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  #1  
Old 04-17-2011, 07:45 PM
Pimento Pimento is offline
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Default Unique opportunity.

My fiances aunt and uncle own an entire elementary school outside of town. The uncle has been using it for his timber framed housing business, which is no longer operating.

They have basically given me a key and asked me to turn it into a few jam spaces that bands can rent out, and an ameture recording studio for bands to record demo tracks. The gym we want to turn into an area where bands can play gigs frequently, we even have a lockable concession stand to sell snacks and merch out of. The field is over 2 acres and people would be allowed to camp there for weekend long music festivals and such.

I am only 25, its a little daunting, and like many people there isnt much money coming in. I need to make the rooms sound good, im not too worried about sound getting out of the building, im more worried about the rooms just sounding decent. My band is moving our gear out there today so we will be able to feel it out.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to get this thing rolling? Im not expecting it to make huge amounts of cash, just basically enough to pay for the building (power, repairs .etc) itself.
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:01 PM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

Awesome! What an opportunity! You need a business plan!

First things first: visit some local rehearsal spaces, and size up the competition. Remember also that your competition includes the basements, man-caves, and garages of homes. Do the rooms have AC? Do the heaters work? Are the colleges and universities nearby with music and arts programs?

Is there more than one "wing" to the building? Could you reserve one part of the building for spaces for artists?

Soundproofing is ridiculously expensive, and is usually not worth it. I've been in some rehearsal spaces where the bands leave their doors open (because of hot weather). There is an old industrial building nearby that has been converted into artist/rehearsal rooms, and, to keep the peace, the musicians are on one floor, artists on another.

The cheapest way to improve the sonic "balance" of a room is make acoustic panels by building 2' X 4' frames out of 1" lumber, filling with insulation (what type works best you can find on studio DIY sites), and covering with thin fabric bought by the yard. Hang them high on the walls around the rooms.

If you're going to allow smoking inside the building, I wouldn't bother making anything that you'll just want to throw out after a few years anyway. Let the tenants find and use foam scraps or whatever. You could knock a hole in a wall between two rooms, put in a glass window and 24-channel snake box, and charge more for a double-sized space that is "recording studio ready".

I wouldn't worry about the festival idea just yet. It sounds like you have plenty of space, but you might let the artists and musos develop their own little community, make records, throw parties, and eventually, when the time comes, rent a big trailer stage and big sound system, get the permits, charge for wristbands, and do it right.
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:30 PM
Pimento Pimento is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

Not planning on having artists really, just musicians.

There is currently one huge room that was two classrooms with a sliding partition between them. I may put a wall back in there to create another space. Theres a library with several small rooms off of the main one (perfect for an ameture studio, drum kit in main room with the panel, and the other rooms for guitar cabs/vocal booth.

There are currently no spaces available for jamming for bands, no music programs or anything like that in my city. If a band wants to jam it would be in a wood shed/basement/man cave situation. Most people in this city HATE having people jam within city limits. The school is a nice 20 min drive outside of town, and 500 feet away from the closest neighbor.

There will be smoking allowed outside. The school has 3 loackable storage cages that are about 8X8X 12 ft tall. I consider this a huge plus as i can also charge to store gear.

Two major problems currently are that the plumbing doesnt work in the bathrooms and the boiler is down (worried about temperature fluctuations during winter). I should be able to remedy both these situations at a small cost, splitting it with the owner. Though i have not looked at it very closely.

I plan on building a stage (i have 7 years experience as an industrial welder) that is good for both the gym, and can be taken apart and put outside in a festival type situation. I will also use the opportunity to build myself a nice drum riser as well :).

My goal is to provide a place for musicians to develop their music in a place where you can jam until 4 in themorning should the creative mood strike you, where i can provide resonably priced recordings to allow you to get a demo out there, and a venue that puts on proper shows....having proper setup time between bands to allow drummers to play their own gear, to really let a band put out "their sound".

I will hopefully be able to develop a way of quickly micing up groups on stage, or require that, if you waqnt more than your kick/snare miced that you have your own gear ready to be plugged in, 5 min sound check and off you go.
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  #4  
Old 04-17-2011, 11:18 PM
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moontheloon moontheloon is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

awesome bro.......

look into a good insurance policy ...... musicians arent the most responsible people on the planet :)

also you may need some legal permits to subdivide rooms.....

will you be doing monthly lockout?

where are you located?
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  #5  
Old 04-17-2011, 11:32 PM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

I was under the impression that the school has a long hallway with classrooms on one side or both, but it sounds like the building is much smaller than that.

