R.A.P.: So you added a fax machine to your inventory -- anything else?
Frank: I also added on a new CD player. I have a production library with indexes on the tracks, and my old CD player wouldn't read indexes. So, I went out and did some work for a stereo store and traded out a new Technics CD player. I also invested in a Nakamichi cassette deck, a Valley 400 mike processor, and the Alesis MidiVerb II. On my wish list is the Eventide H3000B Ultra Harmonizer, an Aural Exciter, and some outboard equalization.
R.A.P.: What do you use for production music?
Frank: I have FirstCom's library. Not their new one, but the one before it.
R.A.P.: What kind of a deal did you work out with them since you're using it on several stations?
Frank: The thing to do, if you're just starting out, is to check around. Listen to all the different libraries and see which one will be most effective for what you'll be using it for at the best deal you can get. FirstCom is a super product. There's no question about that. At first, I just had twenty-five CD's. I wasn't on a lease basis. Instead, I was on a needle drop fee. They don't give you any dis-counts on needle drop fees because you're in a small market. Other companies will give you a discount if you're in Aspen, Colorado, but FirstCom will not. So I was on a needle drop basis, and it was sixty bucks a pop every time I used a track. If you wanted to make any money on it, you had to mark it up. Well, in a small town, you're lucky to get a hundred bucks for a spot, let alone more when you put on this sixty or seventy dollar music charge. So that wasn't working. I had the library and they kept sending me letters saying, "You know, you're not using this music without paying us, are you?" I wasn't. I was using some jazz tracks and different things like that, but I was thinking that I've got this wonderful library that wasn't getting used. So I called FirstCom up, told them what my problem was, that I couldn't sell any of it, and asked for their suggestions. They came up with a really super deal. They increased my collection from twenty-five to fifty CD's and gave me the DigiFex sound effects library which is twenty-three disks. They threw that in with a three year deal, and I pay $233 a month. At the end of the three years, I own the sound effects library and they still own the music. They also update the music library every couple of months.
R.A.P.: What are your major costs in this business?
Frank: The telephone, which usually runs a couple of hundred a month. Payments on the library are a couple of hundred a month, and payments on equipment are a couple of hundred a month. There are auto expenses incurred driving around all the time seeing people. Then there's whatever you want to pay yourself.
R.A.P.: Is business steady for the most part?
Frank: Some months you can't keep up with the work. Other months, you can't give away production. I've had months when I thought I was going to do absolutely nothing and was extremely busy. Then there were months when I thought I would be cookin' and nothing would happen. That's pretty much the way it is with most businesses. While you look at things on a month to month basis, you have to go by what you do yearly to look at your growth.
R.A.P.: What about bookkeeping? How are you handling that?
Frank: If you don't know anything about bookkeeping, it's best to get somebody to come in once a month, do your books, and tell you where you stand. You can do a lot of stuff on your own if you have a computer and some accounting software, which I do. The problem in the discipline involved with the data entry.
The key for me that I've found in the past year, is that you're not going to be good at everything. You may only be good at copywriting and production. What you need to do is realize what your strengths are and utilize those. Then find other people to fill in, even if it's part-time, on your weaknesses, whether it be bookkeeping or selling or whatever.
R.A.P.: Anybody reading this interview is going to want to know "how much money" can be made doing what you're doing. What do you see as a reasonable projected gross income for Creative Radio Productions in 1990?
Frank: What I'm shooting for this year is a gross figure between $150,000 and $250,000.
R.A.P.: Do you think that figure is possible for a one man operation?
Frank: Yes, I think it's possible, but I'm going to add a salesperson. I've studied sales, I've read the books, and I've got motivational tapes. I've got it all, but I'm beginning to realize that one of my strengths is not really selling. I'm not seeing the growth that I really want to see, and I know it's not my creative. The creative's fine. I've never had anyone say, "Sorry, that spot sucks. That's the worst spot I've ever heard." Everyone that has listened to one of my spec tapes has said, "Hey, great ad...great voice." It's being able to close the sale.
R.A.P.: How about some parting words of advice to anyone wanting to start their own "radio only" advertising agency?
Frank: Know what you're getting into. If you've never been in business before, try to get as much capital behind you as you can. What this does is absorb all the mistakes you're inevitably going to make as you're learning. If you don't have any capital, stay at your regular job and try to pick up stuff on the side. The key is sales, not production. There are a lot of really good production people around that do super work, but the key is selling. If you don't know how to sell, you had better either learn how to sell or find somebody who can because literally nothing happens until a sale is made. The best production in the world will just sit on a shelf unless you can convince someone of the benefits of using your service.
We wish Frank all the success he deserves with Creative Radio Productions. If you have any questions or would just like to chat with Frank, he said to feel free to give him a call. His number is (xxx) xxx-3322.