F7 Sound and Vision Tampa, Florida. Official website of Michael Oster. Audio recording, sound design. Michael Oster photography specializing in residential and commercial Real Estate. Serving the Tampa Bay region.

Studio Security - probably the last thing you think of...but one of the first things you should.

To the right is how my studio looked in 1993. I was in a small apartment with a Pro Tools system and a bunch of other gear. Back then, I had an alarm system (ADT type) and insurance on my equipment and that was about the extent of it.


Fast forward about a year to a brief conversation I had with a client while doing some editing for him. He was a big dude, over 6 feet with a bit of a cocky attitude and a little "off" if you catch my drift. You get all kinds when you have a studio as I learned over the years.


Anyway, in the middle of the session he starts asking me what I would do if a big guy like him busted in and wanted to take my gear. I was quick to respond, "I have a .38 and I'm a good shot" (not a lie since I did - and still do - frequent the local gun ranges - shooting has been a hobby of mine for many years).


I wasn't sure if he was serious or not, but he quickly changed the subject. After that, it got me thinking. I'd heard stories of studio break-ins up in New York where employees were beaten up and gear was taken (usually microphones because they are small and worth a lot of money). Turned out that these were mostly done by "clients" who'd scheduled a session or simply a tour of the studio. They'd use that as an opportunity to "get in".


So maybe my brief exchange with my client was him "checking for my reaction" to see if I was worth a later visit. Well, 6'3" and 250 pounds or not, nobody wants a gut shot from a snub nose revolver. I don't think I ever heard from this guy again.

F7 Sound and Vision studio back in 1993

F7 Sound and Vision in 1993

Why do I post this little story online? Because I believe that everyone who owns a studio (or is considering opening one) should think about security. We have equipment that is expensive and though the majority of people are decent and will treat you well if you do the same to them, there are a very few who have other intentions.


So what should you do? Many larger businesses have "loss prevention" divisions. That's security to you and me. But, like me, you have a small studio and not a lot of extra money for such things. So, here's some things to consider:


• Get a monitored alarm system (they run about $40 a month and are worth it - also check to see if they have 'wireless' options as phone lines can be cut)

• Security cameras (not a bad idea - just make sure you follow all local laws - some states require you post signs stating that you are video recording)

• Screen potential clients (are they focused too much on your gear, do they want to see it and are they especially interested in touring your studio?)

• Keep lists of the serial numbers for all your gear in a separate and safe location (pictures of your gear too since we all have digital cameras)


Now for the scary part (and the chances of this happening are very small but hey, when I get onto a commercial plane I always look for the closest exits just in case):


What if you were in the middle of a recording session. It's just you and a couple of clients. Suddenly the door crashes open. 3 guys wearing masks bust in and want your money and your gear. What would you do?


Or, let's say you're like me and often go out into the world slinging some microphones and a digital recorder (aka Field Recording). You're in the city grabbing traffic sounds for your next release and some 'creepy dude' comes up and starts asking questions. He's real curious about what you're doing and how much your recording equipment costs (that comes up a lot, huh). He pulls out a knife and demands you give him your stuff (to be honest this has not happened to me). What would you do?


Number one is you should always be aware of your surroundings. Day or night, it doesn't matter. You constantly need to know what's going on around you. This alone can prevent more problems than anything else. A second set of eyes helps, especially when you're out in the field. There were plenty of times in the past that I took along a friend or an intern just as a precaution. Nowadays, my wife is usually with me and she's always looking out for problems and she is even better about being quiet while I'm recording (a must!!!).


Gear can be replaced, lives can't. I'm sure if you do enough research online you can find some horror stories about studio break-ins, theft and robberies. Bottom line is that you can prevent things like this from happening to you. There are simple and effective things that you can implement into your facility. Just make sure you follow all local laws and always keep your eyes and ears open.

Check out my review of the Sound Devices 702 Digital Audio Recorder.


Here's some of the old pages of the site.


"Bots" - my science fiction short novel is online here.


"If This is the Future Then I'd Rather Flip Burgers" is my latest short story. A prequel to "BOTS".


My Bandcamp page where you can find digital versions of just about all of my releases.


The article that might make you mad...if you're in real estate.

copyright 2019 by Michael I Oster, all rights reserved


F7 Sound and Vision

17732 Nathan's Drive

Tampa, FL  33647