The Music Industry is changing. Trained audio engineers can make more working on their own than as a staff engineer at a studio. It’s easier today to build your own company and credits from your bedroom than ever before. This is because technology is advancing, freelancing is profitable and demand is on the rise. Contrary to what people may say about getting a job doing what you love in music, now is the perfect time to break in. Not only is there a world of opportunity because of where the industry is today and where it is going, but you can start your music business with $30* or less. Here’s what you need to know.
*This doesn’t include the gear you will need, but that’s the topic of another day, and you may be surprised how affordable that is too!
The Music Industry Today
It’s important to give you an idea of where the music industry is because there are a lot of misconceptions. The old school picture of the music industry is an artist booking studio time at a big studio, with expensive gear and a engineer that works exclusively at that studio. Well that might not be exactly how it was done, that’s at least the perception of most. Today, that is changing, technology is available to everyone with the money to spend and work is available to the lowest bidder.
Many albums are written, recorded, mixed and even mastered in bedrooms across the country. How can you break into this market? With a little hard work, planning and just about $30.
Build A Presence Online
This is where every business from Virgin Atlantic to your neighborhood handyman are finding customers. So if you think you don’t need it, then you probably shouldn’t try to start a business. There are a couple elements that are essential to your success.
The first thing every potential client will do is look for you online. If you don’t have a site, have one that is outdated, don’t have contact info or don’t have samples of your work, then you will lose them. A website is often daunting to non computer people. But with services like Wix and Squarespace, they make it as easy as updating your Facebook page. This is one thing you will have to pay for, but the good news is that it won’t break the bank.
Most will offer a “free” site, but that won’t include a custom URL, have ads for their sites and will often limit bandwidth and storage. Here’s what you should do:
1. Find a URL that is available. You can do this through their sites or go to sites like GoDaddy and search if your name, company name or keywords are available. You will have to buy your domain whether it’s through your host or another site like GoDaddy, 1and1 or whatever you like. Your URL should be easy to remember and be relevant to you. It could just be yourname.com, yourcompanyname.com or maybe something like affordablemixing.com.
2. These sites will walk you through how to edit it it, but a few features you will want are a Contact Page, About Page and Samples Page. You don’t have to have pricing, but you should list what services you will provide. A great example of this is Ninety Six Sound which is two former interns that are grabbing a lot of work through their site.
A Blog is a great way to show you know what you are talking about, keep people updated on news and services and build relationships. I won’t go into detail about blogs because I have before, you can find the post here.
Another important area is social media and online interaction. I am constantly writing about this and you can find all you want in a couple of these posts.
Business Cards and How to Use them
Business cards are just as important as they were 30 years ago, but the good news is that now you can get quality cards cheap and sometimes free! VistaPrint is a great site that makes creating a business card as easy as entering your name, phone number and e-mail address on a form. If you use one of their stock templates you will get 250 cards free! You have to pay shipping of course, but the printing is free and often times they will send you coupons for so much off your reorder. They also have a lot of specials so that’s one email list you want to be on.
People tend to use business cards incorrectly. They walk up to someone and just give it to them. You have to engage with someone then give them the card as a physical reminder of your name and how to get a hold of you. A great example of this is a guy I met at the gas station the other day. I was pumping gas and his van was at the pump in front of mine. He started by asking the year of my car, knew some basic facts about it and complimented me on it. As I was finishing up, he asked if I ever got it detailed and I said that I hadn’t but I usually clean it pretty well (which I do, I’m obsessive with my car.) He said well if you ever get tired of doing it, give me a call and he gave me his card for auto detailing.
You know why this is a good example? Because I remembered him and I still have his card. The day just may come when he gets a call. But the story doesn’t end there. I noticed he didn’t pump any gas, was there before me and wasn’t getting into his van anytime soon. So I asked him if he just waits there all day, he kinda laughed like I had caught him. He said no, his schedule is very full, but he takes an hour every morning before and after his appointments and hits up local gas stations. I asked if that worked and he said that this was the reason his schedule is full everyday.
How can you use this? I’m not saying camp out at a gas station, but go places where you may find work. Go to music stores like Guitar Center. Make friends (this is important, you can’t just walk in and give them cards, prove you know what you are talking about) with the staff, give them a bunch of cards and make sure they know what you do and for how much. The day WILL come when someone calls you because the guy at Guitar Center said you are the guy to go to for affordable mixing, editing or mastering. Print some flyers off at Kinkos for .30 cents and put them on community boards, you never know.
For some help is a Checklist that you need to start your business today:
Buy a Domain/URL (GoDaddy, 1and1, SquareSpace, Wix)
Build a site:
Print Business Cards (VistaPrint)
Build Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram and SoundCloud
-Update often and frequently
-Don’t Forget Hashtags (#)!
-Build Relationships First (Clients will follow)
-Go to places where your services are relevant
-Post on Community Boards
If you have any questions please comment below! If you are interested in starting a career in music and need training, Check out our Audio Engineering Program.