It’s the dream of most people, give up the day job and work for yourself making money from recording all day, be that a composer, music producer, engineer, dubbing mixer or sound recordist.
However, speak to some people who try and before long they wonder why they have no money, even though they have the gear and the talent - it may be because it takes 5 things - miss any of them and you may not make it.
- The Tools and The Talent
Of course this goes without saying, you need the tools and the talent - both are essential to make sure you can produce high quality recordings. You may not have Abbey Road or the BBC to work with, but a high quality set-up suitable for your work and the right training is the start of success.
Clients defy the law of gravity, they simply don’t fall from the sky, it takes time to find them and to have them trust you with their work. It’s easier if you do a few things to help like create a web site, a showreel, make it easy to contact you, join LinkedIn (a lot of my work comes from my Linkedin contacts) and for heaven’s sake don’t use your Facebook page for your business - you pissed with a traffic cone on your head is not the best advert for your business.
- Deliver The Goods
When you get a project make sure you work out how long it is going to take to do the job, what it’s going to cost and how much you want to make (the last two are no the same). AGREE IT IN WRITING AND GET WRITTEN CONFIRMATION THAT YOUR CLIENT ACCEPTS THE TERMS. You don’t need a lawyer simply an email that says “I agree to proceed with the project on the terms in your quote”. Then make sure you under-promise and over-deliver, if you know it takes a week then quote 9 days, things usually take longer than you think. Also build in 10% contingency into the project costs, things usually cost more than you think. Then deliver more than you promised.
- Invoice The Client
You have agreed your price and terms, so then invoice the client. All my new clients have to pay 50% up front and 50% on delivery, with no exceptions, and I deal with some pretty huge brands. So make sure they get the invoice so they can pay you. I invoice at least twice a week to stay on top of cash flow.
- Chase The Money
An invoice is not the same as getting paid, so make sure you chase your clients - if the work involves masters then don’t release them until you are paid, especially with new clients. If they start trying it on (and some do) then you need to be firm, you don’t have to be rude you simply need to say that the company policy is that masters are only delivered on receipt of full cleared funds. I’ve only sent in debt collectors twice in three years and then both of them paid me within hours, this is a last resort and is only to be used on clients you never want to work with again.
You can make money in this industry but it takes more than having an amazing studio and great talent.
The road to hell is littered with closed up studios and out of work engineers, composers and producers - you don’t have to be one of them.