I’ve Run an Audio Business For 13 Years. These 2 Things Actually Move the Needle in Your Career
If you’re a musician, producer, or audio engineer, and you’re struggling to grow your creative career, here are the two levers you need to pull to build a successful audio business.
Lever One: Time 🕰️
It all started in a cockroach-infested apartment in Madrid, Spain.
When I was starting my audio business that became the website you’re now on, it was just me, a Dutch roommate, and the uninvited insect houseguests. During the day, I went to audio school, learning everything about audio that I could pay forward on the blog I was building (that you’re still reading). Although I had worked as an audio engineer before, I had to start in a different country. As a broke college student during the economic recession in 2008, the only thing I had was time.
So I immersed myself in learning everything I needed to build a business and make ends meet someday.
In startup lingo, this is what they call putting in “sweat equity.” It’s the grind, the DIY spirit – doing everything from bookkeeping to business development, from customer service to copywriting.
But…all that hustle and doing everything yourself isn’t sustainable in the long run.
The thing about time is that it’s finite, and you can’t make more of it.
Once it’s spent, it’s gone. Forever. So if all you have is time, use that time to make money with your audio career because once you have revenue, you can start pulling the second lever to grow your business.
And that leads us to the next step: leveraging money.
Lever Two: Money 💰
If you’re anything like me starting out, you’ve spent your initial period working like a madman, trying to juggle everything.
Hopefully, all this effort eventually leads to some income. When the money starts flowing in, you have a new lever to pull. That money can work as leverage to make your business more effective.
In effect, you use your money to buy back time.
Money can help you hire people to do more things in the same amount of time. Or you can do things you wouldn’t have been able to do on your own because of your limited skillset.
The first few years of running Audio Issues were run on sweat equity and DIY. And the bigger it grew, the longer the lists of tasks became that I had to learn to Do-It-Yourself.
And I was burning out.
My to-do list was an endless abyss of tasks, including bookkeeping, content creation, client deliveries, mixing music, and all the other roles I had to play.
The Two Lists to Grow Your Audio Career
So one day, I sat down and made myself a list.
On one side of the paper, I wrote down all the tasks I was doing each week and came up with around 28.
Then, I wrote a line down the middle and started another list. This list included all the tasks from the previous list only I could do.
Out of the 28 tasks on my list, I could realistically only identify about five that I was uniquely qualified for.
That meant I spent over 80% of my time on tasks someone else could help me with. In effect, I wasted 80% of my time on things that would cost less money to outsource.
If I outsourced those tasks, I could focus on the tasks that brought in revenue and grew the business, meaning that spending money on someone else was actually generating revenue because my time was better spent.
Not to mention, the happiness of doing the work I loved made me glad to use some of my money to buy back my time.
The Money Multiplies Your Success 💰
Think of it like a multiplier. How can you strategically delegate your money to make even more for your business?
For instance, say you spend two hours on unrelated tasks daily that you could outsource to an assistant. If you charge $50/hour for your work and you could use those two hours to make $100, it’s a no-brainer to hire someone for $15-$25/hour to help you.
When people talk about putting money back into the business, they’re talking about this. They’re referring to using expenses to grow revenue and, importantly, using money to buy back time. Done together, this will grow your business and help you succeed.
To sum it up, if you want to make the most of the same 24 hours everyone has, you need to spend some of the money you earn with your creative music and audio skills to buy back your time. Money empowers you to scale your efficiency, grow your business, and maintain profitability. Following your passion only works if you methodically think it through with the correct money mindset to help you succeed.
To read more about how to succeed with your audio career or music business, check out the articles on our career resource page.
It goes without saying, but a prerequisite for a successful audio business are great audio skills. If you’re looking for an in-depth guide to make your mixes sound better so you can create a killer portfolio to attract clients, check out Step By Step Mixing: How To Create Great Mixes Using Only 5 Plug-ins right here.