Posted on 30-06-2011
Filed Under (making money) by Jon Stinson

Fire your worst client.

They ask too much of you.

They don’t pay you near enough.

Anything you do is never good enough.

They only complain about the work you do.

They make you feel like your skills are lacking.

I’ve been writing a lot about the benefits of working for $0 lately. Yesterday I spent some time talking about how you can make money (But What About The Money?). And today I offer this bonus point:

Getting rid of your worst client will improve the efficiency of your business significantly. You can focus on the core operations of your work, no one will be breathing down your neck making you feel like you’re no good, and you will maximize your income by taking on more appreciative clients who are easy to please.

No one will ask too much of you.

Everyone will pay you what you’re worth.

Everything you do will astonish your clients.

Your clients will publicly praise your amazing work.

Your clients will make you feel like your skills are infinite.

Don’t have enough clients to warrant firing your worst one? Set a goal to replace them, and make that goal happen within the next 30 days. When you achieve your goal, kindly send a note to your worst client informing them that you’re no longer available.

Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 29-06-2011
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

Since reviving this blog last Saturday, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about working for $0, working for free, and creative ways to promote yourself as a record producer and audio engineer. That’s all well and good, but as I’ve stated throughout the those three previous posts (Do You Know What I Do?, Working For $0, and The Difference Between “Free” and “$0″), the point is to make money.

So I thought after spending so much time talking about promotion, I should spend some time talking about ways to make money.

All the work you have put in on the front end, both in previous projects, and projects you have worked on for $0, has increased your value. Leverage this value into a substantial daily or hourly rate.

It happens all the time. Someone books you for a full day, but then only ends up needing you for half the day, or worse-canceling altogether. Charge a minimum, as well as a cancelation fee. But be upfront about this when you’re hired for a project.

Increase your rate
Again, your work history (both in paid projects, and in $0 projects) has increased your value. Leverage that value into a higher rate.

Take a look at the services you currently offer. You probably currently sell yourself as a record producer, audio engineer, mix engineer, or all three. As far as “packages” go, you probably don’t really refer to the services you offer as packages in your marketing material.

Here’s the thing: in addition to creating information products, such as ebooks, that you can let people download for $0, you can also create information products, for example consulting services, that you can charge money for. You can “package” these additional information products and services in with your base set of production, engineering, and mixing services. Thus not only increasing your value, but also permitting you to charge a more boutique rate for your work.

Hope this ties together my previous three posts, and completes the thought on how working for $0 and free can increase your value, and ultimately generate more higher-paying work. Because the goal IS to make money.

Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 28-06-2011
Filed Under (promotion) by Jon Stinson

When discussing new media and marketing, and ways to promote yourself online, I typically try to stay away from using the word “free”. The reason is because very rarely is anything truly free. I guess it’s really just my meticulousness, but I’m of the belief that somehow, on some level, it subliminally makes a difference in the language you choose-both internally (with yourself) and externally (those you’re marketing to).

So then what really is the difference between “free” and “$0″? To me, “free” is something you give away, totally free, with no strings attached. A gift of sorts. For example, if you contacted a songwriter and told her that you wanted record an album of her music with no compensation of any type whatsoever, I would count this as working for free.

On the other hand, if you contacted that same songwriter and told her that you wanted to record an album of her music, and that while she didn’t have to pay you anything, you did want to work out something that would provide alternative compensation. For example, a picture, blurb, and link to your website on the front page of her website. Or a picture, blurb, and contact info on the inside of her CD booklet. Or an email blast and blog post describing your work and your identity, blasted out to her list. This type of arrangement, I would consider to be working for $0. Because, while you’re not getting paid, you are thinking of creative ways to promote your work.

I think there is a place for both. While it should be approached with prudence, I think offering a certain amount of your time to people completely for free is a great way to contribute to the community. Think of it as a tithe (one tenth of your time as a contribution for the greater good of everyone). While working for $0 should also be approached with prudence, it is a great way to create meaning with people, equip people with tools to promote you, contribute to the community, gain experience, gain exposure, build value, and make more money.

Some further illustrations of working for free:

  • Inviting someone into your studio so they have a chance to learn from you
  • Helping out at someone else’s studio so that you have a chance to learn from them
  • Meeting someone for lunch to answer their questions about production
  • Showing up to a band’s live show and recording it for them
  • Recognizing something that needs to get done, and doing it

Some further illustrations of working for $0:

  • Starting a blog to share studio stories, and recording tips
  • Writing an ebook about producing and recording
  • Recording an album, but owning the masters
  • Starting your own band
  • Starting a newsletter

In my post last Saturday (Do You Know What I Do?), I discouraged the idea of working for “free” a little bit. And in further contemplating this topic, I think I may have gone too far. At the risk of contradicting myself, I want to now motivate you to pursue both working for “free” and working for “$0″. But always with clear purpose and prudence.