Do you have space that you can build into rehearsal rooms? A good starting size might be 25' X 25'. How many could you fit? The big classroom with the curtain might be good for a studio. You could build a "false wall" with glass window where the sliding curtain is.

The library sounds like it could also make a nice teaching studio with small lesson rooms. Have you thought about renting the rooms out for music lessons?

Not having colleges, rehearsal spaces, and music programs nearby might mean that there just aren't that many musicians around you, and by extension, very few live music fans.

Storing equipment sounds nice because you have these lockers, but if you had a theft or break-in (and you will, eventually) it would be a nightmare. Better to invest in quality door locks on the rooms, and a coded alarm system on the building. Let the renters keep their gear in the rooms. Besides, who wants to haul gear back and forth to a locker anyway?

Also, have you checked into the zoning ordinances? You might be zoned "light commercial" or something like that, but if you wanted to start a music venue, the zoning would likely need to be changed, which might be difficult, or expensive, or both.

Your biggest expenses are probably going to be the boiler, and a camera/security system. You'll want cameras in every hall, in every lesson room (if you go that route), outside, etc. Recording all the time, too, preferably to your own server so you can monitor and make people feel safe.
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  #6  
Old 04-18-2011, 05:57 AM
Pimento Pimento is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

We have a coded alarm already, as well as good locks on every door (they all lock automatically as you leave as well). We also already have cameras (they were used for the school) our alarm is hard piped to the RCMP hub down town, so any trigger will send squad cars out immediately. There has been over $500,000 worth of expensive wood working equipment in there for years with 0 break ins or vandalism. As there is also a heavy citizen patrol presence in the area.

The light commercial designation allows for us to avoid noise by-laws, enables us to have camping in the 2 acre field, and allows us to obtain a temporary liquor license. The zoning is less finicky since its about 5 mins outside of city limits.

Today we fixed the boiler, and traced the plumbing problem to a frozen line, so some heat tape, time and an air compressor...problem solved. The boiler ended up just being some loose bolts on a flange nobody had seen before, thank god it was leaking over a cement room with a drain in the floor (big reason nobody noticed it, the mess drained as soon as it leaked...and its a back room within a back room nobody really went into). We also have a wood burning backup with plenty of wood supply.

I set up my drums in one of the rooms (my band is going to jam out there this week, possibly permanently) and the rooms sound great, i thought i would have a large issue with echo, but so far its great.

As far as musical interest, there are about 35 band just within the metal scene, a local shop used to rent out a room for bands to jam in and was constantly sold out, and that was charging $85 an hour. I put out some info in a few shops this winter to gauge interest, and got 150 emails asking about pricing .etc. Once i come up with an idea of pricing for the rooms, i will send out an email outlining what were thinking of charging, and doing further research to maximize our potential.

The jam spot my band is using, could be converted back to 3 rooms of about 20X20 (elementary school classroom). Total, we could make about 5-7 rooms big enough to jam in, while maintaining a space big enough for a small studio. The studio is not intended to be a 100% professional setup. Just an option for those bands who want to do something. The idea form this thing isnt to get rich, its just to maintain the property while helping along our local music scene.

I attached pics of just one room. Not cosmetically perfect, but ok none the less. And the room sounds great.



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  #7  
Old 04-18-2011, 07:52 AM
Phil Woodney Phil Woodney is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

This does sound like a good opportunity. My band makes use of a setup similar to your proposed operation and we are very satisfied. They book time in three hour blocks which might also work well for you. It would make scheduling a lot simpler. Each rehearsal room has a decent guitar amp and bass amp, 4-input mixer for vocals and a set of Exports with low-to-midprice cymbals for those who don't own gear or don't want to set up or breakdown every time. The rental price also includes the use of two mics. When considering whether or not to supply/rent equipment, think about repairs. Might not be worth it unless you or an employee can fix amps, although you might attract more musicians who don't want to haul stuff.

