Ready to move out on your own as a music producer? Then you've probably completed the initial steps -- getting the training you need in music production, working with the pros in sound production and studio settings, and making the contacts you'll need to further your music career.
But while going out on your own gives you much more freedom than working for a record label or a recording studio, you also have the responsibility of being in charge. That means you need to:
- Set up your own shop with the digital recording equipment you'll need.
- Establish relationships with recording studios where you'll send musicians.
- Develop contact lists of instrument and equipment suppliers, as well as back-up musicians that you may need for individual recordings.
- Handle the details of contracts and copyright issues yourself, or find a music-savvy lawyer to help you.
- Manage your business's billings, costs and finances, or contract with an accountant.
- Handle scheduling and office functions, or hire an assistant.
- Create mix CDs and market your business. (See the next page for more on this.)
Probably two of the most difficult questions to answer are: "How much should I charge?" and "Where do I find clients?" The short answers are "Not much to start," and "Through your contacts."
Producers who are just starting out will probably need to keep their fees low to attract clients. As you build a reputation and become more well known among musicians, you can charge more. Look to work with a variety of musicians in different genres to build your expertise and give you samples of production work to show future clients.
Music production is largely a word-of-mouth business, so you're likely to find clients through the people you know -- referrals from bands who have used you as a producer, through studios where you've worked, through back-up musicians you've used, and so on. The more relationships you build in your career, the more links to potential clients you'll have.
Keep in mind that although you're running your own shop, you're not alone. Industry associations can help you build relationships and they also offer assistance such as help with legal issues, sample contracts, message boards where you can talk with peers, experts who can answer music business questions and places where you can post details about your business. Some of the organizations you may want to join or contact are:
- National Association of Recording Professionals -- Offers educational programs, a job bank, a member resume database for employers, a mentor network and other services.
- Society of Professional Audio Recording Services -- Offers educational programs, internships, business conferences and networking.
- Association of Music Producers -- Provides music production and payment guidelines, sample music rights and master recording license agreements, plus message boards and classified ads.
- Recording Industry Association of America -- Trade association for recording companies, not individuals, but its Web site provides music industry links and licensing information.
Marketing is an important part of succeeding as a music producer. Next, let's look at some ways you can market your business.