Who This Article Is For
If you’re sitting there right now in your smug little studio, you’re making six figures a year, life is great, business is going well with clients beating down your door, and everything that you touch is successful then this is not the article for you.
If you haven’t had any clients in the past year and you’re still trying to figure this whole thing out from the beginning, or if you’ve had some moderate success in the past keep reading!
Maybe you’re doing this on the side and you’ve had some clients, but there’s no consistency. If every time you talk to a potential client they just ghost on you, or they just go to the studio down the road, or they end up recording themselves – I know that can be frustrating. If that is you, if you’re sitting in that boat right now this IS the article for you.
If you’re more of a video person, you can watch the video version of this article below.
So Brian, What Can I Do?
So, let’s have some real talk. If you can answer this question you’re going to have a long and healthy career. If you can’t answer this question truthfully, you’re losing money every single day, every single week, and every single month until you can really answer this question.
The question is this: why should someone work with you instead of your competitor or the studio down the road? Why should someone record at your studio, or have you master their song, or insert whatever service you do here… instead of all the other options out there?
There are so many amazing studios in the United States and around the world. Wherever you’re from, there’s a lot of competition.
You know this, I know this, we all know this.
Until you can answer the question of why should someone record with you, instead of me, you are going to continue to struggle.
It all comes down to something called differentiation.
It’s a big word.
Differentiation means being different than the person next to you. All that means is what are you doing to set yourself apart?
Every single person, whether you realize it or not, who is getting clients, they’re getting clients because they have differentiated themselves in some way from their competitors.
Maybe they have a better relationship. Maybe their studio was nicer than yours. Maybe they have more gear. Maybe they have more experience. Maybe they sound better than you. There are a ton of different ways that they’re beating you, but at the end of the day you can still have some sort of advantage.
All is not lost! You still have a chance to find a way to differentiate yourself.
- You don’t need to have the most gear.
- You don’t need to have the nicest studio.
- You don’t need to be in the best location.
- You don’t need to know every single person in your city.
There are still things that you can do to set yourself apart.
So, now you’re probably wondering “what can I do differently? What does set me apart from my competitors? Why should someone record with me?”
First of all, chill out, I don’t want you do doubt yourself. Let’s go over some ways that you can potentially differentiate yourself from your competitors.
The Easiest (and Worst) Way To Differentiate Yourself
Starting from the actual worst way to do it, but the most common way that I see it done, and that is through pricing.
One way to differentiate yourself is to just lower your price. That’s the easiest way to do it, right?
“If someone charges $100 a song, I will charge $50 a song. If someone’s $1,000 a song, I’ll charge $500 a song, I’ll undercut my competition!”
While that does work, and it does technically set you apart from your competition, this is only a temporary solution in my eyes.
This is a great method if you’re just starting out, you’re just trying to get a few clients under your belt to start getting referrals or to build your portfolio.
Or to start figuring out what’s working, what’s not working, and just gain some experience… but you can’t do this long term.
You’re not going to make a career out of differentiating yourself by lowering your rates.
So, pricing is out of the question, that’s not a long-term solution. So what’s next?
A Better, Yet Difficult Method Of Differentiation
Well, there is a way that you can do this that’s free, it literally doesn’t cost you anything. It’s called being better.
If you can be better than your competition you will win.
You can maintain your prices, or you can even charge more if you are better. This is a great method of differentiation.
But, for those of you who are new, or for those of you that don’t have the ability to spend your full time every waking hour being the “best” at this, it’s also not really the easiest way to differentiate.
It’s difficult to be better than your competitors and even more difficult to be “the best.”
So, where does that leave us?
We can’t be cheaper, we most likely can’t be the best, and we probably can’t even be better than all of our competitors. Although, that’s obviously the goal!
So, if you’re not cheaper and you’re not better, what other ways could you be differentiated from your competitors?
