5 Lessons I Learned Running A Music Production Company

Hey there, Dan here from Mixnotes, and The Song Writing Team. Doing a video today on the top five lessons that I’ve learned running an independent music production company.

So number one. Some of this may seem weird to you guys, but too much work can be a bad thing. You hear it all of the time, “Oh, man, I’m super busy.”

“Hey, buddy, that’s a good problem to have.”
And it is, but it’s still a problem. There’s been — if anything, that’s been the number one stress point in my business. Again, it’s tough, because it is a good thing, and we want to grow, but it seems like every time we put in these processes to help our workflow when we work with our clients, we want to give them a good experience.

It has to change, we have to scale. So on one hand, the problems you may be facing now is, well, I don’t have enough work. That’s the problem with my business.

Then on the other hand, you know, the grass is always greener, we get to a point where you’re like, “Shoot, I have too much work.” The bad thing is that your clients don’t get the experience that they deserve.

Your client doesn’t care that you’re working on 50 songs right now. And they shouldn’t. Some will be sympathetic, and some are kind of cooler than others and more lenient, but you have to — the tough part is giving that client — each client the experience of they’re the only ones that you’re working for.

So that’s been my first lesson is scalability. Sometimes that means cutting back on certain things, maybe raising rates, but the worst thing that you can do, which I’m totally bad at, is getting really excited, having all this work come in, and be like, “Yeah, we can do it, yeah, let’s do it, yeah, let’s do it,” and then you’ve totally swamped your schedule. Those clients don’t get the good experience and don’t come back.

So that’s lesson number one.

Lesson number two is one that I don’t think gets talked about much, and it’s — I learned that doing music for other people for a living isn’t always the best route for funding your own music.

A lot of people want to do music full time because they are used to sitting in their bedroom, making music, producing tracks, writing songs with their friends, doing whatever they want to do all day, and they’re like, “Wow, it would be great to get paid for this,” and there are certainly paths that you can do that, but in general, the whole game kind of changes when clients are involved.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, and I’m not saying that you can’t work on your own music. Plenty of people do it. We have tons of clients that are recording artists we make tracks for, and they make a living singing demos for other people, you know?

But it is a balance. It does change things when clients are involved. Especially if you’re busy. So if you want to grow the part of your business to — you know, on your service side, where you’re working for clients, you’re going to find there’s less and less time for your personal music.

But the goal is to make your personal music the work that you’re doing with your clients. That’s still how I get my personal satisfaction out of it is knowing that someone’s hiring me for my sound and pushing myself on their song. That way, it sort of fulfills both parts. My business part and making a living, and my personal artistic satisfaction.

It is a very healthy thing to have some kind of personal project going on, just for creativity. There’s plenty of times we sit down here and just play and jam and do our thing just to brush up on our skills and do it without the pressure of a project, but in general, I just think a lot of people want to get into doing music full time, because they think it’s going to be like when they’re at home in their bedroom making their music, and it just isn’t always that case. That was a big sort of surprise for me.

So number three is a big one for me. The lesson that I learned is I tried to do way, way too much. It’s exciting, you know, we put a foundation down on the music productions, and now we want to go into this, and this, and this.

So the lesson I learned is you don’t have to do everything. I see a lot of kind of newer guys that just have forty million different services — and I get that, in the beginning, maybe it’s not so much a bad idea to kind of do what you’re good at and allow that to sort of pull you along in the direction that you may end up.

What I do now is very different than what my job is from when I started, and when I started, I couldn’t have told you this is what I was going to be doing, so maybe someone does do PR, and produces the record, and does this stuff, and maybe they end up down the road being a great PR person, and they say, “Eh, you know, I liked producing, but this is my path.”

And that’s cool, but just know that you do not have to do everything. I find that the more we don’t do here, the better our business is. We’re more focused, the experience is better, we get way more sort of long term return on investment from hooking a client up with a marketing person who specializes in that, even though we’re not getting paid to do that. Maybe we get a small kick back for the referral, but certainly not an immediate return on investment for us for giving the gig away.

But this person is going to do it better than we can. If we focus on our part, the client loves that. They love the fact that, “Oh, those are the guys that hooked me up with these awesome music video guys, instead of us trying to be the music video company, even though that stuff interests us.”

So that’s the big lesson I learned. Number three is you don’t have to do everything. Usually the less you do, and the more focused you are on one thing, the better.

Number four is once you start doing this and making a living doing this, the issue I had with my first year, first two years was my emotional tie to the money that the company was making.

For some of you, this will be the first time you actually make some good money in your life and build your own business, and for me, I was treating money sort of too — I was romanticizing it a little bit too much.

Money is just a tool when you own a business. To normal people, money is a little bit different of a thing. You know?

But to a business owner, money is simply a tool, and I would be so emotionally attached to the bank account. If we had a lot of money, “Oh, we’re doing good, I’m happy,” if we don’t, “Oh, this is the worst thing in the world.”

It will be up and down, the money will come and go. The best sort of lesson I learned was to be — and this is a very new lesson. [laughs] Like a couple of months — is to be smarter with money and leverage it.

If we need to spend this much on this to buy something, buy a company or buy this piece of equipment, knowing that it’s going to put our bank account low, that doesn’t really bother me anymore, because I’m already three steps ahead looking at kind of what that’s going to create for us big picture.

So not being emotionally tied to the money, because the money will be there, and then it won’t, and then it will be there, and then it won’t. It’s simply a tool.

And number five, also a sort of recently discovered lesson for me, is authority and impact are just as important as skill. I’ll sort of tell you what I mean by that.

A lot of our clients sort of find us through Google. They don’t — for the most part, hear of Christian — sometimes they do, but the bulk of our online clients is because these are people all over the world, they don’t know who Christian is.

They come to the site, they say, “Okay, here’s a music production company, I need this,” they like the sound, and then they sort of come in and use our producers as a tool instead of letting the producers sort of do their thing. Our most ideal clients are the ones that see the authority and impact that our producers are having, and say, “Hey, I’m hiring you for your thing. You do that.”

So this kind of came up recently when one of my producers — my production partner Christian was like, “Does it matter in the modern age, the age of the internet, does it matter that I’m good?”

It was a super important question. Because you know, my answer was like, “Yes and no.” Obviously you should be good. That’s why we’re in this, everybody is in this to be the best that they can be, but without also having authority, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter.

People hire you because you’re good, and they’ll — but they’re not going to sort of respect you the same way if you’ve built authority and have impact in the community.

So I’ll do more videos on how to build authority. It’s something worth starting to do with our business. Part of it is just not being so behind the scenes, you know, we pretty much just would wake up and whoever found us on Google we’d work with, and it’s slowly transitioning into putting out content to build authority, so people are like, “Oh, okay, I trust these guys. When I hire them, I’m going to let them do their thing.”

So just as much time you’re putting into your skills to be a better mixer, better writer, better producer, you should also be putting in time to building authority, whether it’s through — you know, like we do through a YouTube channel, or Facebook groups, or things of that nature.

So there you have it. Those are the top five lessons that I’ve learned running an independent music production company. I hope that you enjoyed it. More videos here to come on the topic, and subscribe to Mixnotes and check out The Song Writing Team channel as well. Thanks for watching.



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