
    Thanks Joe!
    I try not to be a S(tudio)G(ear)C(ollector) the best I can – and now even HARDER 🙂

  • Nicolás

    Great article, Joe. That part about being a gear collector v. a home studio owner is a great thought. Aaron is right: sometimes you can feel like trapped in this loop where you always need one more “stuff” right before just going for it. And then, when you do, you realize that daring to do it is a great way to learn.

    We do need to make and release music then, but I guess this is a whole different topic when it comes to your own music. How do you do that and how can you measure the “success” of it? I’m sure sure you have one good advice or two, Joe, so thanks for all.

    • It’s a great question, and I think in a lot of ways we define our own success. Just like a $50,000 business and a $50 million business could both be considered successful, depending on the goals of the business owner(s).

  • Kenneth Voorheis

    Guilty as charged. I’ve been “working” on my CD for the last 4 years. I’m proud to say I’m on track to release it this year. It turns out that anxiety was part of what was holding me back. However, the main point is not to release a CD. The point is to release music that you really care about.

    • Congrats on getting it done! That’s awesome, Kenneth.

  • “I’ve met people who claim to have a “great business idea,” who will
    never act on it. It’s just an idea, not a business.”

    Straight up War of Art – Resistance is a bitch 😉

    • Hahaha. #fistbump for Stephen Pressfield.

  • Applies to everything really. Businesses are profit oriented. Hobbies are “LIKE” oriented.

  • I completely agree. Even if you are releasing music at no charge to consumers, you SHOULD be releasing music! Otherwise….why have a studio?!

  • Fear holds so many people back. Fear that they don’t have good enough gear to record a good song. Fear that they don’t know enough about EQ or compression or reverb or delay. Fear that they will release a song or album and no one will care, or worse, that people will make fun of them.

    The ones who make a name for themselves are the ones who ignore that fear and create instead of telling themselves, “One more piece of gear. One more tutorial. Then I’ll be ready.”

    • You’re totally right. Not to downplay the fears. They very well might release something that sounds awful, but that puts ‘em one step closer to releasing something great.

      • Thurman Re’ Adams

        …AND the fear may never completely go away. There are a million things to be afraid of; make the music and do it anyway 🙂

  • Alek