It seems Sub stitute Ordinance No. BL2012-292 — a.k.a. the Home Recording Studio bill — has been shelved indefinitely. As explained in the March/April issue, a groundswell of public opposition to the bill had been developing prior to the Council’s May 7 meeting, from both the “not-in-my-neighborhood” types, as well as from those who believed home studios were being singled out for special treatment. With these two very vocal, email-campaign-writing groups emerging, the bill’s original sponsor, Councilman-at-Large Megan Berry, had little choice other than
to kick the can down the road.
Ironically, it was the very people the bill intended to help — the home studio owners — who were ultimately responsible for the bill’s current fate. Many never even knew of the bill’s existence; still others were surprised by the idea that home studios violate Metro codes. Those who knew of the bill, by and large, chose not to participate for fear of exposure. By “going to ground,” their hopes were for a continuation of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell status quo — a tactic with which, at least by that metric, they were successful.
During a panel discussion at a recent Audio Engineering Society event (which was, full disclosure, moderated by yours truly), Berry had the opportunity to hear directly from both commercial studio owners as well as home studio owners about the complexities involved in making the bill fair and equitable to all of the primary stakeholders.
Needless to say, the primary concern for home studios is the cost of legitimacy. Most of the ones generating revenue are aware of the cost of doing business commercial studios face, so it’s no wonder they’re less than enthusiastic about the potential for revenue streams Metro might have in mind. On the other hand, the vast majority of home studios generate modest, if any, revenue at all. As for the commercial facilities, the damage has already been done. Very few mid-level commercial studios survived the onslaught of computer-based recording and the plethora of home studios created therefrom.
Those remaining would be happy just to have the playing field leveled, if only a little bit. The landscape for businesses of all stripes is changing so rapidly that anyone who says with confidence they know where things are headed is, at best, a victim of their own imagination and at worst, completely self-deluded. If any one thing is for sure, it’s the growth in home-based businesses. It’s doubtful the issue will be swept under the rug in perpetuity, and at present Metro doesn’t really have a way to deal with it, except through the codes department. Moving forward, any bill dealing with home businesses must involve the stakeholders, and there will need to be some type of incentive to encourage conformity. If Metro codes decided tomorrow that its mission in life is shuttering home studios, that’s all they would have the time to do, and even then they wouldn’t even scratch the surface.