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How do you generate business?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by ironsheik, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. ironsheik

    ironsheik Guest

    Hey all,
    the business forum doesn't get much traffic and I see some studio owner questions here from time to time. I've been running my studio for about 9 months now and it's been a lot of fun but I'm having a hard time getting new clients in. So far word of mouth has definately been great and helpful and there are some local musician internet forums where I advertise.

    I'm just asking what has worked for you. I'm in NYC so it's a different market than most. I want to do everything possible without paying for ads, basically. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Josh
     
  2. Sen

    Sen Guest

    Hi Josh,
    I'm certainly not from NY and don't know the market, but maybe I can give a few tips. How about going to pro audio stores (some where you might have purchased some gear and got to know the ppl) and asking to drop off some simple fliers or biz. cards at the desk. Printing those will probably cost a little bit, but not too much.Even do 'em yourself.
    You can also go and grab a drink at a few local bars where you know a lot of bands are playing live, and ask them to put up a couple of posters on the walls or doing similar thing as at the pro audio store. If you know some people that teach music, give them a few fliers to put in their class rooms...kids love recording and having CDs to let their friends listen. :wink:

    good luck
     
  3. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    I found with my studio that most of the business came from word of mouth and repeat costumers. That's why is vital to keep your customers happy and coming back! I must have put thousands of flyers at rehearsal halls, music stores and venues with a coupon attached to it but I did not get much back from that. I also tried internet advertising in Yahoo (zilch!), local advertising paper (here in Cal they are the recycler and the pennysaver). I got a little business from that. I never triied the regular newspaper but when I decided to sell my studio I advertised there and sold it right away. Maybe I just got lucky or maybe I should have been advertising in the newspaper all along... Sometimes there is an area of the newspapers clasiffieds that gives especial rates to local businesses. You have to check with your own paper for that.

    The other main source of business came from the yellow pages. make sure you are listed under recording studios so when people are looking for one in your area they will find you! We got several queries a week from that, which led to several jobs. Word of mouth still tops, though, and it takes time. :D
     
  4. Sckid Marq

    Sckid Marq Active Member

    How about hooking up with a local venue and sponsoring a battle of the bands and offer recording time or package as the grand prize. All the bands participating will hear of your studio plus your studio name will be on all the promotional material. Plus the winners might come back as repeat customers.

    Just a thought.
     
  5. gootecks

    gootecks Guest

    Like a few other people have mentioned, word of mouth is a great source. That's where all my business comes from. I'm only 21 so all my recording is done wherever the band practices, but basically I talk to the bands that I record online first. We work out all the details, they IM me with questions, we talk about other stuff and just generally get to know each other. Usually this takes a few weeks or so because bands are broke and need time to come up with the money to record, but basically I just try to build a relationship with my customers and take an interest in their success.

    After the actual recording is done, I offer to host their songs on my web site and I keep in touch with them and always let them know if I get some new piece of gear. I also go to their shows sometimes so that they know that I am not just trying to make a buck off of them and I really care about their success as musicians. Hope this helps.
     
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Word of mouth is still the cheapest and the best advertising IMO.

    We too tried flyers with coupons, we too tried newspaper advertisements, we too tried direct mail and ZILCH, NOT-A, NOTHING. Our site on the internet does produce some good leads and we do have brochures out at a couple of places that once in a while do produce results but we rely on our word of mouth for most business.

    The down side of word of mouth is that if you screw up EVERYONE seems to know about it immediately so the moral of the story is don't screw up.... the other side of the word of mouth is that it only works in one geographical area so if you are trying to go for more territory you will need to think on a bigger scale. One of our local music stores has a catalog they send out to 168,000 people throughout the state every three months and they do have a space in the back for ads. The problem is that it is expensive and untested as to how much business it would pull in.

