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How to make money
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LOL. This is not an infomercial. I am not going to ask you for money to give you the secrets to making money in your studio. I am going to tell you the best secrets I know and I am going to give them to you freely. You are going to read my tips, digest them over a few months, then when you start making money you will realize you are recipient of a gift that you must yourself give to someone else. That's the way it works! And let me assure you it does...
Princess Noobia raises her hand "Uh Tweak that's all cool 'n stuff but I, like, need to make some money now, man! I mean, like, I just spent $2700 on gear and I need a return on my investment fast! Can you hurry up 'n tell me, like, what to do so people give me lots of money to record tracks in my apartment?" The 2 guys in the front , Spoon #1 and #2 stand up in unison and say "And could you just tell us what to do and not make us go study some BS your top contribs say we have to read." One of the gnarly pros, Ol' RoyBoy rises his cane in the back row "Shuddup you stupid spoonies. You ain't gonna make no money in a studio that costs less than $100,000! Tweak points at the two then does a graceful hand movement to the two large urns of coffee to the side of the lectern. "That one is decaf".
Ps. A "spoonie" is one who wants to be spoonfed information, and who, if they don't like it, will spit it out like babyfood. They are the tragic outcome of a society on the brink of information overload. They simply want to be told what to do.
Are you ready? Here we go!
Uh, you, yeah you--Newb #2, you've got something in your head we have to get rid of. Its the myth of getting rich and famous. Here is the male version. You are working on a song and you put it up on the web. The next day a friend calls you and says dude they all be talkin' about that track at the club and some fat dude goes by Mr. X says its so hott his GF took her clothes off and he was so happy he sent it on for national syndication on the radio. Now CNN Showbiz Tonight wants an interview and they are coming to YOUR studio. Already big names are trying to figure out who your agent is so they can book time. Two weeks of work pass and you look in your bank account and see you have a half million dollars and the royalties are only beginning. A month later the big names are not booking time anymore. Instead, you are hiring them to work on YOUR stuff. Ha-ha, now you have had to hire someone to buy you a new house, which is immediately shown on MTV Cribs, a new fleet of cars, and all the cute girls that would never would look at you in high school are saying they had your baby. You go on tour. Smash up a few hotel rooms. Have 4-5 sexual partners every day. Get addicted to heroin, but then land in Rehab where you write the killer song about life and love that makes the whole world cry, while the tabloids say...
That is how the myth goes. That is not how reality works, thankfully. We are ready for Tweak's Law #2
Spoonie #1 shoots out of his chair "F-dis man, da Tweak full ah shi..." Spoonie #2 follows and says "F-dis man, da Twea.." The crowd growls displeasure at the Spoons and someone catapults a Behringer fader cap from a plastic spoon which tweak catches and sticks in his pocket. "Thanks, needed one of those". No dudes. look. It is is OBVIOUS to anyone who thinks more than 5 seconds on the subject. Why do people pay big sums for anything? Its to fulfill a dream! This is the guiding principle under making money. Why does Newbie #2 here want the vintage 64 Mustang? Why does Princess Noobia want the big house by the ocean? Why do people spend thousands on a special mud that makes them feel 3 years younger for 24 hours. Don't you get it?? But people are not going to spend 99 cents to buy your song at iTunes even if they know you. But they might give you $50 to $500 for you to help them get their song on iTunes which is their dream. Newbs!! You read the guide, right? Now go on Craigslist and put up a free ad: "I will help you get your song on iTunes. Reasonable rates." Tomorrow you may get a a few mails and a job. This is so simple. Get their files by email, fix up the track a bit. MP3 it, get them to start a TuneCorp account, show them how to upload it and give them a bill. How much is that worth to the spoon who knows nothing? Say it took 3 hours. Somewhere between $50 and $500 is about right. Do your first few for free till you KNOW what you are doing. Then decide what to charge.
Newbie #1 is trembling. He sees his future unfold like...like..... a dream. Is it THAT easy Tweak? How do you know what to charge?
The higher the quality of your work, the more people pay because the greater chance of them realizing their dream. The truth on billing is that you can charge whatever you want, whether people come is up to them. If you undercharge you are at risk of not getting paid at all, because you will attract the people who can't pay. If you overcharge you better have a long list of happy customers thrilled with your work and you better make this client just as successful. But in the end, you have to do the work and make it worth your while. If you are sitting there on Saturday night wondering why you are working on someone's project that you don't like, you did not charge enough. If you are working with a client who's stuff you think is fantastic it is worth your while to take the gig even at a discount. If it means future jobs coming in from someone about to make it, your status may rise with their status. Seek out those clients that need what you love to do. You guy's were "made for each other", so to speak.
