5 New Year’s Resolutions For The Studio | By Thomas Brett |
Mixing is for life, not just for Christmas
As another year draws to a close, the time has come for the annual tradition of setting unrealistic goals that usually end up going unfulfilled.
Don’t get me wrong… It’s great to dream big, but equally important to make sure you can actually achieve your goals in the time frame given!
HERE’S A QUICK LIST OF REALISTIC AUDIO TARGETS TO STRIVE FOR IN 2017
1 – Learn A New Skill
Gain a new skill to open up doors of opportunity and make your services more appealing to potential clients
Nobody likes a one-trick pony, but there’s good news: One of the great things about working in audio is that it’s nearly-impossible to know everything there is to know!
Here are some valuable studio skills which will take you a long way towards becoming a jack-of-all-trades:
- Discover the world of synthesis: Using preset synth patches is fine, but what if you could build the exact sound you’ve been hearing in your head?!? It’s a wide and wonderful world of opportunities. Who knows, you might end up being pretty good at it…
- Always worked with drum samples or amp sims?: Why not learn how to mic up a real kit and record a real amp/cab? Or… (on the other side of the coin) Learn about drum replacement, amp simulation, and Impulse Responses. Both of these approaches have their pros and cons, so know how to nail them both!
- Learn some basic orchestral arrangement skills: Being able to provide additional instrumentation such as string sections and percussion is an extremely valuable asset in the studio. There are hundreds of excellent, reasonably priced sample libraries on offer from companies such as Spitfire, Voice of Gaia, and Native Instruments (and exactly zero reasons not to give them a go!)
NOTE: These are just a handful of obvious examples. Just make sure that whatever you go for, you stick with it long enough to overcome the learning curve.
2 – Expand Your Target Audience / Client Base
If you play it safe in life, you’ve decided that you don’t want to grow anymore
It’s easy to get pigeonholed into a specific type of music in this business. Being able to switch between genres and cater to a wide range of potential customers is key to expanding your skillset and maintaining a steady, reliable income.
Try out these ideas to give your musical palate a good cleansing:
- Write some music in a genre you haven’t worked in before: This is an excellent way of adding some new licks or rhythmic skills to your vocabulary. The awesome thing is that these new tricks are often transferable, and can result in innovation when applied to different contexts.
- Study the greats: Learn the characteristic sonic traits that help define specific sounds and study the engineers who are “top-dog” in their respective genres. Trying out the different techniques on offer from this process is a great way of spicing up some otherwise bland mixes.
3 – Get Your Name Out There!
How are people going choose you if they don’t even know you exist?!?
Feel like your business is going nowhere fast? Might be time to step up your marketing game with some shiny new upgrades.
Here are a few practical marketing steps you can take towards getting more work in 2017:
- Brand yourself: Think up a simple, clever logo that will catch the eye of potential customers. You don’t necessarily have to create the logo yourself, just make sure it’s memorable and relevant to what you’re all about.
- Use social media: Create a concise and professional looking Facebook page. It helps paint a clear picture of the service quality you provide, and is a great way to spark an interest in people. It’s not a terribly difficult thing to create, but trust me when I say it’s better to do it early on in order to start building up a following for your studio.
- Build a website: Although it may not be the best way of gaining new customers, having a professional looking website with clear examples of your work and images of your studio goes a long way towards giving yourself some credibility (make sure to check out Wix.com for an excellent DIY website building solution that won’t break the bank!)
NOTE: A “dumb” and simple-to-use website is worth a lot more to a potential customer than a flashy and complex one. If I can’t find examples of your work within 10 seconds, I most likely won’t be bothered with your website.
4 – Stop Procrastinating
Because of the nature of the job, we often like to really take our time trying to perfect the most tedious and miniscule things in order to satisfy our “engineer ego”
Striving for excellence is great, but if the pursuit of perfection is causing you to spend way too long trying to finish things then it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate… The simple truth is, the biggest impacts we can make on a mix often only take up a tiny fraction of the overall time spent.
Here are a few changes you can make towards getting more work finished from now on:
- Commit to decisions early on: Giving yourself too many options and leaving all of the tough decision making for “future you” is a sure-fire way to slow-down your productions. Check out last week’s URM Blog by Dave Whalen for some excellent advice on decision making.
- Simplify the process: Try and streamline your recording and mixing process down to the bare necessities and cut out anything that’s hindering your progress. Learn to limit yourself and focus on the bigger picture.
Question: Do you really need a chain of 15 plugins to mix a cowbell? NO! A single channel strip will do just fine…
5 – CONCLUSION: Learn From 2016
It’s fairly common to look back on previous years and phase out all of the positive things until you only see the mistakes you’ve made. The ironic truth is that mistakes should actually be the single biggest motivator of all!
If you’ve made a particular mistake that led to problems or someone being disappointed you’ll do whatever it takes to avoid repeating that same mistake.
Having a “learn from your mistakes” attitude is key to a successful career in audio!
Some final questions to think about:
I’ll leave you with a few simple questions about the past year. The answers to these should help decide what your primary audio goals for 2017 should be:
What worked well?
What didn’t work?
What am I good at?
What do I need to improve upon?
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This concludes “5 New Year’s Resolutions For The Studio”. I hope that this article has given you some new ideas to try out during your next project. Be sure to comment below if any of this information has helped you out, or if you have any questions.
Stay tuned for “Analysis As A Learning Tool – Part 2” and more production/mixing related articles in the not-so-distant future!
Thomas Brett is a producer, mixing engineer and songwriter at Brett Brothers recording studio in the UK. Check out the Brett Brothers studio website for more information and articles on all things mixing www.brettbrothersstudio.com
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