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Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

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Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:16 am

I need an income, and I'd rather start a business myself than work for someone else. I've been self employed before, my own shop, so I'm not unfamiliar with it.
I'm going to be brief.
I'm thinking of two ideas, location recording of local musicians, or equipment hire. I'm based in the heart of Kent, not London, which I think may be a considerable obstacle, especially hiring, but I'm not sure.
I'm not looking to make this a full time occupation, but it depends, ideally it could provide me with a little bit of extra income. But I know how unpredictable business can be, and I just have to see how it goes. But I'd be interested in your views, as to whether it's just not worth bothering with, or maybe some positive pointers.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:45 am

Equipment Hire requires a relatively large expenditure on said equipment before you can generate any income at all, and against that income you'll have all the ongoing costs of storage, PAT testing, maintenance, insurance, wear and tear replacement, delivery/collection, etc etc...

So probably not really a great way to make money -- and especially not in the short term.

Recording local musicians might be a better bet. Especially if you have the equipment already and don't mind taking it out and about. But this is generally a very competitive area to get into and expectations can be impractically high while standards depressingly low. Are you sure that's something you really want to do commercially? It's a very different thing from the occasional favour for a mate's mate...

A few hours a week as a floor assistant in the local B&Q would probably generate more income for a lot less hassle... :lol:
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Aural Reject » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:50 am

Arpangel wrote:I'm thinking of two ideas..... equipment hire. .....

Like Hugh says, there are lots of obstacles to this. If you're actually looking for a proper income stream, in order to compete with others you'd need a large enough inventory to cope...hiring out a single synth for a week is one thing....but if you're looking to provide microphones, can you supply 8 Schoeps CMC6u plus the associated capsules? In addition to those, I need a U87 and a R84....?

It really depends what you'd be trying to achieve....but I suspect it wouldn't be especially lucrative.

Arpangel wrote:I'm thinking of two ideas, location recording of local musician...But I know how unpredictable business can be....

Hugh has already really covered this. There are lots of people vying for not much ''business' - you'd be in direct competition with lots of people from here, or Little Johnny who's got a dictaphone....

I do what I do as an addition to my day job. I have a fairly niche market, I've won awards and worked with some of the best artists and bands in my field, I use specialist producers, my mic list includes Schoeps and Neumanns etc etc....but as Hugh has already stated lots of people expect a solid gold service for free - especially if they're an amateur organisation. This can often go hand in hand with delusions of grandeur with respect to the level of their performance. The bottom line is that people (quite often) don't want to pay anything, let alone anything near 'commercial' rates....so they go elsewhere...YMMV, of course.

It's quite a depressing state of affairs, but sadly fairly real.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Brian M Rose » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:33 pm

I would also add that running a rental company isn't going to make you any money unless you have a LOT to invest.
Premises, delivery vans, engineering, booking staff, and of course LOTS of equipment. And I suspect that the music business is going to be far worse than Broadcast Rental (which I worked in) when it comes to people wanting everything for nothing (we're a famous band, but we'll give you a credit if you give us the gear free).
Then there's the risk of not being paid, theft, damage.....
No, forget it... :-(
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:06 pm

Concentrating on the 'local recording service for local bands' aspect, are you thinking of offering a 'record a performance/gig' service or 'come to your room and let's build an album' service?

If it's the latter then you'll have to factor in the setup time, the overdubs, waiting for the band to work out how they're going to record the next song etc.... even before you start to mix. And more of that anon... And then of course there's all the stands, cables, mics etc that you'll need.

If it's the former then there are other aspects to consider. Are you going to run splitters for your feeds or are you hoping to get feeds into a multitrack from their mixer? Do you have splitters? Will their mixer be able to provide the 'flat' (No EQ; No FX) feeds you'll need? Do you/they have enough sends/channels for what's required? Are their mics any good? If not, will they be prepared to use yours?

Over the years I've offered this service to lots of 'up and coming's and amateur groups. No-one expects to pay commercial rates and many don't even think that you'll want paying! Any suggestion that they'll have to pay and everything will go very quiet or you'll be given various flavours of sob-story.

... and if you do agree a fee don't expect that it'll be record, mix, job done. Almost always on these jobs (BBC excepted) I've had to do multi-mixes - sometimes running into double figures - before everyone's satisfied. And those mixes will include expectations of micro-adjusting levels on each track. Hours and hours of fun!

Could I ever have made money at this? No! I did it because I loved it (mostly)and regarded it as a hobby.

... and by the way... In latter years when I was providing a full OB production service for BBC Local Radio, guess what they paid me per recording? ZERO... They had no money... if I'd asked for it the choir/group/church service would never have been aired...

