As soon as the ink dried on the deed in 2003, Rafter Roberts says realtors and developers made offers to buy the building that housed Singing Serpent Studios.
"Each time someone approached us to buy, we'd say no," Roberts says of the studio on 17th Street, across the street from City College. "We had this agreement [among partners] that if it gets to be three times or two and a half times as much as we paid for it, we'd sell it.... We were able to buy it for something like $860,000, and maybe two years later we sold it for maybe $2.5 million."
Since it was founded in April 2000 by Roberts and Glen Galloway (of Trumans Water and Soul-Junk), Singing Serpent has used talent from San Diego's music scene to record soundtracks for TV commercials. Clients include Citibank, McDonald's, Nike, San Diego Zoo, Subway sandwiches, and Virgin Mobile.
The windfall from the real estate sale enabled Roberts and his partners to buy and tear down a building in Kensington and hire an architect to design a new recording studio. The sale also allowed Singing Serpent to open an office in New York City.
"It's weird because it was nothing I ever wanted," Roberts says. "I was perfectly happy recording bands for ten dollars an hour in my garage. I never aspired to be a business owner. I like not having to worry about money...."