What Does a Studio Manager Do?
Whether running a one-room outpost or a bustling big-city complex, studio managers are responsible for the smooth and profitable operation of a recording studio. Their widely ranging duties can include coordinating with artists, producers, managers, and labels to schedule recording sessions; hiring and supervising recording engineers, assistants, and other technical and creative staff; helping to select the studio's equipment; and—critically—marketing the studio to potential new clients.
Accounting tasks such as payroll and billing may also fall to the studio manager, although those who manage large studios typically will delegate such duties to hired staff. In small studios, the studio manager may also be the lead recording engineer.
While the specific duties of the studio manager differ greatly based on factors like the studio's size or the owner's involvement, client satisfaction is a core part of almost every studio manager's job. The studio manager keeps close track of ongoing projects to ensure that they are on schedule and that clients' specific needs are being met (e.g., hiring a piano tuner before the piano-playing pop star's session). In some cases, the studio manager will assign recording and mixing engineers to specific projects. Because attracting clients relies largely on the appeal of a strong reputation and word-of-mouth referrals, keeping track of customers' needs in this way is crucial to generating new business.
Studio Manager at a Glance
There are no formal educational requirements for this senior position. Most studio managers have experience as recording engineers, mixing engineers, or producers. Some, however, work their way up after working in project management, studio booking, or as administrative assistants. Successful studio managers might find work at more prestigious studios, buy in to become co-owner of a studio, or open their own studio.
Studio managers work for recording studios of all shapes and sizes, including those that focus on ADR and voice work rather than music. While an experienced lead recording engineer might qualify for studio manager positions advertised online, most must first work their way up the ladder from entry-level jobs and internships at recording studios.
Knowledge of recording sessions and studio operations
Networking and artist relations
Because the work involves juggling schedules and dealing with last-minute changes and unexpected complications, it is vital for studio managers to be flexible and cool-headed, and to have excellent problem-solving skills. In addition, being organized and detail-oriented helps them prepare for upcoming sessions, as well as manage complex schedules. In studio managers' capacity as artist relations managers, communication and networking abilities are valuable.
Business hours are largely standard, although studio managers need to be available by phone 24-7 for emergencies, and may work late nights to support the engineering staff during a big star's studio visit.