Scott Horton ’10 started his online service The Virtual Mix Engineer and explains how to make a living using the Internet.
Once upon a time it was common practice for an engineer to begin his career in a large studio starting as a runner and slowly work his way up the engineering ladder. As the number of large studios in existence dwindles and more and more home studios emerge, I decided to jump headfirst into my ideal career by starting an online mixing service offering recording artists a way to achieve their sonic goals regardless of where they recorded.
The importance of creating a career that fits a given personality should not be overlooked. For me, this involved working from my interesting location, daily variation collaborating with a wide range of styles of music, creatively contributing to records, and complimenting my introverted personality by having the freedom to mix alone.
Setting up an online business has it’s advantages such as reaching clients from all over the world, not dealing with real estate or liability insurance, creating a unique work schedule, and utilizing the best in music and communication technologies. The downsides include competing in a global market, battling with search engine optimization and social media, and time zone conflicts. To begin it was merely a matter of registering a domain, purchasing hosting, hiring a web designer, writing content, creating merchant accounts, and obtaining business licenses. However, as this is not a field of dreams, building a site does not translate into clients. As with all businesses, marketing to potential clients and generating referrals from past clients takes time and effort whether it be online or in the ‘real world’.
The Constant Pursuit of Knowledge
Engineers are always on the quest for new gear and are experimenting with new methods and techniques as each production presents a new situation. As a freelancer, one not only has to handle their core skill set, but must effectively act as marketing, PR, sales, social media guru, accounting, and customer service representatives. Thus, it is vital to keep up with current trends in your field as well as continue to educate yourself in all of the others areas of business. I never cared for reading until I discovered the wealth of knowledge within books and how this knowledge will have a direct impact on business. Now, digesting books, podcasts, blog reading and forum participation is part of my daily routine.
State of The Union Internet
Business is going as expected with the typical ups and downs of a startup. With time I am getting to work on more and more interesting projects and also raise my fees every so often as my experience and reputation grew. I am enjoying wearing the various hats of business and welcome the variation that each day brings.
There are plenty of other opportunities for musicians to earn income online such as:
-Being an Online Session Musician
-Composing and arranging for film
-Social media marketing for other artists
-Voice over and promotional spot creation
-Reviewing music, gear, and songs
-Creating an online course
Scott Horton ’10, an MP&E/Music Business graduate currently based in Prague, helps artists achieve the “sound in their head” with superior creative and technical sound processing. Download his free PDF “After The Mix: An Artists Guide to Promoting & Exposing Your Recorded Music”. Visit his online mixing service at http://www.VirtualMixEngineer.com