Recording Studio Etiquette

My twenty-nine years in the studio business have been filled with rewarding experiences. By and large, my clients have been polite, professional and evenhanded. Nevertheless, there have been instances that required me to adopt some rigid policies. Examples include no-shows, clients who worked long sessions and then didn’t pay me, habitually late clients, people who “assumed” it was okay to smoke in the studio, etc. So as you read the short list below, please understand that I wish I didn’t have to bring this stuff up at all; but it just happens too often.

*Please be punctual
Out of necessity, Commodore’s policy is that the hourly rate is charged from the time the booking was scheduled to start, even if the client is late. Similarly, arriving more than a little bit early can also be quite disruptive. (A group once arrived two hours early and wanted to set up during another client’s session!) Please help us be respectful of everyone’s time.

*Please use studio time judiciously
Remember that studio time is billed for the hours of my time that a client used. It’s easy to get off-task and spend time talking rather than working, but please understand that time is money, regardless of how the client decides to use it. Also remember that during recording and mixdown the control room environment needs to remain quiet so the engineer can hear accurately. If clients or guests would like to talk, Commodore has a comfortable lounge area with a rehearsal piano and WiFi.

*Please pay promptly
A studio is like any other type of business where cash flow keeps the doors open, and it’s quite burdensome when customers do not pay invoices for weeks or months, or don’t pay at all. Likewise, please don’t try to barter, such as asking me to trade free studio hours for a percentage of your future CD sales, or simply trying to negotiate a lower rate. (Commodore is already an incredible bargain.) Unless we have specifically made other arrangements in advance, studio time needs to be paid for as it is used. Future sessions will not be booked until previous sessions have been paid in full. For your convenience Commodore accepts cash, checks, most major credit cards, PayPal, Venmo and Zelle

*Deposit policy for new clients
 I gladly welcome first-time clients to Commodore without requiring a deposit. However, if the first session turns out to be a no-show or a last-minute cancellation, I must require a 100% non-refundable deposit for the next booking. Please remember I’ve cleared my calendar for you, and may have turned down other paid work for that day.

*Please keep amp volume in check
Playing loud can be great for the energy of a live performance, but playing “too loud” can be a problem in the studio. For example, if a rock band is using an acoustic piano on a song, an overly-cranked guitar amp in the same room can end up bleeding into the piano mics, rendering the piano tracks unusable. Story: a guitarist who once told me he “couldn’t” turn down his amp was no longer with that band when they returned to record again.

*Please don’t smoke or vape.
Commodore (like almost every other studio) must adhere to a strict no-smoking, no vaping, no-exceptions policy. Aside from the obvious health concerns, this is a necessity to preserve the sensitive audio equipment that is quickly degraded by exposure to smoke. This includes all types of smoke, including incense and ceremonial plants. Clients are welcome to take (non-weed) smoking breaks outside the building.

*Illegal drugs or underage drinking
Don’t even think about it! Your session will be over immediately with a forfeiture of any deposit you have paid, and law enforcement will be notified.