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Side Gig Thursdays: Brandon Duncombe, Audio Recording Engineer & Music Business Services

Posted By Jim On 02/07/2013 @ 7:00 am In Personal Finance | No Comments

If you are one of the nearly two thousand people who liked our Bargaineering Facebook page [3] (thank you!), then this next Side Gig Thursdays will be about someone you interact with on a regular basis. Brandon is our social media manager and content coordinator, a behind the scenes guy who I’ve gotten to know well in the last year or so, and today we get to learn a little about his side gig – being an audio recording/mix engineer and provider of music business services. It was his passion before we met and I’m glad to hear it remains his passion to this day.

I know so little about the music business so it’s fun to hear about it from someone who is so passionate about it.

What is your day job?
I’m a Social Media Manager/Content Coordinator.

What is your side gig?
Audio Recording/Mix Engineer and Music Business Services. As far as engineering goes, essentially I record a variety of bands/artists and try to make them sound as good as possible with the equipment at my disposal, and with a dash of creativity. Business Services mostly involves me registering copyrights, researching publishing information, reviewing basic music-related contracts, and managing/consulting social media for clients.

It’s always fascinating to me how little musicians/artists know about (or are interested in) the business side of their profession. I usually start by outlining the basics of copyright law/registration and the necessity of establishing your own publishing company. I also emphasize the importance of being a writer/composer as opposed to simply being a “recording artist”, as writers/composers earn the lion’s share of income in the music biz.

I understand that any type of law can be intimidating — if it wasn’t, attorneys wouldn’t be so coveted — so I try to make it as engaging and digestable as possible. It’s easy for some entertainment attorney to take advantage of peoples’ dreams, but I try and provide the basics so they can at least have a fundamental understanding of the business-end of their craft. I also try to teach them that managing your business is definitely something you can do on your own if you put the time into it — that wasn’t necessarily the case 10 years ago. So for the people who simply don’t have the time to invest in the business side, I manage what I can for them, but for others I show how to get started and (hopefully!) provide them with the confidence to learn more and manage it themselves.

How much does it make each month?
I bring in anywhere between $500 and $800 a month – depends on the workload that month. And I devote between 5-10hrs/week to recording/mixing/managing services.

How did you start doing your side business?
Well, I was always a digital media and music geek, so in high school I decided to combine the two and have been involved with pro audio ever since. I composed and sold my instrumentals to artists in my early college days. Later on in college I evolved that into a full-fledged studio business, composing music and recording for various artists. Then I expanded again to include copyright, publishing, multimedia, and general music business services. As I mentioned earlier, many musicians are clueless on the business side of their craft, but early on I found that they’re extremely interested, they just didn’t know where to start — so the demand for music business services was there from the beginning.

Do you have a plan to try to turn it into your full time gig?
It was my main gig until I got my current job. I actually prefer it as a side gig. I get to be more selective about my clientele, and I can focus more on the fun aspects of music, which was lost having to do it for literally 18+ hrs a day at times to pay bills.

What resources did you rely on in starting the business?
I read a lot of books on music business, and a lot of information on the Internet about audio recording software, as well as through school. I have my undergrad in communications/multimedia studies and I was in a graduate Music Business program which provided tons of info from great professors and entertainment lawyers to help me expand and offer more music business services. I was lucky to be around a lot of talented/successful people, so I made sure to pick their brains as much as possible.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start something on the side?
Make it something you love to do, then it doesn’t feel like work. The worst feeling is going from Job A to Job B, so I don’t look at it as a job — I’m having fun, and just so happen to be making some extra money at the same time. But also, you have to put the time in. You can’t go half-way. You have to be professional. You have to present yourself like a million dollar company, even though you’re not. You’re reputation and character is usually more valuable than your services alone. So your demeanor and overall personality is vital to building the relationships you need to carry a successful side gig/business.

We hope you liked this Side Gig Thursday with Brandon!


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