1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Will mix for food...

Discussion in 'Recording' started by backinthelab, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    I need work. Plainly stated. Granted, my studio is not my main bread-winner (and at this point I'm thankful for that), but I'm REALLY out there marketing but I'm not getting any bites. I've invested a ton of capital in my studio, not to mention the time I spend in my control room every night trying different things. At this point, I'm beginning to question the probability of success. Monetary success isn't really what I'm looking for since this is my passion and I'd really do it for free if it didn't make me sound insane. The success I'm talking about is getting Back in the Lab on as many albums as possible.

    Anyways....

    Don't want to sound like I'm whining and complaining , I know that this is how any business works. It's hard to get started, I know. I'm just wondering if there's a different approach that I can take aside from my offers on MySpace and Detroitcity.com, and my efforts out at the live venues around town???
     
  2. DIGIT

    DIGIT Guest

    >>will mix for food<<

    been there, done that...

    >>Monetary success isn't really what I'm looking for since this is my passion <<

    Then, what's the problem? You have another gig for money, you mix for fun/passion. Just get people to give you work to mix and you are done.

    Put an ad: free mixes...you should be getting plenty of responses. Pick a project that has REAL potential and that IS going to be released commercially by a REAL label and, if that CD is a success, you got a good start.

    That would be one way of doing it...
     
  3. mark_van_j

    mark_van_j Active Member

    You can get payed for mixing????
     
  4. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    Digit, I appreciate your response, but allow me to rephrase, I'm a business owner, and while I would work for free in a perfect world, my studio as a hobby/passion now, has the foundation set for boundless growth within the industry.

    I'm beginning to get a little discouraged at this point because my efforts toward growing this business should be working. They have not met my expectations. So, I turn to the individuals here that consider recording their livelyhood. Any ideas as to how I can grow, beyond my current efforts?
     
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    B.I.T.L., I really wish you the best, and hope things improve for you. Like it or not, anyone who's in business for themselves has to ask some very tough questions from time to time in order to grow.

    One of them is, assuming you really want to do this professionally, what kind of market do you HONESTLY have availble to you, in your area? To put it another way: assuming everything went your way, and you magically had the biggest part of the pie in your area, is there actually ENOUGH pie to keep you afloat? Is there really that much work out there in the first place?

    Many studio owners make the same mistake early on, and it can sometimes be a financial disaster in the making. They want to do what THEY want to do, (ie: what they love) often flying in the face of the business realities around them. I'm not saying that's YOUR situation, but it happens to everyone at one time or another. (Myself included.)

    If you were starting cold (with nothing to fall back on; no day job, etc.) and you had to draft a 5 year business proposition or bank loan, what would you say, how would you word it? (Be brutally honest here.....you probably already know, deep down, EXACTLY what's going on in your market there...) Could you "Sell" it to a bank, to a loan officer? Could you keep it afloat if there was no other safety net to keep you going?

    I think perhaps that's the difference between a hobby and a profession, actually, and it's a tough pill to swallow sometimes.

    There's a great book by Robert J. Ringer entitled: "Looking out for Number One" that I always recommend to friends and accociates looking to get to the next level in their personal and business lives. (it's fairly old, but still in print, via Amazon.com, etc.) It's a good fun read, and something worth keeping in the bathroom or night stand for occasional refreshers or pick-me-ups. Two of the better chapters in the book are related to this business; one is "The world owes me a Living" theory, and the other is the "Waiting to by Discovered" syndrome. ( you can probably imagine what these chapters deal with, and plug it in to this business... ;-) )

    Again, I'm not saying any of this applies to you directly, but perhaps it's time to really run the numbers: sit down with paper & pencil and cup of coffee, and see what's really going on in your world, best case and worst-case scenarios. Sometimes there's a big gap between wishing it was so vs. what it really is, work-wise. You may have to move your focus to something different - but related - to what you're currently doing. What you "Love" may have to take a back seat to what you NEED to do to make a living, at least for now.

    I think most struggling small businesses like ours have it backwards in terms of finding work. Far too often, we're naively looking for that one-in-a-million hit-maker, or hoping that the next rag-tag band coming through the doors will be our key to wild success. Sadly, we're probably better off playing the lottery instead. The greater the potential reward, the higher the risk, and the reality of this approach is being almost always broke, disgruntled, and disheartened. (not to mention no $$$ for gear! :cry: )

    While you build up your business, perhaps you need to find some better paying clients; bigger paydays for less work. (Hint: it's NOT going to be the local 4-member struggling bar band trying to get the cheapest rates out of your facility. You could end up working all week for a couple of tunes for $300, and perhaps even chasing them around for payment in the first place. )

    Even if you're in this for the most altruistic reasons, it's still in your best interest to seek out good paying gigs, even if it's not exactly what you want to do. Eventually, you may end up making enough $$ to do what you REALLY love to do on the side, or on your own time. (Then you can do the absolute best you can, for no other reason than the artistic goodness of it all.)

    It may not be your cup of tea, but consider better clients with funding in place already (ad agencies, choirs/churches, radio/TV stations, universities, etc.) The difference between a bargain-basement, limited funds project (with hassles that seem to multiply BECAUSE of the lack of budget) and the better paying (but often less-glamorous or desirable) gigs can be the very thing that keeps you afloat, lets you buy gear, pay yourself and your staff, and THEN have fun.

    You can have one type of client with a "need" to record, but no funds, or you can have clients with both: the "NEED" and the funds. Much more desirable, IMHO.

    It all comes down to: are you REALLY interested in running it as a business, or is it just for fun? The answers aren't always what we want to hear, but living in denial of the reality around us is just trouble waiting to happen.
     
