• Musa Henderson

A day in the life, admin edition...

Wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head........and then fall into the studio.

My life working for Yelmo at the beginning was very much like this in the first period. The only structure was the final deadline. Which I kept missing. Not good.

My day starts by checking emails, which invariably lead to clicking on marketing links, then wasting time thinking about a new compressor or outboard EQ. At some undetermined point, I would move to Whatsapp. Check through the various group chats that were important, mainly the Yelmo one and any client chats. As the primary mix engineer, it was my job to collate any comments and then use these for revisions. Although we were delivering our mixes for review via Soundcloud, which has a comment feature, most artists were not using it.

By this point, I was already stressed and not loving my day. Loading a mix finding a new problem working my way through a mental list of things that needed to be changed in the list, scrolling through social media to see how the previous days interactions were going. Questioning every error in Pro Tools or Logic and then trawling through forums looking for unimportant answers to pointless questions. Any reason to give my mind a break from the bad energy I had created.

Walks and podcasts.

This is an example of a bad day. As Yelmo is only 3 people I feel like a lot of the non-musical jobs are my responsibility. I manage the finances, manage the website and

Google presence, ensure the data is backed up, and manage the studio's equipment. Plus I mix 80% of the work we do and Master all of it. Thankfully the social media is George's domain. Plus he and Dom make all the music and do all the vocal recording sessions. Which is the hugest job.

Yelmo had no system between us for project management. We generally work with this work flow:

George begins songwriting and arrangement with the client. Hands off to...

Dom finishes instrumentation. Hands off to...

George Finalises production with client. These first steps loop until the client is happy

Dom or George will record all vocals and harmonies. Hands off to...

Dom will do all editing and tuning. Hands off to...

I mix the song and work with the client through the revision process.

When the client is happy I master, upload and ensure payment is complete.

Far too many steps, so many opportunities to get something wrong and make a mistake that could lead to a client relationship ending situation. Finding a solution to these potential issues was at first difficult. This side of studio management is not documented.

We tried many solutions, sharing the audio via private SoundCloud links, payments via PayPal, WhatsApp groups for team workflow, my memory was our CRM, hard drives dotted with projects in all stages of work.

It became quickly apparent that I needed to learn a lot about project management, I spoke to my mentor, Brian, who pointed me in the way of a few tools that have streamlined our business hugely.

Trello, Filepass and Pipedrive.

An example of a completed mix project with Filepass

I won't go into details about these as this is not an ad, but I will say Filepass has allowed us to revise and deliver mixes in a safe way for us (and it collects the money). This has been great for the team. Trello has helped with the nuts and bolts of project management and has allowed WhatsApp to be used for general chatter.

The hardest part of using new admin tools was remembering to use them, changing our working experience so we can make use of them, reminding people of a new workflow is never fun, especially when the scale of the work may not completely demand it.

The Yelmo jobs board in Trello

I think that no creative likes admin, finding tools like Trello allow so much of the mundane information to be removed from your mind. They're a blessing if used and incorporated well. My day still ends up with more admin than I would like but at least there is a system that does the fundamentals for me.

This has been the biggest lesson in business for me, the internal workings of project management. As a small company, we cannot afford to lose customers for any reason that is not about musical taste. Learning through trial and error was a mistake but my mentor and the individual companies communities offered great advise