A few years ago, if you were an artist in need of a recording studio to create your next big hit, the process for searching and booking that space was kind of antiquated. You’d have to hop online and search for studios in the area and then reach out to the company about rates and book their service over the phone. Sure, that doesn’t sound too difficult, but still—after all the time spent looking, you might end up at a place with a vibe that is not conducive to having a spectacular session.
That unpredictable process was the norm for years. That is, until Ope Odumakin and Jake Monir co-founded Stufinder in January. They define Stufinder as “a recording studio marketplace app” that helps artists, producers, engineers, managers, and creators find and book studio spaces easier, faster, and safer.
The co-founders have a background in artist management and have shared a love and appreciation for music since they met in Los Angeles years ago. Odumakin tells Complex he was holding onto the idea for the app since 2016. In the last four months since the company officially launched, Stufinder is already creating a buzz in the United States. To date, the app has more than 10,000 users, and has listed more than 400 studios in over 300 locations, and it’s only getting bigger.
You might have seen music-focused Twitter accounts write about studios listed on Stufinder—like Drake’s listing, which was uploaded and removed in April, and one they opt to not comment on—but they very rarely explain how impactful the app is. Through Stufinder, creators are able to find an affordable studio (with the right vibe), select a date, and book it in a matter of clicks. What’s interesting is that studios are not limited to big corporate companies. Artists like Riff Raff have listed their home studios on the app. For $15,000 an hour, an artist can book a session where the rapper also provides creative feedback, networking tips, and possibly even features. Users also have access to studios where major artists like Future, Jack Harlow, and Studio 17, where Pop Smoke recorded some of their biggest hits.
Monir and Odumakin say Stufinder is quickly revolutionizing the music industry in the same way Airbnb did the hospitality industry. “Now, you can download an app, take a couple pictures of your setup. You can list the home studio, and have payments coming in,” Monir tells Complex. “You don’t need to handle all this extra stuff. So we just kind of took out all the processes and just made it a lot simpler.”
Odumakin adds that Stufinder is “going to revolutionize music because we’re making studios more accessible. A lot of artists, they do have their own home studio, but say, [they’re] going to China. Eventually, we want to be worldwide… So, say I’m an American artist, and I’m in the UK. I need a studio… or, I manage so-and-so, and my artist needs a studio. Or we’re going on tour. Stufinder.”
As they continue to grow and expand, the app’s co-founders are launching a branch in the United Kingdom developing more ways to create a collaborative and seamless experience for its users. Complex spoke to Ope Odumakin and Jake Monir about how Stufinder works and their future plans.
The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you started Stufinder?
Jake Monir: Me and Ope manage an artist and a couple producers. We both met in Los Angeles in front of a clothing line and just started being friends since then. Then it was Ope’s idea to start [Stufinder]. He thought of the name, and he always told me about this app for booking studios. We manage producers and artists, and it’s hard to find a studio. So, then we just started from there. We’ve got a big vision for it, too. We want to do a lot more than the app has right now. We’re just big music fans in general. We feel like the industry really needed this and that’s how it came to light.
What have been your biggest challenges with running Stufinder so far?
OO: We got so many users that the app crashed. You run into issues like that, but that’s a good problem to have. We always say if the app crashes because of too many users, we like those problems because we’re in the right direction. So I would say the biggest challenges that we face are making sure the app’s fast and smooth.
“When it comes to the big thousand-dollar studios, we don’t want to tell an artist how much they’re worth.”
The price ranges for studio time are very broad. Who determines the prices?
JM: So, it’s based on whoever is listed. We let Riff Raff set his price. We don’t tell anyone to set their price. Eventually we will. When we get more data, we’ll recommend prices. But when it comes to the big thousand-dollar studios, we don’t want to tell an artist how much they’re worth. Right now it’s just by the hour. The guy that booked Riff Raff for the day, he booked two hours but that’s a full day. It’s going to get to a point where it’s just a set price because some people see $15,000 an hour and think, “in 61 minutes, are they going to kick me out?” It’s not the case with artists like Doe Boy who are big features, but that is kind of the case when you’re booking an hourly rate.
How does Stufinder promote artist discovery, collaboration, and creativity in your opinion?
OO: Eventually, we want to make it so you’re booking a studio, you can add your engineer, you can add that an artist is coming through. We recently just switched so people have usernames now because we’re moving into a space where we want to connect artists and producers. There’s a triangle: the studio, artist, engineer. We want to connect that triangle every time one of them goes into a studio session.
