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I know a big part of this job is going out and seeing live bands, but a few times I've gone to see some random bands and I end up liking one or two of them enough to have the desire to bring them in to a studio and work with them.

It's always an awkward proposition, approaching people you don't know and telling them that you'd like to record them. I know from playing in bands, that people coming up to me and offering their services sounds a little hokey, especially right after we've gotten off stage. An artist just isn't in the frame of mind to discuss that kind of stuff when they're in the performing frame of mind and they're still at the gig.

So I was wondering... what is the right way to approach a band/artist that you've just seen live and really feel like you could help them out in the studio and make some good recordings? What do you say to someone who's just finished playing and your were impressed enough to ask them about working with you without sounding like some industry hound?

A few times, I approached a member of a band I'd just seen, and they just so happened to be preparing to record, but they didn't know where to go, but most times, I feel like I'm invading because I'm sure they don't wanna talk about business right after they've gotten off-stage.

what you you think?

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anonymous Sat, 11/08/2003 - 02:23

Personally, I think asking when they get off stage is the perfect time to offer. After all, they ARE at work at the time. At the very least, give them a card and let them know that you're interested, you can discuss details later.

Alécio Costa Sat, 11/08/2003 - 05:27

the easiest way? doing for free. However, it is the least professional atitude.

There is a big new recording studio 3 hours from my city that pays the musicians to record at his place. The guy, a 23 old riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiich playboy, is killing or trying to kill the competition.

The guys got one of the biggest PT mix cubed/HD rig with Pro control and rack full of Focusrites.
One of the brazilian authorized Digi dealers is making lots of money with him.
The quality?hum...

anonymous Sat, 11/08/2003 - 05:56


If you know the local scene pretty well, and you have some buddies (or at least acquaintences) up there on stage, offer to record them for the cost of your media. Tell them, straight up, that you'll do them the favor of recording them for nearly-free in return for them telling everyone they know where they had it done. And pick the guys who have the biggest mouths. ;)

If you do a good job, you'll have started a word-of-mouth campaign, which although the slowest is eventually the best. If you don't, the band hasn't invested much more than their time.

And yeah, there are some people out there who don't like talking business after they get offstage, but from what I've seen, that's rare. When my band gets done playing, my first priority is to get my gear offstage, but after that, I'm all about talking business with people. Tap the guys on the shoulder, introduce yourself, tell them you want to talk to offer your recording service to them when they get a minute, and let them pack up their gear.

The other thing this does is tests them out for their actual interest. If they don't come back to see you, you know they're not interested and there's no need to waste their time. If they come back, they'll be ready to talk.

Good luck!

"to hell with the CD sales- download the MP3s and come to the shows!"

Screws Sat, 11/08/2003 - 08:26

A couple of freebies can do wonders to spread the word, but can backfire too.

If the word gets out you record some bands for free, more will try to get free work out of you.

A better approach is to barter with bands. Make a deal where you'll give them free time in exchange for them loaning you equipment, amps, guitars, drums and their musician services on other people's tracks. Also ask them to use their finished CD to advertise your studio and to tell everyone about your studio.

The effect of this will be traffic and buzz in and about your studio. If you do a great job on their CD, all the other bands they know will want to come to you.

KurtFoster Sat, 11/08/2003 - 10:25

Find out who the band leader is and ask for a business card. Contact them at home a few days after the gig. When I was playing live, I never liked discussing business at a gig. I was more interested in shmoozing the crowd and the club owner, bartender, cocktail waitresses and making sure I got paid.

When you contact the band, tell them you have some prospective clients but since you are just starting up you don't have anything to play for them. Mention to this person how much you were impressed with the band at the gig you saw and that you would be willing to record a couple songs for them at no charge so you could have a demo for your studio and you could have a chance to do a "maiden voyage, dry run, shake down cruise" of the gear before you start bringing in paying clients. This will cover your butt if any small problems arise when you are recording them.

Once you record the band, if you do a good job, you will have them. Even if they weren't planning a project, this will most likely cause them to consider doing one and they will return to finish it up with you if they had a pleasent expierence at your place..

anonymous Mon, 11/10/2003 - 00:13

One thing I've always noticed as a good icebreaker is that musicians always love to talk about their gear. Just like we love to talk about our recording gear. Don't approach them, initially, about recording. Just ask them about their sweet guitar or whatever.

You: "What kind of amp are you using? It sounds amazing. I'd love to use something like that for some of my clients."

Him: "It's a custom-moded Magnatone with dual 12AX bla bla bla bla bla bla. So you record, then? Where, and how much?"

