TPM 45 | Freelance Musician

 

Are you struggling to make ends meet? If so, you’d want to stick around as Nick Voorhees, the founder & CEO at Melody Nest, talks with Bree Noble about opportunities for freelance musicians. Melody Nest is a company that helps music freelancers of all kinds connect with people who need their services. Artists that are talented, serious, and quick to respond to messages earn good money. Join in the conversation as Nick shares how you can sell your services in Melody Nest and what securities are in place to protect you. Itching to earn from your passion as a musician? Tune in!

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Opportunities To Make Money As A Freelance Musician With Nick Voorhees

I am excited to be here with Nick Voorhees from Melody Nest. We are going to talk a lot about the site that is super helpful for musicians at Melody Nest. First, I want to get to know Nick a little bit and let you guys get to know him, find out how he ended up running such a site to help musicians. Nick, give us your background. What is your background in music? What made you decide to create this site? What openings did you see in the market that you were trying to fill with Melody Nest?

Thank you for having me on your show. It’s a pleasure to be here. My music journey started like a lot of people’s music journey. I started playing an instrument when I was young. I started playing piano when I was 6 or 7. I didn’t exactly want to start playing piano but my mom signed me up, and then I fell in love with it. That musical harmony clicked in my brain and music became everything to me. I played piano quite a bit until the age of 14 or 15. I switched to guitar. I learned drums and bass. I played in bands.

I’ve got into the electronic dance music scene where I was deejaying and touring a little bit. After college, I attended Icon Collective Production School in Los Angeles. I started paving my way in the industry and tapping into new networks and meeting new people. From there, I was working at a company, and in 2017, I’ve got laid off. I remember sitting in a room with friends and they were talking about how they didn’t know where to go for their album art or cover art.

I thought, “Why don’t I make a website and put a bunch of graphic designers on it so musicians can easily connect with designers for whatever they need?” That’s the genesis of Melody Nest. My friends didn’t know where to go and neither did I for my own music releases. From there, a company was formed, and that’s basically the story of how Melody Nest started.

That’s a very specific problem. The musicians that I work with, I hear that all the time. They don’t know how to create their own album art or they don’t want to pay a ton of money but they don’t think they don’t feel confident in what they can create. I know that’s me for sure. I don’t like to create my own art. When did you decide to expand that beyond album art?

Artists that are talented, serious, and quick to respond often find a lucrative home business. Click To Tweet

That was August 2020 when we relaunched Melody Nest with a bunch of other freelancers. That was mostly because these artists wanted to sell. Vocalists, engineers, music producers approached us and we couldn’t say no, so we expanded. We built a better website. We now offer a home for people in the music industry if they are confident that they can sell their services. It was mostly the fact that vendors sellers wanted somewhere to sell and we saw the potential there. It was a natural expansion from designers in the music industry to more of a holistic view of how we can connect people in the music industry.

In August 2020, obviously, that had some correlation with the pandemic. Have you found that a lot of musicians have been, first of all, out of necessity trying to find clients and ways they can make money online and also like seeing that as an opportunity?

The pandemic has shifted everything. In the marketplace sector, if you know companies like Fiverr, Etsy, Upwork or any of these like larger freelance sites, they had grown a tremendous amount in 2020. That has excited the music industry and let artists know that there are resources available online, especially niche marketplaces that you can tap into. It was out of a creative necessity. It’s like, “I have this skillset. How can I make money?”

Our job as a company is to help artists find those connections, whether that’s another individual artist, a label, a company or even video content creators that need music for their videos. We have a hub and we shine a light on where these people, where the demand is, and then musicians and artists of all types can tap into these demands.

TPM 45 | Freelance Musician

Freelance Musician: Melody Nest’s job is to help artists find connections with fellow artists, a label, a company, and video content creators.

 

I can see that as helpful for the artists, too. I think about my musicians who want to do a music video but don’t have any idea how to start or even want to do a lyrics video but they want it to look good. Is that the thing they can go to Melody Nest for?

Music videos are something we are looking into. That’s not something that we offer but for artists that need anything related to audio, sound or design is what we specialize in. The music video is an interesting topic but because of the nature of having to film someone in person, that’s more of a meet-in-person event while this is purely you can get what you need and work efficiently online by communicating via text or phone calls, you don’t need to meet in person to film.

What about a lyrics video that could be done?

That is something that we are catering for. We have designers that do lyric videos but not music videos.

What about say website design?

We have had a designer do that. That was by chance. There are so many categories for a marketplace. It’s hard to pick and choose what we think will help people the most. Now, it is sound and design, particularly for music releases, logos or things like that.

I wanted to get exactly the things that you guys help with, so musicians know. I’m not going to go there for my website but I need a logo and album art. I had my friends from AirGigs on this show a while back. Can you highlight maybe how you are a little bit different from AirGigs? I don’t think they do the design side but are there any other ways that you are different from them?