If you decide to press ahead, don't forget that you'll need public liability insurance if you're turning-up somewhere where there's an audience present. If they trip over your cables, mic stands whatever and are injured it's you who will be liable, not the venue.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby hobbyist » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:40 pm

Renting gear takes a big capital investment and a lot of promotion and sales for imho too little return.

Live recording is feasible. I see posts on other fora describing that. But it may depend on the competition in your area. And their target market is not local musicians but churches and performers.

Studio type recording is possible but more studios are failing than are being started. Again not recommended for your needs.

The dirty little truth is that internet and digital have destroyed good income chances for musicians artists writers and photographers to make a decent income. A few do well, some break even, most are not covering expenses.

Just imho you would do better offering a service that you are specially skilled in not something that most musicians already have the gear and ability to do like recording.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:25 am

hobbyist wrote:Just imho you would do better offering a service that you are specially skilled in not something that most musicians already have the gear and ability to do like recording.

Thanks everyone, you've all confirmed what I was thinking, but, I just wanted it confirmed! :)
"Hobbyist" that's a good point, but what am I skilled at?!!
I'm quite good at programming my Buchla, and playing free-improv piano, but theres not much call for those things in deepest Kent, I've been adversting for collaborators down here for 18 months, and I've had one viable reply!
Regarding local competition, there is a studio and a rehearsal room and they are obviously very protective about their business.
It's all pop cover bands, or Blues/Metal covers, no originnal material that I've heard since I've been hear. There is quite a boyant classical music scene, organ recitals, choral societies, a couple of respected local musicians, its of a high standard. So I would aim for that if I was going to do anything, and not in any way treat it like an income, just an extension of my interest in recording generally, something to do.
I'll leave the serious money earning potential to B&Q, and maybe Sainsbury's!

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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby ef37a » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:39 am

If my circumstances (and eyes!) were different I am convinced I could make a decent few bob building special "boxes" for the ever growing Home Recording market.

Just few days ago a guy elsewhere was having bother feeding 8 group outs from RCAs at neg ten to a mixer that wanted +4dBu balanced. Two brace of NE5532s in a tin rat powered would sort that but I doubt any such thing exists or if it does it will be "top pro" and very expensive.

Then there are all sorts of breakout boxes and adaptors that peeps seem to want that they cannot find.

All can be done online will little investment and if you stck to passives, batteries or rats you avoid all the safety regs.

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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:21 am

ef37a wrote:...feeding 8 group outs from RCAs at neg ten to a mixer that wanted +4dBu balanced. Two brace of NE5532s in a tin rat powered would sort that....

You might do better with a handful of THAT1646 balanced line drivers. Better drive capability and fewer supporting components. Only 6dB of gain instead of the notional 11.8dB required... but we could call that protective headroom! ;-)
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby ef37a » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:37 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
ef37a wrote:...feeding 8 group outs from RCAs at neg ten to a mixer that wanted +4dBu balanced. Two brace of NE5532s in a tin rat powered would sort that....

You might do better with a handful of THAT1646 balanced line drivers. Better drive capability and fewer supporting components. Only 6dB of gain instead of the notional 11.8dB required... but we could call that protective headroom! ;-)

I shall check that Hugh but I think that would put a zero on the bill? A 30V supply would still give over +20dBu and, IIRC the application was for an all analogue, tape based system so little need for massive headroom? Also one of the problems WAS lack of gain!

Yup, Farnell want £5.09 PER channel for the THAT whereas you get TWO channels (Z balanced) for 80p for the 5532. The LM4562 is even better and still nowhere near a fiver a pop!

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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:01 am

hobbyist wrote:The dirty little truth is that internet and digital have destroyed good income chances for musicians artists writers and photographers to make a decent income. A few do well, some break even, most are not covering expenses.
Just going to pick up on this; what the internet has done is changed the shape of the market and people are still reacting to it and figuring out viable business models. It's not some bleak apocalypse. A lot of old models are no longer profitable, it was ever thus.
hobbyist wrote:Just imho you would do better offering a service that you are specially skilled in not something that most musicians already have the gear and ability to do like recording.
This is thing - people will only pay for a scarcity. What market scarcity have you identified that you have the skills, equipment and passion to fill? What rate of return do you need to make it worthwhile? How prepared are you to walk away? And what happens if you do?
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:17 am