But lets backup. What are you good at? What do you like to do in your studio? Record bands? What! you have a studio that big in your house? OK some of you do and its valid, the rest of you do not and this is not going to work. Lets enumerate the jobs one can do in a small studio.
1. Mixing others tracks
3. Being a session musician. Replacing the bass, the guitar, the drum tracks.
4. Doing voiceovers
5, Writing commercial music for local radio or tv station.
7. Adding music to basic tracks
8. Developing sounds and selling them
9. Adding music to music/film productions
10. Location recording/then mixing in the studio.
Then realize, people are already doing it TODAY! They're just are not telling you. Yes, a lot of big commercial studios are out of business now. Not only because many artists are making tracks in home studios, but because the entire means of music production is NOW ONLINE and they are not. Think about this dude! What is it we produce? Princess Noobia shouts out, "Its, like, "Music!". "Yes it is like that, but, like, look at it, like, out of the box". "Uhhh, we make masterds!" interjects Spoon #2" mmm did I spill that rite?" LOL. Professionals...please help. Old Royboy raises his cane and says "Heh we used to make a tape, then we made master quality 24 bit CDs, but now all we make is a collection of dots. "Wha dat U old unhip geezr, shouts Spoonie 2". Tweak intervenes. He means we create a FILE of 1s and 0s, i.e., data. Hehe, yes that is all we do. We Make Computer Files.
Every one of the 10 jobs above involve making a file and the file can be whisked across the world in seconds. Its utterly amazing. Don't take it for granted. The connection of remote studios does not happen tomorrow. Its here today.
Whatever you do, don't think in old world terms. Look beyond what all your homies and peer group thinks. They don't know what's going on, do they? Look at what is blistering hot in your immediate world--social networks, going wireless, YouTube, Podcasts, in a word it is connectivity. Look at what you DO and not what you SAY you do. Run the question through your mind for one month and think of it every day. "What is it that I need to do?" How do I connect? There are some very smart people out there. Don't let that bother you. Just be one of them.
Quality, quality, quality my friends. You have to be good at what you do. You have to like doing what you do best.
All of this machinery, software, plugins, controls, instruments its all about making data. And this is what is SO CRAZY about this craft. You listen and you hear XOXOX, I listen and I hear XXOOXX, and the mastering engineer hears XOOXOX and we all hear a certain magical quality that no one can define. The object of value is an indefinable quality that makes people love it and fulfills the dream of the client. You may think you never get credit for your artistic effort, but you do. When you make someone a success they come back to you and send people to you. Your studio is "where the magic happens". Please remember our business is to create a little file that triggers a whole lot of magic. Believe in yours, and give freely.
Because we can float audio files over the internet we can have our friend's studios involved too. Every studio operator has its niche skill. You can refer jobs to your network's studios the way a Dr. might pass a patient to another Dr as a referral. Say you do land a good gig but you are unsure how to handle part of the mix. Run it by your network and get their advice. Now you owe them one.
Something strange about the above list. Did you notice? Every one of these studio tasks can be done over the internet. The studio, yes even your studio, can be considered to be an international business from the get go. Get a PayPal Business account. Spend time working up your website so people know exactly what you can do to help them realize their dream. Always help people realize their dream, even your friends in their studio. When anyone in the network lands a big gig the whole network wins and goes up a notch. One success lands more big gigs, and the work floats through the network. The underlying rule is what your mother told you in 3rd grade "Choose your friends wisely"
This means, at minimum, have at least 2 different monitoring paths and make sure your room in acoustically treated so it sounds good, not only for you, but for your client, who wants to be blown away by the sound in your studio.
Princess Newbia stand up: What else do we have to do Tweak? Do we have to get some kind of license? To get started, you just start. You advertise, create websites, get a business phone if you want. Get a separate bank account if you want. Important: Save every receipt for anything you buy that relates to the studio and its operation. Every year (assuming you are in the USA) you have to claim your income and pay your taxes. Get a program that helps you manage your accounting, billing and expense accounting. You should expect to run the studio at a loss for several years so you can deduct the losses from your income for tax purposes. You can also buy gear and deduct it from your profits.
Now look at all the ground we covered. You can make money in your home studio. I hope i have given you some tips to get your mind ahead of the game. It is a mind game and you are at one of the luckiest junctures in studio history, the time of transition to everything being online. Interconnectedness is becoming aware of itself more each day. Everyday new opportunities open for those who look for them. Heh, it truly is a new world every day! I hope in some way I have helped you fulfill your dream. Tweak looks at you square in the eyes and smiles. Think about that!
If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.
Dorothy Parker 1893-1967
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