advertising our recording services online

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Thomas W. Bethel, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    In this era of the WWW how do you advertise???
    I have found over the years that the best form of advertising for me is referrals by satisfied clients. In this age of the WWW and the possibility of getting clients from all over the world the question is how and where to advertise??? I can't help but notice that the ads for mastering companies are almost non existent in Mix and Tape Op. Where there use to be a few pages in the back of Tape Op now there are only a few ads. The same for Mix magazine. I have a fairly good website and we do get some clients from the WWW but I was wondering if there is a better place to advertise? In the past we tried direct mailing to recording studios within 100 miles of our studio but never got many referrals and since most recording studios now do "mastering" it would not make any sense in today's world. We have also tried radio and TV ads on local media but without much success. Our ranking on Google has slipped since we redesigned our website earlier this year and instead of being in the top three in searches for Northern Ohio audio mastering we are now on the bottom of page two. Not sure what happened but maybe my web designer did something to mess up our ranking or Google changed the way it ranks sites.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!!!
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well, a few years ago, when ME had more opportunity to take advantage of this site, I offered not only a free web article but opportunity for them to engage members and only (I believe) three Mastering Engineers took the time to promote their business like that. Ironically, not one to date has ever taken advantage of helping critique a song posted by a member asking for help.. There may be a few thousand songs that have been posted. lol. And not one ME has ever chimed in and suggested they could do something to help the outcome for mastering.
    I find this shocking, but, figure the lack of engagement must be the result of intimidation or crazy humbleness to show their stuff or recommend better ways to prepare a song /mix prior to mastering.

    A few years ago when I had the PreSonus ADL 600 giveaway, I was planning to do a mass mail out to over 45 thousand members exclaiming that ME would follow up on this contest by providing a Master of the song and NOT ONE Mastering Engineer took the time to engage this either! duh

    I given up trying to help Mastering Engineers here but am open to suggestions should something present itself again.

    The fact is, it wasn't long after that year long sticky suggesting I wanted to help your dying industry, I put the ME forum down and out of the way and started to support DIY mastering. I asked Michael to step down as he was only showing up every few months.
    To be blunt, I have little hope in seeing ME support forums like they once did back in the early 2000's.

    fwiw,
    Even though I'm not an ME or do I really even consider myself an engineer, I take every opportunity to show my stuff and engage people to do that as well.

    I mean... How else, what better way to sell yourself than to actually let us hear your examples of what mastering does.

    Since then, I have noticed ME falling off the map. I do read some say they are busier than ever but I doubt this is for most. Like everything else in this business, I think mastering is becoming part of the DIY generation.

    It was my idea years ago to get ME to chime in on members threads specific to asking for help. What an opportunity for ME to help and teach others while selling themselves.

    FYI,

    recording.org is still the top ranked site on the planet for the keyword "recording". Over 500 million queries, we rank in the top 10. We may not be GS but who wants to be. Smaller but more real is how I like to continue. If you or anyone chiming in has any suggestion on how I can help you, don't be shy. I'm not doing this to be rich. Its a labour of love.
     
  3. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Just what we needed! DIY mastering! Some guy with a home made computer sitting in an untreated room with prosumer gear and a bunch of Waves plugins thinking he can actually Master a recording! I'm looking at you, Johntodd!

    We need real mastering engineers, but so few of us know it. Work from that angle, maybe it will help. The good MEs have a skill set that is notoriously hard to replicate. Please don't give up.


    -Johntodd
     
  4. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Sorry this is so long, but I hope you find something useful in it.

    Referrals is usually the best method for small service-based businesses. Good news, referrals are a lot cheaper than billboards. So step one is doing a great job and step two is providing excellent customer service. I assume you've got that handled. Personally, I wouldn't waste your time on radio or TV, way too expensive. The web is the most cost-effective medium outside of just word-of-mouth. And in this day and age, you can view a big part of the web as just online word of mouth.

    Your website is a destination. You have to get people to visit, and once they get there, you have to convince them to contact you, and then your natural charm and panache take over, right? That's sales. I don't know nuthin' about sales. I only know that first prize is a Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, and third prize is "you're fired".

