This is a guest post from Nick Lewis of Brighton Mastering.

After reading Joe’s post about charging for your work, I had a few thoughts about home studio engineers starting out, and the current state of the recording industry.

As an online mastering engineer, I get sent very respectable sounding home-brew mixes all the time, but a lot of home studio owners don’t feel confident enough to charge for their work. Your studio and your skills are an asset, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t benefit from that.

Investment

All businesses require investments of two sorts: tools and labour.

A typical home studio owner has invested hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars into their equipment and countless man hours learning their trade.

Most haven’t had the benefit of formal training or the traditional ‘tea boy’ route (harder than ever to afford or find a venue for). But that doesn’t mean they haven’t studied, and aren’t talented at what they do.

If you’ve invested in tools and labour, and can produce a professional product as a result, then you’ve got yourself a business – that’s true of any industry, recording included.

Keeping the Client Happy

The only thing any business really has to do is keep its clients happy.

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of most home studio owners charging for their work is a lack of confidence which stems from aiming to match the highest budget, glossiest major label recordings.

As long as you’re confident you can work to a standard that will satisfy your client, then take the job. It doesn’t matter if it matches up to the latest Britney Spears record, it just matters that your client is satisfied enough with the work to pay you.

Obviously you want to do a good job, and this is not an excuse to be complacent and aim lower. It’s just something to bear in mind when deciding whether or not to start charging for work.

The trick is to be honest about where you are in the quality scale and price accordingly. It doesn’t make sense to charge the same rates as Abbey Road when you’ve got a laptop, a £500 audio interface and an SM58. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t charge at all if that’s all you need to get a decent sound.

Thinking Business

Take an objective look at what you’re doing. Ask people you’ve worked with what they honestly think of you work. Pitch your price at the right level. Work to the highest standard you can.

A copywriter needs a copy of Word and the ability to write. An audio engineer needs a studio and the ability to make things sound good. If you’ve got that, you’re in business.

This is a guest post from Nick Lewis. Nick runs Brighton Mastering, a mastering studio based in Brighton, UK. For more tips, tricks and opinion, check out his blog.

  • Wendy Dezeeuw

    Thank you for this great post, I’m gonna try this.

    Please allow me to reccomand you also one of the great websites I am using and it really works for me best pay per download network

  • Building a home recording studio is not that hard. The internet is packed with useful information. I think that finding the clients is really what’s this business is all about. Newspaper ads, sticky ads, CraigList will do the job. 

    • I find that those things don’t work that well. Building relationships with musicians is where almost all of my work comes from.

  • malbert

    Indeed this are realities in life. Thanks for sharing Joe. God bless you.

  • William Erasmus

    Hi Joe,

    Loved this post. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but…when do you know your work is good enough to charge for?

    As an example, here’s a song I composed for a friend of mine’s film: http://soundcloud.com/williamerasmus/not-another-day-theme

    I’ve been avoiding asking this question for months now but I guess I should ask eventually… 🙂

    -Will (@SplinterCell37)

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  • Brenda Ford

    This was a good article. I do have a home studio, but my dilemma has been 1)I don’t have the space for instruments. Just vocals. 2) I don’t have a separate entrance so I have to pick and choose my clients. A question that I have is are there times where you’ve had a project RECORDED someplace else that you then mixed? Not sure how I REALLY get my studio up and running past my dilemmas?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Brenda. Here are my thoughts, for what it’s worth.

      1. If you have space for vocals you have space for most instruments (except for drums). If there’s room for a person to stand and sing, there’s plenty of room for someone to stand or sit and play guitar. If people can fit in your house, you’ve got room to record them. 🙂 I don’t think that excuse holds up very well. Just about everyone here on this site has a home studio with limited space, but we’re all recording all sorts of people and instruments. Just go for it!

      2. I understand not wanting to let complete strangers into your home. Most of the people I record aren’t strangers. They’re friends and friends of friends who I already have a relationship with. If you really aren’t comfortable with letting some people in your home, take your studio to them! Even if you don’t have a laptop, you can lug your computer and equipment fairly easily. I’ve done it lots of times.

      • Brenda Ford

        I guess I shouldn’t have said NO instruments LOL Yes I do have space for someone who is using one instrument or even something simply out of a keyboard, which as a singer, goes against my religion, but these are good ideas. I’ll do more networking with friends to see if they know of anyone wanting to record. Thanks for the tips!

  • Great post and also great to read Philip’s question and Joe’s answer.

    Would you know any online location to do studio work? I live remotely in Kenya, so that would be an excellent option for me.

    Thanks,

    Abdallah

  • Preshan

    Excellent post, thanks! I’ve found that it’s important to improve with every new project so people (potential clients) are happy with what they’re hearing from you and will be confident to pay for your service. If you do a bad job on one project, you can very quickly lose “cred”. 🙂

    • Very true. Keep a portfolio of your best work to share with clients. You don’t have to share those “bad projects.” (Everybody has them.) 🙂

  • I love what I do! I put my all into making a quality production. Im ready to start making money from my business. Great post! Peace and Blessings

  • Humberto Jiménez

    Absolutely true! Actually I’m just starting to produce my first album for someone else. I feel confident enough with the results of my own work, so I think it is time to to get profits for what I do.

    • As long as you do good work and help people, there’s no reason you can’t make some money.

  • Philip

    Ok “you’re in business”.

    Yes “Keep the clients happy”

    But how do you get clients?

    How can someone in their bedroom slash studio promote themselves as a mixer?

    • GREAT question, Philip. Maybe Nick can do a followup post for us. Just like with ANY freelance business, the important thing is knowing people, making connections. If you STAY in your bedroom, then you probably won’t get any clients. 🙂

      Get out there and meet musicians. Tell your friends what you do, and they might steer people your way. Some of the best gigs I’ve gotten have been through friends or friends of friends.

      For a list of 10 ideas for promoting your studio, check out this post I wrote a while back:

      http://www.homestudiocorner.com/10-ways-to-promote-your-home-studio/

  • Hey Joe, again good post. I find it best to offer my clients an incentive for repeat business. After 9 sessions I give them a free session. I know maybe a lot of other guys would disagree, but as a consumer myself I always look forward to a great offer. Sort of makes you wanna continue being a patron. Anyhow just putting my 2 cents in… God Bless…

    • I LOVE doing business with people who give me a reason to do repeat business. There’s a local yogurt place in Nashville that my wife and I LOVE. They do the punch-card thing, where you get one free after you buy 10. Also, they do two-punch Tuesdays, so if you buy two on Tuesday, you get 4 punches. Does it cost them a little bit of money? Yeah. Does it keep us coming back time and time again? YES.