How to Hire Freelance Composer, Arranger, Audio Engineer or Musician

Back when I used to produce music for clients, I’d find and hire talents who can record, mix, or master long before remote work became a norm with the COVID pandemic.

This is what I keep in mind when hiring someone remotely.

The instruction I give is extremely specific. I tell the freelance what the goal client is trying to achieve, and I describe how I think it can be achieved by incorporating certain styles, techniques or practices in the freelancer’s deliverables. I also make it inviting for them to come up with a better way than the one I proposed. I want to have a conversation about the music we produce. Sometimes my clients leave all the decisions up to me. Sometimes they have a very specific taste in music that I want to make sure I am satisfying their needs. I look for freelance musicians who can clearly articulate their process and what their deliverable will be.

Ruthlessly eliminate candidates who fail to follow the application instruction or if their previous work is not quite in the style the client is looking for.

Have the shortlisted candidates create a demo and specify its duration. For example, I might ask an audio engineer to take a segment from the source music and mix it. I’d ask them to mix specifically the segment that’s critical in a particular piece. Assume that the sound quality of the demo will be the sound quality of the final deliverable. In my experience, sound quality does not improve with revisions.

Don’t hire someone just because they respond quickly or because they’re cheap. Do not hire a “Yes” man. Hire an independent thinker.

Your job as a producer is to be an interpreter for your client’s needs. Truly understand the client’s demands before giving the freelancers instructions.

If you’re making a suggestion or throwing an idea, be clear that it’s not an instruction. For example, say, “From measure 5 to 9, I was thinking about using X or Y, so that we get the result Z. If you can think of a better way to achieve Z, please let me know.”

Be brutally honest with what you don’t like. They’ll appreciate your honesty. If stuck, suggest coming up with multiple options or versions, and encourage them to come up with their own solution. Say something like, “For these measures, I thought about having X or Y, what do you think? If you have other ideas, let me know.”

I made some bad hires in the past and ended up creating music that didn’t delight the client. Make sure to deeply understand what the client wants, and hire musicians who can deliver it.

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