    So how to get them to your website? Advertising on the web should push people to your website, and there are three main methods: (1) search engine optimization (SEO), (2) paid ads, whether paid ads through search engines like Google and Bing, or Facebook, or sites with related content, like recording.org, or sites with unrelated content where your target audience likes to hang out, although I have no idea where the ME target audience likes to spend its free time. At the bar? That's not a website, however. You get the idea. Paid ads on websites (banner ads) tend to be more expensive, depending on the site and how much traffic it gets, but you might find some cheap niche sites. No idea what audiokid's rates are but I'm sure they're very reasonable :) And (3) social media marketing. More about it below.

    So just like figuring out what to do when you want to build a studio, the first step is figuring out your budget. Just like recording, you can spend almost any amount of money, and the more you spend, the better the results tend to be. Not an absolute correlation, but there is a strong relationship between size of budget and size of results. Nike blows a few hundred million dollars on marketing and advertising every year for a reason. So let's say you've got $1000 to spend over a year. That's not much. Here's what I would do: I would learn as much as I could about SEO myself and try to make the changes I need to my own website - SEO is primarily driven by content, not by fancy tricks behind the scenes that only programmers know how to do, and you can usually control the content yourself. If you can't control your site content, get a new site. This can be quite cheap nowadays, and can look very good and professional - check out a service like Squarespace.com for example. Professional designs, easy to edit yourself. It will take a lot of time to optimize your own content, because to do it really well (and this is one of the reasons recording.org does so well in the rankings), you need a lot of content. The more the better. And it should be quality content, because then people will want to come read it or listen to it, and others will want to link to it, and that not only sends you some traffic now and then, it also helps your search engine rankings. There are no real tricks to SEO anymore. Google is too smart for that. So just treat Google's bots like a person: make a site that people will want to visit because it has valuable content and Google will think your site deserves to rank higher. Then more people will visit it.

    And then I would take my $1000 (and zero free time) that's left over and start experimenting with Google Adwords and some of their partner networks. And Bing too. You can control the budget very tightly, so if you can only spend $100 per month, no problem, just set that as the limit and start experimenting with it. Start with text only ads, they're easy to create. Watch it closely and refine your strategy as you go: change your pitch (Melodyne will not help here, I mean your business pitch) from time to time, change the keywords you use to trigger the ads, or run 10 different ads with 10 different messages or sets of keywords and see which ones get the hits and which ones fail. Watch, learn, improve. And if it's a total bust after 3 months, then hey, you've only spent $300, so pull the plug and move on. People make careers out of this, so be prepared to spend some serious time on it if you really want to make it work. Or if you have the money, pay someone to do it for you.

    The other method that's mostly free is social media. I'm not really a social media expert by any means. But basically it boils down to this: you use social media to build a large base of followers who trust you based on the incredibly usefulsmarthelpful things you say and the free and valuable resources you distribute through these channels, which you host on your website obviously, so you are pulling more traffic to your site to view them when you tweet, etc.. You're building a virtual word-of-mouth factory. It takes a lot of time and effort, both to generate the valuable resources and to spend all that time using social media to share them with people and build that online network. But you are positioning yourself as a trusted industry expert while you are also driving traffic to your website, both of which will pay off.

    But that's only half the story. Let's say you increase your traffic to 10,000 visitors per month through SEO, some paid ads, and a constant barrage of hilarious and informative tweeting (or whatever). Wow. If they all go to your website and then turn around and go back to Youtube without contacting you, it's all for nothing. You have to give your visitors a reason to stay, to poke around, to learn to respect your skills, to trust you, and ultimately to get in touch. Read up on "landing pages" and "conversions" and "call to action" on the web and make the changes to your website content yourself if you can. And as I said before, develop lots of good, useful content that people will want to read. None of this is expensive if you can do basic web editing yourself, or if you use an online website service like squarespace to build and modify your site, it just takes a lot of time to do a good job. Well, like they used to say about Linux, it's free if you don't value your time. ;) If you just throw some ads out there into the webiverse and your website has terrible content or you don't have a conversion strategy that will turn the traffic into an actual lead for your business, you're wasting your time and money. People know a brochure when they see it, if your site is just a brochure in web form, they can tell. Give them something valuable to bring them in. And then give them a reason to get in touch with you.

