How To Land Your First Mixing Client…It’s Not What You Expect
Okay, you did it! Your monitors are perfectly positioned AWAY from the wall. You placed foam and furniture all over your room. You are ready to begin a side-hustle mixing and mastering demos for your friends and fellow artists!
But how do you actually land your first mixing client? And what is the right mindset to actually get paid for your work?
Sure lots of artists will gladly have you work for free but those KRKs aren’t going to pay for themselves!
So in this post, I’m going to share some real-world tips for landing your first paid client. These tips are mostly psychological in nature. They will work whether you’re a producer, mix engineer, or mastering engineer.
Step 1: Understand that you don’t have to be the best to change someone’s music career for the better.
One of the most important things that someone has ever told me is “don’t be afraid to help people, even if you’re not the best… there will always be someone better.” The same is especially true for mixing and mastering.
I’m assuming that since you are a long-time follower of Audio-Issues.com you’re not a chump in the studio. (And even if you believe you are, Bjorgvin has some courses available that can give you that extra confidence you need). That being said, odds are you are better than you think, and you are MILES better than what the artist is banging out in Garage Band on their laptop. You might not be the best, but that artist still needs you!
The most important takeaway from step one is that it’s not your abilities or your experience that is most likely to prevent you from landing your first client… it’s your mindset! Don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way from reaching out in the first place and offering your skills. Your client needs your help and you don’t have to be the best to change someone’s music career for the better. To make an impact in your music circle, be the best of your circle. Take charge and take action. Overcoming this initial hurdle is as important as honing in your mixing skills themselves.
Be the messiah beginning artists are looking for. You’ll thank me later!
Step 2: One great rock show, erm… mix… can change the world
When first starting out as a freelancing home studio owner, you might find yourself feeling like Dewey Fin (Jack Black) from School of Rock. Completely under-qualified on paper to do the job at hand.
But one of the important lessons we learn from this plausible and, ahem, realistic movie is the age-old adage of “the proof is in the pudding.”
By the end of the movie, Jack Black not only won the affections of the students, teachers, and parents, he did much more. He proved through demonstration in that he had the DNA of a stellar rock and roll teacher.
(Cut to the end of the film and he has his own “School of Rock” teaching studio).
Why bring this up?
Well, step two of your journey to land clients is to have your ONE demo to prove yourself publicly.
Out of all the recordings you’ve ever done, find the one that has the best songwriting, best artist, and the most universal appeal and bring it back to life. Even if it’s an old song, your mixing skills have most likely improved since then.
Bring that song to life and put it on a SoundCloud or personal website so that you can then pitch your mixing skills to potential clients. You don’t need to have a whole reel of mixes, use what you have now. Sure, some people might complain that you only have one sample to show, but most likely they won’t. And by then, you will be on your way to impressing potential clients with your skills.
Some practical tips are to set up a Squarespace website so that you can also tell a little bit about yourself and musical experience. But if you want to take the free route, a Squarespace profile or Facebook fan page will do the trick as well.
Time to start putting your best foot forward online. Which leads us to our third and final tip.
Step 3: Create content surrounding your music and mixing that is complementary to the activity itself
Let me unpack this amazing pattern that I’ve noticed.
When trying to gain popularity and visibility for your business, the best thing you can do is: “not promote your business.” The better approach is to just share yourself.
What do I mean by this? Branding experts all agree when trying to sell a product or service, the only thing more powerful than reducing the price to drive the sale is: brand familiarity.
This is why Gucci can sell a $400 flip-flop that is made from molecularly identical material as the ones sold at Costco for $9.
Obviously, you’re a person, not a brand, but the human psychology behind this holds true. The truth is that people tend to gravitate towards the things they are familiar with and the way that happens is through a story.
That is why every company is trying to share their “mission” and “purpose” and why on American Idol before the unknown talent walks on stage, there is a 3-minute mini-movie about how the contestant had to overcome so many life obstacles defying all odds to get to the stage they are standing on now…
You don’t need to extract a tear-jerker from your distant past to pull on the heartstrings of your future clients like American Idol. I actually don’t recommend that at all. But you do need to share your journey in some form of story-telling delivery.
After you’re done reading this, look up something called the hero’s journey. It is present in almost every movie you know and love: Star Wars, Hercules, Mulan, The Lion King (okay yes, I watch a lot of Disney). The reason it’s used as a formula in all those amazing films is that it’s a type of story that works for humans. We automatically “get it.” For some reason inside our psyche, the hero’s journey appeals to us.
Learn how to share your journey with your clients, it will separate you from the crowd. It will make people like you. It will open the door for future opportunities. (Just as I open the refrigerator door to turn the dial all the way to “off” every time I record.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
So who is this guy that somehow knows a lot about audio recording and happens to have the loudest refrigerator in the galaxy? My name is Ryan Waczek, and I am the founder of the music-training website, the Indie Music Academy. We help artists learn how to make a living and grow a fan base through our expansive library of training and career resources that help them earn a music income and grow a hungry audience.
If you are a home studio owner who writes and releases your original music and needs help marketing to a broader audience, I’d love to offer you a gift: my Spotify Marketing Gameplan. It’s the same 5-Step method that I use to get my artists playlisted on Spotify, again and again, resulting in hundreds of thousands of streams. It’s free to download and utilize right away!
Audio Business, Home Studio, Keeping Track