Real life is sometimes different from the common sense that l'm employing based on all the replies here. I hear of people who against all advice go blindly ahead with seemingly thin business ideas and come up trumps, I've seen this with a friends gardening business, lots of competition, but he made it work, another guy I knew actually went and did...wait for it.....an audio engineering course! and went on to engineer for a top name band, I mean, a real, top name band, after all of my negative advice about going on such courses he made that work too.
I think regarding location recording, classical especially, there is a new generation coming through, after all, the old guard won't be around for ever, and if there is going to be any sort of an industry left we need new blood. The future of music recording is still very uncertain, and music in general. Will there even be an "industry" in any of the arts in the future? It's impossible to say, but based on things we can do now that even educated industry music people thought were impossible say 30 years ago, are now possible, and way beyond.
Are there still people out there today that think building a commercial studio is a good idea? I haven't talked to or met any that's for sure. My one local studio has fingers in many pies, recording demos for bands who need a drum room, and need to play loud, but even that can be done at home if you're prepared to use electronic drums and a guitar preamp. There aern't many synmphony orchestras down here so that's not a problem! They have rehearsal rooms for the many pub bands, and they act as promotors and booking agents for local bands, also, they have a music shop, so between all these activities they do probably make some money to make it all worthwhile.
So as far as I go I guess I can forget about it, and actually thinking about it on reflection, it's all a bit too much bother to even think about, I'm slipping into old age a bit too easily, just sitting in our garden with my Tascam DR100 recording the birds does it for me these days.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:10 pm

I may have come across overly harsh in my response, apologies if so. I've actually considered something similar - offering a recording service to local bands on a peripatetic basis - but solely as a mechanism to improve my skills, not as a money-making venture.
As it is, I've got a stack of my own stuff to do that's growing faster than I'm getting through it so I can't see anything happening that way in the near future.
But thinking back a few years ago (before I knew what a compressor was), I've been in a few bands where we'd have paid a reasonable fee to have someone come to our practice, with a bag of mics and a bigger bag of knowledge, to make a demo for us.
Despite the ubiquity (and amazingly good quality) of mobile phone recording, I suspect there might still be a demand there. But it would have to be cheap. Properly cheap. Hence my considering it as a bit of a quid-pro-quo basis. Which brings in the 'can you walk away' side of the things.

Fundamentally, different parts of the country will have different existing recording venues, they'll have different scenes, different levels of disposable income, etc. etc. And each of us has different skills (technical and soft). So what might not work for person A in location B, might work for person X in location Y; even though the business model might outwardly seem identical.
And we'll all have different definitions of 'success'.

But I still think you'd struggle to find anyone who wouldn't advise against it! :D
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:15 pm

Arpangel wrote:I hear of people who against all advice go blindly ahead with seemingly thin business ideas and come up trumps, I've seen this with a friends gardening business, lots of competition, but he made it work, another guy I knew actually went and did...wait for it.....an audio engineering course! and went on to engineer for a top name band, I mean, a real, top name band, after all of my negative advice about going on such courses he made that work too.

I strongly suspect that the success in both cases came down to the people involved and their absolute passion and determination to succeed. In other words, they had an innate talent and they put in the work to truly master the required skills. Those kinds of people stand out in life and can make a success of things because they bring something to the party that people recognise, want and are prepared to pay for.

The audio engineering course thing is an area with which I have some reasonable experience. Time and again we see maybe two or three students in each year or class of perhaps 20-40 that clearly have the determination, work-ethic, talent, and skillset to genuinely achieve serious success in the profession. Frustratingly, the rest just don't -- and the difference in approach and drive is never subtle!
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby hobbyist » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:01 pm

Arpangel wrote:
hobbyist wrote:Just imho you would do better offering a service that you are specially skilled in not something that most musicians already have the gear and ability to do like recording.

Thanks everyone, you've all confirmed what I was thinking, but, I just wanted it confirmed! :)
"Hobbyist" that's a good point, but what am I skilled at?!! ......

.... There is quite a boyant classical music scene, organ recitals, choral societies, a couple of respected local musicians, its of a high standard. So I would aim for that if I was going to do anything, and not in any way treat it like an income, just an extension of my interest in recording generally, something to do...........


That is the problem. Figure out what you are good at or could learn to do well. But also consider what will they pay for? My experience is the low end bands don't have the money or else they DIY.

Forget the high end they all DIY now in their mansions and dont pay for outside studios or recording.

The middle might use you if you were cheaper than the studios and recording rooms. But would they pay for you to record in one of your basements or living rooms?

A number of people offer mastering online. But you are up against the really cheap services using software to automate the mastering.
to get the bigger bucks you really need a reputation.

Here in the states there is some small business for recording school events. Concerts or stage plays yada yada. But you may be expected to ALSO provide good video not just sound.