In any case, best of luck! Rehearsal space is always in demand.
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  #8  
Old 04-18-2011, 07:55 AM
Pimento Pimento is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

Mind if i ask how much they charge per block? I want to Come up with a fair price. Also i was considering supplying some instruments with a rental type fee attached to them.
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  #9  
Old 04-18-2011, 08:31 AM
Phil Woodney Phil Woodney is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pimento View Post
Mind if i ask how much they charge per block? I want to Come up with a fair price. Also i was considering supplying some instruments with a rental type fee attached to them.
They charge the equivalent of about $20 US (We are in Amsterdam) per hour in three hour blocks. This might seem low but it does allow for students and others with low incomes (musicians) the chance to rehearse. I doubt the owners will ever get rich but they have a loyal clientele. We see the same bands rehearsing week in and week out. We've been booking 6 hours per week for the last 1 1/2 years and I store one of my kits there as well. I also spend a fair amount on beer each time, too. :)

They also have rental instruments...nothing fancy, but adequate. They tell me they have little or no damage caused by carelessness or intentional abuse, so gear stays in good shape.
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  #10  
Old 04-18-2011, 07:05 PM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pimento View Post

As far as musical interest, there are about 35 band just within the metal scene, a local shop used to rent out a room for bands to jam in and was constantly sold out, and that was charging $85 an hour. I put out some info in a few shops this winter to gauge interest, and got 150 emails asking about pricing .etc. Once i come up with an idea of pricing for the rooms, i will send out an email outlining what were thinking of charging, and doing further research to maximize our potential.

The jam spot my band is using, could be converted back to 3 rooms of about 20X20 (elementary school classroom). Total, we could make about 5-7 rooms big enough to jam in, while maintaining a space big enough for a small studio. The studio is not intended to be a 100% professional setup. Just an option for those bands who want to do something. The idea form this thing isnt to get rich, its just to maintain the property while helping along our local music scene.
Sounds like there's adequate interest, then! The 150 emails are very encouraging! About splitting up the rooms: can you give each room its own locking door, lighting system, ventilation, etc.? It would be feasible to build walls between the rooms that have a layer of sound-absorbing drywall, or maybe just a thin layer of dead space, to cut down on noise between the rooms. Hiring an electrician to re-do some wiring wouldn't be cheap, and if you needed additional duct work, that could get pricey, too. It might be worth making an inquiry about clients wanting studio space, to see if you should create more than one room with a "live room - control room" design.

You might also want to have one very large rehearsal room, for show choirs, big bands, community orchestra, etc., again, depending on interest, and whether those groups would want to travel, be among metal bands, and so on.

Although it sounds like the place is very secure, turning the building into a rehearsal space changes things. There will be many different people and vehicles coming and going at all hours, so a nearby citizen wouldn't suspect a new face. Although the woodworking equipment was valuable, music equipment is easily transported and fenced. Add to this musicians' propensity for cigarettes and drugs, and the local police might wish you'd never moved in. If you can, establish a relationship with them, and remember that they're trying to do their job as cheaply as possible, too.

Looking to the future, though, could you add on to the building, to make more spaces? Is there a nearby building you could buy and fix up?
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  #11  
Old 04-18-2011, 09:05 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

Consider attending to the legal aspects before investing any time/$.

Try to learn from the mistakes of other small businesses. Legal and Financial Planning appear to destroy many small businesses...and small business is exactly what you are setting up.

Is it legal to do what you are proposing? - be sure to get legal statements from a representative lawyer.

Get the various contracts you will need to sign/have signed by customers.

Outline how you would handle issues such as late payments, bounced checks....eviction.

The list goes on and on....in short, consider hiring a small business consultant before proceding.
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  #12  
Old 04-18-2011, 09:24 PM
Pimento Pimento is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

The people who own it already have small business lawyers and all that stuff available, since it was used for his woodworking business already. They are the ones that confirmed that we can do this.

Lighting/ventilation .etc is not an issue in creating extra space because all we would do is replace the walls to the individual classrooms that were taken down, plus i was a professional HVAC guy once in my life, so re routing/doing electrical stuff is not that daunting of a task. Being realistic, right now this is a jam spot for my band (no money changing hands here) and within a year maybe two we plan on trying to do something with the public.
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  #13  
Old 04-20-2011, 06:35 AM
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techristian techristian is offline
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Default Re: Unique opportunity.

What a great opportunity. I was looking to buy a school here, but most of them are sold to insiders before a FOR SALE sign goes up.

The most important thing is to make sure that the money going in at least matches the money going out. You must be at least able to pay the taxes, hydro, and water bill. THEN you can think about spending more money on the building.

At some point, one of 2 things will take place.

1) They will ask you to buy the building.
2) They will sell it after a you have made it into a profitable business.

You must be ready to buy if that day comes.

Dan
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