FR#9: Avoiding Creative Ruts, Launching a New Studio, and Coaching Your Clients Without Becoming A Control Freak with Producer Justin Abel


Music producer and studio owner, Justin Abel has produced hundreds of albums and projects throughout his career.

In this episode, he shares about:

  • How to stay fresh and avoid the trap of being a one-trick-pony creatively

  • Selecting (and eliminating) clients

  • How he launched a studio as a solo business owner

  • and how being a “ghost member” of his clients’ bands helps him to guide their unique vision and stretch out of his comfort zone in the process.


Key Takeaways:

  • 5:30 - You’re not just providing a creative service to your clients, you also should function as a consultant, helping them articulate and translate their vision

  • 7:00 - How Justin helps his musician clients hone in on their target audience in order to arrive at the right sound (and how that relates to businesses in any industry)

  • 10:53 - Vetting Your Clients – How do you decide which clients to work with and who NOT to work with?

  • 16:08 - Identifying a Dream Client - How those who have initiative and aren’t afraid to refine their work over and over are the ones who win.

  • 18:40 - Create > Hone > Repeat is the process for success

  • 18:55 - How Justin rebranded his studio, left a partnership and went completely solo after 5 years

  • 22:06 - How he pulled off funding and building a brand new recording studio. Why being patient financially helped him make the investment to have the facility he dreamed of.

  • 25:00 - How establishing a professional atmosphere with your clients creates capacity-stretching tension that challenges them to push themselves to be better.

  • 28:22 - Justin talks about the times when he doubts his abilities and the emotional rollercoaster of the creative process.

  • 30:07 - How do you challenge yourself to grow creatively when you’re a company of ONE?

  • 32:00 - How do you avoid falling into a CREATIVE RUT? How to break away from being a One-Trick-Pony?

  • 34:00 - Why exposing yourself to things you don’t like can help you grow your personal style.

  • 34:42 - How learning from his clients teaches Justin fresh new things.

  • 36:45 - Being a student and an expert at the same time. Releasing ego frees us up creatively.

  • 38:40 - How Justin, as the producer, guides his clients without taking over. Discuss the level of influence that your clients want you to have and how flexible they want to be.

  • 40:40 - Why communication with your clients keeps you from being a steamroller and helps the work you create stay UNIQUE.

  • TIP: “Become a ‘ghost member’ of their band.” – Justin shares about how imagining that you are part of your client’s team helps you care much more deeply about creating something successful together that is true to their vision.

  • 43:30 - Who is inspiring Justin right now?

  • 45:40 - What is Justin reading right now?

  • 46:12 - Justin’s definition of a Frontrunner.

    • "A Frontrunner is someone who pushes themselves every day to live with integrity, to treat everyone with integrity. And who makes sure you're looking out for the little guy even when they might not have a voice for themselves… and just CRUSHING IT every day. No small time!"

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