Digital and the internet have killed the market for musicians artists photographers and writers as well as for recording editing mixing mastering. Here studios are always quitting for lack of business.

Anyway, consider both sides of the money making options:
What will they pay for? AND What can you do well enough to try it.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:07 pm

hobbyist wrote:Digital and the internet have killed the market for musicians artists photographers and writers as well as for recording editing mixing mastering.
Citation please...
They've changed it not killed it. More content is being produced than ever before. They've killed off certain business models, but the market is thriving in terms of creation.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Arpangel » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:56 am

I think I've got to be honest with myself, I'm not passionate about recording, I can remember working for a friend helping out on sessions, it was so boring, the day to day life of a jobbing location guy is just that, damp cold churches, terrible sopranos making demos, prima-donna's everywhere, vanity projects abound. Occasionally we'd have a good job, but mostly it was very boring.
What am I good at that I can make money out of? I can't think of anything, so it looks like I may have a walk on part in my local B&Q
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:09 am

OK people - let's get real here -

Arpangel wrote:I think I've got to be honest with myself, I'm not passionate about recording,

Good! That's a start! And it's a pretty good start at that!

You can be passionate about whatever it is that you are recording - but only unbalanced nerds and loonies get passionate about bits of equipment. In other words, it is the end result that should be your motivation and NOT the process!

We can forget equipment hire for starters - too expensive to get off the ground and the marketing costs for a start-up will kill you!

What does work is to find a gap in the market for some goofy little thing that usually sell for silly money and buy that in bulk from China and sell it/them on eBay.

Look around you. Look at what you have bought in the past few months. Was there something there that was just too expensive for what it really is? Or was a cheaper version just not available on eBay? Some footlingly stupid little thing, a bit of cable, some kitchen device, some photography gizmo that seems to cost a small fortune for just a piece of metal with a screw in it?

And here's how the gig goes -

A typical example is a wi-fi dongle. The wi-fi connections built into most laptops and PCs are rubbish and large workstations usually don't have wi-fi built in. I needed one, just one. We also need two more in the office for the laptops that could not get decent connections using their onboard wi-fi. There's a bloke selling dual band and really good wi-fi dongles for £7.98 each on eBay. Now I know that they cost just $1.50 each in boxes of 500 pieces, so about £1 (FOB) - which translates to £2 delivered and cleared. So he is making about £4 gross margin after envelopes and postage on every single one - and good luck to him!

Looking at his feedback on eBay, he is selling about three a week and he also sells loads of other stuff, DP cables, HDMI cables, ethernet converters - penny-ante stuff like that. Each item represents about £500 investment in a box of the damn things but translates into £10-£50 turnover a week, about half of which is mark-up. He has a job, his house-bound wife (kids!) sends out the stuff and manages the eBay and PayPal accounts.

He now has 140 items in his eBay shop and the spare bedroom and his front room are both filled with shelves and boxes of goofy stuff from national flags to smartwatches, from HDMI switchers to false eyelashes.

He started with one box of cables bought via the made-in-china website, after being charged £15 for a poxy little HDMI cable at PC World. He bought a box of them for pennies each!

As for people who start up with hare-brained schemes that seemed doomed to fail and manage to come up trumps - for every one of those there are a hundred or more that fail. I get to see them in all their glory!

You could start by getting the excellent book 'Starting a Business for Dummies' by Colin Barrow (I have a copy which you can have if you want it! Call!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Starting-Busin ... 1118837347

The following is just a short piece I wrote earlier on how to get going if you don't happen to have a million to spare. This is how I did it. This is how others did it. And this is how you can do it. If you don't happen to have a money-hose, this is just for you!

1. Just do it! Don't say "I want to start a business." Start a business. The moment you say "I am a business person." you are a business person. It's that simple. The very act of wanting to have a business is your very first step in your journey through life as a business person. The very act of wanting it means that you are one already.

2. Aim high! I don't care how ridiculously high your ambitions are, they are perfectly achievable. Aim high and maybe, just maybe you will get there. If you don't aim high, your chances of achieving that goal are zero. You must play the lottery if you want to win the lottery! Except that the chances of winning the business lottery are about one million times higher than getting six right on a Saturday night!

3. Prepare! Understand the business you are about to enter. Work in that business. Watch what others do. Study every aspect of the business. It may look easy from the outside, but there will be things you don't know that you don't know, so find out what those things are. In business, preparation is everything!

4. Make mistakes! Yes, that's right - make all the mistakes and get them over with. Keep making mistakes but make them just once. Write down all your mistakes in a book and then read that book regularly. We call making mistakes 'Experience!'

