Ask Me Anything

The Six Figure Home Studio

Get Your Biggest Questions Answered Here

I’ve answered a lot of questions through email over the years, and I always kept a notepad of all of my “longer” replies. I wanted to include some of these answers in this “Ask Me Anything” blog post.

If you have a question you’ve always wanted to know the answer to, simply scroll to the bottom of this page and leave a comment!

I’ll answer as many as I can, and I’ll add some of your questions to this article…if they’re good enough 😉

Here is a list of the topics I cover in my answers below:

  • What to do when graduating from Audio Engineering school, and trying to get started in this industry
  • How to balance time between multiple studio projects
  • What to do when you’re struggling to find serious bands to work with
  • Trying to balance a day job with a recording studio on the side
  • How to determine what gear to buy
  • My advice to someone that feels like their life is becoming stagnant

The Six Figure Home Studio

What to do when graduating from Audio Engineering school, and trying to get started in this industry

Question: I graduated from recording school last summer, but I’m still struggling to find paying gigs. My living arrangement is at the moment very limited in space, so I have my studio gear set up in the bedroom, but it makes it quite awkward and not ideal to record bands at home. Do you recommend that I focus on only taking mixing jobs which I can do in solitude at home or renting a studio short term to record drums if I’m taking recording jobs? I have a very “if you want something done properly, do it yourself” mentality, so I dislike receiving poor quality recordings and turd polishing expectations.

Answer:  While you’re establishing your name and figuring out your differentiators, you’re better off keeping your expenses to an absolute minimum. Your current low overhead is a huge advantage. You can take all this time to get the fuckups/trial and error out of the way before you have real bills to pay for your studio. Also, you have more time to devote to learning instead of constantly being forced to generate revenue.

If you get the occasional band with a healthy budget, then feel free to rent out a studio to track drums. No matter your path, there is going to be a huge learning curve to get to the point where bands are seeking you out. Better to keep expenses to a minimum during this time (in my opinion).

If you need more room, the compromise is possibly moving into a (slightly) more expensive home that has an extra room you can devote to recording bands. Just don’t bite off more than you can chew as far as expenses. Always make sure you can more than make up for the difference in studio income.

How to balance time between multiple studio projects

Question: The only question that I really have for you is: How do you balance time between tracking and mixing? I realize you said you’ve moved away from tracking to focus on mixing, but when you were tracking, how did you manage the two? I work at a studio and I feel like I might have too much lined up. Any thoughts on how to better manage my schedule?

Answer: First off, If you have too much lined up, that’s a great problem to have. While you do want to make sure you’re maximizing your efficiency to handle as much work as you can, you have to start raising prices once you’ve hit your ceiling.

You need to place a value on your time ($ per hour), and make sure it’s constantly increasing with your demand.

The way I balanced between tracking and mixing (back when I tracked bands) was this:

– Wake up at 5:30am
– Go to the gym
– home by 8am to shower
– Breakfast and mixing by 8:30
– mixing until 11am.
– My tracking engineer wakes up the band while I eat lunch
– tracking starts at noon and goes until 8pm.

While this seems like a lot to handle, it really wasn’t. I could mix/master about 20-25 songs per month while tracking/producing 12-15 more at my peak. I became more of a “project manager” during tracking hours, where I wasn’t necessarily sitting there tracking and constantly working (this was my engineer’s job). I was there for quality control, and to make sure everything was done to my standards.

That being said, I realized I was making around $40/hr for tracking after paying my engineer and I was making at least $150-$200/hr when doing mixing/mastering. This is why I no longer track bands (well that, plus I hated it).

What to do when you’re struggling to find serious bands to work with

Question: My biggest issue has been getting clients who follow through on work. I’ve had 8 clients so far, 2 of which have finished/released material. The rest ran out of the little money they had if any to begin with. And while I’m down to work for free to boost my portfolio, these bands cancel regularly and I need to keep up at my day job. I downloaded your book to see if I could find a way to get more reliable clients who will finish their projects so I can get more of my work out there and spread my name.

