How To Find New Clients For Your Recording Studio
It’s not 1979 anymore. There are no more staff positions at recording studios. If you want to make a living as an audio engineer, you have to find your own clients. It’s up to you to make a name for yourself.
In part one of our three-part series on how to make money as a freelance audio engineer, we talked about how to differentiate yourself from your competition by focusing on a niche market. In part two, we covered how to create a website to showcase your work and act as a “lead funnel” for potential clients.
Here in our third installment, we show you how to put it all together and find new clients for your recording studio.
Landing your first gig as an audio engineer is tough. You can’t get hired without experience, and you can’t get experience without getting hired. That’s why some engineers work for free until they have a few projects to put on their website.
Obviously, working for free isn’t a sustainable business model. If you choose to work for free, keep it to a minimum. Only do free work for artists that will elevate your career. And keep it to one song per project. Most of the time it does you the same amount of good for you to record one song for free as it does ten songs. The artist can hire you to record the rest if they like your work.
Even then, it can be challenging to convince a quality band to record with you for free. After all, if you’re not charging anything for your time, that suggests it’s not worth anything. That’s why many engineers start by recording their friends.
Begin by asking your friends, family, fellow students, and/or co-workers if they know anyone who is currently looking to record. Through this process, you should be able to create a few solid recordings, which you can use to demonstrate your skills to potential clients.
After finishing a project, send a follow-up email and ask for a referral. Artists are in the trenches with all of the other local artists in your city, making them an excellent resource for leads. Offer them a discount on their next session for any referrals that hire you. After the referral project is finished, follow up with the initial band again to thank them and see if they’re ready to get back in the studio.
Word of Mouth
For most engineers, word of mouth is the biggest source of new clients. Simply keeping your customers happy is the best way to stay in business. The trick is to under-promise and over-deliver with every client. Many new engineers are too eager to impress potential clients that they end up making promises they can’t keep—either a quality they can’t achieve, a deadline they can’t make or a price they can’t keep.
Your reputation is everything in this industry. It’s the difference between you being in business and moving back in with your parents. So make sure every project is your best work. Quote clients an extra day or two on deadlines to ensure you can submit it early rather than late. And never nickel and dime clients for additional charges. Clearly lay out your rates before the project begins. By following these three steps, you’ll ensure you always leave your clients wanting more.
Stay in touch with your past clients. Send them a follow-up email after the project is complete and see when they’re planning to get back in the studio. If they don’t have plans to record in the near future (or even if they do), ask them if they know of any other artists looking to record.
Eventually, you’re going to exhaust your list of friends-of-friends and have to start working with strangers. Only here’s the thing—no one wants to work with a stranger. Especially not a recording artist.
Recording a song with someone is an extremely intimate process. An artist needs to be in a very vulnerable state to deliver their best performance. No one wants to do that with a stranger. Recording artists only hire engineers they trust. And trust has to be earned.
You can’t “cold call” an artist and give them the hard sell. You can’t DM an artist and come right out of the gate with “Hi, I’m a recording engineer and I would like to work with you. Please hire me.” That’s not going to work.
Instead, start by being a fan. If you don’t like an artist’s music, you shouldn’t be working with them anyway. Find every local artist in your genre and follow them on social media. Like and interact with their posts. Share their content. Go to their shows.
Once the artist knows you support them, reach out and initiate a conversion. Tell them you’re a fan and you’re wondering when they’re going to put out new music. Don’t focus on selling your services to them; focus on building a relationship with them.
Yes, this will take a long time. But, you’ll form a genuine bond with the artist. Once you do, both parties will feel much more comfortable about working together. When the artist is ready to record, pitch them your services.
The internet is an incredible marketing tool, but nothing is as effective as face-to-face interaction. Go to local shows and talk to the artists and venue staff. Introduce yourself. Immerse yourself in the local music scene.
Or put your skills to use and pick up a gig as a live sound engineer at a local venue. Not only do you have the opportunity to meet and chat with multiple artists every night, but you also get to show off your audio skills at the same time!
And if that doesn’t work out, you can always just join a band yourself!
Content marketing is a great way to prove value to your leads and start building a relationship before you ever even meet. Think of your ideal customer. What is their biggest problem? Now, create content designed to help them solve that problem. When they search for the solution—BAM—there you are, like a gift from Google.
The type of content you put out can be anything: a blog, a podcast, a video series, a weekly playlist—even memes! A consistent stream of quality content can help reinforce your brand and keep you in people’s feeds.
You can take a more active role in sharing your content through Facebook groups and forums. By being active in these online communities, you can form relationships with artists and provide value to large groups of people at once.
If you’ve got the spare funds, paid advertising can be beneficial at helping you find new clients. Running effective ads on Facebook, Google, and banner ads on key websites can help you target new customers, instead of hoping they find you.
The simplest and most effective form of paid advertising is “retargeting,” which targets people who have previously visited your site. Since most people who visit your website leave without ever hiring you, retargeting has one of the highest potential conversion rates and one of the lowest costs! Plus, since these people have already been to your website, there already have a relationship with you.
These are just a few of the methods you can use to find new clients for your recording studio. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to finding new clients and taking your freelance career to the next level.