How One Ohio Sound Engineer Is Building a Freelance Business Just by Using One App

By in Music Creation, Pro Mixing

“Just like everyone, I started with an instrument and a hope and a dream,” says sound engineer Tony Cray. Spurred by a love of Nirvana (weren’t we all in the 90s?), Tony picked up a guitar at 14, which led to an interest in the recording arts at 17 because “I really just wanted to make my own guitar sound better.”

Tony convinced his dad to help him convert their garage into a home recording studio; it was built on Mbox 2, Pro Tools 6 “and a really crappy mixer” to help augment the two-channel Mbox. Twenty years later, engineering is his career: he’s an audio engineer/producer at Sonic Lounge Studios and a live sound engineer at Rock City Church, both in his native Columbus, while building a freelance audio business on the side.

This is the sort of guy who lives and breathes music, who sweats riffs and has rhythm running through his veins. The kind of guy who wants to help his community because he loves what he does so much. He is surrounded by the audio arts at every waking minute – and, let’s face it, probably the not-awake ones too.

“Sometimes your studio is where you want to record songs and sometimes it’s a lab where you experiment,” he says. “I treat mine as a place to push boundaries and see what could happen without scrutiny.”

So when Tony wanted to build out his freelance engineering business, he needed to connect with the sorts of people who took the art of music seriously, who wanted to collaborate and experiment and see what happened. That’s why he joined the Avid Link community.

Four things Tony Cray can now do thanks to Avid Link

“I hadn’t even had a chance to properly use Avid Link before people contacted me asking if I could help,” he says. “My friends all started using it for projects and as a form of communication. It helps us stay in tight synchronicity with projects…. It’s so easy and it’s all just right there, all my favorite software. I don’t have to go anywhere else.”

Here are just a few ways Avid Link has transformed Tony’s business.


1. Collaborate better – especially on big projects

“Before Avid Link, if we collaborated at all it would be with Dropbox. It would be convoluted and kind of sloppy or not as streamlined as it should be. Lots of things would get lost or not sent right. Otherwise, we’d have to do it in person – but if you’re in the room with more than one engineer, only one person can use the computer at a time.

“Before Avid Link, if we collaborated at all it would be with Dropbox. It would be convoluted and kind of sloppy or not as streamlined as it should be. [With Avid Link] people on both ends of the computer can make moves at the same time without stepping on each other’s toes. You can have dialogue in-app, using your phone.”

—Tony Cray, sound engineer

2. Access an audit trail of all correspondence in one place

“Artists I’m working with can be on their phone leaving me real-time notes, whether they’re here or somewhere else; they don’t have to stop what they’re doing to log into what I’m doing. Normally when you collaborate, you’d go back and forth with emails and text messages, which can get confusing if you’re working on a project for any length of time and you need to find certain details. With Avid Link, all that stuff is consolidated in one place. You never have to track it down.

“My friend and colleague, Dennis Belisle, is a keyboard player and music producer for Rio Revolution Church in Tennessee. We recorded 12 songs for his church, in the vein of a Hillsong sound or vibe. These sessions are really big – probably 70, 80 tracks each – but we’ve used Avid Link exclusively to keep the correspondence with his entire project. It’s such a great way to do it because you can ensure whatever you’re sending is getting where it needs to go, and you have an open dialogue the entire time. You don’t have to try to remember what someone said about a part or a section. It’s there.”

3. Discover new collaborators

“There’s a gentleman, his stage name is Overtime Sims, he met me on Avid Link and sent me a few songs that needed mixed and mastered. He’s in Kansas, but it was like we were sitting right next to each other. It was seamless, nothing about it was convoluted or difficult. It was just super streamlined and easy. It seemed like we’d been working together for years by the time we were done with his projects because of how fluid it was using the Avid products.

“You can find and talk to the people that you want to work with, too. You can just go through a list Find Talent where you can scroll through, read people’s credentials and say, ‘ooh I would like you to team with this keyboard player in Tokyo, he sounds interesting’. You can leave him a message right there and build a dialogue.”


4. Take his career to the next level

“It’s enabling you to take your creativity even further and it’s growing. I would never be able to accomplish anything I’m doing musically without Avid – without their products I would be dead in the water, honestly.

“My freelance capabilities were very staggered and hindered until I got on Avid Link, even doing this for as long as I have been. Audio engineering can be similar to being a barber or a painter – normally it’s word of mouth that gets you business. Hey, so-and-so is pretty good at this, you should try their service.


Connect with creatives and build your own network

Avid Link is a creative community for connecting with other creatives, promote your work and get discovered, and purchase and manage products, all in one interface.

While Tony has been a Pro Tools enthusiast for two decades, you don’t have to be a user of Avid’s technologies to make the most of Avid Link. Just set up a profile, and start connecting, conversing – and creating.

Introducing Avid Link

Avid Link is a free app for anyone looking to find, connect, and collaborate with other creatives, promote your work and get discovered, and purchase and manage products—all in one interface.

Distribute music with AvidPlay

Distribute your music on Spotify, Apple Music, Anghami, and dozens of other major streaming services around the world. Plus, keep 100% of your rights and earnings.

Courtney Clark is a marketer and writer, with a passion for all things art, travel and music. After graduating from Hunter College in New York City, Courtney worked in a number of industries, including the architecture, design, action sports, and technology spaces . Currently, she lives in Burlington, VT, where she enjoys skiing and the famous local, live music scene.