Q1. How long did it take you to get your business profitable?
I had a huge portfolio before, of clients and tracks I’d mixed personally but not under the Audio Animals name. Starting a new company with a new team did mean wiping the slate clean and starting from the beginning. Fortunately by having a close working relationship already with high profile clients we were able to mix for them under Audio Animals and build our clients lists relatively quickly.
Q2. Did you hire a studio initially or did you go all in from day one?
When we started the studio we didn’t need to rent a premisses we bought it outright. This is one of the many reasons we can offer our service a lot lower than other studios as our overheads are virtually nothing.
Q3. Did you start out offering all of your services at once or did you wait to build up a reputation?
We started out simply offering mixing and mastering. Over time the other services grew and we were able to offer these. What we didn’t want to do is offer these services while not having the best equipment possible to get the best results. For instance we didn’t offer stem mastering until we had bought our 24 channel Solid State Logic Mixer. We also didn’t offer digital mastering until we had all the universal audio plugins capable of doing the very best job possible. To us it is all about audio quality and improving the industries music that is released.
Q4. How many tracks do you master in a month?
We master roughly 400+ tracks a months and mix around 100+. This does mean two engineers are required to work 24 hours a day 12 hours roughly each.
Q5. Do you get a lot of ghost production and film scores?
We work a lot with film scores and writing for vocalists. Owning some of the best synths and sample libraries around really helps win these jobs. We mix and master a lot more film scores than we write. Having mixed and mastered for Spiderman 2, Xmen and Winters Tale we do get a great deal of work flooding in from clients who want the Hollywood sound.
Q6. How much time do you spend on marketing?
Marketing is something I personally do every minute I’m not mixing. You’ll see our facebook page is incredibly active and our online presence is huge. We top most google searches due to how much time and effort we put into marketing and making people aware of the services we offer.
Q7. How many hours do you work in a given week?
I work 18 hours a day 7 days a week and my business partner does the same. Some people think running a studio is easy work but it really isn’t. It’s a lot of hard work and long hours. I do a lot of what I do for free, for instance I produce sample packs for producers so they are able to use high quality samples and sounds in their tracks.
Q8. How did you manage to get from where you started with Audio Animals to where you are today? What’s ‘the story’?
I’ve worked within the industry for many many years now working for other companies and studios. I decided it was time to set up my own company as the companies and studio’s I’d previously worked with weren’t moving with the times and meeting the modern day mastering requirements. I set out to create a unique company that works very closely on a personal level with both clients and fan base to create a community of people who have one goal in mind, to improve the music industries musical quality. We set out to provide an affordable service that offers some of the world’s best audio gear and a unique sound. Through being so well connected with our clients we were able to change and adapt to create a service that is known by many as the best mastering service around. The company grew in size over time and so did the fan base. We’re very pleased as to where the company is right now.
Q9. What made you spot the gap in the market where Audio Animals could establish itself? There are many other mastering houses out there competing for clients, what makes yours stand out (and how is the service unique)?
Our company offer not only a high quality service for both mixing and mastering but we also offer a great deal more. We promote our clients releases to 30,000 people a month through news articles and make sure they reach the top of google for their tracks search term. We offer lots of free services such as sample packs, tutorials and advice. The gap in the market we hit was the full package. I can’t think of any other mastering company so in tune with their client base and fan base. We have 53,000 facebook followers which we regularly keep in contact with and have discussions about musical content. Mastering houses generally don’t have contact with a fan base or really have one. We feel it’s important to be a part of a community of people who are all in the music game for the same reason. We very rarely have to compete for work as we show up top of google for nearly every common mastering search term. There is always a constant stream of work coming our way.
Q10. With clients such as 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures to name just a few, you must be very proud of what you and the company have accomplished! What made you realise you wanted to start an audio treatment company in the first place?
We’re incredibly proud of these achievements and always try to promote that no matter what follow your dreams work hard and you too will one day achieve your goals. I wanted to start the company purely as I love doing what I do. Like I said before I’ve worked for many other studio’s before and really didn’t see them changing in the ways I wanted them to. By starting my own company I can create exactly what I want and change and adapt as I see fit. Offering various unique service others don’t.
Q11. Social media seems to have been a big part of gathering an audience of potential customers, was this always your primary source of marketing or did you mostly rely on other means (such as word of mouth or networking at events)?. What would you say has been your most effective form of marketing?
Social media is incredibly important to us. It’s our way of keeping in touch with a large amount of people at any one time. I’m glued to my phone and social media apps. I must check the page and comment a hundred times a day. We rely greatly on our facebook page which is why you will always see adverts promoting it throughout facebook. If you haven’t heard of Audio Animals by now you must have been living under rock. We make sure we are literally everywhere cornering every market. The internet is the future or has been the future for a while now. So becoming the online face of mastering was our goal. We have spent countless hours working with our website to make it perform best with search engines and ensure we top most searches. At the end of the day if you need something you google it then have a look at maybe the first 3 listings on google. The most effective promotional tool is facebook ads. Not only does your page build incredibly quick ( we get about 1000+ likes a week ) you can also set click through ads to your site. You need to think like this an advert will be seen once and clicked but a facebook like will be seen for as long as the facebook user likes you page. Facebook is an incredible tool and understanding how it works is very important.
