Every producer has to start somewhere and usually it is a place where nobody knows who you are, what you do and they don't really care.
Times are especially hard nowadays, when anybody can be a producer using a laptop and a cheap M-box, as the competition is super steep. It's no longer the gear that sets the men apart from the boys, it's the end result.
Here are a couple of pointers to help you expand your reach as an up and coming producer looking to score some more work:
JOIN A BAND
If you're producing, chances are you already play an instrument or sing. Playing gigs with other bands or musicians is an exceptional chance to get more clients, as you will be surrounded with people that make music and need to record it.
Don't be afraid to socialize and let people know what you do. The best time to do this is backstage after the show, when everybody is hyped up, excited and “feeling it”. If there's a band that you like and think that you could be a good fit for them, offer to make a demo record just to see if you can make something great together.
Really, just ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say “No”. If you and your offer will be cool enough, you'll probably get the gig.
OFFER WORK FOR FREE TO BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO
When starting out, it's necessary to build a portfolio of some sort, so that you can show your potential clients what you can do with their music. Of course, you won't be able to charge much for your first gig, so use that to your strength.
The trick here is to find a band or an artist that is actually good. If you offer to record a song for free (or for very cheap), the artist will usually agree, as there really is no downside to them. Just be honest - tell them that you find their music very cool and that you are building your portfolio as a producer.
It's no secret that good songs basically mix themselves – if you get one of those, it's a win-win situation for both sides.
BE A HUMAN BEING
Just like in almost every other business, this is one of the most important aspects of acquiring contacts and clients. You just have to be likable and genuinely nice. Concentrate on the things you like about the client and their music and build on top of that.
The other important aspect is your appearance. Always be well groomed, wear clean clothes to the studio and project confidence, even if you are terrified and winging it. Nobody wants to sit next to a grumpy and awkward producer with questionable hygiene for 8 hours every day.
Always be welcoming, accommodating and warm, especially when you're not “feeling it” - this will go a long way. Happy clients are your best advertisers – musicians always listen to other band's records to figure out where to record the best sounding records with the coolest producers. Once the ball gets rolling, your business will basically feed itself.
MAKE IT ABOUT THE CLIENT
Always make it about the client. Make them feel like they are the best client you've ever had and that they are your only client – no matter how much they are paying you. If you're asked to do a few more revisions than you want, gladly do them and make the client feel good. It's super important not to make them feel bad that they want to change something in the mix.
Once you build up your name, you will have more freedom to limit revisions and things of that nature. In the meantime, be welcoming and build up your reputation as an accommodating person.
If you're willing to try different mixes, do offer multiple versions for the client to choose from. This will also make them feel that you're willing to go the extra mile to get the best results.
USE ONLINE RESOURCES
There are many different sites online where musicians hire producers, mixers and editors to help them make better music. Explore these resources and play to your strengths. For example, if you're really good and fast at editing, offer editing services and try to deliver as fast as possible.
Editing is basically one of the most sought after skills in the modern music industry, as everybody needs it and only a few people can do it quickly and cleanly. This is a great way to make extra money without getting overly involved in the process.
Exposure is something that can only be built – it can't really be bought or made without earning it. You just have to keep grinding, doing good work and being a nice person.
Keep these tips in mind and you'll be well on your way to making it in the real world!