Answer:  To answer your questions about finding reliable clients, there definitely is a way. First, read these two blog articles:

Part 1

Part 2

This should help with some of the issues. The biggest thing is this: If you don’t position yourself as someone is serious about recording, and 100% dedicated, then you’re not going to get serious/dedicated bands. You need to come across as professional as possible (this is covered extensively in the book).

Also, make sure you’re getting deposits from these bands. If they’re not willing to pay a nonrefundable 25% to 50% deposit, then they’re not serious about recording. In the past 6 years, I’ve only had about 2 bands cancel on me after sending in their deposit (in which case, I kept their deposit).

Trying to balance a day job with a recording studio on the side

Question: I’m a pro bass player, band guy and I also manage a business for a friend when he is off touring… I’m struggling to find a balance between maintaining my day job while trying to expand into the recording industry. I want to get to the point where I’m comfortable enough to quit my day job. It’s tough to say no to paid work and see the bigger picture when you have a mortgage/rent to pay.

Answer: I have an article planned for this topic in the future, but here is one thing I always ask people when they tell me they don’t have enough time for _________(fill in the blank):

How many hours of netflix/hulu/TV/video games/bullshit to you fit into your life every single week?

9 times out of 10 it’s not a matter of time management, but a matter of screwed up priorities and unwillingness to put in the work. The average american works 40 hours/week, but what do they do with the other 72 hours/week that they’re awake?

I’m definitely not saying that’s you, but it’s something people need to hear from time to time.

How to determine what gear to buy

Question: So i will be purchasing new equipment small mixing board, microphones, new sound monitors etc (which is what the money is for). I’m really excited about this, I’ve been working with the same VST’s and plug-ins for awhile now and i know there’s so much more out there to experiment with and now with my business I REALLY, REALLY want to find MY unique sound when I Record/Mix artists and bands. You know start building a reputation as well that’s my biggest goal right now. I don’t know if you have any tips on cost effective microphones or gear that could give me some really great sound for starting out new.

As for gear recommendations, I honestly keep it as simple as possible (especially until your business is profitable). It’s important to follow the 80/20 principle when buying gear – basically 80% of the gear you buy is meaningless to your overall sound or level of success, and the core 20% is what matters. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up spending 80% of your budget on “nice to have” instead of “absolutely need to have” gear.

Figure out what your focus is going to be at your studio, and shape your gear acquisition around it. The track you sent me sounded great, but if you’re going to be focusing on pop/electronic music, then why get a mixing console? You literally only need 1 incredible vocal chain, solid interface, great monitors, room treatment, a nice (used) computer from ebay or craigslist, and a shitload of software.

It’s important to separate the hobby of gear collection with the actual business-centric purchases that are necessary for you to do what you need. Forming your own sound is about 5% gear, and 95% your ears/knowledge/techniques/methods/etc. A lot of people use their gear list as a crutch to entice people to record with them, but the truly successful people let their past work speak for itself.

My advice to someone that feels like their life is becoming stagnant 

Question: You’re crazy. And I’m crazy. So I guess it’s normal. My fear is that I’m missing out somewhere, that I won’t accomplish what I set out for, that I should wait until I feel healthier like hydrate or exercise and cool healthy food. Everything else is more important than what’s most important. I have grown stagnant in my life, but I’m slowly building momentum back up. I also fear what the point to my work is. I’m stuck between a recording/performing artist and a producer so what work so I focus on first? Bam! Procrastinate.

Answer: I totally know what you mean. The key is to start from the top down. There’s an order to the madness in your head. Start with these 3 steps:

  1. Determine your 5 , 10, and 20 year goals.
  2. Break those goals down into projects
  3. Break those goals down into actionable tasks.

Here are examples:

1. Determine your 5 , 10, and 20 year goals.
Example:
My 5-year goal is to have one of the largest online platforms to help home studio owners succeed in creating and profiting in their businesses.
My 10-year goal is to be 100% financially secure, with a passive income of ~$30K/mo and net worth of $4+MM
My 20-year goal is to give back by providing mentorship to as many young entrepreneurs as possible.

