In the third part of this series about how to become a music producer (here’s part 1 and part 2), I talk about how I found work in the first few months.

I was now in a position where I had finished my job – it felt very weird when the 27th of the month came and went and no one paid me.  Things got real; it was all down to me from here!

I spent those first six months working ludicrous hours to get my name out there and ensure that people heard of me.  Here’s what I did in those months:

A screenshot of my first website.

Firstly, I wanted to look professional and stand out so the first thing I did was to get a website and logo.  I sweated for ages over a name for my business until my website developers just suggested I just call it Haynes Music Productions.  I didn’t like the name (still don’t) but I loved the logo, and I think it’s added a touch of extra professionalism to what I do.

I also went on an equally invaluable SEO course that gave me a few tips on how to do well on Google.  I implemented the tips, zoomed to the top of Google within weeks and have stayed on the first page for people looking for music producers ever since.

Secondly, my local university offered a course for new creative businesses called Making Creativity Pay.  I can’t express how valuable this was to me.  It delved into all the aspects of business that creative people are a bit crap at – pricing your work, copyright, invoicing, planning etc.  As well as this, it was a great source of networking and I got my first few composition jobs from it.

The local paper chose to do a feature on me after a networking event. I cringe when I see this, but it all helped!

Speaking of networking, I had decided to spread the word and went to networking events all around the East Midlands.  Some of the more creative-based events were great, but I do remember finding myself in a room with accountants and executives, smirking as I introduced myself as a music producer.  But I gave out the business cards anyway and sod it, I got a free breakfast.

I’d turn up at open mic nights, film festivals, animation groups, anything where there was people that might need to hire a jobbing musician. And let me tell you, I HATE networking. I don’t have a natural ability to chat and sell myself, but it did the trick in those early days, and got me known.

At one point, I found myself doing a display at an exhibition for creative businesses.  The guy exhibiting next to me turned out to be a man called Paul Cummings who had made dozens of ceramic poppies.  Cynically, I asked myself how ceramic poppies could ever take off.  A few years later I got the answer to that question when nearly a million of them were commissioned as a war memorial around the tower of London, and then sold for £25 each!

I also got some posters made up advertising my services and put them into every music shop in the East Midlands.

And finally, I was working on a gigantic list of about 1,000 video production companies, animation companies and creative agencies in the East Midlands.  I emailed each one of them individually to advertise my services as a composer.  I remember thinking that even if just five of them got back to me it would be a good start.  Indeed, five of them did get back to me, and I was cooking on gas!

At the same time, I’d built my website to appeal to singer/songwriters and I was starting to get a lot of work through in that area.  It built up organically:

The first job I got was from an acquaintance.

The second was from someone I didn’t know in Derby.

The third was from someone further out in the East Midlands.

The fourth was from someone in a complete different part of the UK.

The fifth was from someone in the USA.

The sixth was from someone on Saturn.

Okay, that last one wasn’t strictly true. But I was surprised that I was starting to get work from around the UK and beyond; I had assumed that I’d just be working with local artists. The promotion that I’d put in place opened up a whole new market, and one that I’m still delighted to be working today.

Now people knew who I was and what I did, the hard work was about to start…

Go to part 4