First of all, I never imagined my love of music would take me around the world. If so, it probably would have been through performing and touring, certainly not by running an audio mastering business. Well, life is full of surprises.
Words & Photos By Nathan Allen
Each of my parents could have been professional musicians, had they been foolish enough to pursue it. Music flowed through my blood - it was everything to me. As a teenager, I began recording and producing my own songs.
When mp3s first became available online, somehow my music worked its way up the worldwide charts. I was thrilled to share top spots with some of my favorite artists - Snoop Dogg, Q-Tip, and believe it or not, Nelly was even a fan of my music...he linked to my page.
However, I quickly realized that trying to make a living as a musician would be difficult. This was around the time that home recording software began to take off, so I decided to help other artists with their music.
Starting a Studio Business
Even though I had limited funds, I dug up all the information I could about building a home studio. My longtime friend Jake Chaplin joined forces with me. Our garage had been converted to a bar, so we turned that into our studio. Immediately, the perfect name dawned on me: "Last Drop Studios." After all, it was in an old bar.
Well, I put up a few demos that Jake and I recorded, and somehow began attracting bands from all over California. Soon, they were even traveling from out of state! Don't get me wrong - it didn't make me rich, but I was basically making my own schedule.
I was becoming free.
Last Drop Mastering is Born
Above all, my dream was to see the world. I had been given a taste of freedom, and I wanted more. Eventually I streamlined, outsourced, and then sacrificed the recording side of my business. I changed the name to Last Drop Mastering, and shifted focus to mixing and mastering.
(If you're wondering, Audio Mastering is the last step when you're creating music. Only here can your songs be polished and finalized for professional use.)
Even though my clients were now worldwide, my income actually dropped - at least at first. However, I didn't care...I was finally becoming location independent. I was as happy as can be - because I soon began replacing rent payments with plane tickets...
World Travel - & Once in a Lifetime Experiences
As soon as I stepped off the plane overseas, I knew that my life had changed forever. Greeted by an explosion of culture, color, and scenery - I had never felt so alive and free.
I traveled for a year or more at a time. Until then, I had been taking photos just for fun. My new life certainly kicked my photography into high gear (yes, these are all my pictures)!
By the way, you can find all of my photography on Eyeem
Eventually I began posting my photos online, and then started a blog. My articles and observations on Filipino culture went quite viral, and this lead to media interest in the U.S. and abroad. I gained 20,000 Facebook followers in just 2 days...and it kept growing and growing. I was shocked.
Soon I was being invited to 5 star beach resorts, scuba diving with whale sharks, and even found myself being hosted by a few Governors!
Most noteworthy was when the editor of National Geographic found my Singapore photos online. They ended up paying me to publish them in the magazine!
Truly a dream come true.
To say life became quite surreal is an understatement.
A Change in Funding - Audio Mastering Out, Travel Blogging In
With all the exciting offers, invites, and adventures, it's little wonder that I forgot about my Audio Mastering business. After all, I now had hundreds of thousands of visitors to my blog each month, surely that translates to decent money, right?
I learned a valuable lesson during my brief stint as a "professional" travel blogger: Making a living with my blog wasn't worth it to me. Basically, if I turned it into a money making machine, it would be littered with links, ads, and promotions - and I wouldn't even want to read it anymore.
As cliche as this is to say, I was killing what I love by doing it for money. For me, travel experiences are personal. This is my life, not a business.
Keeping Work & Play Separate
So basically, I had it right the first time. I don't mind if my blog makes a bit of money, but I certainly don't want to rely on it to support myself. Long term travel was most meaningful when it was just me, free, out in the world - no worries about posts or obligations.
My audio mastering business allowed this kind of unique lifestyle, and I took it for granted.
Breathing Life Back Into Last Drop Mastering
So I'm back where I started - but thankfully my outdated website just got a sleek and modern face lift! It's now mobile friendly, and ready for action. Check it out - get to know the musical side of me.
If you're a music fan, I also just created some music lover memes (and musician memes) which you can use on social media.
If you're a MUSICIAN, I encourage you to upload a song for a free mastering sample. Our processing can really give you that professional edge!
Here's to putting the magic (and the music) back in my life.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to share!