    You can also use traditional media to build a reputation for yourself as an expert. Complicated. Know any business reporters at the local paper? At trade magazines? Also involves creating valuable content and distributing it, just through different channels. Eventually, you want to get invited to events to speak as an expert. Build relationships with industry leaders and "network" with the other experts out there.

    And here is what I think is probably your number one free strategy: participating very actively on forums like recording.org. audiokid's doing half of the work for all of us: he's pulling in massive amounts of traffic. People search for "mastering" stuff online, they're probably going to find this website (and maybe a few others), and then they'll read your posts. And moderators have instant authority, so bonus points if you contribute at that level. Your sig should push people to your website (which it does, but I bet you could make a sig that is a little more "pushy", so to speak, without being over the top). Your posts will showcase your knowledge and personality, and your work should speak for itself. And by this time you've improved the content on your website too, right? So when they get there, they like what they see, and they have a reason to contact you. That all builds trust, and some of those people will contact you and some will turn into clients.

    Frankly, I'm surprised more professionals aren't active on this site for exactly this reason. People can't show up and post two links to their website (spam spam spam spam) and hope it will work out well for them. But I'd hire Rod or Space or Madmax to help design my studio, and I'd hire audiokid to mix my next album. Who will be the mastering engineer? Time will tell, the album should be finished in early 2025, so I don't have to decide right now. Still working on that "hit song". I think it will be in E.

    And that's my late night version of internet marketing 101. Plus some PR tips. I'm sure there are other things you could do, but I hope something in there is helpful to you. Good luck.
     
  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. I am taking all to heart and I really appreciated your insights. Thanks again.
     
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    This is a really GREAT site and I am so happy you have provided a place for MEs to come and discuss the things that matter to them. I guess one problem for me is that a few years ago there were a couple of idiots here (joined at the hip as it were) that no matter what anyone said they would take exception to it. At one point it got so heated that one of these dual personalities threatened to show up on my doorstep and "pound the living **** out of me". They are "both" long gone but their legacy lingers on. A lot of really top mastering engineers use to frequent this site but they got "scared away" or simply got tired of answering the same questions over and over again. "How do I make my stuff loud?" "what is the magic plugin that I need to do mastering of my own material?""what settings do I use to do my own mastering" and the list of often asked questions is endless. Basically these pro mastering engineers were being asked by the recording engineers/wannabee mastering engineers how to do their own mastering so they would not have to use the very people that were giving them the answers to their questions. That is not a very good business model so a lot of people just stopped answering questions and left.

    I have always tried to help people, it is something that was instilled in me by my parents and grandparents and something I like to do. The problem with doing this is it takes time and sometimes it gets very confrontational and you don't know who you are talking to. It could be some 12 year old kid working out of his bedroom or a 25 year veteran of the audio industry. Since a lot of the people who post here don't use their real names it is hard to gauge who they really are or what their agenda is.

    Professional mastering has changed rapidly over the past couple of years. It has gone from a mastering engineer in their own geographical area working with local artist to a global arena where songs and albums are sent, at the speed of light, from own corner of the planet to another. This has provided a great service to anyone who needs something mastered. They now have a whole world of opportunities and even someone in a remote place can have access to the best of the best. The problem, the way I see it, is that someone with a good website can attract clients even though the person who is doing the mastering is doing it in his or her bedroom with a couple of computer speakers and a whole lot of pirated software. The flasher the website the more attention they will get. So now it is a lot about their on line presence and less about how good their really are. People also pirate pictures and gear list to make themselves seem better to the people who visit their site. It always amazes me to see someone offering mastering services seated at a mammoth SSL or Neve console that goes from here to infinity and has, IMHO, no relevance to mastering. I guess what I am trying to say is it is all about appearance and if you can put up a fancy website you will get more business that someone who spends all their time perfecting their mastering skills and has only a simple website that doesn't get a wholelot of attention.

