Interview:Studio Authority

Part 1: Ellis Sorkin's Background / What Does Studio Referral Service Do? / Who Uses Studio Referral Service?

Part 2: How Are Studios Critiqued? / Can SRS Get Me Studio Discounts? / How Do I Stay on Budget?

Part 3: How to Get the Best Price / What to Ask of a Studio / Is the Engineer Included?

Part 4: What Are the Extra Costs? / How Much Time Is Enough? / What Is a Lock-Out?




Ellis Sorkin: Studio Authority


Part 1: Ellis Sorkin's Background / What Does Studio Referral Service Do? / Who Uses Studio Referral Service?


Studio Referral Service offers a unique studio search service to the music industry. In this exclusive interview, SRS owner Ellis Sorkin talks about studio costs, recording on a budget, and efficiently allocating studio time. Ellis, give us some insight to your background.


Ellis Sorkin: I started as an engineer back in the early '70s at A&M Records. I started in what was a one-of-a-kind training program that A&M had where they took on whoever wanted to become an engineer as trainees and basically taught them by doing how records get made. Eventually you got to be able to assist on the actual sessions. During that time you were able to really get hands-on and see how things went with placement of microphones. And eventually you become an engineer.


At A&M in the '70s there were a lot of great records being made. It was probably the most popular studio in the world. So I was fortunate enough to work with artists like Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Neil Diamond, Chuck Mangione, and many, many other artists. After about eight years of being there, I saw a niche that was going on in the music business.


There were a lot more studios being built because the cost of the studio technology had dropped. When I started I think the least expensive recording console cost nearly $150,000. By the time I started my new business, Studio Referral Service, in 1980, you could buy consoles for $30,000 - $40,000. What would happen is people would go into the business who did not know what they were doing, and really messing people's product up. I saw that this was going on and I decided, "Hey, it would be great if there was a company out there that would sort of direct people into what would be the appropriate facilities to do their work in."


I had the knowledge as an engineer to pick out the studios and the engineering that went along with them - to be able to direct people to those proper facilities. So I started my company, Studio Referral Service, and that is what I've been doing for the last twenty years. What does Studio Referral Service do?


Sorkin: Studio Referral Service helps people find recording studios that are going to be most appropriate for their budgets, technical, and equipment needs. What we do is we ask a lot of questions that help us figure out what would be right. Sometimes these questions involve the type of music they're doing, because different studios are better for different kinds of music, especially in the mid-level and low-end studios. We find out if they need an engineer and if they have a producer. We find out if they are going to be working within a certain budget, if they're going to be using live players or if they are going to just come in with drum machine, synthesizer type, pre-programmed situations. And by asking these questions we figure out a place or places that are best suited to them. Who are your customers?


Sorkin: Our largest segment of customers is in the record business. Usually the calls come either from the management companies, and there are probably three or four major management companies in the music business. We get calls from the record companies directly, and from non-record type people, like ad agencies, people doing demos that have never been in the studio, even people that are having Uncle Joe pay for their project, or that have worked hard for many years, and saved up enough money to go and try to get their music out there.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4