Finding artists to work with can be tricky, especially at the beginning of your career. Not only is it at the start of your career but work can be very dependent on where you live in the world.
Perhaps you live in a small town with only a handful of bands and artists? Or all the bands you know are broke?
In which case, your only chance of finding people to work with is online. Of course, it's possible but a lot harder than building relationships in "real life", so to speak.
Even if you do meet a lot of musicians and you do live in a big city with a lot of music around you, it can be hard to find people to work with. This can be due to the fact that many artists use their home studio and are happy with turning out mediocre sounding music, therefore, are not very keen on spending money on you. Also, to be honest, they most likely don't have the money to pay for studio time.
So, no matter which situation you are in, it can be difficult.
What's the solution?
Well, there's no one solution to the problem, however, there are a few things you can do in each of the two situations to increase your work.
Let's start with if your only chance to find artists to work with is online.
Having your only presence online, on a website, means that you need to show people who come to your site that people love your work and how amazing you made their music sound. I see so many mixing sites online that's all about the mixing engineer and what he can do, rather than what he can do for YOU i.e., the artist. You want to avoid this as much as you can, make it all about the people you have served and ask past clients if you can get a testimonial from them.
Now, you also need a portfolio of your previous work and this is where the problem usually lays. As I said in the beginning, maybe you live in a small town with no bands,so it's very difficult to find artists to work for, let alone build a portfolio? There's probably a thousand tips online, but one tip, which I will credit to Graham Cochrane of The Recording Revolution, is where you contact a band or artists that you have found online (through Soundcloud or Bandcamp) and approach them with an email saying,
This is a great way of approaching an artist or band. You are offering them great value by giving them something for free, which they can use to make their fans happy, and you can add a song to your portfolio.
Now, what do you do if you live in a big city, such as Los Angeles, London or New York and are still struggling to find bands to record?
I live in London and my experience with going out to gigs and talking to bands, although very important when I first moved here, doesn't really lead to any real business/income after I left university. Many bands who play in pubs and smaller places usually don't have the money to spend on recording their music in a studio or get it professionally mixed. Of course, I'm sure there are bands that are willing but they are few and far between.
That's why I stopped doing this and instead focused on what worked and what brought me an income, for example, getting jobs at recording studios, doing live sound, play in cover bands, library/sync music, etc. This still lets me grow my clientele of artists and bands whilst working with music.
If you want to make a living solely on recording and mixing bands, you have to be prepared to play the long game. I talk more about this in the guide, How To Find Work And Become A Freelance Engineer. It might feel lame, but it's the truth and what most of us are experiencing.
I still go to networking events and meet artists and bands, but I know that by doing it consistently, over time, is what will eventually turn in to an income.
Now, what are your experience with finding artists and bands to work with? What have you struggled with specifically? Is there anything that is difficult at the moment? Let me know in the comments and I'll help you to the best of my ability!