    As to critiquing songs. I guess today a lot of young people don't want anyone to say anything bad about their music. They want it to be all sweetness and light and if someone says anything at all about their music that is not complementary they immediately get upset and start calling the "reviewer" every name in the book and make references about the legitimacy of their birth. Not a good situation for someone to attract the ire of someone just because they are being truthful and honest . This why I never provided any review and I am sure I am not alone.
     
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thirteen years ago you mastered an album for my band, and you did a great job. You respected the dynamic range, kept it "musical", and this was during that time when the "home mastering" was starting to come into the scene, with the whole "loud equals good" thing. I got your mastered mixes back and it was everything I had wanted.

    I've always said here that while I'm a recording engineer, I'm not a mastering engineer, and that's why the project ended up with you.


    I found you via referral from another studio.

    Being an ME in this day and age is just as difficult as being a recording/ mix engineer in this day and age. We're up against the DIY mentality; some guy with a copy of PT LE, an MXL mic, and ...just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

    No one wants to pay the rates we deserve. Funny thing, because if your pipes freeze, no one thinks twice about hiring a plumber at $75 per hour to fix the problem, even though Home Depot and Loews offers every tool to do the job yourself, if you want.

    Fidelity has crashed, burned, augered in. With few exceptions, most home users are happy enough just to get signal to the computer and add uber-amounts of compression and limiting.

    The web is full of terrible sounding audio, and Guitar Center is making a killing on it. They push these Chinese mics as if they were Neumanns, sell the customers cheap 2-channel "preamps" for $80 and tell them that with these things and a copy of Reaper that they can create recordings like the pros. And, every time another "hit" is released with ridiculous amounts of limiting, and EQ harsh enough to burrow a hole into our foreheads, it sets us back another notch. You tell me, Thomas... when was the last time you really heard something that sounded fantastic, and I mean really sounded great... and then tell me how "common" that is.

    We're all fighting an uphill battle with do-it-yourself'ers, who may have read a few articles on recording or mixing, spend a total of $300 at GC or Sam Ash,... and then claim to be a pro at it.

    All you can do is to continue to do what you do, and do it the best you can. But I'd be lying if I said that I have much hope left for this craft of ours....

    IMHO of course...

    and I'll use my real name here...

    -Donny Thompson
     
  8. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Thanks!!! I try very hard to work with and please my clients.

    I know it is difficult for everyone today. It is not just about mastering engineers it is about the whole way that people get their stuff recorded, mixed and mastered.

    I am doing an artist from Europe right now. His stuff was all done by himself except for one tune. He did an exceptionable job on the whole album and I have told him so. The one tune he got done by someone somewhere else in Europe. I like the song. The problem is that it is way overdone. The dynamic range is less than 3 dB and it is so over compressed and limited there is really nothing I can do for it in mastering. I told the artist this and he has gotten it redone (thank goodness). The person who did the mixing was a professional and somehow he just decided to master the tune as well as mix it. I run into this a lot.

    Mix engineers want to please their clients. The client wants everything to sound "larger than life" and the only way some mix engineers know how to do this is to over compress and limit the final product so it will sound good to the client. I have a copy of the pre-mastered version of some material done by a very famous artist (that I cannot divulge the name of here on this forum) and it sounds incredible. It was done in the late 70's early 80s and is beautifully done and just amazing. This is the way I use to get things in all the time when I started into mastering in the mid 90's.

    Today a lot of what crosses by door is done in home with less than good equipment (thanks to the know it alls at GC who are looking to line their pockets by selling the latest spiff items) even if that is not what their customer wants or needs. Then the artist records and mixes their stuff themselves without any real knowledge or experience. They want it to sound like what is on their IPOD or on the radio and think by turning up the level really loud it will sound "professional" . Then if they want to or have the money they bring their "masterpiece" to me and tell me they want it to be "louder than anything in the universe" and are upset when I tell them there is nothing I can do since they have already done everything to the music except beat it into submission with a hammer.

