One of the more critical skills for a sound designer to have is good business/people skills. This is most directly shown when you do what you have to do to gain access to certain locations/vehicles/events in order to record them.

this thread is for those stories.

Please post stories here about what you had to do/pay/say to gain access to something for the purposes of recording it. Even stories of failure to gain access would be fun to see

They don't have to be crazy over the top things (though those would be cool), but even regular run of the mill stories so that the rest of us can see what does and does not work.


To start things off, my most obvious example would be the kickstarter campaign that I ran last year to record the trolleys that run in uptown.

The first thing I did was make a call to the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, which is the entity in charge of running the trolleys. I explained to them what I wanted to do and asked for pricing on booking out a car.

This was actually a relatively long conversation because we both wanted pretty clear details of what I intended and was able to do with regards to mic setup, setup timing, trolley run duration, car availability, etc. I corresponded with the business manager and the trolley manager separately. The business manager helped with price quotes (he gave me a deal) and with availability dates.

Once I was very sure about the details of what could be done and had received written permission to do the gig, I prepared to launch the kickstarter. Preparation included shooting a promo video (which required yet another trip to ride the trolleys) defining all of my costs, defining all of my rewards, and specking out my recording kit.

After all preparations were made I launched the kickstarter and through the generosity of this community I was funded within the first 6 hours, and had greatly surpassed my goal within the first 24 hours.

Now that I knew my basic expenses were covered, I borrowed the deposit fee, expanded the project and booked out two trolleys for a date just before the kickstarter deadline hit.

In the intervening days, I visited the trolleys a few times both to scout out the cars and the path and to become friends with the trolley drivers. This paid huge dividends for the project because I was able to befriend the driver that would be my guy on recording day and have him do things like pick out the most interesting sounding cars and give me access to the electric motors during the runs.

The bottom line was that all I needed to do for access was to cold-call and ask, then raise the money and pay for it. With that said, the human interaction during the prep phase proved to be very important to the final product.

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