We are different as we encompassed more services than AirGigs. We have our pre-made cover art gallery. It’s very popular with musicians because as a musician myself working with designers, I didn’t always know how to describe what I wanted to a designer. Even if I did what I thought was a good job of describing what I wanted, it didn’t always turn out to be what I wanted it to be.

We have a cover art selection that’s already made so artists can scan through it and see these pre-made designs and then pick, “I like this design. This would work with my music release,” and then they can get it within 1 or 2 days. We were different in speed. Where we are headed now is we are focusing on creating a better search and discovery process.

As we have seen with our own website, filters only get you so far and to find the person that you want to work with. We think that there’s potential, especially in the creative field, to connect people on a deeper level than pre-made filters on the website. We are hoping to push something out there, which is what we are developing now, which is a type of matching system that helps artists find the perfect fit for their needs instead of scanning the website for 10, 20 or 30 minutes to find that same person. Where we are different, it’s the cover art but also efficiency and speed. We are faster. We are more holistic and have a vision for the marketplace that we think is different than AirGigs or SoundBetter.

For the musicians that are reading, want to be able to add new streams of income, and they want to work more from home, have you seen artists doing that on Melody Nest? Are a lot of them part-time getting side gigs here and there or making a full-time income doing this?

You are making full-time incomes but because we are new, we are still finding our feet, so to speak but many are earning part-time salaries essentially. It’s working out for people that care. What we notice is artists on the website if they are potential clients come and message them. If they aren’t quick at responding or don’t take what they are doing seriously, those people tend to not generate as much as those that take working online and working on marketplaces seriously. For artists that are talented, serious, willing to react and message quickly, then the odds are very good that you will find a lucrative home on Melody Nest.

As far as technology, I know that you talk a lot about staying ahead of the curve in technology. How important do you think it is for musicians to stay up on technology and what opportunities could they be missing out on if they don’t?

It’s vital. Something that we have seen in the music industry is that things are still very fragmented. A lot of connections are made because of people that you know. A lot of opportunities are landed because of nepotism. In marketplaces and technology like this is one of the things that democratize the industry. If you are talented and there is traffic coming to this platform, you are as likely to book work versus people that might have a bigger name than you do. Names don’t always matter in this sector. It’s how well you can do the job. Our goal here is to utilize the technology that we have now and to bring and prop up the music industry because we have seen patterns of falling behind technologically speaking, and we are aiming to keep musicians in the present.

We’ve got to keep up for sure. How do you see B2B? If people don’t know that, it’s business-to-business. As musicians, we are businesses and you are seeking out services to help you. You are also a business, so business-to-business. How do you see that side of the music industry, especially the freelancer side progressing over the next years?

What we have seen from the pandemic is that the freelance marketplace proves to be efficient. That’s where we believe that everything is heading. They are going to want to work with people that you are going to want to tap into your own networks and grow them through your means. Places like freelance marketplaces are basically your own network. That’s much bigger than you not tapping into it. It is a platform that brings in more serious people.

It brings in clients and creates an ecosystem where it’s fast, frictionless and personalized. You have a skillset and you can connect with people that need that skillset. There’s nothing new about the marketplace idea but the way it’s being implemented now and the freelance sector itself is something that will be with the music industry for a long time. We see it heading in the right direction.

I have people approaching me all the time asking me, do you know anyone who does this? Do you know anyone that does that? They wouldn’t have to wait for me to answer an email that got to the bottom of my pile or have my assistant have to reach out to me or whatever. I only have limited knowledge of people. I love that you are evening out the playing field here for musicians and the people that need the help. First of all, let’s describe the musicians who are going to need freelance help. What is their experience when they go onto the site? How can they best find the right people for what they need? Let’s say I go on there, and I need album art for my album and my singles.

TPM 45 | Freelance Musician

Freelance Musician: Melody Nest creates an ecosystem where it’s fast, frictionless and personalized.

 

You can enter the site. You don’t need to sign up to enter the site or anything like that. You can see on the front page, there are categories clearly listed out. There are graphic designers and also a pre-made cover art selection. It depends on your needs. If you want something quick and efficient, let’s say you have a music release in three days and your label is hounding you saying like, “If you want to pick your own cover art, great. Go do it. You have three days.” You can come to Melody Nest, scan the cover art, and get what you need in and out pretty fast.

You can purchase it before, even talking with the graphic designer, if you love it that much, which is what a lot of musicians do. They value speed in that sense and you are in and out the door. Once you purchased, the designer messages you, and you get your cover art. It’s an efficient process. If you are looking for something custom and want to talk with a designer beforehand, you can go to the Graphic Designer category, which is one click away from the landing page. Scan profiles, see their pictures, the past work, their prices, and then direct message them.

You can communicate from there and work on the platform. When you send your money in, we hold it in escrow. It’s where the third party basically escrow account in that sense where we hold onto the money until you are happy with what you get. We release the money to the designer. In this case, we provide security for you in the sense that if you did it on your own, it wouldn’t be available for you then. If you are working with someone you met, you are wiring money to someone you have never worked with before. We provide that security blanket for those that want auto-assistance when working with others that they do not know.

