5 Key Ingredients to Start a Successful Mixing & Mastering Studio
Over the last 36 episodes we’ve discussed numerous different strategies that you can apply to help fund your dream and your career. Today, we’re diving into another strategy.
Starting a mixing and mastering studio.
The structure of this episode pertains to all of the very basic elements that are needed to start a successful business in the mixing and mastering world.
These are the same tactics I use to structure my business, and the same way that many others have as well.
In a world of growing art and ability to be a musician/producer, the market has never been more open for audio engineers to breakout. If you’re looking for a way to fund your career, a mixing/mastering studio is one of the best possibilities for you.
Not only do you learn the world of business, but you make great connections, change the lives of others and their works, as well has honing and crafting your skillset.
What You’ll Learn:
- How to start a mixing & mastering studio
- Why a mixing & mastering studio can help you and your career
- Educational resources to help you start your business
- Why structuring your systems will improve your business
and much more!
Wix – https://www.wix.com/
WordPress – https://wordpress.com/
Hubspot – https://www.hubspot.com/
Freshsales – https://www.freshworks.com/freshsales-crm/
Close.io – https://close.com/
Pipedrive – https://www.pipedrive.com/
The Six Figure Home Studio Podcast – https://www.thesixfigurehomestudio.com/podcast
The Profitable Producer Course – https://www.thesixfigurehomestudio.com/join-ppc/?utm_source=academy
Electronic Dance Money Episode 011 – Websites and Why They’re Important for Producers – https://enviousaudio.com/episode11
The E-Myth Revisited – https://amzn.to/3sSroTa
Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy
Hey, what’s up everyone? Welcome back to another episode of electronic dance money. I’m your host, Christian cassuto. Hope you guys are doing well as I am. Today, we are going to be discussing some of the ins and outs of running a mixing and mastering business, we’ll be diving into some of the different topics in terms of what you actually need to get started getting your first client and setting up some of the systems and then some really awesome educational resources for you guys. This is primarily what I do in the music industry, I run a mixing and mastering business called Envious Audio, I’m sure you guys have heard me talk about it and promote it on the podcast. So today we’re going to be kind of diving into what I did to really start my business what you guys can do and how it can really benefit you there’s actually a lot of benefits with starting a mixing and mastering business, especially if that’s an area that you struggle with. I know for me, I used to hate mixing. And the one thing that made me get better was mixing for other people. You know, I didn’t really have much of a vested interest in other people’s music other than just trying to make them sound good. And when that is your goal, you can get a lot of really good things done, you don’t worry so much about the production stuff, because it’s not your project, you aren’t going in and out of mate, you know, if it was your production, you’d be you might go in and out of the project, adjusting things, you’re not doing that you’re just focusing on what you’ve got. And what you have, you have to make good. In fact, I would say you have to make it sound great. Otherwise, people don’t want to get any mixing or mastering done from you, if you if you know if you make their track just sound Okay, a little bit better. Yes, it might be a little bit better. But if they don’t listen to the track and go, Whoa, this is great, then there’s no reason for someone to return in come back or, you know, if you’re just practicing, like I did at first, when you actually do open up a studio or start a business, that low hanging fruit isn’t really there. Let’s jump into the first first subject. First thing that you need to get started when you’re thinking about starting a mixing mastering studio. And it’s kind of the holy grail, it is everything it’s built around the whole business, and it’s your portfolio, this is what is going to get people to want to hire you, you need to have a good strong portfolio. Now, if you’re not the best mixer, and you’re really just starting, it’s okay, if your mixes don’t sound incredible, especially with the tactic that I’m about to
or provide for you. Not all of your mixes are gonna sound incredible, because not all the tracks you’re going to get are going to be incredible. They just have to be they just have to sound better than your target audience than the the clients that you’re trying to get. You might be asking me, Well, how do I build up a portfolio? Well, you know, if you’re a producer, you could use your own tracks. But really what you want to show in that portfolio if you can is before and after stuff. This is what the tracks sound like before I mixed it. This is what it sounds like after I mixed it. So people can really see that. If you go to my website, if you go to Envious Audio calm, you’ll actually see I have a before and after player, which you can toggle switch on there. And change the before track and the after one so you can really hear the difference. And that really sells people and they can really actually hear Oh, this is what sound like, wow, they actually did a lot of work on that sounds incredible. And when you’re using your own tracks, it’s difficult to show the before and after because it really is just one whole product through and through the entire process. You know you’re making your own creative changes as you’re making the project. And so things don’t really sound different in any other stage. I mean sure the track might sound different before you mix it but what’s you know, the before mix doesn’t really count because you’re not mixing. So if you have someone else’s mix, and then you go in and redo the mix, then you actually have a before and after. For me when I got started. To get my portfolio I simply just went on Reddit and made some posts. Hey, if anyone needs help with mixing let me know. I’m giving away some free mixing Clap, I was actually doing lessons, I was doing mixing lessons, because that’s the best way that I learned is by teaching other people. So I was doing free lessons, I would be in sessions for three or four hours on zoom with people. And we would go over their track, and I’d mix the entire thing, and they got to sit there and watch me mix it. And this is how I really built up my own portfolio. So you can do this on Reddit, you can do it on Facebook. But really, you just need to get like three to five tracks, it’s pretty easy to find three to five people, if you’re like, Hey, I’m doing free mixing work to build a portfolio, you know, I’ll do a free mix for you. As long as I can use this in my portfolio, people really like that. Now, free is a little scary, because you do get clients that are you know, quote unquote, clients, you do get people who might not have the best of tracks and expect a lot from you, and expect you to do 1,000,001 changes. So
you have to kind of eat that in the beginning.
