Shachar Gilad is a guest contributor from SoundBetter, a music production community helping musicians worldwide connect and hire top music pros so they can get to great-sounding release-ready songs.
Hi, this is Shachar from the team at SoundBetter, the leading marketplace for music talent. Over the past decade, we’ve learned a lot about what makes successful remote producers, engineers, and musicians—well before it recently became the way all of us were working.
We’re in the unique position to have data on what works and what doesn’t for the tens of thousands of pros on SoundBetter, some of whom have earned hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of dollars providing awesome music services remotely through our platform.
Some pros are great at getting clients and keeping them happy and returning. Others, while talented, aren’t as skilled in the art of customer experience. Not surprisingly, providing a great experience to any artists who hire you is as important as providing high quality music or audio.
In this article, we’ll share some insights and advice for succeeding as a remote music service provider, and how to provide that experience that keeps clients coming back for more.
We’ll assume you have the production, mixing, or mastering chops to offer, as well as an online presence, and that you’re getting artists inquiring about working with you. We’ll focus on how to increase trust and convert inquiries to projects, as well as how to keep clients happy after you’re hired, so you can count on even more work in the future.
How to get the gig
Be personable, and engage with their music
Simply, artists are looking for a collaborator, even when they pay for it. Those who personalize their responses and engage with the artists and their music tend to get hired more. Obviously, if someone is excited to work with you, you’re probably more likely to hire them.
Reduce their anxiety
It can be an anxious process hiring someone that you’ve never met (and may never meet), for hundreds or thousands of dollars, to work on your personal music. Put yourself in the artist’s shoes and help them feel comfortable. Communicate the process, timeline, and assurances you are willing to offer. Be patient if this is their first time doing this type of work, everyone started somewhere. If you are working through a platform like SoundBetter you can remind them of the additional assurance the platform offers them.
Remind them why you are the right fit for their project. If they contacted you they likely already think you might be, but it’s OK to remind them of your accomplishments or skills as they relate specifically to their projects. This can also be part of reducing their anxiety about the process, reinforcing your ability to get the project done in a way that hits their creative goals.
Don’t ask for their budget
This may seem counterintuitive, but we’ve seen that those who ask clients for their budgets don’t convert as well as those who collect information about the project itself, and then quote a price. Quoting your price shows that you’ve done this before, and more importantly, that you’re not trying to optimize your pay based on their budget. Remind yourself what you felt when you contacted any kind of service professional, and they asked for your budget. The tone of the conversation likely went from a potential collaboration to a negotiation, which may have made you more defensive. This is naturally not the place an artist wants to come from.
How to provide great service
Here are some of the leading things we’ve seen work to make customers happy and return for more work.
Over-index on customer service
An artist isn’t just paying for the end result; they’re paying for the experience of working with you too. Go overboard with customer service, even more so when working remotely than you would if someone were to come to your studio as a client. Respect deadlines, and check your ego at the door. You might believe you know better, but music is subjective and whoever is paying you to work on their music needs to be happy with the final product. Find something nice to say about their music. If they aren’t happy with your first attempt, be generous with revisions. Remember that earning a long-term customer and building your reputation is important if you’re in this for the long run.
You might think that the way to keep the customer happy is to spend another 30 minutes EQ-ing that snare reverb to get it just right. But we’ve seen that the most important thing to artists is communication. When artists send you money, they might be anxious. They don’t know that the reason they haven’t heard from you in two days is because you’re hard at work on their music. Communicate regularly and frequently about the status of their project. Update them and send them drafts to listen to. A 30-second check-in can go a long way to keeping the collaboration positive.
Deliver quality work
This goes without saying, but the quality of the deliverable matters. If you accept a project, you have an obligation to deliver quality work, even if it pays less than another project. That means being generous with revisions, investing time to make the artist proud of their music, and creating a long-term relationship. Not to mention your name will be on the project whether they paid you $300 or $600.
A few more tips from SoundBetter pros
We hope this helps you generate and drive more collaborative opportunities when working with artists. And if you’re a music professional and these tips resonate with you, but need help making these connections, we’d love to welcome you as a pro on SoundBetter.
Here are some more tips from other pros on the platform...
“Be honest and put yourself in the artists/clients shoes. They just want the best final result possible. Often, that involves more than just making what’s there better. Perhaps it’s taking something out or adding something. Read the room and go a bit further than what’s expected if you can.” — Ghian Wright
“Communication is key. Never set a date you can't deliver by. Present yourself professionally and try to connect with your client's vision by asking them the right questions.” — Kris Bradley
“At some point you may come across a difficult collaboration that tests your patience. When this happens: Keep Your Cool. If a collaborator is rude, responding similarly will escalate hostilities. Listen. Understand their complaint fully to begin smoothing things over. Own Your Mistakes. Whether the collaborator's complaint is legitimate or not is irrelevant. If you want to keep working with them, you need to express an apology for the problem. Find a solution. Once you understand why the customer is unhappy, offer a solution. Ask them what they feel should be done or put forward your own fair and realistic answer to the problem." — Tom Frampton