Recording Studio Biz: Using Customers As Marketing Tools

Brandon Drury —  April 1, 2014 — 5 Comments

Consider you’ve been hired to record Metallica’s next ruckus. Of course, like clockwork, MTV-for-40-year-olds-in-a-web-based-world immediately shows up and wants to ask questions that are only subtly more useful than interviewing sports stars at halftime. (“In the second half we plan on focusing on offense and defense”…..again.) You get “famous” just for being hired.

Anyhow, the interesting thing is Metallica could use their fame to their advantage and actually charge engineers to record them based on what that would do for the career of the engineer. I’d guess that even that highly unpleasant sounding XXXXXXX would still get an engineer enough positive attention to double their rates from here on out.

You may not have a Metallica in your back yard. Imagine this. You do have a local band that hit it big for a while and then got dropped from a major label. Now they are in this unknown void, but still out making money (probably more money than they did on the major label). If, and just IF, you could you could find a way to convince them to record with you, what would that do for you in regard to all the other local bands? Imagine the bands that look up to used-to-be-major label band. You’ve found a way to win them over, very very quickly.

Imagine this. You don’t have the space to record drums. So what. Don’t. Record an acoustic album or similar gimmickry that can be sold by Local Superband. You still get to claim you recorded them.

What I find most interesting is you don’t have to offer anything too special to Local Superband. I guess you can’t stop takes because your mom needs to do the laundry. I wouldn’t want a member of Local Superband getting bit by a snake in my studio. That wouldn’t be good. Other than that, this is a straight shot to radically improving your clout in the local hierarchy of studios and bands.

What’s even more fun from this approach is a major label singer has THE tone just as their guitar player probably does, too. You don’t really NEED any major engineering chops to capture that. If the songs and performances are there, you could be mostly a newbie and the thing should take care of itself. That’s the big joke that is audio engineering. What kind of chops do you really need to put an SM7b in front of Eddie Vedder?

The trick is more having the audacity to con Eddie Vedder into getting in front of your SM7b in the first place. Putting yourself in the position to appear to be a great engineer is probably 90% of being a great engineer. What major label-caliber engineer is recording the worst band you’ve done this year? Did Andy Sneap record The Fuchbags this year? Strange things have happened, but those gigs will never be the gigs that get them/us more good gigs or get them/us the clout to record the best bands. It’s a feedback loop.

Even if you don’t have Eddie Vetter or major-label caliber talent, the concept is the same. Go for the artists that are going to make you look best.


Get the talent in front of the mic and take all the credit. SMILEY

PS. This one is included in Surviving And Thriving In This BS Recording Studio Business along with a bajillion other lessons I’ve learned the hard way about the recording studio business. If you like what you read here, sign up to be the first hear about the upcoming launch.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

5 responses to Recording Studio Biz: Using Customers As Marketing Tools

  1. Cool post! It’s true…having the guts to put yourself out there in front of people and situations that force you out of your comfort zone is key. You get the experience, and you take away that you’re able to rise to the occasion. And the immediate upside (as you point out), is that if you have the right talent in the booth, then you have a lot less work to do. A lot of engineers and musicians wouldn’t consider who they work with to be marketing, but it most certainly is. Building up some notable credits is an essential part of any marketing plan and it definitely pays dividends for years to come.

  2. That is absolutely true. I started out by approaching a local band that has by far the best drummer I ever heard. I offered to record them for free. Next thing you know they have me recording 60 bands at their music festival. Next thing, I audition to sing for them and now I am in the band. We just had festival last August and I got to play on the same stage as Bernie Worrell and Tony Levin. I am also now connected with some of the best musicians in the tri-state area.

  3. steve edwards April 1, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Well, now that you misspelled his name, Eddie’s never getting in front of your SM7b.

  4. from a non-commercial working studio for hire…(in other words..i dont know what Im talking about)

    I think first off is the recording examples and samples sells the studio.
    the big name acts can draw attention to the studio and is proof they can get the job done…

    but the people chemistry….the ME wanting to record a band is a big compliment to the band….when a ME really wants to record that certain band because he likes them (even though there maybe some other positives like getting your name on the bands websites and extra exposure)

    but when the real magic happens and the studio and band collide into a explosive thing that would be the best.

  5. I think first off is the recording examples and samples sells the studio.

    This sounds like a rational consumer. I’m not sure what percentage of the buying public is rational.

    I saw on the Natural Born Killers commentary that Coca Cola was furious when they flashed the Coca Cola bear in a questionable scene. If that’s true, Coca Cola knew people would associate their brand with violence or whatever the hell was going on in the scene.

    I’m not sure that modern marketing is right, but Pepsi and Coca Cola make sugar water but sell it as a good time. The infamous iPod commercials are similar. It seems the typical consumer has no real interest in the effectiveness of a product based on what I see on TV marketing. If they actually did, then the recording studio’s audio examples would matter.


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