This is a question put to me a few days ago and I feel answering it from my own personal experiences could help a good few people break into the industry and turn a hobby into a full time job. There are many ways to do this but there is no quick 100% sure fire way to do it. You've got to really want to make it and not be scared to fail. I tried and failed with a company before Audio Animals. Didn't stop me regrouping and trying again until I was successful.
First time round when things didn't go quite to plan I had no financial backing. I decided I would just make the leap and it was quite naive of me to think it would work out. But hey I was young and had the world at my feet. Failing was fine at this stage. I had zero dependants and if it didn't work out I had nothing to lose. What I did gain from this was experience. I took time out to look at where I went wrong. Below are a few points I found I went wrong first time round.
No financial backup or backing
When I started the business I had no money saved up, I had no money coming in from the get go. I had to instantly get results. Which I know now is not how it works.
No experience of starting a business
Being my first business venture I was kind of learning as I went. The internet at this time didn't have as much accessible information readily available for me to read and learn.
Unwilling to devote every second of every day to the business
This is an important one. I wasn't prepared to devote my life to my business and resulted in it failing because I wasn't on hand all day every day to make it a success. When the ball starts to roll you need to be ready to move with that momentum.
Other priorities that were more important
Simple things like having the latest phone, going Fabric on a Friday and spending £200 on a night out. Being young, this was what I considered being young to be all about. I didn't want to be locked away in a studio working while friends were out partying.
Now onto Audio Animals and my experience with starting this company and taking it from 2012 to 2019 with great success. I learnt a great deal from the first company I started that I did wrong and made sure I made the correct changes to Audio Animals to make it a success.
I had financial backing
Before making this leap into a new business I saved up a years salary so that I was comfortable for a year. What this meant was that I didn't have to start turning a profit for a whole year and meant I was able to undercut the competition to obtain new clients.
Knowing how to run a business
I read everything I could get my hands on regarding business and how to run a business. I sourced an account who would help me save money and give me advice on how to do certain things involved with accounting.
Zero commitments to anything other than the business
This time round I knew it was all or nothing. At this point in my life I was single with no kids. Which meant I had only me to think about. This meant I could work every hour under the sun. In the early days of Audio Animals I would work 18 hours a day every day Monday to Sunday. This is what was required to make a success of things early on and get that ball rolling.
Sacrificed a lot
I sacrificed a great deal. I pretty much put life on hold for the first year. I quickly realised luxury items like clothes, the latest phones, nights out drinking expensive drinks in swanky London clubs etc. were all the things you think you need are in reality nothing but a waste of money. I say this was a sacrifice but it was more an awakening as to what's actually important in life.
Invested in new equipment
From the get go I invested every penny of profit back into the company. So much so within a year I had a lot of equipment I previously only ever dreamed of having. This approach was essential for me to get the business moving quickly and pick up the professional clients I wanted to work with.
A business partner
This time round with Audio Animals I began the company with my cousin and fellow engineer Nick Burchall. Having a business partner on board now meant we could split the workload and quickly establish roles within the company.
With Nick on board this time round we had the opportunity to build a professional website. Nick studied for 2 years (after his music tech degree) the art of web design and whilst he never actually went down this route for employment, it came in handy greatly with building the website you are reading this article on today.
The secret to breaking into the music industry whilst still working is be prepared to work every hour you are not working your every day job. At some point you will find the workload from the music industry to be too much for you to handle. At which point make that leap and transition into your dream job. It'll be the best thing you ever do.
Try and scale back on your spending. Sacrifice a few things and save as much as you can. If you can make the transition with a decent sum of money in the bank, you don't instantly have to start making £200 a day. You can get by some days not making anything.
When you do have days where you make nothing or have no work. Don't sit there twiddling your thumbs waiting for the next job to come in. Seek out that next job. Write an article on your website about your service. Create inward links to your website from google etc. There should never be a moment where you feel you are done for the day. Every second of every day is time that can be spent growing your business.
Remove distractions. Sell your Playstation or Xbox. Remove things like this from your life which don't actually help develop you or your life in any way. They just pass the time. Time is not something you have when stating a new business.
When we first started Audio Animals we didn't have a client to our name. We couldn't take our client lists from our old companies which although we were the ones that worked on their songs it was the companies credits. So we had the start from the beginning. This meant pulling new clients in with a deal. For a good 3 months we ran a deal at £10 a track mastering. We were mastering 300+ tracks a months which was hard but we were gaining new clients by the truckload. When the deal ended 90% of these clients were there for the quality of service over the price, so they all stayed on. Many of which we are still working with today.
My final words would be make that leap and transition into building your own business. It'll be the best thing you ever do. It's hard and every day even after 7 years is a challenge. But believe me it's so rewarding. I couldn't imagine going back to being employed by a studio again.