I don’t care what genre you work with, what your role in the recording process is, or even what your experience level is in the music industry – having service industry experience will get you more clients. Period.
But what does bussing tables or taking food orders have to do with your competence in the studio? A whole lot more than many people would expect, apparently. Service industry workers take some of the biggest abuses in their day-to-day, whether it’s getting stiffed on a tip or having to help out a customer who refuses to have any semblance of a decent human being. They have to work crazy hours & long shifts – sometimes pulling doubles or working two jobs with conflicting schedules.
All of these conditions make service industry workers some of the most prepared to enter the pro audio world, and their clients love them because of it.
As A Freelancer
If you’re someone that books your own sessions and networks with bands to build up your credits, you’re going to have some type of charm to reel in those first few artists. Working without a portfolio of solid audio work can be extremely difficult – you have nothing to show them outside of your own project. This doesn’t exactly scream “professional”, does it?
Luckily, how you interact with people is just as important as your experience itself, and sometimes even more important. If you’re working with a new band that doesn’t have a huge list of industry contacts, it’s going to be more about how they feel working with you than it is about the credits to your name. You’re all young & fresh to the scene; ready to show people what you’re capable of.
Service industry workers learn to relate to their customers when it comes to helping them make decisions – just like you’re going to do with the bands that you work with. By taking a genuine interest in what their goals are, you’ll be better prepared to help them actualize those goals as you go. The end result is the same as in your service industry gig: a group of happy customers.
As A Studio Professional
If given the choice between two studio assistants with no studio work experience, would you rather take the one with a resume or a demo CD? Unless that demo CD has the best production I’ve ever heard, I’m taking the guy or girl with the resume showing work experience. Why?
By applying for the position, both individuals have shown interest in learning my craft, but only one has proven that they can take directions with a solid work background. They’re way more likely to understand that the studio is my space and they’re here to help me work.
I’m not alone in this thinking – any professional studio, major or minor, is going to want somebody that can help keep things moving along in a session. They want somebody that can show up and knows how to interact with people without overtaking the conversation or wasting time. A service industry worker has dealt with multi-tasking & urgency that I can’t be sure other individuals have.
Joining the team with a professional studio is a huge opportunity and the time and place for hanging out and having fun will present itself. As long as you know when it’s time to work – you’ll do just fine in a big studio setting. And I promise: the work you put in at the studio will make all of those late nights and long shifts in the service industry worth it.
The Music Industry Is A Service Industry
Recording and mixing music is only about 50% of the gig. No matter how great you are at either of those things, the other 50% is about serving the artists and labels you’re working with. If you can’t keep them happy, I don’t care how good you are at the technical stuff; you’ll lose your clients to your competition.
In the studio and on the stage, artists are giving their music their all and they want to see the same level of effort from you. Just like a guitarist might light up when he nails a solo or a drummer gets excited hitting the perfect fill, you should be getting hyped up each and every time your sessions start to sound exactly like you envisioned them.
If you’re not passionate about your work, how can you expect anyone else to be?
Develop a workflow that works for you. Build up your production toolbox to include plugins that spark inspiration, processors that help you control your dynamics, and effects that can add another dimension to your sound. By setting yourself up for success, you can focus your energy on the 50% that’s going to keep your artists coming back to work with you time and time again.
Need Some Help With The Technical Side?
If you’re not quite confident in your technical abilities but you’re ready to start working with bands today, you need a crash course in professional recording and mixing techniques. JST VIP members get access to exclusive plugins and full training materials on recording everything from guitars to drums to vocals. They also get direct input from me via mix crits, where I provide honest and insightful feedback for each song submitted.