The Differentiation Techniques That Hit the Sweet Spot Between Effort and Benefit
Here are five methods that you can use to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
I’m going to talk about each one, and you can pick and choose which work best for you.
You don’t have to choose all of these – none of these are going to work for all of you – but if you can pick and choose one or two of these and run with it, you can go a long way for just setting yourself apart from your competitors down the road.
The first way is just being faster. Turn around times, getting songs done faster than your competitors and making sure that you’re getting things done on time.
If you can be faster than your competitors this is a good advantage, especially if you’re in an industry like mastering, or you’re in an area where time is of the essence being faster than your competitors can be an advantage.
If you were lacking clients, if you are the person that’s really desperate for clients this should be easy for you, because you can devote a lot more time and energy into one client, versus someone down the road who has too many clients and is juggling too many projects,letting things fall through the cracks.
If you can be faster than your competitors that is one advantage, and one way to differentiate yourself. You can even make it so that you have a guaranteed turn around time of just say one day, or one hour, or whatever it is that you do.
You can find some way to differentiate by doing it faster. There is a caveat, though; you need to maintain quality. That goes without being said, but I’ll say it anyways.
The second thing way you can potentially differentiate from your competitors, and an easy way, is just being just more convenient. Being more convenient just means you’re setting yourself up to cater to your clients more.
One obvious way to this is to have a more convenient location. If your competitors are all located to the center of the city, having a studio in the center of the city is probably a more convenient thing. However, that’s not realistic because it will typically be more expensive.
That’s not the only way to be more convenient for your clients. There are a lot of ways that you can be more convenient for your clients, one of them being just providing gear or equipment for them to use in the studio.
A lot of artists don’t have great gear. A lot of artists don’t have gear that’s studio worthy. Having things laying around the studio that they can use, that’s convenient.
Another easy thing to do to be more convenient for your clients is to just be flexible on time. A lot of artists are only available to record nights and weekends. If you have a day job you’re probably up the same alley, so if you can provide nights and weekends, to be available for their time, that goes a long way towards being convenient for an artist.
To go along with that, have the gear set up so that they can pop in and out, and you always have the gear set up. Let’s say you have a drum set always mic’d up, always ready to record. If they only have an hour to come in and they want to get a song done on drums, you don’t have to spend three hours getting everything mic’d up, sound checked, and ready to record. Be ready to record the house kit at all times.
Another thing that you can do, if you’re set up to do this, is to provide lodging for your artists. A lot of people that come in from out of state, or from another region, or just drink in the studio and need somewhere to crash while they sober up.
Having a place for bands to stay is actually a very, very good way to differentiate yourself, and is really convenient for the client. They don’t have to pay for a hotel, they don’t have a long drive late at night.
This is easy for a lot of you to do, and you’re just not making it happen. You’re just not putting the bunk beds in, you’re just not putting the cots down, whatever it takes. Letting the bands crash at your studio can be very convenient, and is a good way to differentiate from your competitors.
3. Building Relationships
Another really simple, really easy way to differentiate yourself from all of your competitors is just to focus on the relationship. All of your clients, they’re people. They have their own hopes, fears, dreams, desires, they have their own goals.
They are all working toward something that they want to do, something they’re passionate about, and they put their heart, soul, and life into their music. If you can treat them with respect and dignity, and give them the benefit of the doubt when it matters, focus on the relationship.
Buy them lunch, do things to nurture the relationship over a long period of time, they will never cheat on you. They will never go to the studio down the road, they’ll keep coming back to you regardless of whether or not the other studio is cheaper, more convenient, better located, has better gear, or has better facilities.
If you really focus on the relationship, and keep that tight connection and keep them happy, that is honestly one of the best differentiators that you can have, and it’s basically free.
Another quick and easy differentiator is having better communication skills. Studios are notorious for saying one thing, and then doing another thing. Not communicating something that they did. Mis-scheduling or double scheduling, or they send something to an artist and it’s the wrong thing. T
hey never follow up on an email, there are tons of different ways that things can fall through the cracks, especially for busy studios, so this is an advantage that you have as someone who is really hustling to make things happen.
