Plan to Staff Your Business
When starting a recording studio, your staff will be determined by your budget and equipment. Smaller studios will have employees filling many roles at once (producers that act as sound engineers, mixers, and technicians). Larger studios will have dedicated personnel for different technical tasks, as well as accountants, receptionists, and other administrative employees. Unless your starting budget is particularly large, it may be wise to start small and hire talented employees who can fill multiple roles.
Sound engineers and producers (technical employees) are “flavored” by the genre of music they have worked with. Recording is as much an art as it is a science, and experience working with the particular tone and style of a certain genre is mostly applicable to just that genre.
Because of the specificity of experience, studios try to hire producers with different specialities so the business can work with a variety of clients. To get the best results, you will want producers and engineers working on projects that complement their experience.
Develop a Recruiting Strategy
Administrative roles can be recruited from usual channels such as free online job boards. Technical positions such as sound engineers or technicians can be recruited from local technical colleges or schools. Many colleges have internal online job boards that you can post jobs to, giving you access to new talent as soon as they graduate.
Interview with Confidence
If you take your time during the planning and recruiting phases of the process, you will likely end up with many qualified candidates.
Nonetheless, it is natural for a new business owner to be a bit anxious the first time hiring employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!
When interviewing producers and experienced sound engineers, look for reviews and credits to ascertain their reputation. Reviews and references from other musicians can give you a good idea of how easy to work with the candidate is, while a list of credits can establish an employment history of sorts and show you what styles of music they’ve worked with. Reviews should generally be trusted more than credits, however, because a producer will occasionally end up working on a project due to relationships or their role may have been minimal, neither of which are reflected in a credit.
Additionally, request samples of songs the candidate has produced. It’s important to judge the producer’s work and not the music itself, as even the best can’t work magic with a bad song. Listening to the producer’s work can be the best indicator of whether the candidate will be a good fit at your recording studio.
Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most recording studios look for producers/engineers who are:
- Passionate about music
- Experienced in relevant genres
- Experienced in the required technical skills
- Patient and easy to work with
Here are some sample interview questions that will help you learn more about the character of your interviewees:
- Talk about your favorite music project you’ve worked on.
- Describe a particularly challenging studio project you’ve completed.
- Describe your ideal day working in a recording studio, regardless of your job.
Be Familiar with Hiring Laws
After selecting a job candidate, there are certain steps you will need to follow to complete the hiring process. Check out our Hiring Compliance Checklist for a step-by-step guide to the legal aspects of hiring employees.
One of the most important steps is to classify your new hire as an employee or an independent contractor. Become familiar with IRS guidelines on this matter, as there are serious consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.
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