Recording studios all have them: microphones, speakers, audio interfaces, MIDI keyboards, and  . . . clients. The human element in an otherwise highly-digital world is often, unfortunately, neglected by even the most gifted sound engineers. Keeping clients happy and giving them great customer-service is as critical to maintaining their business as is the quality of the mastered recording you produce for them. 

Exhibiting world-class expertise in a field is not necessarily the secret ingredient to having happy clients.  It’s the little things that make the real difference.  Take the example of a dentist.  I am very loyal to my dentist!  And the reason I like my dentist (and choose to remain a life-long patient of his) is NOT because he is the best in the world at filling cavities or because he’s incredible at root canals.  It really boils down to his friendly demeanor and the overall professionalism of his practice.  Not once have I recommended a dentist to someone using this or a similar phrase, “I really think you should have Dr. Johnson as your dentist.  He is the best at discovering tooth decay!”  No, I usually say something like, “I really think you should have Dr. Johnson as your dentist! He always remembers my name.  He has the most courteous staff.”

Whether you have a highly-engaged client constantly hovering over your shoulder while you mix and master for hours and hours, or you have a deferential client preferring instead to quietly chill on the studio couch—there are a few easy things you can do to make everyone have a happier experience in your studio. 

  • Complimentary Beverages and Snacks

The airlines figured this one out pretty quick.  A complimentary beverage and snack can go a long way to having your recording clients feel at home.  In fact, there are some pretty cool refrigerators on the market specifically designed for recording studios.   Whatever your budget, be sure to at least have a mini fridge with an assortment of beverages.  Also, don’t forget munchies.  You might consider snacks that have a longer shelf life and come delivered as part of a monthly-subscription plan so you don’t have to remember to make a purchase over and over and over again.  A few places that offer monthly subscription services for healthy snacks include Melaleuca and SnackCrate.

  • A Comfortable Co-captain Chair

You may be the sound wizard, but your client is the one with the money.  At a minimum, you should treat him/her as a production partner.  Give the visual cue on this by offering him/her access to a comfortable office chair similar to the one you use.  Have it placed near the editing bay.  Whether your client chooses to take you up on the offer is completely up to them.  However, the fact that you offered is a HUGE gesture.  Trust me.    

  • Studio Swag

Something that perplexes and fascinates me about human beings is how much they LOVE free t-shirts.  Seriously.  Have you ever been to a university sports event when the mascot throws free t-shirts into the crowd?  People literally crawl and jump over each other at the chance of snagging a cheap t-shirt . . . which is probably 2 sizes too big.  Yet, they do it.  Now, I’m not suggesting you throw cheap t-shirts at your clients.  However, there is something to be learned from this.  People like t-shirts.  Put a little effort into hiring a graphic designer to create an awesome logo and then screen-print a run of 30 or so.  Every time you finish a mastered project, give your client a t-shirt as a thank-you for their business.