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The Business of Music: Old Paradise Audio

‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it’, so goes the saying by novelist Toni Morrison. The do it yourself sentiment in her words is apt when we consider the journey of Jim Macrae, founder of Old Paradise Audio (OPA), a recording studio based in Lambeth. Watch his interview above, and read more about his story below – from finding space, to building an online community and managing the books. And, because it’s us, top tips you can try to get your business up and running.

Setting up

A drummer since the age of 10, Jim decided to create space for himself to practice and to meet other musicians. “I needed to find a place for myself where I could always make music, connect with other artists, and find a way of generating an income”. He decided to make the space himself. A quick search on Gumtree led to Jim finding Old Paradise Yard, a communal enterprise space based in Lambeth. The Yard is home to a range of creative entrepreneurs including carpenters, fashion designers, musicians, filmmakers and more. Owned by Eat Work Art, a sustainable development business, the Yard is part of an ongoing trend of business spaces that create communities of businesses that complement and support each other.

Top tip

Finding a space to set up shop can be expensive, so it pays to be creative about where you look. In the early days of your business, working from a flexible working hub, or social enterprise space can save you costs, as well as expanding your network of entrepreneurs and useful people to know. Workhubs and are two brilliant online resources for businesses who are looking for spaces to work.

Social Media

Social media is an integral part of the marketing plans of most businesses these days. Channels like Instagram that have traditionally been used to share snaps of sunsets, food and pets, are now pulling in huge audiences for small businesses, with minimal effort.

Jim’s strategy is simple, but effective – he recreates the reciprocity and laid back vibe of his studio on his channels. “I see Facebook as a community space – my first customer came through social media. Having a visual connection online helps people to get to me directly. I use Instagram a lot to connect to with other musicians and artists, they tag themselves, and the business, so straight away I’m connected with their audience”. Working in this way he’s promoting artists at the same time as they are promoting him. Jordan Rakei, who’s currently working on his upcoming album with a little help from OPA, is a great example of this. Jordan shares moments from his sessions at OPA with his fans and peers; continually raising the awareness of what Jim and OPA have to offer.

Top tip

Make your posts on social go further by harnessing some of the recent feature updates – for Instagram, have a look at the advertising page and look at the different options available to enhance the experience of your audience. Using Facebook Places Tips (which incorporates beacon technology), means that you’ll be able to share more information with customers than ever before. So when people search for you on Facebook they’ll see your posts, your fans’ posts about you and useful business information too. The great thing about these modes of promoting your business that they are still inherently social.

“It’s about sharing, rather than hard-core marketing,” said Jim. The great thing about these methods of promoting your business is that they’re still inherently social; the sharing happens organically through your audience, so you get to maintain that all important sense of community.


"My first customer came through social media. Having a visual connection online helps people to get to me directly."


Every entrepreneur’s favourite part of running their own show is bookkeeping right?

Alongside managing the studio and drumming, Jim wears multiple hats freelancing as teacher, producer and sound engineer too. To help to keep things in order financially, Jim says he uses accounting app Zero to help keep tabs on expenditure and budgets. Below are other accounting and book keeping apps that you can use:

Free Agent – makes invoicing easy, and enables you to track expenses, invoice, chase payments and synchronize your bank accounts, all in one app.

Quickbooks – flexible packages depending on the needs of your business – you use for everything from payroll and invoicing to handling payments and preparing budgets.

Kashflow – designed with small businesses in mind and comes with VAT reporting built in.


Whether you want to make your own studio, have been thinking about finding a space for your business, fancy building an online community or just need to get better at managing the books, take a leaf or too out of Old Paradise Audio’s books, and do it yourself.

If you already have, tweet @O2Business and tell us how you did it.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

Book a session now


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