    I really feel for the people that a doing pro recordings today. They have dropped their rates, they have bent over backwards to please their potential clients, they have the best equipment and the experience and yet a lot of people don't want to use them saying it is "for artistic reason" or "we want total control over our music". These same artists want their stuff to sound professional and be marketable and don't understand that they are basically shooting themselves in the foot by not hiring the pros. They also say they don't have the money to hire a pro YET they go to GC and buy thousands of dollars of equipment so they can record and mix themselves. Unfortunately they cannot use that equipment to its fullest extent since they lack the experience and the knowledge to use it all properly. I have had potential mastering clients tell me over and over again that they cannot afford mastering because their CD release party is costing them $1800. Somehow that seems rather backward but...

    As to the quality of music. I think we have traded quality for quantity and it will be hard, if not impossible, to go back to the days when a client came to me and said make this sound GREAT. Now all they want is to make it sound f***ing loud.

    Thanks for the input..

    Be safe and have a great week!
     
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Last year, I worked with a "modern" bluegrass band who had me come in after the fact to mix. The tracks were noisy ( cheap preamp), the environment was less than stellar (furnace would kick on during vocal tracks), the singing was pitchy ( can't we just use Melodyne?) and on the whole, it was a major pain in the ass, because the guy paying me to come in and mix expected professional results... from garbage.

    Now, I know that this is what is expected of me, and I have learned to acclimate myself with these types of clients who hand me lousy tracks and then expect me to play God and make them sound great. I'm fairly sure you deal with this yourself on the mastering end all the time.

    The tracks were awful. There was no dynamic range, because the client insisted on me limiting every single track. For him, the only criteria for the songs to sound good was that they had to hold up in comparison to other professionally recorded tracks volume-wise, that he heard through his ear buds on his ipod. Dynamics be damned, and forget the less than "average" environment...just make it LOUD. And then, "master it real quick".

    I told him upfront that I wasn't an M.E., and his response was, "Oh don't worry about that, I'll handle the mastering..." When I told him in no uncertain terms that this was a very bad idea, that he should really consider using a pro, ( LOL..truth be told I was gonna send him to you, but I didn't wanna have to put one of my peers through the same aggravation that I faced) he got all pissy about it, and defended his decision by saying "well what the hell is the big deal with mastering anyway? It's just all about it being the same level as everything else out there, and I can do that myself with a Waves L2 plug..."

    And that, dear friends and neighbors, is the mindset that we are facing out there these days.

    I gave up trying to convince him otherwise, because sometimes, well sometimes, you just can't win.

    When we were finished with the project, he asked me how I wanted my name to appear on the CD. I told him that I didn't, that I was pretty sure that it was going to come out sounding pretty bad, and that my name was my reputation, my advertisement, and that I really didn't want to be connected to the project in any way. Oh boy, you should have seen his face.

    Fast Forward one year:

    So... two days ago, I get a call from the same guy wanting to know if I can mix their second album. I haven't yet returned that call, and while I eventually will be professional about it and call him back, I'm gonna pass this time around. It's just not worth the hassle. How can I pass up all this "fun" for $35 pr hour, you say? Easy... I listen to Nancy Reagan... I just say NO.

    ;)
     
  10. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I think I got a call from that same Bluegrass band saying "we got this mixed by a pro but it doesn't do what I wanted it to do and after mastering it myself I was wondering if you could take what I did an make it sound good" I respectfully asked him if I could have the "unmastered" version of the material but he said no. So I told him that there was not much I could with a premasterd album. He hung up. I think he said he was from around Akron, OH.

    Unfortunately this is what a lot of people want today. They want to do everything on the album themselves and when it doesn't turn out the way they want it they bring it to me and want me wave my magic mastering wand over it and make it all sound good. Usually this happens the day before they need to get it to the duplicator but they are out of money and time. Sometimes I can work miracles sometimes I can only do so much. What really gets to me is a band that wants their stuff to sound "super pro" and then wants to pay me $200 for 22 songs to have it mastered. That is like someone going to a fancy restaurant and wanting the best the place has to offer with all the trimmings and then saying they only have enough money to pay for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. I really don't charge that much especially for an unsigned artist and to offer me basically nothing is in my eyes somewhat disrespectful.

    Northern Ohio is NOT a great place to have a mastering studio at the present time since everyone is doing their own mastering and really don't need the service I offer.