You can really set yourself apart as being different, as being better by just being better at communicating. This means when you have a conversation with a client following up via email with all the things you talked about. That means when someone is just asking for your rates, you’re sending them a detailed email with the entire rate break down with your services. Along with what I call a high-class proposal, a very nice, very well put together a proposal.
This is all part of communicating with your clients. This means when you finish up a project, and you say you’re going to send a mix, you actually do it when you say you’re going to do it. Communicate the date of delivery to the artist and stick to it (or send the files earlier). These are things that most studios don’t do, but you can do this. Just by being a better communicator.
5. Knowing Your Specialty And Owning It
Finally the last, and definitely not the least, way to set yourself apart to differentiate is to simply niche down. I talk about this all the time on The Six Figure Home Studio podcast, I’ve talked about this in other articles, but if you can really focus on serving one niche.
Whether it’s EDM, or hip-hop, or metal, or hardcore, or rock, or rap, whatever it is if you can focus on one specific niche you can do everything that I just talked about today, except it’s catering to that one niche. You can do everything that I just talked about today, except it’s catering to that one niche.
- All the gear in your studio is really focused on serving that one niche.
- Your entire website can be set up to serve that specific niche.
- All of your audio skills that you’re spending time, effort, and money developing, and bettering yourself in it can be focused in that one niche.
- You can better serve that one niche by learning everything you possibly can about it.
If you can become a master in that one niche there’s no reason for someone to record with your competitor. Especially if that competitor is a generalist or a jack of all trades and master of none. If you are the go-to person in your niche, you’re the best at that one thing, you will not struggle to find clients. If you can focus on serving one specific niche, you will be golden.
- You can be cheaper.
- You can be better.
- You can be faster.
- You can be more convenient.
- You can be more relationship focused.
- You can be a better communicator.
- Or you can just simply niche down.
Whatever you choose, you need to be different. You have to be different.
Literally just be different, because different is going to get you a lot further than just being the same as everyone else. No one wants a copycat studio.
“Me too, I do all the same things as everyone else.”
No, be different.
Did I mention be different?
The key to making all of this work is to not get overwhelmed. Just pick one or two of these and focus on them.
If you’re brand new don’t worry about any of this yet, just have this in the back of your head as you’re getting started. As you’re developing your skills, just have this in the back of your head that, “hey I need to find something to differentiate myself on.
As I’m learning, as I’m growing, as I’m developing my skills, and my abilities, and my studio, to have something that I am building to make myself different from everyone else.”
Make sure that you are not building your career, your entire studio, without answering the question, what makes me different than the person down the road? Why would someone hire me instead of my competition?
Differentiating yourself is a huge part of being a successful studio. You will not succeed if you do not differentiate yourself in some way.
Differentiation is only half the battle. In the future, I’m going to talk about how to communicate those differences to your potential clients. How to make sure they understand that you are different, that you’re not the same as everyone else.
If you found this helpful, if you want to dive deeper into learning the ends and outs of business for your studio, I’d encourage you to check out the free workshop that I offer.
You can go to thesixfigurehomestudio.com/workshop, it’s a workshop called How to Make Living From Your Existing Audio Skills Without The Need of a Fancy Studio, or Expensive Gear. It’s where I’ll walk you through three important things.
The first thing is how to find more clients for your studio.
The second thing is how to really sell your services in a non-sleazy way to your potential clients.
The third thing is how to position yourself as a premium service, and that’s through something I call the high-class proposal I mentioned it earlier in this article. I cover that in this workshop, is about 90 minutes long, so this is a very in-depth workshop. If you want to watch that just go to thesixfigurehomestudio.com/workshop, and again that’s 100% free.
Until next time, happy hustling. Thanks for reading!