But as soon as you have that portfolio, then you’re in an awesome spot. Now you can actually really get started with sharing that portfolio with other people to try to convince them to hire you, and sell them on why they should hire you as well. You know, like I said that before and after, is a really big selling point for a lot of people. So before you really get started on anything, that’s where you want to focus, a majority of your attention is on that. Building the portfolio, that way you can showcase your work and show why people should hire you.
Now, the second step is
one of the most important topics and I know I’ve done an entire episode on setting up websites for producers, you know, for you, as a producer, as a musician, now, you got to have a website setup as a if you’re starting a mixing a mastering studio, it’s where you’re going to begin your quote requests. It’s where you’re going to be sending people, it’s how you can set up Facebook pixels, to do any sort of marketing or advertising on Facebook and Instagram and whatnot, if you do end up going that route. But this is going to showcase, you know what your product is mixing or mastering or both, or you know, like if you just if you are a producer for hire, you do the same thing. All this stuff doesn’t just apply to a mixing mastering studio. If you want to produce tracks, if you want to go straight, if you want co write for people, you can set up websites and all these processes the exact same way. But the website is going to be everything that you’re going to host your portfolio on there, your services, a little bit about why people should hire you, and then a quote request form where people can reach out to you or people can log in and have accounts and you can have an upload system where people upload their tracks. And that in that has a lot more to do with the systems that you might want to build later on. But the websites where you’re gonna send everyone. You know, if you release content, if you start a blog to have content for your business, that’s where you’re going to host it. So you can get up in the SEO rankings for Google. So when Google so when people Google
if you have a blog write about that your website will hopefully pop up if you’re getting enough traffic people go your site will look through it and they’ll fill out a quote request form. It’s really the lifeblood of your it’s home base, it really is home base. So the other thing to keep in mind is you don’t need a full studio or like you don’t need an office, that’s you spend $100,000 to turn into a studio, l No, I have a home studio and do all my stuff at home, it’s way cheaper to I mean, your expenses are so low, if you can get one project a month, that is paying you $200 for a mix. And then if you have proper system, so it only takes you an hour of full hour of doing work, maybe two hours, your rate goes up like how much you’re actually making per hour goes up. If you get $200, It normally takes you four or five hours to do something, you know, your dollar per hour starts dropping, you start seeing you’re making $35 an hour or $40 an hour. But if you can drop that to two hours, we’ve discussed this, and we’ve talked about this before, but if you can, you know, do things in less time, then you start making $100 an hour, way better looks way better. Sounds way better. The point is for the website, it’s very, very important thing that you should have in place in terms of running a business like this is how you’re going to track analytical data. That’s how you’re going to get your clients it’s how you’re going to show off your work. It’s how you’re it’s where you’re going to host a majority of your content if you’re creating content. So we we talked about resources to use for building a website. My two recommendations are Wix and WordPress. I use WordPress there’s a legal you can do a lot more with WordPress. It’s way more customized. However, Wix is a really good resource to get a website up and running pretty quick You got your portfolio built, you’ve made your website, you’re ready to start taking on clients. So how do you get your first client? Well, the first thing you should be doing when you’re trying to get your first client is pick the low hanging fruit. Now what do I mean by that? Do you have friends that are producers? Do you know other producers that you know you might not be super close with, but you have a relationship with that’s all low hanging fruit. That’s all fruit that you can pick now and you can get clients immediately. Ask your friends to hire you ask your you ask your close producer friends, ask friends, just normal friends that aren’t in production. If they know anyone, their producers and asked to get their phone number or their email and reach out to them and build a relationship with them. This is all the low hanging fruit that you can pick now, do a really good job for these people and build a referral machine. That’s what you really want. This is how you become really successful in this line of business is referrals. A lot of my work comes from referrals. Because I’ve taken care of my clients, I’ve done such a good job with them. And I make sure I help them out as much as possible in terms of adding additional value that they they want their friends to come to me because they know that they’re going to get get a great service. Another really good tactic that I used a few times, which is how I’ve also gotten a handful of clients, as well as using Bandcamp and SoundCloud. And finding tracks that aren’t that great that you know, you can make better that you know, if you mixed or mastered, they would sound way better, and reach out to those people start a conversation and like we’ve discussed in the networking episode, you know, just their last recent episode, start building that relationship with them talking about production talking about mixing, talking about mastering. And then after a month or so you’ll you will have built a relationship that you you will have planted seeds to bloom fruit that you can then pick later on. And within this topic, we should discuss rates because rates is a very important thing, it’s a tricky thing to nail there’s a couple of different ways to come about rates, there’s a day rate that you can set, there’s an hourly rate or a project rate, a lot of what I do is project based. So okay, you need a mix, Master, this is my price for a mix, or this is my price for a master, it’s a lot easier to work within that realm. And then
