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Author Topic: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades  (Read 1584 times)

Thomas W. Bethel

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Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« on: March 30, 2006, 09:01:33 am »

Because of where I live and work I have to do many different things to make money.

Besides doing mastering we also do restoration of older tapes and records (even from Edison cylinders). We do tape, film, record reclamation for a client. (They send us fire and water damaged reel to reel tapes, records, cassettes and we dry them out, clean them and transfer them to contemporary media for their clients.) We do on location recording. We do media transfers and format changes. We do video editing, restoration, and audio lay-backs for video. We also provide audio tech support for various  clients.  I make custom audio cables for video and audio clients and we even restore and reconfigure older Neotek consoles. It is all fun work and I get to wear many hats. The work is both interesting and challenging.

My mentor, who runs the most successful studio in this area, and I were recently talking. He said that he has a niche(commercials) and he is has always been able to fulfill that niche and make money doing it. Lately he has gotten into other areas like video production, live recording, on location recording but has found, like many of us, that this is not as profitable as he thought when the opportunity presented itself to him. He is still doing the video but stopped doing on location work when he found out how much it cost to do and how little the clients were willing to spend to have him do it. He says he is getting back into his niche market and will be only concentrating on that for the foreseeable future.

I guess the talk started me thinking about trying to do it all versus just just doing mastering and was wondering if I am alone in my way of making a living.

Any comments would be welcome,
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-TOM-

Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Viitalahde

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2006, 10:59:47 am »

Well, I myself don't believe in businesses that operate in many fields. I think it just limits how good you could get in what you do and it also gives the client a view that you do OK work in many things but great on none.

Businesses like this usually have services, where some bring in more money, some less. The thing is, that you still put a lot of work in the not so profitable business and this takes away time from the better paying things.

You have to do many different things to make the living, that's understanable. But I still believe you could do the same or more by reorganizing your business by sharpening it up a little.

I believe in specializing. Maybe it'll bite me in the foot some day. I do know that what I do today represents the whole field of audio I'm interested in. If the day comes I need more income, I'll find a 2nd job that's as far away as possible from this.

Oh, I don't believe in eternal economic growth & all that crap. No dreams of getting rich, I just want to make my living doing something that I like to do.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
http://www.virtalahde.com
   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Helsinki-Finland/Virtalahde-Ma stering/278311633180

bblackwood

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2006, 11:46:24 am »

Only mastering here - I think that specialing in one things makes for better results...
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

carlsaff

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2006, 11:49:19 am »

I do tracking and mixing work now and then, but it's rare, and I don't advertise that as a service. I really only want to do mastering.

Jerry Tubb

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2006, 01:28:07 pm »

Although our focus here is mastering, we do get a fair amount of restoration and transfer work to do, from various formats. Most of that work gets done done in Studio B, while Studio A continues on a mastering job.

In general, I would say there's nothing wrong with being versatile, as long as one doesn't spread themselves too thin, or attempt to wear too many hats at once.

All that said, there's nothing like specializing, to sharpen and deepen your mastering skills.

regards
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Terra Nova Mastering
Celebrating 20 years of Mastering!

Gold

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2006, 04:57:15 pm »

Viitalahde wrote on Thu, 30 March 2006 10:59

 The thing is, that you still put a lot of work in the not so profitable business and this takes away time from the better paying things.



Or the opposite, except for the 'a lot of work' part...
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Paul Gold
www.saltmastering.com

On the silk road, looking for uranium.

twelfthandvine

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2006, 08:43:52 pm »

Mastering only here (in spite of the name, haven't actually done any film/TV work for years).  

We're not in a major population centre either but, FWIW, specialization seems to have been almost 'self fulfilling' ... in other words, the focus seems to keep work coming in as awareness builds.

Kind regards,
Paul Blakey
12th & Vine Post
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Andy Krehm

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2006, 09:58:10 pm »

At Silverbirch, we are fortunate to have it both ways!

My company brokers close to 500,000 CDs per year and offers other specialties such as in-house duplication, website design, on-line store, posters, etc. We also do recording and mixing.

I do this by employing 3 other people full time. Two run the CD business and the other does recording/mixing plus spending a few hours a week with the websites and other things.

My studio is designed and equipped as a dedicated mastering facility in which I work about 6 days a week . My recording engineer and  a couple of freelancers use it as a mix facility after hours. So far, nobody has complained about mixing in a mastering room. Well, actually, one of them complained about my beautiful monitoring system. He now brings in NS-10 when he works! The slight of those speakers in my room are small price to pay for the extra income. And yes, we take them down during the mastering sessions!

So I get the best of both worlds. I am a full-time mastering engineer and hire others to take care of the rest of the business. Its also amazing how these businesses compliment each other. People know us as mastering place and at some strategic point in the session, I mention the CD manufacturing and they trot out to the office for a quote. Others come here because of our great reputation as a  CD manufacturing company, see the studio and will sometimes come back and record, mix or perhaps master their next project. Financially, all of our operations will occasionally see a dip but rarely at the same time so this helps with cash flow.

Of course I do have to keep my eye on the whole operation but I don't mind doing a little part time managing. But it not too time consuming because we have good experienced independent people working here and most of the time, I just do my thing and watch my little enterprise run along smoothly.

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.

NoWo

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2006, 04:33:42 pm »

Well,

I am doing anything that deals with media, and that also includes writing games, doing animation and the like. Video? How easy is that?
A good audio guy can do everything. The only question is do you want to survive or do you want to die? If you want to survive than please do it, with all you have. No rules here except the normal human rules.

But your question Tom aims into another direction:
Is it profitable to do anything, even niche markets?
Well, that depends on where you are standing. I remember a weekend last summer where I only had 15 cents left in my pocket, although I have a studio full of gear. I could have borrowed me some money, I have credit everywhere, but I wanted to taste the bitterness how it would smell if everything would go down the drain. Believe me, it was hard. Ugly.
But now to the brighter side, the economics. As long as one or two jobs bring my investment back that has to brought up to get a foot into a niche market then I do it. If not I leave my hands of it. As simple as that.

If you have employees to pay that is another story again.

Best wishes

Norbert
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dcollins

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Re: Providing services - Niche or Jack of all trades
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2006, 12:56:49 am »

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