Ok, this time I am going to address the question I receive ALL THE TIME from people who are just starting out as a home studio owner and/or someone who has been in business for a short while and are doing ok but want to grow and get more business. I am going to share with you a handful of tips that I have used over the years that have worked for me, to the point where now I get about 70% of my work from referrals / word of mouth in my area. I know there are far more great tips than what I am about to write here, so please chime in and leave a comment below if you have an idea or tip that has worked for you personally.
1. Build a professional-looking website. This seems pretty obvious but I will tell you that in my home state, when I first started out, the very first thing I did was research all of the recording studios in my state and let me tell you how piss-poor 98% of the websites that I found. They were basic at best and looked very armature. Almost all of them didn’t have the basic information that should be included on a website for a new prospective client to be impressed with. Here is what I would include if you are about to build a website. First, don’t use a Facebook or a blog as your only online marketing tool. It’s way too limited and Facebook is always changing, so you will not be able to include all the necessary information required. Get your own domain name and build yourself a website.
Make sure your website includes samples of your past work (your portfolio). Make sure it’s your best work up to that point. Let people hear what you have done in the past and what quality of work they can expect from you.
Include pictures of your studio if you are going to take clients in to your studio to record. Use a nice camera or hire a professional to do it for you. Don’t take poorly lit, crappy photos on your Iphone. You want people to be impressed with your studio. Add some video of you giving a tour of your studio and/or talking about your studio. In the “age” of YouTube, people expect to see video. They want to know who you are and what you are all about. Again, shoot high quality video and have someone who knows how to edit do the work. If you put up an “amateurish” looking video, most people will think you’re not a pro or don’t act like it. This is your resume! Do it right!
Include some information about how you price your services. There are many ways to do this, so think about how much you want to charge and do your research. See what other studios in your area are charging and based on your experience and time in the business. You want to be competitive when it comes to pricing. It’s all about supply and demand. If you are in demand, you can charge more money. If you aren’t working, then being the highest-priced studio will not work either.
2. Do some work for FREE! What? Are you F-ing crazy? I am sure that’s what you’re thinking but if you are just starting out and you cant get any work, one way to get clients is to offer your services for free to a friend’s band, or a band in your local area that you like. This is good if you need to build a portfolio of work to add to your website. In order to gain some experience you need to have someone give you a chance. Most people are NOT going to spend their hard-earned money on an “unknown” recording studio that has no track record.
So, one way to attract some clients is to offer a FREE 4 hour session to track 1 song / mix. Find a local artist and offer that up and you will be able to start building that portfolio and reputation in your local area. If you do a great job for FREE and that band has a great experience in your studio, they will tell other local artists about you. That’s FREE advertisement, people! I did a lot of free work in my early days or recording clients and it works- trust me!
3. Go hang out where musicians hang out! I still do this to this day! If I am not recording someone on a Friday or Saturday night I will go out and hit 2-3 local clubs in my area just so I can meet the bands playing that night. Hand out business cards and let people know about your studio. Just like a politician, go meet the people! If you see an amazing act that night, offer them a FREE 4 hour session like I described above. Even if the band is not ready to record or just finished up a project with another studio, they may have a new song they just wrote and want to lay down a quick demo. This is your golden opportunity to steal that client! It works, trust me!
4. Only record good artists! Now, you may be saying, “what does he mean”. Well, you want to grow your client base and over time get better gigs, right? You want people to be impressed with your work, right? You want someone to hear your portfolio and say, “wow, that recording sounds amazing,” right? Well guess what? 80% of a great recording is the quality of the musicians being recorded. Yes, you need to be able to capture those great musicians and be able to be a great mix engineer, that’s not what I mean. You can be the greatest engineer in the world and know how to tune a vocal better than anyone, but if the musicianship sucks then all you have is a great sonic recording of shitty musicians and that WILL NOT impress the average musician looking to book a recording studio.
So for me it has ALWAYS been about quality over quantity. In the beginning, and to this very day I turn away about 20% of the work that is offered to me. If a band or artist calls me and wants to record with me I make it a point to go out and see them play live, either at a club or at their rehearsal space. If they suck, I won’t record them. Why? It’s simple! My name and my recording studio name is on every recording that leaves and I don’t want my name attached to any sub-par shitty band. That will never help you sustain a long-term recording studio business. So, when you’re out looking to give away a free 4-hour session, go find the best talent you can. Now, you need to use common sense and if you’re just starting out and have never had a single client, then you can’t wait for The Rolling Stones to come to your studio. You need to get some work to gain experience. All I am saying is be selective. It’s not about the $$$ today you can make, it’s that $$$ you can make over time!
5. Keep developing your craft. What? How’s does that get me clients? I am sure someone reading this post is asking that question. I my opinion you are only as good as your last recording. The more you do this stuff the better you will become. The better you become, the better the work you turn out and the better the work you turn out will drive clients to you. Most musicians want bang for the buck. They want a great professional product at a reasonable price and if you can provide that, you will have more work than you can take on. So, you can control your price and change it over time as the supply and demand allows you to, but you also need to control the quality of the work that you can produce. So if you’re not working on clients’ projects, then work on getting better at recording your own songs so you can improve your tracking and mixing chops.
Google some websites where you can download professional and semi-pro recording sessions to practice your mixing. Do whatever it takes to get better at your craft, and you will eventually get more clients as people hear your work and want to record with you.
So these are 5 ways to start getting clients. Again, there are many more things you can do and some things will work better than others. It really depends on many factors. Some factors you can control and some you can’t; but if you at least start with what I have outlined you will be on the right path. I hope this helps, and please leave a comment or send me a question and I’ll be happy to help.
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