Use It or Lose It
We've all suffered from G.A.S. — gear acquisition syndrome — at one point in our lives. This ailment can strike suddenly, forcing you to buy gear. It's quite hard to stop, too! By this point you've probably built up a nice studio, and now all the pieces are in place for you to make great music. But it begs the question, how often are you going to record yourself? Will you feel guilty when thousands of dollars lay dormant in the corner of your room or basement collecting dust between creative lulls? You need to do something with it. If you've been working hard in your studio and sharing your work with your friends and colleagues, word of mouth will spread about what you're up to and before you know it, people will ask you to record their music. Since you enjoy the process of recording, you might take on a few small projects, usually for friends or friends of friends. Then it happens: You realize you're ready to open a studio — a project studio.
Buy as You Need
If you feel a little unprepared equipmentwise, especially in the microphone department, don't worry, most of us face this at one time or another. One of the best ways to build up your studio is to invest back into your studio the money you make from your recording sessions. For example, if you're working with a good singer and lack a good vocal microphone, use the money you earn on the sessions with that singer to buy a nice vocal microphone. (Actually, figure what you'll earn and invest in the microphone ahead of time, so the singer can use it!) Microphones are just one of the elements you might need to invest in for your home studio.
Microphones are one of the only pieces of equipment that haven't progressed dramatically in the past fifty years. Investing in a good set could last you fifty more years. Say that about other equipment!
Headphones and monitors usually need to be upgraded, especially if you work with large groups and you're used to going solo. You should invest in a few pairs of decent headphones and a headphone distributor, which is a device that takes one main output and splits the signal to multiple headphones. After you do a few diverse sessions and fill in the missing parts of your gear, you should be well set up to handle just about anything that comes your way.
Back It Up
“Be prepared” is the Scout motto, and it should be your recording motto as well. Be prepared for every foul-up possible. If you record to tape, have extras. Expect cables to break when you need them most. Batteries always run out at the most inopportune times! You should have a stock of extras of everything possible. While microphones are usually pretty durable, it's always a good idea to have some other choices in case something goes wrong.
Part of running a professional studio is being able to handle anything that comes your way. Murphy's Law will get you every time if you're not prepared for it: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong! Expect the most ridiculous errors! This is very true of the computer-recording world. Back up the sessions to CD or DVD often. Don't take chances losing valuable data.
If you run a computer studio, make sure you have the number of a computer tech on hand — you never know when you might need to call. And most likely, the computer will find a reason to crash on you when you really need it; (Don't sweat it; it happens to the best of us.)