THE GROOVE3 BLOG
Learn about music production, mixing, mastering and the audio industry with useful articles by the Groove3 team.
A little while ago I posted a contest. Asking people to tell me the two most important factors of a popular (hit) song. And in what order. Maybe I didn’t word it perfectly but I didn’t really get the answers I was hoping for.
If you’re like me, as a producer, you’re probably being asked all the time by bands or artists to produce you for free or on Spec. What does that mean? It means the artist has no money and wants you to invest in them with your production talent and time.
Early in my career, I worked at at least a half dozen studios with a very modest microphone collection. During that time, I fell in love with the AKG 414 as a vocal mic. It was the best that most of those studios had at the time. And it was certainly better than the 57s I was using at home.
Yes. I said it. There’s is NO music business anymore. And for many many years, there really hasn’t been. Even before record sales disappeared, most of what Pop music was, was just a commercial. A commercial for what was coming before or after the music (more commercials) and an advertisement for that artist. But I’m going to ignore that part for now. Let’s get back to the crux of the issue.
Have you ever had a prospective client call you up and ask if you’re willing to work with their band on spec? Or at a really reduced rate? Or worse, they really want you to work at the same rate as a few other producers, mixers or engineers had worked with them before?
This is a very interesting topic for me. Although, trumpet was my first instrument and I did play it for decades in a classical setting (reading music) I never really studied music or musical theory.
In fact, it’s one of the things I regret about learning the trumpet as a first instrument. I believe that everyone’s first instrument should be piano. It has everything. It requires rhythm with both hands, it teaches bass lines, chords and melody all at the same time.
When you’re producing, mixing, engineering or even songwriting for an artist, there will be moments where that artist wants you to do things to the product that you disagree with. Something that is not just different but that you perceive to be bad. Or worse. That the thing that you’ve been working on for months is now destroyed. At least in you mind.
One of the more common arguments I see on audio forums and in audio groups is this idea that “the audience can’t hear the difference”. Or that they’re listening to an mp3 on earbuds and that everything you’re doing won’t ever be appreciated or matter anyway.
There is a tendency when you start out in this business, or any business, to think a few steps ahead. To think about where you're going or where you'd like to end up. But in that process, you might forget about where you are. Or at least, not want to think about it.
Years ago I was scouting a band I wanted to produce. They were in the process of getting a record deal and we were talking about making the record with them.
In the process of our sales pitch, we mention the studio we wanted to use as it would be perfect for their sound. The lead singer stops me and says "We're never recording at XXXX Studios again". What?