If you've ever been on the receiving on end of something like this - "Yeah, you're good, but why should I work with you?", then hopefully this post will help you out a little.
Similar to the Landing Composing Jobs series, I'd be happy to expand on the points I've written here if there's a demand for it. There's only so much I can fit into a single blogpost without it becoming some kind of thesis, so do bear in mind that this isn't all-encompassing and definitely does NOT cover every aspect of the topic. There's just too much to say and I'm not a professional consultant by any means. These are just steps I've learnt along the way in my journey thus far. Today, there are 2 main points I'd like to share with you that would hopefully assist you in getting new and returning clients for your business.
Once again, this blogpost assumes that you ARE in fact already good enough at what you do to start charging money for your service(s). If not, it's back to the grind.
1. Differentiate Yourself.
There's a lot of music composers/producers/audio engineers etc. out there that pretty much sound lame and terribly boring when they market themselves. I'm not even talking about posting spammy SoundCloud links on random Facebook groups without so much as a caption. I'm talking about proper advertising of your services.
In order to stand out from your competition, you NEED to have an edge over them. This is ESPECIALLY the case if you are starting out and have no big name clients to brag about since you've yet to acquire any clients to begin with.
Likewise, if you've been doing this for a while and HAVE those big name clients, but you're still looking to get more clients to work with, simply saying "I've worked with XX band and XX artist" isn't necessarily going to get you more opportunities. Yes it may help in creating clout, but it may not necessarily lead you to get in touch with the folks you want to work with.
First off, you have to view yourself as a service provider. That means you are here to SERVE. You are NOT here to demand or become entitled for bigger , better and recurring clients just because you graduated at the top of your school, did internships with Hans Zimmer or have worked as Kanye West's roadie before.
Like it or not, you have to OFFER something that your competition can't or can only do so to a lesser extent. For a mixing engineer, it can be something as simple as "If you use my services, I can pitch your track to Universal Music as I have a personal connection with some of the A&R guys there." Or for a producer, it can be something like "You'll get featured on all my social media pages. If you don't have a marketing strategy, I'll work with you to develop one, because I want to see you succeed as an artist."
These things sound cliche and perhaps even overdone in some circles, but it works. People WILL pay for exclusivity. It's been tried and tested time and timed again by every successful brand around the world. You & your services are part of your brand too.
I just had a look on Soundbetter.com and nearly everyone on the platform pitching their services sounds robotic and boring:
"I'm XX. I'm an award winning producer/engineer. I'm also a professional guitar/drums/insert-instrument-here-player and have worked with countless of artists from both indie and major record labels. I have over 20 years of experience and this sick gear setup. Let me give your song the polishing it deserves etc etc".
Basically, almost profile on the site sounds/looks the same. Now I'm not sure if it's the structural limitations of the platform or not, but holy smokes, I'll be lost if I was forced to choose to work with someone listed there. Now it's not that the people there aren't good at what they do. Some of them might even be GREAT at their craft. It's just their "pitch" that's entirely lost on me because it's virtually the same as everyone else's.
Have you ever wondered how some guys can make a living from producing music from their bedroom studios without having the latest equipment or huge vintage analog gear that we as producers/engineers love to drool over? They don't even have 'A' list clients. Yet they're raking in good money that allows them to live a lifestyle that they're comfortable with. Perhaps consider that they may be offering a kind of service that no one else out there does and this therefore makes them unique.
2. Offer An Experience.
There is a good amount of truth in the saying "People don't buy because of logic. They buy because of emotions and then justify that purchase with logic.". If you're a mixing engineer, your final product delivered will virtually be the same as that of every other mixing engineer out there: a mixed song or a mixed album. So why would an artist come back to you to have his or her song mixed? It's for two reasons:
The quality of your mixes are awesome.
They enjoyed the experience of working with you.
Point 1. is a given. Point 2 should be what you're selling.
If you are a mixing engineer blessed to be able to work out of a proper studio facility where you can invite prospective clients over to hang out, please do so. And then do me a favour and try the following:
Do some research on the client before he/she/they arrive
Talking about common interests with them after they've entered your studio and made themselves comfortable
Talk about the kind of music you like and the music that your client has put out before as well as how much you love it. (BE HONEST HERE, you wouldn't want to work with a band that writes music you hate right? It's common sense, really.)
DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR SERVICES AT ALL
Thank your client for their time and tell them you've got to get back to work mixing songs for other artists
Tell them that they're free to drop by any time.
What would possibly happen next is, your client's interest will be piqued. They may ask to see your work OR they may even ask you to mix one of their songs without even having listened to what you've done in the past.
Sounds crazy? Yes it is, because you've essentially sold your services without having to mention them at all throughout your interaction with this client. How did it work? Your client has learnt to trust you because you have established a relationship with the other party. They were sold on the experience of talking to you, getting to know you, and being in your studio. At the end of the day, music is a very personal thing, so it's a privilege when someone invites you in to add your touch to his/her art. Don't ever take that for granted.
True story: I've been asked to compose music and SFX for video games by developers using this method. Once again, I can't guarantee that it will work for you, but it did for me. In my case previously, I didn't even have a proper studio to invite them to. We just met outside and spoke about the computer games we loved playing while growing up. It's all about trust and the building of relationships.
TL;DR - Differentiate yourself in the services you offer and sell the experience of working with you while building relationships in the process. That is the key to get returning customers.
Hopefully the things that I've shared here does help you in your journey in making a full-time income doing what you love. All the best now, and I'll be back with another post next Friday.