Alright y'all, I’m so pumped for this because the blog you’re about to read today is part four of five in a powerful series I’ve put together especially for my aspiring producers called “Boss Producer Business.” If you haven’t checked out the first three blogs of this series, I want you to go and read them now. Just head to
In this series I’m going to walk you through the steps it takes to go from being an (unpaid) amateur to a (paid) professional.
I’m also going to give you a sneak peek into how I run my six-figure production company at a high level of performance & profitability.
I want you to get the absolute MOST you can out of this series, so I created a handout for you to help you implement everything I’m covering. Just head over to www.producelikeabosspodcast.com/business to download. Also, if you make it to the end of this series I will have an entire workbook chocked full of goodies, recaps, and worksheets for you!
Let’s jump in!
Part 4: System That Will Help You Scale
In the last blog, we got down to BIZ-nass covering everything from setting up your production company to choosing your company name, to getting your assets in place, to batching, to choosing whether to get an LLC or function as a sole proprietorship, to keeping track of your expenses SO YOU can get all of those business owner tax breaks -- yaaaaas!
Next, we'll talk about how to SCALE so that you can grow your business.
One of the things that used to really slow me down when I first started doing this was that I was VERY unorganized. This might be hard for you to believe if you’re familiar with my workflow now from watching my youtube videos but I’m telling you, my project management, color coding, and pretty much any SYSTEM you see me use came out of sheer necessity! At a certain point, I realized there was just NO way I could grow my business if I didn’t start implementing systems to make my workflow and customer experience more efficient and streamlined. So, how do we implement these systems?
Let’s start with file management.
(ooh, file management...sounds sexy…)
If you’re the type of person who just hits save every time you’re in a session, without selecting a destination (without intention), or the type of person that just hits download every time you buy a new sample pack or plugin (without intention), meaning you’re not thinking about where these files are actually going, then you’re headed for a world of trouble, my friend. This is what I did in the beginning and who could blame me? I was a newbie and I was just so excited to get into my DAW and start creating. I wasn’t thinking about file management.
Eventually, my computer would run out of space, my samples would stop linking to my virtual instruments, and when it asked me to ‘relocate’, they couldn’t be FOUND because I never knew where I PUT them. Overall my computer looked like it could be on the show “Hoarders.” I had crap all over my desktop and it was not pretty. This slowed down my workflow tremendously as you can imagine. So let me save you from this right now!!
Let’s say you decide to get Splice or Arcade, and when you use the desktop player for Splice or Arcade there is a settings button. BEFORE you download any samples, set the location of where those files are going to go. Here’s another tip: use external hard drives to store all your samples to save space on your computer. I also use an external hard drive for all of my sessions. This way the only thing being saved onto your computer is your actual plugins, software, & players. Now, if you’re zoning out, I want you to come back to me. You have to value your time as a Boss Producer and file management is the key to a solid workflow. People ask how I move around so quickly in the DAW and the reason
is that I know where all of my files are located -- that and ninja quick commands of course.
One last thing on file management: I also keep my client's folders nice and clean, which includes their session and their files (contracts, split sheets, song info sheets, lyric sheets, and revision notes). A song info sheet is just a sheet that has all the info of a project I’m working on, including BPM, key, and other metadata. If I ever need to quickly access info on that song I can do it by looking at the sheet rather than having to open the session. I can’t tell you how many times I would have to open a session to check the key or BPM of a song before I created that system.
Ok next let’s talk about templates.
You’re going to have many repetitive tasks in your business and templates are a great way to save time.
Let’s say somebody reaches out to you because they’re interested in having you mix or produce their song or vice versa, you want to reach out to an artist you know is seeking a producer. It’s best to have email templates in place so that the majority of the email is already written ahead of time. Of course, you would customize it for every client to discuss their specific project, but just having the foundation of it written ahead of time makes the task 80% complete before you even start.
Another template I like to have available is all of the information I would use to fill out my profile on a site like Soundbetter or Beatstars. Many online marketplaces ask for the same information so why not just have it ready to copy-paste rather than writing the same thing over and over? The more you work, the more things you notice that you do on repeat -- the more templates and automation you can create.
Next, let’s talk about project management.
Project management is simply the art of organizing all the components of a project. In short: it’s to-do lists within to-do lists. So if I have a song to produce for a client there are several steps I walkthrough from start to finish to complete that project. For example, it may start with a discovery call to see if we’re a good fit and if so, asking them to send me a work tape or demo. Then sending a scratch version to see if they like the vibe, producing and arranging the song, mixing and mastering, outsourcing outside players and/or engineers, necessary contracts and paperwork, etc. The key is to use the same system over & over again.
I was a big fan of Trello (project management software) for a LONG time, but as of this year, I’m officially a “Monday” user. While it might be the worst name in the world for a company, the software is GOLDEN! You can create tasks, boards, due dates, color-coded tabs, assign tasks to team members, perform automation, and so much more. Monday.com is my JAM and I highly recommend it. Just remember, if you’re overwhelmed by what project management IS, just tell yourself it’s just a VERY streamlined TO-DO list or to-do lists within to-do lists. I still love Trello and it may be the more affordable option, so either one works!