get your dollar per up by automating and enhancing your systems rather than trying to track your hours and saying, okay, I work for $20 an hour. And the you know, I’ve worked on this for three hours. So it’s only 60 bucks, it’s not a lot. However, if you set a rate of $200 takes you three hours, you’re still making about 60 ish dollars a little more than $60. However, you have an opportunity where if your systems are really good, you will make more per hour because you’re spending less time working. We’ve discussed a lot about automating and making sure your systems are in place so that you can you work less. And therefore you’re making more, you have more time to do all the essential tasks rather than the non essential ones. I know when I first started, my mixing rate was embarrassingly low, I was charging $45 for a full mix and master. Granted, I was not as good as I am now I didn’t have the resources that I have. Now I did not have the connections that I have now. So I can offer more value and increase my price.
I’m still getting paid for some work that was still paying the monthly fee for all of my business stuff for my website for some subscription services, less stuff. However, the issue though with that is you do you can get nightmare clients with that lower price because they don’t necessarily if someone refuses to pay you more than $45 for a mix, they don’t see value in your work. And that’s not good, they’ll try to take advantage of you. So my rates are much higher now. And for good reason. Though, I really handle and take care of my clients, I connect them with people that they would not have connected with before and give them opportunities that they might not have had before. And so that has that holds a lot of value, I don’t just give you a mixmaster I also give you additional value. So you need to find out how you can provide additional value that will help increase your rates and the better you get at mixing. The better you get at mastering. The more your time becomes more valuable, the more you can increase your rates. And as your schedule fills up, raise your rates even more. Because now you don’t have a lot of time your time is very valuable. So if someone wants to get in, involved in your schedule and your time there Got to pay a higher fee. And so I, I up my rates almost almost quarterly because I’m taking on more projects because I’m getting more work because I’m becoming more valuable. So don’t be afraid to increase rates, it’s almost always better to increase rates then lower it, especially if you look at doubling your rates. So if you were getting two clients a month, charging $50 per project, and you increase your rates, you double it to $100. Now you only need to get one client, you don’t need to work with two, let’s say you’re charging $100 for a mix and master, you get four clients a month, you’re making $400. If you just raise your rates, double it, or even go up to $400, you no longer need four clients, you know, no longer need to client, you just need one client, if you raise it to 400, it might be a little bit more difficult to find that client, but there are people out that out there that need it. And you have to determine again, your value of your work is your work good enough to be charging $400. And if it is, again, less, you do way less work working with one client charging $400 than working with four clients charging $100. Now let’s go into the fourth section. So we’ve gotten the portfolio, we’ve got the website, you picked up your first client. Now what’s next? Now you run through the entire system, what does the system look like? How did it run from then viewing your website, your portfolio filling out quote request form or you even talking to them on Bandcamp or SoundCloud or picking low hanging fruit and then you sending them an invoice then sending your tracks over or their multi tracks or their track for mastering you going through the process of sending it back over to them going through revisions, what does that system look like? And make sure you take good note of it. And make sure that you write that system down and then review it every time you get a new client review it How did it run? Where can we improve things. Because the system is again, like I said before, it’s what’s going to make your dollar per hour go up. The hundred dollar rate now goes up to $200. Because you spent half as much time without actually changing your price. There’s very key elements here that are going to help your system run so much smoother. One of them that we’ve talked about, I think a few months ago, I did a whole episode on. I think the episode was titled one piece of software that every successful business uses. And so should you know it was all going into CRM and how valuable CRM czar, this type of business or any sort of online business that you’re running a CRM is key, that’s where you can hold all of your data for all of your clients, very specific ones, as well as setting up follow ups for those clients. Very, very, very, very key piece of software that’s going to really push you forward in the business world. And it’s basically like a virtual assistant for you.
