How To Make It As A Freelance Sound Engineer

Business Series | Sine Factory

It’s a huge responsibility to talk about someone you’ve known and been friends with for years. But this is my challenge this week, and I hope this story about my friend Mic and his sound empire — Sine Factory —can inspire you to follow your dreams and make them happen. This story is about doing what you love. All you need is focus, dedication, patience and persistence. I talked to Mic and got his thoughts on how to make it as a freelance sound engineer. But first, a bit of history.

Behind The Scenes

Michael ‘Mic’ Ferreira was born in New Jersey, USA, where he lived until he was 10 years old. Born to Portuguese parents, he was fascinated by Michael Jackson’s music and videos, and deeply admired Stevie Wonder for his piano playing and vocal skills. Through his dad’s records he also discovered the world of rock — Pink Floyd, U2, AC/DC and others — , slowly becoming aware of different sounds and genres. Despite his admiration for such artists, his interests soon turned to hip-hop. And here’s where the story began.

1. Why sound engineering? How did you get yourself into that? I remember you had a band and started recording artists in your bedroom…

[Mic] I always liked music, but I thought it was something normal. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have answered neurologist. I never really aimed to do something related to music. But when I was in high school I would have my earphones on all the time — on the bus, walking… I completely devoured albums. I would discover singles and then would look for the albums. It’s funny that those who know me from back then, usually say:

I knew you’d be making music!

[Mic] In 2004, I met this guy called Zim. He had a hip-hop band — NAD. We ended up becoming friends and I soon joined them. The year after, we went to Audioplay studios to record our music for the first time, and that’s when I fell in love with the studio. I was amazed at the acoustics, the equipment… As soon as I finished recording my part, I would go join the sound engineer (Lino Vinagre) at the mixing console, trying to understand what he was doing. I then decided to study sound engineering in Lisbon. Bought my first audio interface, a new microphone, made some acoustic panels and founded Sine Factory in 2009. I had my website, logo and business card, even though I hadn’t recorded anything great yet, and started working from my bedroom. I took an internship at a studio in Oporto at the same time, then worked for Audioplay and JR Productions. And finally, in 2012, I took the leap and started working as a full time freelance at my own 15m2 studio in Aveiro’s city center.

2. What is your advice for someone that wants to pursue music, or start a business in this field?

  • Don’t focus on the equipment. You don’t need much to get started. You just need to really want it.
  • You need to put in the work to become really good. Investing time is the best way to improve and be good at something, either as a sound engineer, producer, musician, etc.
  • Never work for free. Even if you’re just starting, always charge for your work, no matter how small the amount.

3. What would you say is / are your greatest achievement(s) so far?

To follow Jimmy P’s rise to the top, and be able to say I’m his studio engineer. Being able to work with excellent beatmakers and producers. Listening to my music on the radio. Going to concerts for albums I helped making. Working with new talent. Getting to know and hanging out with artists that I used to listen to when I was younger.

All these are things that I am grateful for and fill my heart out.

From the bedroom in 2009 to a top professional studio of his own, Mic (Sine Factory) is currently working with some of Portugal’s best talent, his sound reaching the top of the charts. Recording, editing, mixing and mastering. Nurturing talent. Tailoring sound.

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