    In advertising you always are worried about cost per lead brought in. When we were advertising in theweekly music and arts newspaper it was costing us about $35.00 per week (6 week minimum insertion) and we had a potential audience of 1 million people so the cost per person was low but it never did turn up any business. The flyers and or direct mail were expensive (about 80 cents per flyer delivered) and again they generated zero business. Word of mouth cost nothing and does produce results.

    We hired a business consultant to suggest alternative ways to generating business and they came up with the suggestion that was already suggested and that was to hang out in bars where bands are playing and hand out your business cards to the band with some form of discount if they use your services.

    Best of luck. Advertising is a field uninto itself and many people make lots of money by doing it but it can also cost you a lot and produce no income so you have to weigh the positives and negative before you commit to a plan of action.
     
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    These days it is more and more difficult to drum up business for a recording studio .... most people go out and buy a potty studio and record themselves, thinking (erroniously) that with enough practice, they will attain professional results ..

    This has never worked for me ... the bulletin boards at these stores don't work either .... the only people you will reach here are the ones who are purchasing a cheap multitrack, a Behringer mixer or an Octiva mic ... Say what you want but I think the proliferation of "affordable" (i/e; crap) gear is ruining the business and the art of recording.

    This works sometimes ... best bets are blues jams ... listen to the players, the ones you really like, approach them ... give them a card or a small flyer ... talk to them and try to strike up a friendship.

    ...

    Probably one of the most effective forms of advertising ... one of the most expensive however ... but usually worth it!

    Unlike Thomas, I had very good luck with an ad in the local Music and Arts magazines in the SF Bay Area, the now defunct BAM magazine was a great resource for bands looking for recording studios .. and for studio owners. Zero Magazine from San Jose took up the slack after BAM quit, but it was never as widely circulated ...

    Advertizing is one of the most important aspects of business.. in buisness school they will teach you to pay for your advertizing before you pay the lease. In some areas, the Yellow Pages are the only chioce you will have. If you place a Yellow Pages ad, the bigger, the better .. display ads grab more attention and give the impression of success.
     
  8. anyone who's starting their own entrepreneurial business should read "the tipping point" by malcolm gladwell. it goes into an analysis and breakdown of how "word of mouth" and "trends" start and spread. its definitely an interesting read.

    its another story taking the information you'll learn from that book and applying it in a profitable way to your business.

    id imagine an ad in the village voice would generate some business. im on long island so its kind of a different scene here, or complete lack of one.

    the studios ive recorded at in the past on long island i found by looking in the "island ear", a local music rag now called long island voice. the classifieds of that paper is where ive found many band members, mostly ex-band members but ive kept in contact with them over the years, some of whom will probably be my first clients once my studio is open.

    the phonebook listing with a large "ad" definitely seems like a good idea.

    some other things ive considered is trying to offer some type of "recording time" incentive program to interns. they bring in paying customers [most likely their friends band], you give me them "x" amount of hours in free studio time. again no idea how that will work, but just a suggestion.

    also if you can try and get some freelance engineers to come and rent out your place and bring with them potential clients. i know the village voice used to have a lot freelance engineers offering their services. if you could try and get some of their business even if you're not making as much as if you engineered the session, you'd still be getting some money in, as well as more clients should equal more word of mouth.

    the whole "goto the club and hangout" could work, but honestly i think it comes down to your personality. im definitely not that type of person who can just goto a club, strike up a conversation with bands and BS them into thinking my studio is great. i definitely know alot of people who could do that but i would feel like a jackass.

    i think the internet could be a great tool for finding potential clients. if you come across local bands websites or a band member on a message board try contacting them via a brief email explaining your studio, and have a link to your website. thats worked for me even before i had a studio. i contacted several people via an internet message board who i somewhat befriended over a common love of "organic" styled recordings. i ended up bringing a bunch of my gear over to their apartment and for a very cheap rate did some demos. we got along well, and when my studios finished they are very interested in booking time and recording a proper "album" so to speak.

    oh another thing, try not to burn any bridges with soon to be ex-band members.

    this is definitely a great thread i hope more people post expressing their opinion on what's worked for them and what hasn't.
     