    If this winter ever ends maybe things will get better. I certainly hope so.
     
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I would agree that Northern Ohio is certainly not a hotbed of musical activity. That being said, with the exception of those metro centers where music is what the areas are known for - L.A., Nashville, NYC. Toronto, etc.- I'm not sure that any place is really attractive in terms of setting up shop in the audio/music biz. I would think that the same unrealistic expectations and inclinations that it can all be done cheaply (and in a day) are pretty much everywhere these days... I don't think that Ohio holds the monopoly on that.

    It wouldn't surprise me to find out that the same bluegrass band I had been working with did contact you; the leader's ego is sufficient enough that he would never come to me and admit that he was wrong; it's just not in his nature to do so.

    Trust me Thomas, all you missed out on were headaches and chest pains. LOL.

    I like to rate my projects by what I call a B.S.F. - or "BS Factor".

    It allows me to weigh out what I stand to gain monetarily vs. what I stand to lose in sanity. LOL

    While these guys weren't completely off the scale or anything, they did clock in pretty high. ;)

    And their expectations related to what they were paying was, well, ridiculous.

    Another thing I've noticed throughout the years from time to time, are those "control freaks" - those individuals who hire in a professional, and then question absolutely everything that the pro does, sometimes even to the point where they'll force you to do it their way, just so they can show you why it' so cool to put a 30:1 Limiter on every single track... so, I let them, after all, they are the client and paying by the hour, right? And, I believe that those occasions are far better served by letting the client come to their own realization in a moment of epiphany, as opposed to them simply listening to me...

    So, the minutes turn to hours, the hours turn to days, and you come to a point where you realized that when you first sat down to mix, Eisenhower was President, cheeseburgers were a dime, and now it's a half-century later by the time the guy finally says, (somewhat dejectedly) "I guess your way sounded better".... and then has the audacity to actually BITCH about the amount of time it took to do what should have taken only a few minutes - if he had only listened to you in the first place and trusted your skills and knowledge to begin with.... you know... those factors that made him want to hire you to begin with? facepalm
     
  12. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the helpful replies. I really appreciate you all taking the time to reply. This is a GREAT forum with lots of good people giving others a helping hand. Thanks again!
     
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It's been awhile since this thread had any activity. So how are things going for you these days, Thomas?
     
  14. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Well not as well I as could want but we are keeping our collective heads above water. I really wish that every person who has a copy of Audacity and some cracked plugins would stop advertising themselves as "mastering engineers" and hawking their "services" for $5.00 a song but I don't think that will ever happen. Within 100 miles of my facility there are over 600 recording studios and most of them advertise "mastering" as part of their services. Oh well!!!
     
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm hip. I started seeing the writing on the wall back around 2001 or so, and within two years of seeing it, I sold my business. Too many bedroom and basement studios were popping up, too many people thinking that with a minimum investment that they could do it themselves; and either not understanding the technical aspect of the craft, or worse, understanding it and not caring about it, or feeling that it mattered.

    The result was a barrage of substandard recordings that infiltrated everywhere.. from vanity press CD's to internet release, and we were inundated with downright lousy recordings.
    I laugh when I read posts from people who are seeking a way to add lo-fi effect to their tracks, because they already have lo-fi all the way around... buckets of it.

    The same case applied to "project" studios. It seemed like everyone with a copy of Pro Tools, Cubase or Sonar and a set of Behringer mics were hanging out shingles for commercial recording.

    To be clear, I am NOT against project studios across the board. If the engineer(s) is knowledgeable, has a decent caliber of gear, good sounding rooms, and can offer their services at a competitive rate, then they should.

    But it's the $10 per hour places that are killing the business, because 9 times out of 10, what they are charging is exactly what they are worth.

    I consider myself to be a project studio these days. I've got a decent selection of mics, some very nice peripheral gear in instruments, and, because I've been doing this for over 30 years now, I have experience and a comprehensive understanding of the craft that any good engineer should have. But... I'm not hanging out a shingle for just anyone. I am very selective about whom I record. Am I losing money with this approach? Certainly. But, it saves me the equivalent - or more - in headaches.