Yeah, it will be hard work to do these things, and a lot of it could be considered ancillary work. But if you pursue it honestly it will be a 100% fruitful investment in yourself. And if you’re not willing to do that type of work, then don’t expect to necessarily generate a lot of paying work, only focusing on carrying out the primary tasks associated with your business.

Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 27-06-2011
Filed Under (promotion) by Jon Stinson

Over the weekend I brought this blog back to life with a post reflecting on the work I’ve been involved in over the last three and a half years, somewhat focusing in on whether or not this work has served the purpose I intended, and ultimately making an effort to encourage others to A) think bigger, and B) take time to reflect on the learning/growing experiences that your work will bring you. If you wanna read that post, you will find it here: Do You Know What I Do?

My thinking behind this post was that often times, when people who are new to the industry are looking to break in and establish themselves as a producer, engineer, or both, they offer their services for no pay in exchange for a credit on the record-hoping that their name will get spread around town, and in the end they will generate a lot of paying work. I think this is a mistake, because you’re going to receive that credit whether you charge no money at all, or you charge the highest rate in the history of record making. And from what I’ve seen, this method of promotion does not have a very good reputation of succeeding. Instead, it mucks up the market value for freelance record producers and engineers at large-it’s a race to the bottom.

Alternatively, if you employ some innovative thinking, it’s possible to promote your business, increase your worth, and raise the value of the community all in an astute set of actions.

I believe you should always periodically employ a certain amount of $0 tactics to your work, but they should always have a clear purpose, sensible objectives, and realistic limitations. The point is to make money, not work for free.

Before and after you ever take action on any tactic, ask yourself, “Do they know what I do?”

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Posted on 25-06-2011
Filed Under (announcements) by Jon Stinson

It’s been so incredibly long since I last posted anything on Producer Notes. This is the first time I’ve posted anything in 2011, which is such a shame (it’s been almost a full year since my last post-that’s a shame!). Since I started Producer Notes in mid-2007, there have been quite a few stints of extended absences. As I excitedly set out to take part in the many different projects over the last three and a half years (Producer Notes being one of them), I envisioned that these creative schemes would organically loop together to complete my overall vision. But in reality they each ended up needing to be delicately tended to-hence the lack of regularly published content. But through that process I certainly have learned – and continue to learn – a lot, which moving forward is going to be very valuable.

As I was reflecting over the last three or so years of work, and lamenting my lack of consistency in posting, a question popped up in my mind…

Do you know what I do?

If you’ve been reading Producer Notes a while – and if you have, then I have unending gratitude for you – then you’re aware that I’m a record producer and music business entrepreneur. But obviously most people out there don’t read this blog. Over the last two to three years I’ve made an intentional effort to get involved in projects as more than only a record producer, projects in which I functioned as producer, engineer, marketer, and manager. One of my key intentions for making this shift was to build a stronger personal brand and awareness of my work.

But I want to stop short on the “Jon Stinson biography” and get to my real take-away point…

I believe there should always be a certain amount of work you should do for $0. I encourage recording artists to do this all the time. And let me be clear: I didn’t say “free,” I said “$0.” There is a difference.

You should always be very specific about the purpose of this type of work, and what the specific desired outcome is. Set goals and draw up a plan, before you begin, of how you will achieve this desired outcome. Think bigger than the album credit. You’re going to get an album credit for your work whether you charge $0 or or $100,000. Radical Notion (independent media) is an example of one such project that I dreamed up for this purpose.

So just as I took some time to reflect on my work and my projects, I encourage you to periodically set aside time to do the same. Every time you ship an idea ask yourself the question, “Do they know what I do?” What are your weak points? What one key thing can you do differently from this point forward to move significantly closer to your desired outcome? And if you’re working for no pay in exchange for just an album credit, hoping that “clients” will spread your name around-STOP. Think bigger, otherwise you’re selling yourself short.

Cheers to 2011. We’re already at the halfway point, and I hope it’s gone well for your so far. I’m working on pulling it together, weeding out the dead ends, and bringing Producer Notes (slowly) back to life.

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