2. Break those goals down into projects
Example:
For my 5-year goal, I know that I need to produce more content for my blog. This means more frequent blog articles, live events, online courses, a podcast, etc.
For my 10-year goal, I know that to achieve that amount of financial independence, I need to own ~40 rental properties free and clear. This means acquiring around 4 rental properties per year
For my 20-year goal, this is a bit trickier, but it all comes down to developing and grooming myself as an entrepreneur so I can properly give back when the time comes.

3. Break those goals down into actionable tasks.
Example:
If i want to write more blog articles, my actionable tasks would be

  • 1. Research for article ideas.
  • 2. Outline those articles.
  • 3. Block out time each week to write them.
  • 4. Edit the articles.
  • 5. Post them on my blog.

For my real-estate project, my actionable steps would be

  • 1. meet with brokers to start the conversion on acquiring properties.
  • 2. Save up the capital required to make my purchases.
  • 3. Search the MLS every single day for properties.
  • 4. Analyze any that meet my criteria.
  • 5. Put in offers.
  • 6. Buy

Etcetera, Etcetera, and Etcetera. You get the idea though. You daily actions are determined by your projects, which are determined by your goals (both long and short term).

Sorry for the novel-length reply, but I hope that helps you sort out the shitstorm in your head!

Ask your own question!

Is a question bouncing around in your own head? Simply ask a question in the comments, and I’ll be happy to answer it!

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58 Comments on "Ask Me Anything"

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Alex
Guest

Hey brian, I just finished listening to the URM podcast episode you were in. I am interested in knowing what podcasts, books, audio books etc would you recomend? Which do you listen to or read?
Thanks!

Chris
Guest

Hey Brian,
I’m currently in the situation that I’m able to Mix&Master, reamp&trigger and record guitar&bass with a kemper. I do not own a live room. Do you think it is possible to build a career only on mixing or do you have to do mixing AND recording and eventually concentrate only on mixing? What would you suggest?
Thanks a lot!

Stefan
Guest
hey brian, you asked by e-mail: „what sort of work do you do?“ currently i am a normal employee, but i am saving up to start my own business as soon as possible. i will have a starting capital of 5 – 10 thousand euros within 6 months. my huge problem is finding a proper idea for a business that i can start then. (running my own studio would be nice of course, but i do not have the talent.) do you have any ideas on how to approach this situation? how can i find a good business idea? or… Read more »
Taylor Merralls
Guest
Taylor Merralls

Hey Brian I was curious as to why my DI’s don’t sound anywhere near as good going through an Amp sim compared to other ”high-end” DI’s i’ve used from multi-tracks and so fourth without going heavy on the processing. I know this could come down to many different things so here’s my set up. Guitar (Ibanez S420 with Stock Pickups) > DI Box > Focusrite 2i4 > DAW > Amp Sim coming in hot about -3db before clipping.

Dalton
Guest
Hey Brian, I’m thinking of upgrading to a new desktop because the one i have now crashes a lot. I use a lot of plugins and virtual instruments (superior drummer, synths, bass di, etc) the one i have now is a AMD A8 quad core 8GB and I cant have a smooth workflow without it crashing. so which would be better a “HP – ENVY Desktop – Intel Core i5 – 12GB Memory – 128GB Solid State Drive + 1TB Hard Drive” or a “Asus – Desktop – Intel Core i7 – 12GB Memory – 1TB+8GB Hybrid Hard Drive “?… Read more »
Leon
Guest
First off, Thanks a lot for all your posts dude and taking your time to enlighten some of us newbies about being successful in the home studio really means a lot. Well Being an African, I have two simple question, My first question is…..Joining and being more focused in an online music market place (sound better.com) Vs. Being more focused in the home studio work, clients and growth of your studio/ business….Which one yields faster results, revenues and clients? (Reason for this question is that i can’t focus on both things at the same time with divided attentions) And my… Read more »
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