  6. DIGIT

    DIGIT Guest

    One thing is that some of the most successful mixing engineers do NOT even own a studio. They work out of certain studios they like. In fact, the REALLY in-demand ones have their own room (so to speak) inside very well known studios.

    The point is: you are fortunate (in a good way) that you can hone your mixing skills until you are really ready for prime time since you have a business to support you.

    However, there is a huge difference between having a studio business and being a mix engnineer.

    Your studio business depends solely (or mostly) on keeping the studio booked at an hourly rate that allows for costs+wages. I don't know where you are located so, I can't tell you much about your possible earnings given the area you live in.

    I will say this: I would never get into the studio business. It's not worth it to me unless there are investors with mega funds to have a multi-room facility which can be booked 24/7 and which can accomodate the most demanding tracking and mixing jobs. As a producer I have my own studio but, it's not open to the public. And it's my production skills that book the studio, not the other way around.

    You have to find out what your BEST skills really are, compare them to the best in your area and then, formulate a marketing plan to get whatever it is that you want to do to generate cash.

    However, even the best engineers will tell you that they didn't really use earnings as the end goal. They did it because they loved doing it. They also persevered and finally, they were really good at what they did. So, it was a matter of time and consistency for them to make it.

    The same holds true for most 'artistic' profession, be it a musician, engineer, actor, etc.. But, even in the corporate world one still has to have skills and perseverance to raise above the many others doing the same thing (or trying to do the same thing).

    But, still...it's not clear what YOUR position within the studio is: are you simply a studio owner? Do you want to be a mixing engineer? A producer?

    Again, if your goal is to be a mixing engineer find a REAL promising act that needs a good mix and ask them to let you mix a single for them, no cost. If your mix kicks ass they will use it and it could be a good start if they go anywhere.

    You can do paid gigs all your life and never really go anywhere, it's up to you and where you see this endeavor going in the future.
     
  7. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Well said Digit; it's the same here for me; we're not open to the public per se; so it's not a case of being at the mercy of whatever walks in the door, trying to keep a fully ready-to-go studio up and running. It's too expensive and I'd never see a return on the investment of space & equipment. Theoretcially, whenever I'm working IN my production facility, I'm doing a project for a paying client.

    I think too many studios currently on the ropes are simply waiting for a client to arrive and give them something to do, instead of the other way around. (I know that sounds hard for anyone starting out: How can you get work without clients???)

    My "studio" (Multipurpose production suite, to be more precise) doesn't need day to day bookings as such to survive, I'm using to do any number of projects for post production, mixing live events tracked elswhere, sound design, restoration, mastering, etc. If I have to do more than a couple of instruments here as solo or overdubbed, chances are we'll rent live space or use another studio altogether.

    I just don't have the interest or the resources to keep a live room available and on call 24/7. For me, it's a waste of resources, and I honestly don't know how folks are able to do it and survive. A local studio here in the Phildadelphia area - Indre Studios, for example - recently pulled the plug, closed their doors, and went a similar route. Last I heard, they're going to focus on live remotes and limited mixing services back at a much smaller facility, outside of the city, in the 'burbs. I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did.
     
  8. anxious

    anxious Guest

    I've never started a commercial studio, but I have started several audio companies over the years. (A few even mildly successful...) I assume the general principle applies:

    I cannot, off hand, think of anyone I know who has become successful in their field, without first gaining some hands-on experience with established mentors. If you want to start a manufacturing company, work in one for a couple of years. If you want to start a studio, intern in one. That's the way to learn best practices, blind alleys, etc. Otherwise, you are basically asking your clients to hire a beginner.

    Plainly stated.

    kkantor.spaces.live.com
     
  9. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    Wow, this thread really blew up. Thanks a million for all of the insight! It can be frustrating at times in any business when things are slow. I've found that the recording market is not as easy to delve into as I thought. I'll just keep plugging away at my marketing efforts and the idea to rent out to other engineers is probably a very good idea. I'll have to hit up some of my engineer contacts to see what we can come up with. Thanks again!
     
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This HAS turned into a nice thread with lots of nice ideas and thoughts. Thanx guys.

    Marketing and advertisement really only works with a large amount of networking going along with it. Contacting your friends that are engineers, studio owners, musicians, record salesmen, is only a part of the thing. Going out to clubs where they play live music, hopefully original, and passing out your card.....offering your room to other producers at a reduced rate....networking with other studios and determining what your room has to offer that theirs does not (and visaversa), and setting a rate for the use of both facilities for a whole project......Sure, you are in competition with these other facilities, but if you have something they need its much easier to share work than to try and steal it.. You'd be surprised at how much work will come your way by simply networking. Plus, if you have a skill set above and beyond the others, it will become evident right away and its interesting how many folks will share their fortune with those that make them better in the long run.
     
  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Glad this thread is doing some good.

    Of course, there's always the chance that one day, your studio or facility will have all the work it can handle. But the reality of any business is that for every three clients you have, at least one of them will go away or need serious tweaking from time to time.

    So, an ongoing sales or networking strategy is always a must. (Think "Glengary GlennRoss" - ABC - Always Be Closing! First Prize is a Cadillac; Second prise is a set of steak knives, third is: You're FIRED!)

    The ideal client for any business is in pain - they will do anything to get their needs met. (Just think what you do when you've got a toothache or a busted car.) So, the first step is finding clients in pain/need.

    The second step is the money step. The clients MUST have $$ to pay for your services. Don't be fooled by need without cash. Strive for clients with funding in already place.

    The third (and most important) step is the payment. You MUST get paid, and in a timely manner - usually when the work is complete or even still in progress. (Hint: a good, iron-clad production agreement.)

    It's tough starting out and putting these practices in play, but in the long run, it can really work quite well for anyone in business, including studio owners.
     

Share This Page