As we enter the 3rd month of this year, we also move into our next focus; this month is all about Business Administration. Now, I know that sounds boring as hell, but stick with me as these things are so important and will help you no end towards gaining more time, more clients, streamlining your workflow, and so much more - honestly, once I kind of cracked the code for myself on this, things really started to shape for me and I’m confident that this month I can help you towards cracking it for yourselves as well.
So, as always, let’s dive in!
It wasn’t very long into my career that I realised just how much you need to keep a good stock check of all your common goods in the studio. As a guitarist, I would buy one pack of strings when I was first starting out, maybe a couple of individual picks, a couple of guitar leads, basically just thinking of the one thing I was playing and the way I could go about tending to my own needs. When running as studio, you’ll run into this same problem, but maybe some guitarists or bassist aren’t as ‘specific’ as to when they change their stings, or maybe they’re prone to whittling they picks all the way down until they buy new ones (or inevitably lose it at a show).
The problem is, this then directly correlates to your production and it makes sense to stock up on items, or better yet, bulk buy to save cost and time in the long run. Instead of buying one pack of strings, buy a 3 set pack, or 10 sets if you can. Stock up on things not for your instrument as well - sticks, moon gel, duct-tape, mic clips, capo choices (spider capo’s or normal for example), spare drum heads, packs of varying sizes of plectrums… the list really is endless, but keeping a good stock of these things will help you run much more efficiently, but also show the band that you can help them in much more than just recording; plus, as you save cost in buying in bulk, you can still charge the same as per pack and thanks to the convenience of not waiting for an delivery, you can offer them to purchase on the day from you and you end up making a small profit to fund the stock check when the next time comes.
Strings breaking mid-session is the bane of my audio world - I usually stick to one brand, in this case D'addario and always multi buy so I've never caught short - as soon as I get to my 2nd to last pack, I'll refill my stock.
Equipment maintenance can be a chore, but as will all things needing to be maintained, it’s a simple necessity that's unavoidable. The good news is you can really help to save cost in replacing broken things by learning a few simple tricks that come in handy no end.
I think the most important thing I’ve learnt in the studio pertaining to this topic is soldering. I can not even begin to think of how much money I would’ve saved early on on replacing broken cables if I’d known of this simple skill which, by the way, there’s so much information online at your fingertips to learn from!
This is my soldering gun - I can't express how useful having a self-feed is as opposed to holding the solder and inevitably burning myself!
Learning this skill won’t just help with cables though however. I had a session recently with a band called Piston Dreams (go check them out, they’re great) who I’ve been friends with for a while. As we sat down to catch up about some of the shows they’d had, it came to light for me that there were some issues with the inner electronics of her bass guitar and one of the wires for the output jack had come almost completely away. Thanks to knowing how to solder, not only did we get to continue with the session with no issues, but I was able to help a friend out and hopefully help her perform without problems in the future - that’s what I’d refer to as a big win win, wouldn’t you agree?
Maintenance can come in other forms as well, it doesn't just have to be fixing things. Actually, the prevention of things breaking is just as important. A great example would be hard cases for guitars, bass guitars, and even shells for the drums; in fact any instrument you care about would benefit from protection not just from wear and tear but also the weathering that comes simply from using the instrument, as well as moisture, temperature changes, and so on. Other prevention methods could be oils for wood specifically for instruments (there are a lot of options here but Dunlop and Goby Labs (Hosa Tech) are my go to choices typically), metal contact cleaners, air spray canisters for dust removal, the list goes on.
Lastly, I think arguably the most important thing in this blog regarding running an efficient studio should be consistency; both in the above topics and keeping on top of those things, but more so in your work, your schedule and your turnaround time for projects and your commitments to a band or an artist.
Word of mouth is in my humble opinion still, to this day, the most powerful form of marketing yourself and your services. If your work is consistently good, or above the standard the client expects, if you can deliver on time, and if you keep to your word on a deadline or doing a piece of work, or a favor to them - whatever it is, they will inevitably trust you more and more to do, well, exactly what you’re being hired to do!
But, you’ll also find that they start to recommend you to far more people, and their friends who may only know of you and not have worked with you, will also recommend their friends to you due to a good reputation. It honestly does have a domino effect, and yes, life is life, sometimes the unexpected happens and plans are thrown out of place, but even consistency in communication is key as, for the most part, as long as someone knows you’re doing your best and you’re taking the time to update them on whatever the issue might be, they’ll usually be rather forgiving.
Consistency really is the key to showing people you can be relied upon, and that will only bode more opportunities on the horizon, I promise.