A Four Step Method To Quickly Getting Your First Production Clients
Reading Time: 4-6 Minutes
Hey guys! It's Brad Simons here, and today I want to do something different. We're going to talk about a method that you can use to get new clients when you're starting out as a producer. I want to stress that this is a method to get alot of clients fast, but will evolve once you've established yourself. Furthermore, this method will highly depend on what kind of artist you're trying to work with, as I'm going to suggest you find them on Instagram. Although I see alot of genres on Instagram, maybe yours isn't. In that case, you'll have to tailor the method as such.
In any case, let's dive in!
1) Find Prospects On Instagram
So, the first step is to simply go out and find the artists that you want to work with. However, nothing in life is ever that simple. Finding prospects on Instagram will reveal alot of information, but it does take time and effort. You're not just looking for someone who makes music within your target genre, but also how active they are on social, how many followers they have, what their engagement rate is, what people are saying about them in the comments, how many tracks they've released, do they have other forms of social? This is gonna take some work. Let's breakdown each point.
Genre - You can search hashtags to find artists who are within the genre you're looking for. For instance, if you want to produce synth wave artists, search "#synthwave". That should get you started. Then when you find posts from relevant artists, see what hashtags they use. You will start to deeply understand the space you're working with and know where to look more effectively.
Social Activity - Let's look at this stage of your career as an investment. You want to get working with artists who are going to represent you in the fullest way possible. So you want to find artist that are actively promoting themselves and their music. This means that if you work with them, they will actively be promoting you as well. If you find an artist profile, and they post once every two weeks, probably not the best sign. If they post once per day, maybe a few stories a day, and the content they're posting is relevant, then they might be for you.
Followers/Engagement - Next, you want to investigate the size and more importantly, the quality of their audience. So start by looking at how many people are following them. If it's under 500, they probably only have their friends as followers and not many true fans. If they have over 5,000 followers, good sign! If they have 3 million followers, you can still try, but you might not get to work with them just yet. Then, it's time to check the quality of their audience. Head over to the Instagram Engagement Calculator to see how engaged their audience is. An artist engagement rate of over 3% is actually really good. Investigate some high profile artists and low profile artists to get some reference for what an expected engagement rate should be for your target artists.
Comments - Go through their posts and read the comments! See what people are saying about their posts. Are people excited? Are they posting standard copy past comments such as "great post!". Are they deep and meaningful connections? This is more of a qualitative step, but it can really help you discover artists that have a meaninful presence.
Other Social and Release - If at this point you think you've found someone worth reaching out to, it's time to move away from Instagram and check out their entire social presence, as well as their music and releases. You'll want to check out their YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat, Spotify, Apple Music, and even their website. Get to know this artist well. Read up on their story so that when you approach them, you have something detailed to talk about!
2) USE A SPEC METHOD TO ENGAGE ARTIST
Ok, now that we've got the bulk of the work out of the way, we're going to now engage with the artist. Again, make sure that you do all the research above, especially the last point. If you know alot about the artist, it shows that you're willing to go the extra mile. Try to find a commonality and use that as a conversation starter. But even before that, you'll want to engage with them on their Instagram page.
So if you found this artist using the above method, they're probably posting some really great stuff on their Instagram. Start by going to their profile and turning on post notifications (google this for a tutorial). That way, everytime they post, you will be notified. Then, you will be one of the first people to like and comment on the post. Your name will continually pop up on their feed, and they will start to remember who you are. Now, you must ensure that you stay genuine. Only like and comment if you actually like the content. Don't bullshit.
So now that you've been engaging with them for awhile, it's time to send them a DM or an email. What makes the most sense is to send an Instagram DM, because that's where you've been engaging with them. However, you can only send so much information on a DM, as Instagram limits the length of a message. You could send multiple messages, but the platform is more geared towards casual conversation, not full email style. Either way, here's what I would do:
Offer to produce a track for free or for spec - I know I'm gonna get some flak for this, but I'm sorry, you want to get busy, you got give something away sometimes. Remember, this is one of the fastest ways to grow your portfolio as a producer. If you aren't willing to do free work, that's all good! It will just take a slower approach. So anyways, what do I mean by "spec"? The "spec" method means that you do the work for them, and they only pay if they like the way it turns out and want to use that production. If you're brand new to working with clients, I suggest starting with free and moving towards spec. If you've worked with a few artists but want to make it more of a full-time thing, then start with spec. Stress to the artist that it is a risk free way of moving forward and that if they don't like it for whatever reason, it won't be attached to their name. Also, make sure the artist is aware of your normal rate so that they don't expect free everytime.
You can also mention publishing and royalties. I like to keep things simple and even split of the songwriting royalties (this only applies when you're a part of the songwriting. Please read up on royalties for a full breakdown of how that works). You can mention that if they don't want to use the song, that's ok! You will try to pitch the song to other artists and they will retain their songwriting on it. That way they can build up their catalogue, no matter what happens with the track. As noted above, this is a situation that works better for Pop, EDM, hip hop, etc type of producers that are making the beats and the sounds etc. If you're simply recording a rock band, you probably aren't getting songwriting royalties anyway.
3) Create An Amazing Product And Experience
This is what it all comes down to. My assumption through all of this is that you got something going on, you know what you're doing. You have to KILL this production, the artist has to be blown away by what you've done and feel a desperate NEED to come back. Not only that, they have to have an awesome experience working with you. Here's a few points that I think can help:
Pick the right artist - As mentioned above, you have to find an artist in your genre, because thats where you are going to have the highest likelihood of an incredible production. If you typically produce hip hop and you approach a metal band, chances are this is not going to work. But let's go deep. If you typically produce something more specific like future bass or trip hop and you find an artist exactly in that genre, you're probably going to do an amazing job.
Get song references - Spotify playlists are an amazing thing! Ask the artist to send you a Spotify playlist of inspiration. Hopefully you'll get anyway from 10-20 songs back, and you can use those songs to guide you on the production. Keep checking in with them as you go to make sure you're getting the sound, but be careful to not get too close!
Move quickly - Obviously quality comes first, but if the production takes months, the artist will typically lose that excited feeling. You gotta move quick so that you "strike when the iron is hot". Plus, that's how the music industry works these days, people are putting out tracks extremely fast.
Be kind and open to suggestions - Don't be defensive, just be open and treat the artist with the utmost respect. Thank them regularly for working with you, and accomodate their needs. This is the experience part, make it so easy for the production to unfold that they feel calm and at ease.
4) Book More Sessions WITH ARTIST
If you're at this stage, then you've done 99% of the work and have an amazing product with an amazing artist. I'm excited for you! Now you just rinse and repeat! Since you've built up a repore with the artist, it's time to book another session. Keep the momentum up. It's much easier to ask someone to work together again than it is to work with them for the first time. Now, depending on how the first production went, you can choose to move into a different approach. Maybe you did a free track the first time, and you feel that it's time to move to the spec method. Maybe you did a spec and you want to be guaranteed payment. That's a decision that only you can make. Feel out the artist and act accordingly .
Other than that, you just start the process over from step one, and fill up your schedule! Before you know it, you'll have more clients than you can handle, and it'll be time to be a bit more selective.
That's it guys! Hope you got some value from this, and please let me know if you have any alternative methods you use to find artists to work with.
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