Q12. With all successful businesses there are problems along the way. What would you say have been the most frequent (and/or biggest) issues you have come across with Audio Animals, and how would you advise others in similar fields to overcome them and power through?
There’s always problems and issues that need to be ironed out. Understanding and adapting instantly is the key to success. With other companies I wasn’t able to change their business model. Owning your own company and being the boss you are able to change with the times and your fan bases needs.
Q13. One of the things I have seen Audio Animals do is to release free sample packs for producers to use in their tracks and productions. I think this is a very effective (and helpful) way of not only helping the music community on a broader scale but also helping music producers to identify with the Audio Animals brand name, making the whole experience feel more personal. This is essential in the arts industries as people tend to go with who they know and this furthers that idea in your favour! What would you say have been other successful ventures of this nature that you and Audio Animals have done?
The sample packs have been amazing. I love doing them and giving them away for free to our fans. I like to give back as much as I can in any way I can. The other ventures that have gone down really well is the free promotion we offer. Not only do you get an amazing sounding mix and master you also have it promoted to thousands of potential new fans. The fact that we have such a strong site means we can post an article and within a few days it be at the top of google. When a client releases their track for free we post it on our site making sure it reaches thousands of new people who will potential download the track and become a new fan of theirs. This is one of many reasons so many producers big and small use Audio Animals to master their tracks.
Q14. How did you begin your career in music production?
I started out when I was about 12 producing music but I would never call that a career then. I guess when it became a career was when I finished school at 16 and started building a serious studio. Releasing on labels was never something that interested me, I much preferred to stay out the limelight and write music for small tv companies and independent films. That was really where my production career started.
Q15. What advice would you give someone looking to have career in music?
Be prepared to work extremely hard and get no where for a very long time. One day it all falls into place. Just remember you are 1 of 1,000,000 and when there’s that many people all striving for the same goal it doesn’t happen over night. Also never think your a super star and others are below you. That guy you wouldn’t talk to before because you’re better than him may just turn around in a few years time and become the next big thing. Stay grounded and be a genuine person. Skills are secondary to manners. I would never hire someone with bad manners. They are representing my company. Manners go a long long way in this game.
Q16. Audio Animals was recently involved with the production of the new spiderman movie. What was it like being involved in a big budget film?
Was amazing, and is great to see your name in the credits for such a major film. Especially when you grew up watching it as a youngster. We’ve worked with a lot of Hollywood movies over the last few years mastering tracks that are used in them. Knowing that potentially around 100,000,000 people have heard something you mixed and mastered is an amazing feeling.
Q17. What are common mistakes producers do when mastering tracks?
They try and do it themselves using plugins. There’s a reason mastering is a profession that will always cease to exist and that’s because not just anyone can do it. You can of course make your track loud in a daw in your bedroom but if you try and hand that track to a film or major label they will send it back to be mastered correctly. The most common mistake is loudness. The more you push a track into a limiter or compressor doesn’t mean it’ll get louder. Just means it’ll reduce the dynamic range. This in many ways can cause the track to become quieter, less defined and leave you with a dull lifeless track with no punch. What a mastering engineer will do is find that sweet spot between loudness and a track with a nice dynamic range. Giving you the best of both worlds.
Q18. What is your favourite piece of kit in the studio?
I love every bit of kit, I couldn’t possibly pick one. I would have to say the SSL console. It’s the centre piece to the whole studio. It’s the reason we can off such high quality mixes and the reason so many music producers use us. It’s unique sound and flawless quality ensures our studio can offer the best quality at the best price. The shadow hills compressor and neve 542 units are both favourites as well as the maag eqs. I love ever bit of gear in the studio that’s why I bought it.
Q19. Pizza seems to be your favourite studio food. How much do you think you’ve spent on pizza in the space of a year?
Hahaha I wouldn’t know to be honest. Must be in the £1000’s but to be fair we do get 50% off every time. What can I say we work hard and reward ourselves at the end of the day with a pizza.
Q20. Who are your favorite artists and producers at the current moment?
As for producer/compressor I’d say Mikkel Heimburger, we have just finished mastering two of his albums and are waiting to see which major films they will be going into. He composes some of the best trailer music I’ve ever heard.
Vocal artists I’d say three. Jenny Jones who sung Flowers, Don’t walk away and starred on the Voice. Kymberley Myles and Austin Drage who was in the top 10 of X Factor. They are all very close friends of mine now. I’ve worked with them for the last few years and have created a great working and social relationship with them all.