  9. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Another thing we used to do is having saturday night showcases, open to the public. They are great if you have the room. Our studio was located in a commercial space and the control room was in the back with a large tracking room in the front. We built a small stage by the entrance and went to the auction and picked up some cafe type tables plus bought a number folding chairs (I think about 30 some, maybe 40). We set up some par 38 cans for lightning and our bands pa sytem. Our band got to play every week and we invited other local bands. We miced the kit and did live recording of the performances. We also sold sodas, water and coffee and rolls.
    We charged the bands a nominal fee of $25 if they wanted a couple of CD's of their sets. The good thing was that we got several recording gigs out of it, as we wetted the bands appetite for recording. (We got a pretty decent live sound on the recordings).

    The plus of these Saturday night showcases was, of course, getting the recording gigs plus our band got to play every saturday night, which was great. In the times that our band had other gigs, one of my assistants ran the event.

    The minus was that it was a heck of a lotta work and we made no mony out of the actual showcases. The profit on the sodas, coffee, etc went to cover the cost of the stuff plus the person in charge of selling- the $25 live recording fee per band barely covered the cost of engineering, etc. Then there was the pain in the butt of having to clean the studio after the showcases and put everything back. People do make a mess! We also had to have someone out front making sure people didn't bring alcohol in the place. (The cops did drop in evry saturdat night!)

    All in all our Saturday nighht showcases were a positive experience and we had a lotta fun. We got some business out of it and a lotta good will. be perpared to work hard, though, and you do need a good size front room. A couple of times we also had an event where we had a couple of young punk bands and charged admission ($5) We packed the place but we felt it wasn't worth it as we had to provide security and the $200 or so we got for the door receipt wasn't worth the aggravation. One of the bands booked the studio, though, and that did help! :D
     
  10. ironsheik

    ironsheik Guest

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I guess I pretty much am doing all everyone else has suggested already. The main curiousity I had was if paying for advertising was worth it (print ads that is) and it seems the consensus is no.

    Anyway, word of mouth is building. I've just booked four new bands already for July. I guess that's what I will have to count on most.

    Josh
     
  11. Yippee

    Yippee Guest

    We just opened the Artistopia Music Industry Pro section at http://www.artistopia.com/Music-Industry/Intro.asp, so check that out.
     
  12. Danthomir

    Danthomir Guest

    Word of mouth is a cool thing, but I find it very hard to get started.
    I have recorded about 4 projects now, in 9 months. That's a little low business, compared to the investment of 10k, aint it?

    So what was first? The chicken?
     
  13. when you say 4 projects, how many actual 10 hour days [or full days, depending on how you work that] were booked out in those 9 months?
     
  14. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    One thing is to find others that are in allied field that can recommend you to potential clients. Someone like the owner of a mastering studio that you can send work to and they can send work to you. Also CD replication facilities in your area that get clients asking for recording services in the general area. We work very closely with a lot of studios and replicators since we do not do recording or large scale replication and we can recommend them to people when they have a bad experience at another studio or replicator. The one thing to keep in mind is you have to work with quality people. If you recommend someone and they turn out to be terrible you may have lost a client.

    The other thing to try is to post some notices around on the community bulletin boards or Kiosks (I assume they are still around. The last time I was in Holland was 14 years ago) there seemed to be one on every corner and in every public place) These should be very "eye catching" and not wordy. What you want to do is spark someone's interest but not boar them with details.

    A studio near here has some WONDERFUL color posters he puts up and people are drawn to them since most of the stuff put up is in black and while or one color. Tear strips at the bottom with your phone number allow people to take away your number without taking down the sign.

    Since there are sooooo many bicycles in Holland have you thought about stickers that say "I got recorded at __________studios" with a phone number link and an eye catching graphic that they could put on their bikes to ID them in a crowd since most of the bikes look somewhat the same when they are parked. This would be a source of free advertising and help people id their bikes at the same time.

    Hope some of this helps.
     

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