Today we’d like to introduce you to Brent Hendrich.
Hi Brent, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
As a kid, I remember using a keyboard and a tape recorder to record song ideas. In my teens, my grandmother gave me my first guitar for Christmas. From there, it progressed into playing at church, school, and with several bands.
I’m from a small town in East Tennessee. When my high school band got together enough money for our first EP, it was recorded in a local studio that was in the back of a business that sold Natural Gas fireplaces and supplies. They were running a very early edition of Pro Tools. I was fascinated that we could record our ideas on the computer and then later that day show friends what we had recorded. From there, I was hooked.
When it came time for our band to record our second project we decided to do it ourselves at my parent’s house. This was the late 90’s so affordable DAWs weren’t as prevalent as they are today. I had saved up some money from my job at Chick-fil-a and purchased a computer, Cakewalk Pro Audio 9, and a basic interface. With that gear and a few other borrowed pieces, we were able to record and mix the entire record ourselves.
It was during that time that I really fell in love with production and engineering. I decided at 18 to move to Nashville and attend SAE. From there, internships helped me continue to grow and then I became a full-time Producer, Engineer, and Mixer around 2003. I’ve been making records professionally ever since.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Anyone pursuing a career as a freelance producer or engineer is going to encounter challenges throughout their journey. For me and many others, one of the biggest is securing enough paying work when you’re first getting started. From the start, you have bills to pay and need clients for income but you’re in a place where you have very little experience and a slim portfolio of work to show. You have to find ways to hustle and create opportunities whether through networking, marketing, or by offering to work for free or at a reduced rate just to show artists the value you can add. I found that securing multiple income streams from many different artists and clients really helped to create a living wage. Getting over that initial hump takes some time and hard work but eventually things start to compound and the work becomes more steady.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
For the past 22 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work full-time as a self-employed Producer and Mixer. During that time, about 50% of the work has been production-related and the other half has been mixing for other producers and artists. In the past few years, demand for my mixing services has skyrocketed and I’m transitioning into mixing exclusively this year.
One thing that sets me apart from many of my peers is that I’ve always worked on really diverse projects covering almost all genres. I’ve never been labeled as someone who does one very specific thing. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of jumping around stylistically with no two projects sounding alike.
As I begin to focus on becoming more specialized as a mixer, I’m also honing in on the style of music I enjoy working on the most which is top-40 pop. I love the sonics and hooks Pop offers and want to mix songs that entertain a wide audience!
If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
There are three that come to mind right off the bat:
1. Persistence. You have to play the long game if you want a career in the music industry. It takes time to build your client base and develop your skills and style. The longer you stay in the industry the more stability you’ll have.
2. Excellent customer service. I treat my clients as best as I possibly can. Whether it’s keeping them in the loop at all times, meeting their deadline, or having their favorite snack or drink on hand in the studio. You want to retain your clients so they continue to hire you for future projects. That’s how the work compounds. Many of my clients I’ve been working with for 10-20 years now.
3. Continual growth. To remain competitive and relevant, you need to always be bettering yourself. I want to be up to date with the latest gear, plug-ins, trends, and charts as well as continue to improve my studio and ears. If I become complacent, there are always plenty of other Producers and Engineers who aren’t. They’ll have more success when competing for the same gigs.
Peyton Dollar, Matt Bacnis, Eden Lauren