There’s a handful that you can check out that I’ve already named before. And I’ll put them in the show notes. But HubSpot is one, the one that I use is fresh sales, you’ve got pipe drive, what’s the there’s another one closed.io, there’s a lot of really good CRMs out there, some of them are free, some of them aren’t, some of them are only $10 a month, they’re very useful. When you find one stick with one, they all generally do the same thing. Don’t waste your time and trying out every single CRM because they generally all do the same thing, it really just comes down to the user interface that you enjoy. So there’s plenty of resources out there, I’ll include some in the show notes, so you guys can go check that out. But the CRM should be key, it should be honestly, it’s something you should set up, while you’re also getting your website set up before you get your first client. Because then you can import their information as you’re working with them set up follow ups for if you send out a proposal or whatever, uh, speaking of proposals, another really great system for you to use when you’re doing a service based industry like this is having a piece of proposal software, so I use better proposal.io really awesome software, they’ve got a ton of proposals that you that you can use on there, and you can completely edit and customize them. And it just makes you look more professional. You can lay out all of the questions they might have all your most frequently asked questions what they get, what they don’t get, the timeline, how much it costs, and then they sign the proposal and this this is so you can lay out all of the expectations immediately. So they know what to expect. You know what to expect. If there’s any disagreement. You guys can talk about that edit the proposal until you come
to an agreement
or when the project is finished. And they complain about something or want something extra you go oh well that’s not included. You sign the proposal here it is It’s not technically a legal binding contract. And that’s not what it’s meant to be. But it’s meant for them to understand what they are getting, and what they’re not getting. So that expectations are met. And they’re very crystal clear, that’s very important. third piece of software for your system is going to be setting up invoicing. And this one’s super simple, PayPal, PayPal, you know, you’ll, you’ll take a hit on the fee on a PayPal fee every time you do business through PayPal, but it’s very easy for every almost everyone uses PayPal, if they don’t have a PayPal account, that’s fine, they can just input their debit card info, and it goes through it’s very universal, it’s very easy. And that easy matters, having that set up. So it’s a very smooth process for the client to go through billing, and just pay immediately. It’s really, really great. And that will,
you know, the the fee that you pay for that
is worth it is worth worth making sure that the client is happy and things are smooth. But you can set up custom invoices on PayPal, you can set up different types of deposits. So people can schedule dates for you, you can take a non refundable deposit so that if they bail on you, it’s fine, you don’t have to do the work, you also got a little money for it for them scheduling time that you otherwise would could have scheduled for someone else. But these three systems right here are really the core, some of the core ingredients to making sure you’ve got a really smooth running machine through and through. The way my business currently looks like is people go to my website, they read my services, they look at my portfolio, they fill out quote request form. And then I schedule a quick 1015 minute call with them to discuss their goals, what they’re struggling with, as well as setting some expectations. And then I send them a proposal, they sign the proposal, I send them an invoice, they pay 40% deposit to get a scheduled date. And the rest of the payment is due on their scheduled date for the mix. They I send them my mix prep guide, they then send me all their multi tracks and a file. And then on the day of on the scheduled date of their mix, I go through and work on their tracks, send it over to them, they send me revisions, and then we rinse and repeat those revisions until they’re happy. And you can see how having this system set up. And it’s really smooth, it goes very easily. And there’s even places where I can automate things to automatically do everything for me. Like when I import someone into my CRM software, after a phone call, I can then automate to send them a proposal for let’s say it’s a mix. The automation sends them the proposal, they sign the proposal, I can then automate. So when I get a signed proposal back, it’ll send them an invoice. And all these can be automated. So everything’s just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, running itself. And I don’t have to do any of that, all I have to do is get their project, import it and done and follow up with them and talk to them. I did an episode on this book before, but I’m going to suggest it again. But the E myth revisited is really good for getting an idea of setting up systems, especially before you start a small business. So you can start the small business the right way, and in the right frame or frame of mind. So I highly suggest that book before you jump into starting any sort of service based business, like what we’re talking about today. Now for the final topic that we’re going to be discussing, let’s jump into some educational stuff. Because this is going to be key for you starting this type of business, the best resource, the number one resource out there. For anyone who’s wanting to start a mixing a mastering studio production business production studio, a recording studio, any sort of service based industry in the music industry, service based business in the music industry, the six figure home studio is going to be your best friend, both the podcast and some of the courses that Brian hood has on a site. So