I think offering your services free of charge in any way, shape or form is a big turnoff. It just kinda' screams "I'm an amateur who's deperate for business!"

Tell them that, because you like their work, you'd be willing to cut them a break on your normal hourly rates. And that you'll be happy to pencil them in "when your schedule clears up a bit." Make them feel like they should be honored that you singled them out as being good enough for you to work with, and took the time to see their show.

It's a lot like picking up on girls. You have to approach them with a ton of confidence, don't appear too anxious, and remember that there's a certain mystique to someone who is in demand. Oh, and ask them lots of questions about THEM (specifically their gear, and who their musical influences are; that kind of shit). They'll be talking your ear off.

eFe Thu, 11/13/2003 - 18:43

I'm a young engeneer from Argentina. I' ve started recording some friends and then some friend's friends and someone who called me becaused they heard what i had done. I think the first thing you must pay attention to is doing your job the best you can. Because sometimes you can't afford the best Gear, a perfect room, that looks very nice, but you can do something that sounds great (or as great as it can be)with whatever you have on hand. Of course, you won't have Pink Floyd as your first client but if you use your work as your publicity, people that thinks you have a sound that's enough professional for them will come. Also, when you're still making your first recording sessions you can't asked them to pay as yo were the best of the best so you will be still gaining experience while you're working for less money than a common studio.
On the other hand, there isn't only one way to di things, this is the one that's working fine for me and i'm still too young to tell the end of the story. Thank you for your patience. eFe

pmolsonmus Fri, 11/14/2003 - 06:30

After I got permission from bands I've already recorded to use their songs, I'd prepare a sample demo of the stuff that I've recorded which also includes phone/email for your studio. Don't use whole tunes but enough to show some similarities. After you get a business card from the band you want to record, give them a copy of your "demo" and say "This is what I've done for other groups and I think I could make you sound great". Give this a listen and I'll call you in a couple days to see what you think."
Give 'em a few days and call/ leave a message. If they're interested they'll respond, if they don't, try again in a few days and be persistent without being pushy. "I know you're probably busy...." If they don't respond after that, they may not like your stuff or aren't sure. Check 'em out live one more time and then try some of the other stuff that was mentioned.
The story I've heard was that Nirvana liked the drum sounds on an album by (I think) Husker Du and that's when they hooked up with Butch Vig.

anonymous Fri, 11/14/2003 - 09:53

What I personally as a performer (which is my job) want to hear (and it doesn't matter when it is) is why did you think our performance was so good, how would you go about (recreate or restructure or sound) and what could you add.

I want to hear why it would be so good for me to work with that person. Just because I think that that person should know where the goal lies before jumping into it...

I've expirienced playing in groups doing some really nice stuff on pretty limitied gear just because the engineer and producer knew what sound was needed, and the total opposite where you're in a nice studio, 3 meters of faders flying around the room, wallpaper made of nice compressors and preamps and the sound of total boredom which ruins the entire band.

Everybodys got gear these days, but not everybodys got an idea why... That's what I wanna hear anyway...



anonymous Sun, 11/23/2003 - 20:33

There are a lot of good ideas here. I know what you mean about akward, but you can talk to them before you hit them with the idea of recording them, right? And if you really liked their sound, go see them again and get on their mailing list. Talk to them about, introduce yourself-- once they know that you have a studio your work may be done. Ask them if they have a demo, or a CD, and when they say yes (everyone seems to have a CD, bands that don't play one show have CDs ... where's the instant graemlin of the guy hitting himself on the head with a hammer when you need it?) more than half the time they'll hand you one, I've got a ton of CD's I was given for free at clubs just because I talked to the band about bass amps or guitars or strings, next thingy I know they're handing my a CD-- not because I'm fishing for free CD's but because I always made it a point to chat with the other bands when ever and where ever I played. If they give you a CD then you'll know real quick if they need you as much as you want their business.

If they play a lot of shows, it won't hurt to go seen them a couple of times. I'm not saying be their friend, or they'll be expecting the recording for free. If they tell you they have new stuff they want to record, then you're half way there.

I'm just saying, just get to know them and you'll see if they need a recording and you'll be at least on their list of potential studios "organically" without an awkard hard sell. I've not gone "semi-pro" yet with recording, but everyone I've record I've met in clubs or as aquaintances in clubs or rehearsal studios.

[ November 25, 2003, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: musicalhair ]

anonymous Wed, 11/26/2003 - 02:47

Originally posted by Moon Unit Sound:
I think offering your services free of charge in any way, shape or form is a big turnoff. It just kinda' screams "I'm an amateur who's deperate for business!"

what if you are an amateur who's desperate for business? :D



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