JM: On the artist discovery side, eventually every song that gets recorded in the session, like for example, we have a studio where Pop Smoke recorded a lot of his big songs at… Soon, it’s going to be, you may not make music, you might just be a fan and you’ll just go to Google and you might just be wanting to see like, “Oh, I really like this Pop Smoke song. Where did you record it?” You can just go on Stufinder, see this information as a fan and that can kind of help you discover artists. You might be in this studio and see what another guy recorded here, then click his page and see his music. So, it definitely is going to be an artist and music discovery app as we grow it out. Even if you’re a fan and you don’t make music, you could definitely be using Stufinder.
What is the verification process like for high-profile home studios listed on the app like Riff Raff, the Pop Smoke studio, and others?
JM: So, they will DM us. [Pop Smoke’s studio], that studio’s a big studio in New York. They got a website and everything. They’re one of the bigger studios where we can obviously talk to a lot of the producers that work there. We do a deep search. We have a lot of questions when people bring up these things. It needs to be factual information. They can even provide dates when it happened and everything like that. We had another studio where Jack Harlow recorded in Kentucky that came on. I think studios are now seeing the benefit of talking about the songs that were recorded there and even having a place like Stufinder to showcase it, because it’s great content. A lot of pages are watching Stufinder right now just because we are making news and making history in that sense.
“It definitely is going to be an artist and music discovery app as we grow it out.”
Also, every single studio on our app is verified legally. To even list a studio on Stufinder, you have to go through our Stripe payment and we get your social security, everything. So, everything is verified that way. Now, after that, we are going to add verifications to studios. We’re going to have that around the summer. But, yeah, we go through and vet everybody.
Why do you think Stufinder might revolutionize or influence this space in the same way that Airbnb did for the hospitality industry or WeWork did for the collaborative professional industry?OO: I really think it’s going to revolutionize music because we’re making studios more accessible. A lot of artists, they do have their own home studio, but say, [they’re] going to China. Eventually we want to be worldwide. Right now we’re just U.S., Canada. We’re launching in the UK in two weeks. So, say I’m an American artist, and I’m in the UK. I need a studio. Stufinder. Or, I manage so-and-so, and my artist needs a studio. Or we’re going on tour. Stufinder.
JM: Before, like Ope said, the process is kind of long, but someone might be like, “You know what? Maybe I want to try making music.” They can just be in a small town and book this studio for 25 bucks an hour. Who knows, that person could make a hit. It could be a number one song. So, I feel like it’s giving people more chances to become an artist or start making music.
What are your future plans for Stufinder?
OO: We have some big plans. Big, big plans.We’re launching in the UK soon, so we’re going to be in Europe. This year, we want to be in the seven big countries, Australia, Germany, all the ones that we aren’t in already. We want to add recordings… In areas where there are less studios, we want to start building recording studios, having studios in areas where not a lot of studios are. So, that is in our framework.
JM: Yeah, we want to add the recording database to have every single song that’s ever been recorded at every studio. We have producers on there. ChaseTheMoney, he’s a big producer who produced for [J. Cole, Lil Yachty, etc.]. Soon, artists, if it’s in their budget, they’ll just go to Stufinder… “OK, I’m going to book this session. Let me book this producer. I’ll get a beat off him and let me book this artist and he’ll come through and record a verse.” You can kind of do it in a one-stop shop. Right now it’s very hard. You have to DM people, email. But if you wanted to set up a session with ChaseTheMoney and Riff Raff, you couldn’t do it in three clicks, but you can on Stufinder now. So, we want to solidify booking engineers, producers, and artists. Then eventually, we’re going to take Stufinder to recording online. You may be able to do virtual sessions.
“It’s going to revolutionize music because we’re making studios more accessible.”
Nice, the next big artist might be coming through Stufinder.
JM: That’s what we’re hoping, and we really see that happening.
OO: Another thing from earlier is that a lot of artists have their own home studios, but they might not want this other artist to come to their home studio. So they can book a public studio and then meet there.
JM: Yeah, Doe Boy recorded out of a professional studio in Atlanta, not his home. Riff Raff is actually at his house. So, this guy is pulling up to Riff Raff’s house in his home studio and recording everything with him.
What is the most important thing you want people to know about Stufinder?
JM: We want people to know that we’re music lovers. We manage artists, producers. We’re not just some guys that thought, “Oh, let’s make an Airbnb of studios.” We know the market really well. We love music and we love hearing songs. We want people to know that Stufinder’s definitely a great, safe place and you can book things on it that you can’t book anywhere else. It’s unique.
OO: We want artists to know that Stufinder’s here for them, and Stufinder’s also here for the studio owners. We are constantly going to be making the app better, and we are dedicated. It’s in the name, we are dedicated to the studios and taking care of artists and doing what we do best.