    Hang in there, Thomas. You're a great M.E. and that will shine through in the projects that deserve the shine that you offer. ;)
     
  16. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Good to see that my account is still active, my avatar looks a little odd though. Hi Thomas, hope all is well. Let me address a few comments and some observations. The biz is different, no questions about it, and it's been changing for some time. For those that have been around, this forum as well as others, was a gathering place for ME's to come and discuss issues, gear, trends, etc... We were all in the same relative position, the internet was "new" and it was the first time we could have an open dialog about our biz, all was good. As time went on and things changed not only in the industry but in technology and access, the forums began to evolve and change. I had several discussions with Chris and other mods and everyone had their views, needs, agendas... The truth is, as the industry changed so did the forums. It was no longer about professionals gathering, but about exposure and competition and google hits. Chris has a site to run and I totally respect that, but that fed into exposure and hits as opposed to exclusivity and collaboration among professionals. Again, nothing wrong with that and I totally understand the motivations behind it. but that doesn't necessarily help us here, in this forum. As this shift in priority took grasp, people began to drop off. As the industry changed, so did the priorities of those participating. I don't think it was any "individual(s)" to blame, it was the general atmosphere that changed the participation. For those of us that make a living doing what we do, we had to prioritize our time. Teach those that do not know about mastering or concentrate on making a living. As a MOD of this forum, I can tell you that the return on investment talking about mastering was not why we were here. We were not here to "get" gigs... time vs return was absolutely horrible. I chose to concentrate on my clients. One on one.

    How do you advertise your services in this WWW climate? You don't. There is no magic bullet. You hop in your car and you get involved in your community of musicians. You go to gigs, parties... Face to face, one on one. You absolutely make sure that every client walks out the door 150% pleased. When a client has a gig, you attend. IMO, forums are great for selling gear. Can be helpful for selling services but the return on investment, again IMO, is very low. Relying on a forum to drum up business is not the way to go, that is why the participation rate for Chris's ideas were basically nil. Just my 2 cents. You don't advertise, you deliver. When you deliver, your clients will advertise for you. Back to marketing 101.
     
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Michael, interesting topic, I added more so I started over.

    Good to hear from you. You used my name a fair amount in here in here so I feel compelled to respond. I sense some grief , bitterness and passion from all of you.

    If I was interested in numbers, I would have done my whole career different lol. Numbers and traffic is the last thing I am interested in, quality on the others, give it to me. Numbers bring headache and expense, both of which I want less of. I spent more time booting trolls and problematic people out of here in the early days to keep it tidy and respectful. I didn't ever want this place to be a GS, shilling gear for pimps and special interest groups. I am sooooo glad that crowd found a new home long ago and let me tell you, it wasn't easy keeping the walls painted nice while people were writing graphite all over it. Its turned around finally and we have no problems here at all.

    You have that one completely backwards. I actually created this place (The Mastering Forum) for you, not me ;) However I must be honest, I did want to learn about the tools you all love, the bonus, to give the engineers opportunity to source great mastering services. A win win.

    Unfortunately, I see Mastering as a long time dying or better said, extremely over populated, out of balance service. We are in the era of affordable and DIY recording. I'm not saying I like it, quite the opposite for some part of this business, other aspects of the business like hybrid, its made my life more fulfilling

    Great suggestions Michael.

    My suggestions have always leaned towards examples.

    If I was a ME, I would be reaching into the hearts of musician and engineers through educating them on how to better "prepare" their music ( over and over) online and in my community. Problem Based Learning through examples goes a long ways.
    I've made a healthy living educating people to what quality is in everything I touch. Its the secret to wealth. People will pay for quality and crave experienced service. Its up to us to show them the difference.

    I would participate in ways to engage rather than alienate myself in private places as the VIPME etc. I could never understand how you all stick to yourselves .
    In fact, I often wondered if many have a fear of being to close to being criticized and this is why you all just stick to yourselves.
    If I was an ME, I would spend time showing the common musician and engineer the difference mastering makes. Like I have been trying to help you do here :)
    For the last 15 years, I have been paying $ out of pocket to help all of you, help yourselves, and I still continue to do so.