I know AirGigs does that, too. I enjoy that process because it does make both parties feel super secure. I know I’m going to get my money from them. They know that they are going to get the right product from me before they release the money. It seems like a great process. Are there ways for people to upload things that they need like if they want to include a photo or something into their cover art or be able to connect with items that they need to send to the designer?

Yes. You can upload files, pictures, ZIP files, or anything that a designer or a musician needs. In the case of designers, you can upload a photo of yourself if you want to include yourself on a cover. If you are working with a vocalist, you can send a demo to them so they can sing basically what you have written out. Everything from signing up communications, files, transactions, payouts and deliveries is all hosted on the site. It’s a one-stop shop to get what you need.

Who supports the site? Is it the designers and the people that provide the audio, the freelancers? Are they paying a premium to you guys to get them on the site?

No, we take a small commission per transaction. There’s no signup fee. It’s free to sign up.

It’s free on both sides basically but then when the transaction happens, you take a cut.

That’s exactly right.

That seems completely fair.

It’s also good because if you are new to the site and you don’t know a lot about it, you are skeptical about paying for a service that you have never used. Everyone is like that. We don’t want to charge people upfront. It’s, “We spend a lot of time and money finding these opportunities for you. All we ask in return is a small cut.” We think that’s fair.

If I were to find a cover art in your pre-made section, is that only mine or can other people then come along and use it?

No, it’s exclusive. Everything that’s sold on Melody Nest is exclusive. What you buy is yours forever. If you find someone down the line is using it for whatever reason, we will fix the problem for you.

That’s good to know. That would definitely have been my first question. If I buy this thing, that’s right here on this front of the site, how do I know that someone else isn’t also going to buy it? Things as artists, we want them to be unique to us. We want them to be aligned with our brand and all that. We don’t want other people using them. Let’s talk about the other side. If you are a designer, maybe you are a musician but you are also super talented in design, and you want to expand your streams of income, how do you get started on Melody Nest?

Musicians need to watch how companies perform and sell so they can do their best. Click To Tweet

You visit the site. There’s “Join” at the top right. You click that. You fill out a form with your name, bio, past work, the services you want to sell, prices and your portfolio. If you are a designer, it’s your cover art. If you are a musician, it’s your audio. You sign up. It’s simple. Once you sign up, your profile is put within the category, and people have access to reach out to you if they feel like you are a good fit for them.

You have logos, album art and that stuff separated out in the same on the vocal side, do you do it by genre? How do you organize that?

We have filters within each category. If it’s vocals, you can do it by genre or it sounds like things like that. It makes it easier. It’s separated by the service itself, vocalists, audio, engineers, designers. Once you are in that category, you can refine it to find a better fit.

I have told a lot of musicians about AirGigs but why shouldn’t we also be on Melody Nest? There’s no reason we can’t be on multiples of these sites.

That’s what’s good. These sites like ours, AirGigs and SoundBetter don’t make you sign anything that you can only exclusively sell on these platforms. You can jump from platform to platform. The name of the game, especially for us, is who can make this service the most efficient. As you were saying earlier about technology adoption and keeping ahead of the trends, musicians need to watch how these companies are performing, selling and make sure that they are paying attention to the one that’s doing it the best. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

I’m sure the matching technology is going to be huge. I have worked with other companies that do similar matching things for other services and it’s amazing what they do. The thing that they have built does bring the right people together. I think that’s an important thing that you are doing.

We think so, too. I’m happy that you agree.

TPM 45 | Freelance Musician

Freelance Musician: Everything that’s sold on Melody Nest is exclusive. What you buy is yours forever.

 

Is there anything I haven’t covered that musicians need to know about Melody Nest before they go check it out?

We have covered a lot. There are a bunch of things that I could say but the best way to do it is to visit the website and see how these people build out their profiles. See if this is a good company for you if you are interested in selling your services. We have a direct messaging system right on the platform. If you have any questions, we can respond to whatever inquiries you might have. It’s free to sign up. We are a good source for musicians and a lot of artists that are looking to expand their networks and grow their careers. We are an open book when it comes to posting sellers. The best way is to visit Melody Nest and get started.

I love putting this out to our readers because you get to benefit from both sides of this. If you are a musician, who wants to expand your streams of income, and have got other talents in production, vocals, design or whatever it is, here’s another place that you can bring in new customers. If you are a musician and are working on an album, need a logo or any of that, or are producing something from home but you don’t have the right person to do this backup vocal, this instrument or whatever, this is a great resource as well. We have killed two birds with one stone with this one. Thank you very much, Nick. I appreciate you giving us some time and letting me know about Melody Nest.

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

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About Nick Voorhees

TPM 45 | Freelance MusicianNick Voorhees is an electronic music producer and the founder of Melody Nest – a b2b music industry marketplace. He is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Icon Collective College of Music, and has been working in the music industry for nearly 10 years.