August 20, 2020 | Business Spotlight: Rich City Studios | By: Charles A. Turner, Jr., Owner, Rich City Studios |
Photo Credit: R.D. López/Shots From Richmond
August is National Black Business Month. In celebration of the month, we are spotlighting Black-owned businesses in our Main Street districts. Today, we're featuring an interview with business owner Charles A. Turner, Jr. Turner is the owner of 10,000 Hours Of Music, LLC./Rich City Studios in Richmond, California. Basing in Richmond because of a lack of professional recording studios within the city, Turner’s recording studio specializes in music production, audio recording, mixing, mastering, sound design and composing for video and games, audio repair, and much more. He also offers online classes to teach people the basic fundamentals of how to be successful and productive within the music industry. Rich City Studios has been in business for two years.
Learn more about Turner and Rich City Studios in the interview below.
What drew you to owning your own small business? Why did you become a small business owner?
Turner: To me, my business represents the sum of over a decade of hard work and planning. In 2004, when I started making beats, I realized that none of my friends nor I knew anyone who was an audio engineer, and although many people I knew were rappers or singers, they all lacked a professional and reliable engineer.
So at the age of 16, I made the decision to not only pursue a career as a music producer, but to also become the go-to audio engineer for recording artists, film directors, and anyone else that I know who needed audio work done. After graduating from Oakland Technical High School, I was accepted into Howard University in Washington D.C., where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in radio, TV, and film production with a focus in audio production. While in college, I interned for different people and companies within my field to hone my audio engineering skills such as Howard University’s student radio station WHBC 830AM, Gary Drew (Raheem Devaughn’s former manager and audio engineer), and MTV. I also created a home studio and began recording music for people who I went to college with for a fee.
After graduating from college, I had music that I produced featured on the show BET’s Black Carpet as well as be featured in The Source Magazine. I also moved back to the Bay Area after graduating where I began recording and producing music for local artists as a second job. During this time, I worked for different non-profit organizations teaching children how to use audio and music production software and I also worked for Academy of Art University within their music production and sound design for the visual media department.
After a few years of gaining more knowledge and experience as well as building my clientele, I decided that it was time to cash in on all the time and effort that I invested into learning audio engineering by opening and establishing 10,000 Hours Of Music, LLC. & Rich City Studios.
While still a teenager, I made a big decision for my life that I sought out with plans and goals, and now as an adult, I’m able to act on and achieve what I set out to do.
What do you like most about owning and running your own business? Any particular successes you’d like to share?
Turner: I would like to think that my business offers an affordable, convenient, community-based, and uncensored outlet for the people. I say we’re affordable not only because we offer recording packages, such as three hours of recording time with one song mixed and mastered for $100 to give our clients more bang for their buck, but because we also offer discounts for minors. As far as being convenient and community-based, I’m speaking to the fact that we’re located in Downtown Richmond in the historic Market Square Mall which is less than a mile from the Richmond Bart Station and also because we allow same day appointments as long as you call at least three hours before the time you would to schedule.
I also say that we’re community-based because, since being in business, we have held two artist showcases and one online showcase. With each showcase, we had Richmond residents performing, vending, and/or working as a photographer. These events also included residents of other Bay Area cities, so we were able to help artists and businesses of Richmond and other places network and grow.
Lastly, to explain what I meant by having an uncensored outlet for the city, the city of Richmond has very limited venues for the artists of the city to showcase themselves. To make matters tougher, some of the venues or programs which create performance and other opportunities for artists have guidelines or rules as to what performers/clients can and can’t do or just aren’t always open to everyone’s lifestyle or opinions. For example, some of my clients under 18 come to my studios and record really edgy songs that a youth organization might not allow or want recorded but I allow my clients no matter their age, gender, or sexual preference to freely express themselves.
Another example of how we’re uncensored and open to people is the fact that we’re a LGBT friendly business that actually works with our clients to have good songs and projects, rather than just rushing them in and out of the door because something that they might have recorded isn’t relatable to our engineers.
What challenges have you faced as a business owner?
Turner: Since the COVID-19 crisis resulted in the statewide shelter in place my client flow has slowed because many people are staying home in fear of the virus and some are off work or had their work hours cut short due to the virus and can’t afford studio time, which has decreased my income. I’ve had to shorten my own hours of operation, hire a cleaning company to come by regularly to disinfect the studio, and I am no longer able to throw my artist showcases in Richmond. I’ve also noticed that some of my clients who live in cities outside of Richmond have begun recording at studios located within their own cities to avoid traveling far distances during the quarantine.
I was also involved in a really bad car accident on July 24, 2020 which resulted in me having a broken leg and finger and also left me without a car due to it being totaled. Because of all this I've had to temporarily close my business while I recover because I can't go up and down the stairs in my building to let clients in or out.
How has COVID-19 affected your business and what resources would be most helpful to you?
Turner: Since the COVID-19 crisis resulted in the statewide shelter-in-place, my client flow has slowed because many people are staying home in fear of the virus and some are off work or had their work hours cut short due to the virus and can’t afford studio time, which has decreased my income. I’ve had to shorten my own hours of operation, hire a cleaning company to come by regularly to disinfect the studio, and I am no longer able to throw my artist showcases in Richmond. I’ve also noticed that some of my clients who live in cities outside of Richmond have begun recording at studios located within their own cities to avoid traveling far distances during the quarantine.
Being able to market myself better and reaching more people would be very helpful because I find that many people are in need of my services but are unaware that my business exists or are unaware that we are located in downtown Richmond.
How has your Main Street program supported you over the years?
Turner: They have featured me in multiple articles as well as shared and promoted the different events that I have thrown. They have also assisted me in spreading the word about the GoFundMe campaign that I created after suffering my injuries from the car accident.
What advice would you give others about how to start a business?
Turner: Make sure that you can provide a quality service, that you are passionate about your business and not just starting it to follow a trend or as a get-rich-quick scheme, and that you are educated within the subject. Many people see other people's success and feel that they can do it too because it seems easy but are unaware that it’s taken years of preparation for that person to get to a point where things seem easy.
Thank you to Charles A. Turner, Jr., in Richmond, California, for sharing his story with us! Join us this month (and all year long!) in highlighting Black-owned businesses in your Main Street district. Get started by downloading these social media graphics.