    Even though I am not an ME, I at least take the time to prove there is a difference through examples.

    I do this out of love for music and to inspire others to do the same. Its a win win engaging people. That, I am definitely guilty of.

    Good to hear you are doing well :)
     
  18. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    I agree with most of this. There is definitely no magic bullet, regardless of what industry you work in. And I absolutely agree that the most effective way to generate word of mouth and find new opportunities is by getting involved with your local community of musicians at every opportunity, and then delivering quality product and excellent service. I think that approach probably applies if you're a DJ, a session guitarist, a live engineer, a mixing engineer, or whatever.

    There are ways to increase the return on investment when you go the internet marketing route, but you're right, it takes a lot of time and effort to do it well and I could see how it wouldn't be cost-effective. Certainly not as cost-effective as getting involved in your local community of musicians. What internet marketing offers, especially the social media side (I'd include forums here) is an opportunity to get involved in a global community of musicians. It's the same basic idea, you aren't really advertising, you're delivering - but instead of delivering your normal product as a ME, you're delivering knowledge and expertise. Doing it in person and doing it online both build your reputation, and that's the ultimate "marketing" benefit for you. But there's no doubt that it takes a lot of time to do it online especially if you're starting from scratch. The advantage of the online route is that the community is huge, so you open yourself up to a lot more opportunities, but the disadvantage is that you have to wade through a lot more crap before you can find the *good* opportunities. The time required to do that might not make financial sense, especially since that's time you could be spending doing work you get paid for.

    Another major difference is that when you deliver as an ME, you're creating actual product, something you can hold up, show off, put in your portfolio - it's more concrete and it's more compelling to people, which is a stronger incentive to others to hire you. When you're only delivering knowledge, like you guys do through this forum, it's more abstract and less compelling, it's not going to get people excited and make them want to call you up all by itself. But I still think it has value by helping you build your reputation with a very large potential audience. But maybe not *enough* value...

    Anyway, I wouldn't rely on a forum to drum up business any more than I would rely on any single tactic to find new clients and I would definitely start with local community involvement first. If anything, I'd think of internet marketing as a supplement to that approach. They're both forms of networking, especially the social media aspect - making connections with people, finding out what they need, and then figuring out if you can help them. The stuff I wrote above is a basic guide to internet marketing in general - *if* someone decides to go down that path, that's basically how it's done. Whether or not it makes sense to go down that path is a separate question, and it sounds like you've determined that it doesn't make sense for you. That's great, there's an old saying about marketing - half of the money spent on it is a complete waste, but the problem is that we never know which half. :) If you've figured out where to focus your efforts already, then you're way ahead.
     
  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think that the era of the dot com's has pretty much ended. There are still some people who turn to it for services, but unless you really have a reputation - like Ludwig, or Abbey Road, etc., I don't think you will stand out.. and my bet is that even those people and facilities don't solely rely on the internet for business.

    The problem is that every Joe Shmoe with a copy of PT and a Waves L2 plug are hanging out internet shingles and calling themselves "mastering engineers". They charge something ridiculous like $15 per song - which is actually pretty much what they are worth, considering they don't do anything other than attach a brickwall limiter and gain it up balls to the wall.

    These people are no more mastering engineers than I am a brain surgeon, but the general population of the bedroom recording hobbyists don't know that, and the majority of these people think that all that mastering involves is nothing more than making their music as loud as what they hear on the radio, anyway.

    It's getting back to business the old fashioned way... getting involved with the local music scene, and delivering a great product so that you stand out among all those other "mastering" facilities - the definition of which is nothing more than some guy in his basement with loads of 1" sonex tiles all over the cinder block walls, and a PC or Mac workstation located within a few feet of a furnace, washing machine and dryer. ;)
     
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    When it comes to the music business, think youthful, not adult. Otherwise, you aren't going to be doing this for a living.

    Without question, the web is here to stay. How you use it, will determine your ability to survive the next decade. Anything that can be distributed electronically, has .com written all over it.

    I don't know the answer, its all depressing the more I think about it. bla , but I do know my kids aren't looking around town for music services. I keep hoping someone will invent something that takes me back the 70's.
     

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