Name: Aaron Lee Aiken (Aiken Music)
Industry: Music Producer, Composer and Session Guitarist
Location: Los Angeles, California
ME: How many years have you been working in this industry?
AARON: About 5 years. I've been toying with all things music since high school, but only really started going at full strength once I moved to LA from Istanbul, Turkey.
ME: How many people are currently on your team?
AARON: Aiken Music is just me, myself and I, but I have a close group of mixing and mastering engineers, writers and musicians that I love to collaborate with depending on the project.
ME: When you feel like giving up what keeps you going?
AARON: I generally just step back, go work on something completely unrelated (particularly woodworking and racquetball) and if the funk doesn't clear I'll ask for advice from those I deeply trust, and I have yet to see that fail!
ME: What is the one thing people didn’t warn you about?
AARON: People devaluing what you do because you're a friend and should give them a "homie discount". I love helping my close friends out, but I didn't realize the sheer number of people who have trouble with the concept that this is what I do full-time and it isn't just a hobby.
ME: Who or what inspires you?
AARON: Quality and creativity. There's little that doesn't inspire me these days, whether it's an art gallery, time in my garage building furniture, or hearing great stories from an old friend. People who really give their all to what they do inspires me to do the same, even if we do different things. I actively try and surround myself with people who inspire me, and I find that spending time with them refuels me more than anything I could do on my own.
ME: What has been one hard knock moment?
AARON: Though nothing career-stopping has happened to me just yet (largely thanks to my endless texts and coffee sessions with Kat) I did have an artist, who I had done a great amount of production and live work for pro bono, completely cut me out once he/she met a new crew of writers and producers. I had assumed that since I was helping him/her out so much in the beginning stages I would get brought along once he/she made it big, but such was not the case. Always communicate what you assume, don't just think everyone sees what your day through your eyes.
ME: How do you stay organized as a freelance artist?
AARON: In short, Google Calendar. I'm 60% Type B and 40% Type A so I am generally pretty good at keeping on top of my schedule and work load, but obviously a curve ball is thrown occasionally, like Sunrise (my favorite calendar app) getting bought by Outlook and decommissioned. I used to use a cloud-synced to-do list app called Wunderlist, but more recently just carry a pocket size Moleskine with me which has my project tasks and random ideas all in one place.