one go check out the podcast,
unbelievable amounts of great information on how to start a home studio doing any sort of service based business. And you can apply everything that they talked about in that podcast. It’s incredible. And Brian actually has a course called the profitable producer course on the website. So if you go to six figure home studio.com you’ll see it on the profitable producer course and that course takes you from from the very second you come up with the idea of starting a music based service business to getting your first client setting up your website running ads, all the way up to optimizing your business itself. It is such a great resource. I cannot suggest it enough it is worth the pain. I think it’s like a 1500 dollar course. Worth that cost. I know Brian does do some webinars where he offers discounts. So even if you go to his website, you’ll get some remarketing ads on Facebook and Instagram that you’ll see. And I think there, they might be for the webinar. So just go to his website, peruse around it, and you’ll see his ad start popping up on your Facebook and Instagram feeds, I think actually just Facebook. And then you can click on those ads to check out whatever he’s offering. He’s also got a lot of really good free, a lot of really great free content on there. I know he’s got like a free website building course for studio owners so you can follow that and usually bust out pretty decent website using Wix awesome resources, though. But I think I’m going to any of you guys listening to this, if you decide to do this, go this route, please join the Facebook community on facebook.com. Look up electronic dance money, community and reach out and post questions in there about getting a portfolio set up about getting your website set up getting your first call, ask those questions, I’ll definitely respond if you make a website post in there. And I can critique it for you and give you some advice I’m actually thinking about. And as, as I’m doing this podcast, I’m actually thinking about doing kind of a service based series, maybe spend and spend about like two, three, maybe even four months on just doing episodes on setting rates on getting more clients what to do if you get a nightmare client, those kinds of questions. Because if you’re going down this road, you’re going to have questions for those things, you’re going to run into those issues. A lot of that stuff is actually covered in the six figure home studio. But if you don’t want to go there, I’d like to have those resources for you as well. So I’m thinking about doing something like that, or maybe every other episode, we’ll jump into these very nuanced topics about running a business, a service based business. Because, you know, like I’ve said before this episode, or sorry, this podcast is about teaching you how to go full time and a lot of these service based things are what’s going to get you to go full time and you’ll have questions about these specific business topics. So I’d love to jump into those. That is going to be the episode for today guys, I hope you really enjoy it. And I hope to see some of your guys’s businesses popping up for this kind of work. I’m always looking for other people to collaborate in terms of you know, mixing mastering studios or producers, studios, recording studios and whatever it is over I can provide value to other people or if they can provide value to me I’m always on the lookout so I hope I see some of you guys jump in the market. There’s definitely a market for it. There’s definitely people that need this kind of work done it will always be here robots will not replace this type of work for a long time, especially because people like interacting with other people and also because robots don’t have connections that normal people do. So don’t be afraid to dive into this because there’s a lot of different routes you can go with it. But let me know if you guys have any questions show notes are gonna be at Envious Audio comm slash Episode 37 like I said, join the Facebook community at the apple podcast rate and review the show let me know what you think of it. Head to Envious audio.com slash podcast fill out the form if you’d like to jump on the show if you have a good topic to discuss. Or if you know someone you’d like to jump on the show, or even if you have a topic you want me to discuss, let me know. I want to help you guys out however I can. Otherwise Take care. Have a great day and I’ll
see you next time.
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