5. Do it your way! How often do we get to hear "You must do it this way!" when what they are really saying is "That is how we have always done it and we can't think of any other way of doing it!" You must always study and learn the accepted wisdom - but that does not mean that you have to follow it. Your unique way of doing things makes what you do and what you have to offer itself unique. Let that be your USP!

6. Calculate! You must understand the numbers in your business - all of them. Understand the difference between margin, net profit, gross profit, fixed costs, variable costs, piece costs. Understand all the costs of hiring people, payroll taxes, insurance, pensions, canteen, space for cars, etc. Understand how to calculate risk and the role fixed costs play in risks. The difference between a business person and just another Schmo on the street is the business person can calculate!

7. Do it cheaply! You can start a limo company with a beautiful used stretch S-Class Mercedes for £5k or you can buy a new one for £250k. You can start a movie company with a $1m Arri-Alexa6 with grips and lenses, or you can use a DSLR for £1k. You can use sunlight and old PAR lights or you can use $1m worth of HMIs and a generator. You can start a taxi company with a brand new Audi for £50k or you can buy a used Toyota for £8k. There are several bookkeeping programmes out there for silly money and even better ones out there for free! Solve your investment problems with intelligence and initiative - you don't have a money-hose!

8. Tell the World! The idea that if you build a better mousetrap, the World will beat a pathway to your door is total bunk! The World has to know that you have a better mousetrap first! That means a sexy website that scores well for the search engines, that means leafleting, that means getting the message out to the press, that means infesting every forum, blog and idiotic social media going. That means having a YouTube channel and putting something new there every week. That means shouting your message across the rooftops. You can't afford to be shy!

9. Be creative! Never stop that Blue-Sky thinking! Keep imagining what else you could be doing. Every day and in every way, you must set aside some time to dream and think of a better way of doing everything involved in your business.

10. Rationalise to be productive! Use every possible tool to be more productive! Use the fastest software. If using an automated CNC machine will double your output, get one! This is all about calculating. Car companies make cars for tiny sums of money, usually between one-fifth and one-eighth of RRP. They do this by automating every possible process. You must do the same. Look at which type of customers are the most profitable. Deal with them and drop the rest. Rationalise each and every aspect of your operation. From bookkeeping to sales, from stock control to prepping in a restaurant kitchen, every process must be as efficient as humanly possible!
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:03 pm

Ah! Dongles!

My daughter teaches beauty therapy at Npton college and the students are required to bring a USB stick to save their work to. 1G would be plenty. Like students everywhere forever they don't!

I suggested we buy a dozen or so 1 or 2G sticks and she could dole them out at cost, which should be very low. Problem. Very hard to get a price from anybody unless you fill in a form for colour, size, type AND minimum quantity seemed to be about 100pcs.

She was not going to punt £200 ish when it would take her years to get her money back but someone else might see such a niche market?

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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:44 pm

blinddrew wrote:
hobbyist wrote:Digital and the internet have killed the market for musicians artists photographers and writers as well as for recording editing mixing mastering.
Citation please...
They've changed it not killed it. More content is being produced than ever before. They've killed off certain business models, but the market is thriving in terms of creation.

@blinddrew
Same difference. The change has left it bloody and dying even if technically still alive. It is a lot more tougher now and virtually impossible to succeed big time.

I cite my experience as photog, writer, and recordist. Also from looking at selling art not doing it.

What we have now is a VERY long tailed phenomenon.
A handful of people do very well. Some do okay, But the vast majority do not cover their expenses.

The amount being produced is irrelevant to the debate. Millions of wannabees are 'publishing' their novel on amazon for free or at least not much cost. A few sell big. Some sell okay. Most do not sell enough to cover the effort put into creating it.

Ditto for photographers. Uncle Bob does weddings for free. Millions of others have DSLRs that they use thus flooding the market with images. Newspapers stop using photogs and are turning to reporters to also take some pix with their cell phone.

The art market is no difference. Unless you have a big name then your 'art' is only worth the decor value. The BIG money comes from the name and reputation which takes a lot of time and effort to create should you succeed at that at all.

And music is the same. Big names have their studios in their mansions. Studios are folding up all over. Mid range have gear to DIY all their tracking editing mixing mastering and production needs.
Low end can't afford to pay others enough to make it worth going after that end of the biz. And if you try you are up against a few larger companies using computers and software to automate everything and who are already advertising widely.

So do it all for fun. If you become successful be happy. But do it for fun cause the chances are you are going to be in the low end of that very very long tail now.
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