When you feel you have spent a certain amount of time on any craft you find near and dear, you’re going to want to try and figure out how to make a living off it. As producers, we can spend a lot of our time so wrapped in our work, that there really shouldn’t be any room for other “work.” It can be a sticky situation to figure out and navigate when it may be time to take that transition and pull an Office Space, but as long as you stay wise, as well as being savvy with the artists you work with, the transition can go smoothly and end with wonderful results.
When to start?
Becoming a full-time musician is never an easy process. You may have to get used to a top “ramen diet” for a while when you’re still building your clientele and portfolio as a producer, or still continue to try and balance your day job at the same time. As a producer and as an artist though, the first thing you must recognize is that there are millions of people out there that want to do exactly what you do, and upwards of 60% of them might be doing it better than you. I say this not to discourage, but there isn’t anything wrong with being good and not selling your music for profit. The opportunity to make this your life’s career should come to you through hard work, rather than you taking the title upon yourself.
Choose your clients wisely!
When you work as a producer, you’re going to come across a lot of roadblocks: Conflicting budgets, a manager or agent who doesn’t agree with the artist say on what you deserve to be compensated for, the works. The best way to avoid this is to keep a direct producer-to-client field of communication. Middlemen may help out in the long run when big numbers are involved, but usually when you’re starting out, staying directly in touch with the artists you choose to work with would be better than hounding down a manager.
You should want to make music with the people you’re making music with at the end of the day always, don’t compromise for an “opportunity.” At the same time recognize when maybe the budget shouldn’t be an option with some of the talent you work with, it should always be talent in the first place. Keep your artistic integrity, keep your love for the craft, and if you work with the right artists and clients more work should come to you from the result of those collaborations in the first place.
Make your network work for you!
Building upon the previous topic, when you work with the right clients and then develop good results, more work should come from the results with different clients. If you’re working with an artist and you keep the respect for one another at a level playing field, good people should be looking out for you.
When you have the right network, you may be making music with these people every day, and at that point, if you aren’t already making a solid profit off the good music you create, it is being shared. People, other artists, other potential clients will see your positive output and your work will be recognized. This is prevalent in a lot of other forms of creative work but it resonates in the music world in a very prolific way.
At the end of the day if you’re making music with good clients, and people are hearing it and enjoying it, they’ll want to know where the music is coming from. Build the right network where it makes your undeniable sound reachable to a broad audience, and potential clients will ideally be in your email every day.
Some Extra Insight:
Social media can make a producer’s client reach skyrocket, but only if it’s used in the correct ways. Don’t be “that guy” bashing rappers or venting about his clients because then people won’t want to work with you. I see it a lot online lately and I guess it’s common to feel that way when people are asking for free work, but everybody starts somewhere. You did too. Never forget that.
When you do make that jump from the producer for a hobby to the producer for hire just make sure that you always are passionate about the work that you do, and it will satisfy you in many more ways than fat pockets can if you’re open to experience and experiment. I hope these tips make that jump a little bit easier, and godspeed to all of the producers making a living doing what they love.