When Should A Recording Hobby Become A Recording Business?

08-30-2013 10:59 AM

The Pro Tool Expert community is made up of both those who use Pro Tools for a hobby and those who make a living from using it. It’s a dream of many hobbyist to take that and make a living from it - but make these considerations before making that leap, it may be the difference between success and failure.

  1. Am I Good Enough?
    The first measurement is competence and that is better measured by other people rather than you. Do you have other people (other than your Mum or Dad) telling you how talented you are? Do people seek you out to get work done because you have a reputation for delivering great work? My company was born out of people almost forcing me to go self employed when they were asking me to do work for them that I couldn’t do in my day job, we’ll look more at this in a moment.
  2. Do I Have The Wiring To Run My Own Business?
    Running your own business can be the most lonely, stressful job in the world. I once remember hearing a young guy declaring to a room full of people that he had just started his own business and now there was only one boss, before he could finish another older guy said “yep the bank!” It may sound like the ultimate thing to be your own boss, but you need to have a thick skin whilst being sensitive to client needs, you also need to be able to do about 50 jobs at the same time. I often joke to ther people when out with my wife that I work 3 days a week, she normally adds that I work 24 hours on those 3 days.
  3. Are Clients Waiting?
    There are a lot of people who will say they have loads of work for you if only you would set up on your own - it’s normally not true. When I went self employed I decided to take it a step at a time and worked on my business at weekends whilst I held down a job all week. As things got busier I spoke to my boss and went down to 3 days a week and did more of my own work. Only when I was confident that I had a working pipeline of clients did I make the final leap.
  4. How Much Money Do I Have?
    It’s important to have some cash put aside when you are considering turning a hobby into a business, at best you need around 3 months income as a buffer whilst you try to get the business off the ground. Of course if you don’t have any income right now then this is less of a consideration, but you also need money for running the business - even when a business is making no money it still spends it. If you need to buy gear to get started then you need to fund that, you really don’t want to have to go to the bank for a loan and to be honest they only lend money to one legged monkeys who can tap dance on a unicycle on any day that doesn’t have a ‘Y’ in it.
  5. Do I Have The Backing Of My Family?
    If you are married, in a relationship or living at home and there are people who depend on your income then you owe it to them to include them in the decision. The initial start-up may mean a serious reduction in income, but longer hours and more stress - you need to have those around you who this will impact on board. If you don’t have their backing then you need to ask why - it may be because their answers to the questions above are different to yours.

If you are considering taking your love of music, composition, post production or sound design and trying to make a living from it, then take time to consider the points above - making money from your love of Pro Tools may seem like a dream, but if you do it without considering the implications it may become a nightmare.