I was curious why many of the other studio engineers did not adapt and Bill answered, “I
think now people are more knowledgeable. Five years ago nobody thought of it. Veteran
guys are coming up with these mobile systems but they’re lugging around cases and cases
of stuff because they have the old studio biases in their heads and this is why the
younger ones are going for the newer work method. The guys who are 30, 40, and 50 still
working in the industry want the big mixing console to impress the client with a person
coming into the room every 15-minutes saying ‘can I get you anything?’ They like the
glamour of it. I’m at a certain point in my career that I don’t need any of it anymore. I
haven’t had a demo reel in ten years. It’s time for me to taking the money home instead of
saying, ‘no I’ll take a really low paying job so I can work with all this cool equipment.’ No,
no. I’m going to work with the equipment I need to do the job and charge less. If I work
in a studio and they’re charge $700 an hour and they are paying me $75 or $90 an hour
to mix no, no, no. I’m going to do the same job for $250 an hour and sell that against
their $700 and put the whole $250 in my pocket and I’ve just tripled my money.”
The Takeaway: The New Freelance Is Starting Your Own Company
Bill through technological innovation, portable mixing expertise, and creative engagement
with clients is reinventing the freelance sound recording business. What I most appreciated
about our conversation was learning firsthand about the major historical shifts in the audio
recording industry and how Bill has positioned himself on the frontline of these changes.
The conversation explores his early background with New England Digital, the company
who built the Synclavier, where he would go to sessions with Sting, George Michael, and
Lucas Film and demonstrated how to interface with the new system. This discussion is a
blueprint for individuals interested in learning about rate negotiation, the freelance process,
and an understanding of the corporate and government hurdles for the self-employed. Bill
shows no mercy when it comes to the current administration’s relationship to small
business. He cleverly calls himself a member of “the radical center” uncomfortable with
the policies of both Republicans and Democrats.
His stories about clients and the challenges of getting paid or receiving adequate
information needed for a job are priceless especially the client who requested a “Tampon-
like sound.” Bill describes the psychological culture of freelance and what’s missing is
often having backup in case you get stuck. He doesn’t need it because he was always the
go-to guy. For younger and less experienced audio engineers, it is a challenge that needs
to be considered. Bill mentions that although computers have the capacity to push the
creative envelope, they are being used to produce different versions to solve internal
problems and decision making that should have been handled beforehand. He’s very clear
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