Covid-19 Effects on Business
While many music businesses had to either close temporarily or permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam Hinds had a business that capitalized on musicians’ downtime and song writing: a professional recording studio in his San Marcos home. Hinds, a Texas State alumnus, opened Soundlabs Studios in 2019, just months before the pandemic hit. As musicians were forced to cancel shows, they focused on writing and recording music.
Despite the negative effects of the pandemic, audio streaming saw a jump in consumption this past year. In fact, it has increased every year since 2017 based on the Mid-Year report by Music Business Worldwide. As music keeps getting streamed, artists are looking to create new songs and seek new places to record.
At the start of the pandemic, Hinds moved all of his services online, with the exception of live recording. By doing this he was able to provide mixing and mastering for artists who recorded their tracks at home.
“I did a lot of online work for customers. They would record their songs at home and then send the files to me. I would also give them advice on how to record properly,” Hinds said.
This lasted until September of 2020 when Hinds decided to open up Soundlabs Studios for in-person sessions again. He allowed one-on-one sessions while taking necessary safety precautions such as mask wearing, sanitizing, and conducting temperature checks. Prior to the pandemic, he would allow artists to bring up to seven guests to their sessions, but he knew that couldn’t happen during the midst of the pandemic.
As COVID-19 vaccines became available in early 2021, Hinds fully opened up the studio again, but allowed only three guests per artist this time. These business strategies worked as he kept gaining new clients and getting his schedule booked nearly every week for most of this year.
Soundlabs Studios hosts many artists who sing, rap, and play various instruments. A few of the local artists that like to record at Soundlabs Studios with Hinds include Vontay Galaxy, JMAC the Dragon, Shelly Knicks, and Hello, Desperado. Most of them now live in the Austin or San Marcos area. Hinds has also worked with other talent from the Houston and Dallas areas.
Mykal Omari, also known as Hello, Desperado is originally from Arlington, but now resides in Austin. He appreciates what the studio has to offer as well as Hinds’s expertise in this field.
“You get your money’s worth when you come here. Sam doesn’t slack. He’s efficient when he works and is fast when delivering the final mixes to you once the session is over,” Desperado said.
Vontay Galaxy, who is originally from Killeen, also makes consistent trips to Soundlabs Studios in San Marcos.
“Sam Hinds has been a godsend for me, especially because I do a good amount of singing and he knows how to guide me to hit those right notes. I come back time and time again,” Galaxy said.
Looking to the Future
Due to his continuous business throughout the pandemic, Hinds was able to expand into a much bigger space by the summer of 2021. This new retail spot in northern San Marcos would allow Hinds to have more sessions and more flexibility to host more guests. Soundlabs Studios now has plans to record full sized bands and host podcast shows at this new spot as well.
Hinds wants to offer the same quality of service that musicians and artists would find in bigger markets such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, and even Houston. He also strives to offer his services at comparable and affordable prices. As 2022 approaches, Soundlabs Studios looks to continue to stay busy.