Someone asked me the other day how to go about promoting his home studio. He said he knew what gear to get and how to use it all, but wanted to know how to get his name out there and spread the word.
This is a great question. After all, who cares if you have a nice home studio if you don’t have any musicians to record!
In response to his question, I’ve come up with 10 ways to promote your home studio.
1. Create a website
Before you go out and start booking clients and spreading the word about you and your studio, it’s a good idea to create a website. Your potential clients need to have a place where they can check you out and find out what you’re all about. A website gives them this.
While Myspace and Facebook can be good for marketing and networking, I’d suggest still creating a dedicated website to showcase who you are and what you offer. It will allow you to post information about the gear you own, audio clips of some of your work, rates, contact info, etc.
Creating a website doesn’t have to be a difficult thing. It’ll cost you less than $100 for the first year to buy the domain and webhosting, and there are plenty of good resources on the web to get you started. (Check out 2CreateAWebsite.com.)
I use BlueHost to host this blog, and I use WordPress to create the blog itself. WordPress is great, and you can even use it to create a regular website with pages. It doesn’t have to be a blog, but you have that option if you want to post regular updates for your clients.
Another big benefit of having a website is that it gives clients a potential way to find you. Use search engine optimization techniques and keywords, such as “recording studio in Fort Wayne,” to attract traffic from local musicians searching for a studio. It may not generate a lot of interest at first, but it could pay off over time.
2. Go to concerts
This may seem a bit obvious, but if you’re wanting to meet musicians and potential clients, you need to go to them. Don’t wait around for them to come to you.
Make it a part of your regular routine to go to concerts. Anything from big shows to small coffeehouse open mic nights. Meet the musicians, get your face in front of them, and see what happens. Perhaps that singer-songwriter you just heard is wanting to record his first demo. Why not record it with you?
3. Study marketing
If you’re wanting to generate interest in your studio, you need to think of it as a business. If it’s just a hobby to you, you won’t get very far.
If you view your studio as a business, then you need to treat it as such. Study business and marketing. I’d start by subscribing to Seth Godin’s blog. He’s a brilliant guy who wrote the book on marketing. You’re wanting to market your studio, so learn how to do it well!
4. Utilize Craigslist
I know there are plenty of scams and garbage on Craigslist, but there’s still a good opportunity to get your name out. It’s free, and a potential client could easily turn to Craigslist to find a recording studio. Make sure you’re there when they do.
Post a simple ad with a link back to your website. Make it a regular routine to place ads on Craigslist. One engineer I know gave it a try and booked a lot of projects from Craigslist alone.
It’s free, so you really have nothing to lose.
5. Use Twitter/MySpace/Facebook
These sites can be a gold mine if you invest some time into them. They provide an extra way to connect with area musicians and bands.
Start following all the local artist and engineers you know, and slowly grow your network. Put yourself out there as much as you can. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find out about you, so get out there and make an online presence for yourself.
6. Talk to local music stores and music teachers
Get to know local music stores. They are interacting with musicians day in and day out. They may know of bands and artists looking to record a demo.
Music teachers can also be a great resource, because they are constantly dealing with new musicians. You could offer to record their students once they complete a certain portion of their lessons. Imagine if you’re a kid taking guitar lessons, and you had the option to record a CD after learning a handful of songs. How cool would that be!
Parents will eat that stuff up. (They love ways to show off their kids.) And I’m sure they would be willing to pay to have you record little Johnny playing “Sweet Home Alabama.”
7. Talk to churches, schools, with choirs/music programs
You may think that you only want to record artists and bands in your home studio, but there are a lot of other opportunities out there that you can tap into.
Churches, for example, are full of musicians. They perform every Sunday, and most churches would love to record a worship album to distribute to their congregation members. The problem is they may not have the money to book studio time, but if you can come in and offer to produce an album at a reasonable rate, they might just do it.
If you don’t feel comfortable approaching churches, schools offer the same opportunities. If they have a music/choir program, I’m sure there are times when they would like to have their concerts recorded.
In both of these scenarios, come up with ways to make it attractive for the client as well. Perhaps you produce the album for a fee, then they can make money on the back-end by selling them. It would be like a fundraiser for the church or school.
This is just one example, but there are a lot of options here. Be creative!
8. Connect with local hotels, convention centers, and theaters
Along the lines of schools and churches, local hotels and conventions centers are regularly hosting seminars and conferences. The companies hosting these events would probably love to have their seminars recorded. They can use them for podcasts and promotional material in the future. Perhaps they can even sell them at the end of the seminar.
You can also work directly with the hotel/convention center themselves. Offer your services, which they can then offer to their clients for an extra fee. This will help them offer added value to their clientele, and you can split the fee with them.
Either way, this is certainly not the most exciting gig, and it doesn’t relate much to music, but it’s an opportunity that may bring in some business.
If you are a songwriter or composer, keep in mind that there is opportunity to be had writing jingles for businesses. This may not be something you want to adamantly pursue, but keep it in mind when you deal with local businesses. You may uncover an opportunity or two that you otherwise would have never known about.
10. Do some work for free to get your name out there
You may disagree with this, and I would say definitely don’t make this the first thing you try, but if you’re having trouble getting folks to record with you, try offering them a free session. Perhaps you can record one song for them and see what they think. If you do good work, they may hire you for the rest of the album.
The best advice I can give is to simply go for it. Get yourself out there. Try one of the ideas I’ve listed here, or try something completely different. You’ll find that there are more opportunities out there than you may have realized initially.
Do you have other ideas? Have you tried things in the past that have worked particularly well? Please share by leaving a comment.