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Going freelance Turntables
Old 3rd May 2004
  #1
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Going freelance

Has anyone made the move from owning a studio to being a freelance audio engineer?

Toss it at me...
Old 3rd May 2004
  #2
Moderator emeritus
 

Having a bad week, Jay?

Seriously, I know a number of freelancers (perhaps most, these days) who also have studios, either at home or in a commercial space. A whole bunch of projects have to bounce from a commercial studio into one that's cheaper. if you don't want to run your place as a commercial room anymore, you micht think about either renting the place out to another engineer, or simply keeping available or whatever work you can't take into a more expensive place.

If I'm on the wrong track here, I apologize - you're not giving us a lot of info...
Old 3rd May 2004
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Waylon's Avatar
 

Not sure if it was the actual question either, but being freelance without owning a room can be a problem. Has been for me at times.
Old 4th May 2004
  #4
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I'd keep some kind of mix/overdub room together. The general idea is to cut myself loose from real estate and bigger overhead.
Old 4th May 2004
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Tim L's Avatar
 

I'm a bit confused (not unusual for me heh ) as to what you mean by "freelance"... Are you on staff at a studio other than your own? If the answer to this is no then you're already a freelance engineer... regardless of overhead.
Old 4th May 2004
  #6
Lives for gear
 

If you're currently running a sound motel and thinking about bagging it, I would say go for it. On the other hand, it's essential to me as a freelancer to have my own place to work. It's the only way to make any money off the budgets we're all seeing these days. Not selling studio time free's me from having to pay leases on gear I don't need. I only have gear that I need, and own it outright. My personal studio is on my own property, so no extra rent to pay (just the mortgage). When the budget is there, I'm happy to work in a cush' studio and float some money their way, and usually do (big tracking days).

Are you having trouble paying the nut?
Old 4th May 2004
  #7
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jpaudio's Avatar
 

Hey Jay... we've discussed this before... but here's my $0.02 for the general public...

Keep your home thing, but lose some of the extras to cut costs. Like we talked about, maybe lose the 2" and Trident... decide what mics and outboard are necessary for your sound, and start advertising YOU rather than the studio. As a freelancer, your selling point should be the CDs and not the gear you have. All it takes is one lucky band to keep your phone ringing... I have the entire summer booked pretty solid due to Paulson's recent indie success, and these are bands who are booking time and sending deposits without even seeing my place. As you know, i've got a pretty bare-bones setup compared to most others, but i've been able to make bands happy with what I have, and I won't take on a project until I hear the music, survey the band in terms of ability, talent, and sound, and feel I can guarantee they will be 100% satisified. That's more important to me than charging by the hour... if a band can't afford to pay me a flat rate that I feel comfortable with for a 2-3 week EP project, then I turn them down, rather than trying to create something in less time than is needed for said band. It's a different way of thinking, but it's been working for me, and you're in the same boat in terms of overhead. You'll lose the clients that want 3 or 4 days at $X/hour, but how many of those projects come out to your satisifaction? Odds are most are rushed and creativity is compromised. I'd prefer happy clients with products that I'm proud of, even if I spent a little more time on it or didn't make as much as I would have if charging by the hour. Until you're attracting label work, it's a sacrifice, but you gotta get there somehow.
Old 4th May 2004
  #8
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Tim L
I'm a bit confused (not unusual for me heh ) as to what you mean by "freelance"... Are you on staff at a studio other than your own? If the answer to this is no then you're already a freelance engineer... regardless of overhead.
Hmmm...interesting point...
Old 5th May 2004
  #9
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Tousana's Avatar
 

Jay,
Seems to me that you have a cool set-up,I think if you can keep it going by all means do. You have a place that you can call your own and you make the rules. In a way,like Tim said you are already a freelancer, being a true freelancer can be a real pain,especially when it comes to booking time and getting thre rate you require. That alone can put a damper on things. heh
Old 5th May 2004
  #10
Lives for gear
 

If you're having trouble making lease payments on gear and feel like a slave, just scale it back and keep only what YOU need. I know several people with SSL rooms who are having trouble making the lease payments and are thinking of getting a smaller/cheaper console. They're not attracting the clientel they thought they would, and their clients don't seem to place value in that console. They're mostly doing B market ProTools sessions.
Old 6th May 2004
  #11
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Raw-Tracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I'd keep some kind of mix/overdub room together. The general idea is to cut myself loose from real estate and bigger overhead.
You should take into consideration that the only part of your equation that is going to APPRECIATE is your real estate. That may be icentive enough to keep the real estate, but just pare down your equipment investment. Concentrate on being able to do overdubs and maybe mixdown at your place. But go somewhere else for tracking.
Old 6th May 2004
  #12
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strauss's Avatar
 

I was wondering how important you think it is for a freelance engineer to also be able to wear a producer's hat?
Old 6th May 2004
  #13
LTA
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LTA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by strauss
I was wondering how important you think it is for a freelance engineer to also be able to wear a producer's hat?
Very. The whole point of freelancing is to avoid overhead, do project that can't quite budget for a studio, and have fun. Somebody has to keep the session on track, and make comments about stuff the band may have forgotten.

I'm not saying you have to be a creative producer, but being able to suggest alternate instrumentation/parts or adding a missing part (such as a pad) is simple enough. Also, knowing how to tech drums and set up stringed instruments, along with knowing how to arrange multiple part vocal harmony will make a big difference in both sound quality and getting repeat customers.

If you can keep your production guidance more to the technical end of things, you should be okay. It is important to know how to venture into the creative realm, but even more important to know when to. And watch out for the left brain - right brain conflict. A track may have a great vibe that pleases a producer-hat, but the outside noise and crapping out mic would offend the engineer-hat. But, you can learn with practice to deal with the creative vs. technical struggle. Just remember you are an engineer that dabbles in production, and not the other way around. And never say "Hmmmm." It makes others think your brain is powering down.
Old 6th May 2004
  #14
Lives for gear
 
jpaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by LTA
If you can keep your production guidance more to the technical end of things, you should be okay. It is important to know how to venture into the creative realm, but even more important to know when to. And watch out for the left brain - right brain conflict. A track may have a great vibe that pleases a producer-hat, but the outside noise and crapping out mic would offend the engineer-hat. But, you can learn with practice to deal with the creative vs. technical struggle. Just remember you are an engineer that dabbles in production, and not the other way around. And never say "Hmmmm." It makes others think your brain is powering down.
Excellent points... things i've realized after struggling with them for years, hehe.

Knowing Jay, he's enough of a musician to be able to handle this kinda stuff in an environment with no producer or the band producing. I still think the biggest difference between going freelance and what Jay is doing now is the selling point... as a freelancer, it's your name and the CDs you've done, not the studio or gear. HUGE difference.
Old 27th May 2004
  #15
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by juniorhifikit
If you're having trouble making lease payments on gear and feel like a slave, just scale it back and keep only what YOU need.
That's not really the case though I wish it were. Truth of the matter is that I feel like running a studio aka having a business has taken a toll on me, both personally and professionally. Even when I'm not working I'm working ya know? grudge

JP, the last point is a good one...
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