Speaking of team members,
Let’s talk about hiring your first VA.
VA stands for a virtual assistant. A lot of people think that they’re not ready for an assistant but the truth is it’s easier and more affordable than it’s EVER been to hire help online! I highly suggest doing a brain dump (into a Monday or Trello board) and getting every little task you do in your business onto this board so you can see it all laid out. Then go through and put checkmarks next to the tasks that you don’t like to do and could easily train someone else to do. This can be anything from creating graphics and a logo to registering songs with the PROs, to adding metadata into your iTunes, to creating a website, to creating invoices, to repurposing your content into different mediums (podcasts to blogs, blogs to books, etc.)!
Now, I will say, you could hire an ‘intern’, sure, but beware! Interns can slow you down if you’re not careful. Don’t get caught up in the ‘but it’s free to work’ myth! Free work actually costs you money if it costs you time. I tried doing interns from the local college several years back and it didn’t work out for me. Not only that, virtual assistants are trained and experienced in admin (which we tend to hate as musicians). Many of them are jacks of all trades and they’re hungry for work!
The last thing I want to touch on today is outsourcing.
So many producers think that they have to be able to play everything to be a producer, or they have to mix and master all of their own tracks. This mentality couldn’t be further from the truth. Your only job as the producer is to be a visionary and direct a project while delivering results. I know producers that don’t play a thing, nor touch a soundboard or computer.
I know for most of us we’re making tracks from our home studios so of course, we have our hands in it, but for example, I’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years. (wow, did I just date myself?!) and I don’t play guitars on my tracks. I outsource it to the pro who lives, eats, and breathes guitars. It’s not a contest or an ego trip. The track doesn’t have more value just because I played everything. Now, if I really loved playing guitar and it was my zone of genius, then of course I would play it on my tracks, but it’s not. Producing and songwriting are my zones of genius so I stick there. I also don’t tune or edit tracks anymore simply because I don’t like doing the work and I often outsource final mixes and masters. This is how I manage multiple projects with different timelines while keeping my sanity.
If hiring a VA or outsourcing sounds WAY out of your comfort zone, I want you to do a little exercise with me. Ask yourself how much money you’d like to make a year.
(By the way, don’t forget to download the worksheet that comes with this episode for the recap and exercises.)
Let’s say it’s $100,000 a year and let’s say on average you work 40 hours a week.
We have 52 weeks a year, actually, let’s say you take 2 weeks off, so 50 weeks a year.
So 50 weeks x 40 hours = 2,000 hours.
Take $100,000 divided by 2,000 hours = $50 an hour.
That means that your hourly rate needs to be at least $50/hr at the very minimum.
So I want you to start looking at the tasks you’re doing and ask yourself, “is what I’m doing worth $50/hr?” And if it’s not, you need to get it off your plate or you’ll never reach your goal; it's just cause and effect.
You must avoid activities below your hourly rate in order to scale your production business. Let’s say you decide to track your own guitars on a track you’re producing. You’re not a pro but you’re pretty good. It takes you an hour to set up, dial in your tones, and tune. Then it takes you another couple of hours to track all the parts, buuuut then (oh wait), you forgot to tune in between takes. So now you gotta do a few parts again and now you’re done, BUT oh $h!t, you weren’t in the pocket on that chorus, so now you’ve gotta edit. So overall, tracking guitars on your project took you about seven hours after comping and editing.
You could have paid a pro guitarist $75-$100 to send you edited, professionally played tracks, but you said “nah, I wanna save my hundred bucks, I’ll do it myself.” However, you didn’t save $100, you actually LOST $250, because seven hours of your time is valued at $50 an hour, which is $350 (minus the $100 you “saved” on not outsourcing!) You actually LOST money by trying to save, crazy right? And if you remember in the last post, we talked about how successful entrepreneurs value their time more than their money.
Alright, let’s recap what we’ve learned today!
Here are some SYSTEMS that will HELP you SCALE:
Don’t forget to head to www.producelikeabosspodcast.com/business to grab your notes for this series and some worksheets to help keep you on track and accountable with your new business. Also, don’t forget I’m giving the ENTIRE WORKBOOK away after we drop the last episode in the series, woot woot!
Whew, I know that was a LOT to take in. How are we feeling? Like you’re drinking from the fire hose? It might feel overwhelming or even uncomfortable right now, but guess what? That means you’re growing. Say it with me “I’m grooooowing!!!!!”
And I know how overwhelming learning all of this stuff can be...
That’s why I’ve created the Boss Producer Bootcamp which starts September 7th!
We’re going to give away tons of prizes, there will be contests and even scholarship opportunities.
This bootcamp is 100% FREE, but don’t get it twisted, this isn’t your run of the mill “fluff” filled freebie where you show up and give your time and don’t actually receive any real value. You are going to leave this bootcamp with a plan to start your production business today!! So I want you to treat this training like it costs you thousands of dollars because that’s how valuable it is!
Just head over to www.producelikeaboss.com/bootcamp to reserve your seat!
Alright, my friends, I hope you got a lot of value out of today’s blog! I’ll be back next week with part five in the Boss Producer Business series so stay tuned!