Making money as a music producer can be difficult. This is a post about one way you can do that – by starting your own samples company…
1. Create a really good first product
It sounds pretty obvious, but its the only place to start. Create a truly outstanding collection of sounds and spend time getting it right. Create something that you yourself have a need for, but also consider whether others share this need with you. Find out what other producers you know are using, or even better, are not using yet but have a dire need for.
Do what you are good at – if you are a recording engineer, consider whether you want to record every day sounds, or build a virtual instrument. If you are an electronic music producer then perhaps creating synth presets is more your thing. Don’t get too wrapped up in what the ‘market’ might want just yet, just focus on achieving excellence. Create a great audio demo, hire a really good designer and do everything you can to package this up as best you can…it all makes a difference. The most important bit – make it unique!
Once you’ve created your first product, use something like Sellfy to get it online quickly and give people a way to pay you. Then, by any means necessary, sell! This is the best way to learn and get feedback about what you are doing. Don’t worry about whether you can scale this into a business yet, but focus on learning. Send it to your friends, post it on forums, social media, anywhere you can. People can tell you how great your product is but the only way you will really know is by selling it.
Gather as much feedback as you can, maybe use something like Facebook Groups or Slack so you can invite people to give you feedback. Then, when you’ve gathered enough knowledge, create another product and go through the cycle all over again. Keep doing this until you feel comfortable that what you are creating is something people want to pay for. But don’t spend any money on marketing just yet.
3. Give value, build your community 🎁
This is, believe it or not, one of the most important ways to grow a business online. Use something like Mailchimp to collect email addresses so that you have a way to stay in touch, then create some really high quality free content to give away. Software like Leadpages makes this very easy. You could give away a sample pack, you could create tutorials on youtube, you could write a guide to building your own samples company 👀 … basically anything that people will genuinely find value in. Use Facebook Groups or any other tools to promote your free stuff … experiment and see what works.
Now, you’ve opened up a direct line of communication, so you can actually talk to your customers. And do just that, talk to them, like people. Be responsive, reply to questions, ask for people’s opinions and generally don’t treat emails you send as a ‘newsletter’, but as a conversation starter. Encourage people to spread the word, keep busy posting around forums, but don’t spend any money on advertising just yet. All the while, keep collecting feedback, keep learning and keep creating more valuable content for your community.
4. Find a partner
We’re using ‘partner’ loosely here, but essentially it describes anyone or any company who you can work with, who has an existing network you can leverage. Working with the right partner can be huge for growing your business. A few examples…
- Distribute your content through a company, like Noiiz, in return for a revenue share and promotion of your brand.
- Work with a blog or a magazine and give away some free samples, in return for exposure
- Collaborate with a well known artist with a large producer following and ask them to promote to their fans (you’ll most likely need to offer an advance, royalty split or some kind of monetary incentive unless you are very well connected!)
- Work with a music software manufacturer who will provide free sounds from your company in return for exposure
5. Grow! 🌱
By now you should have built up a good understanding of what’s working, as well as a good product offering. Now its time to think about scaling. You’ll need to grow your content, so you’ll have to work out what incentives you can offer to other content creators as you won’t be able to do it all yourself. Consider a royalty share, cash advances or possibly even shares in your company if you think its worth it.
You’ll also need to find a cost effective way to grow your user base, possibly using something like Facebook advertising to bring more people in to your community (see number 3.) And you’ll need to grow your team…but be careful here as more team doesn’t equal more growth. Wait until there is an absolute dying need for more hands on deck and you can afford to do it, then make the hire. Don’t hire people to grow your company, hire people because your company is growing.
So you’ve built a samples company, you’ve got customers…now what? Well, this is just the beginning! You’ve got your foot in the door, you’ve created something people want but now its time to create a bigger plan. There’s no rulebook here, but it all comes down to learning. Learning how to better understand your customers, potential customers and people’s motivations in general. Learning how to create new value, expand markets and do the unexpected.
You might have a grand vision of the future, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket, create lots of small experiments then keep readjusting your grand plan as you go. Most of all, don’t forget why you are doing this and what kind of value you want to create in the world. Be true to what motivates you, if something isn’t working then be ruthless and cut it. Most of all, make sure you enjoy it every step of the way! It won’t be easy, but it will certainly be exciting.
I started Samplephonics back in 2011, with no clue about what to do or how to do it. All I knew is I wanted to work with music somehow. But with persistence, a good dose of luck and a willingness to learn it became my bread and butter and eventually evolved into what you see here today at Noiiz. It’s been exciting, terrifying, emotional, challenging, fun and rewarding and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is just my take on how to start a sample company and you might find something totally different works for you, but hopefully its been useful in one way or another. 👍
Thanks for listening ❤