Feel free to ask questions! I’ve seen quite a bit of misinformation on the internet and it’s getting quite scary. Social media gives everybody the ability to share whatever they want and this has its ups and downs. An upside is that new stories get to us a lot faster and we’re usually lucky enough to see video footage of what happened. A downside is that people can spread lies. Deep lies. I saw an interview where a famous person said something about Zulu not being an official language in South Africa and that Mandarin is. Last I checked we still only had 11 official languages. When I saw this interview I was livid because they have such a huge following and those people will obviously go and share their newfound knowledge with other people.
The same thing happens in the music industry. My first issue is with the production and engineering process. I’ve seen vocalists who have no care for what happens on the computer. They don’t know the difference between EQ and compression and they don’t know what a DAW is. Look, I don’t expect artists to become engineers because I would never want to learn how to rap, but knowing about things that apply to you makes the studio experience more efficient. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to count bars with artists and producers because they thought they knew how much 16 bars was. Sometimes people guess and say “that’s a 32 bar verse” and I know they’re talking out their ass. Just ask if you don’t know. You’ll feel silly once and never again. As a new producer/artist, ask about what the basic effects are so that you know what to ask for when you go to a new studio. Echo is okay, but can be misinterpreted as delay or reverb. Lastly, don’t be so quick to throw out words that you learnt on that ONE tutorial you watched last week. I’ve had guys telling me about “transients”, “mud”, “in a box”, “analog”, “sizzle” and “brilliance” without knowing what they’re talking about. I then make changes based on what they’ve said and we spend the next two weeks undoing the things they asked for. If you don’t know, just ask. Google also counts as asking.
My second area of frustration is with everything that happens the day after the final track is sent to the artist/producer.
“You did such a great job and I’m feeling generous so I’m going to give you 30% of the royalties”.
This was an actual message sent to me after completing a song. Again, I knew this person was talking out their ass because if we both had a hand in making the song (writing, rapping or production ONLY. Sorry engineers…), we’re both ENTITLED to royalties and you’re not GIVING me anything. We’re NEGOTIATING based on industry norms and the leverage each of us holds. To make it worse, when I ask whether people are registered with SAMRO I get answers like “I’m not sure” or “I think I got a payment once”. If you’re registered as an active member at SAMRO, you know. They make sure that you know you’re registered. I really do wish musicians set themselves up better by making sure they knew how and when they’re going to be paid. When you start a new job, two things you want to know is when you’ll be paid and how the money is going to get to you. There are too many artists with songs on radio and television that have not received a cent, but won’t say a word for some reason until it’s too late.
I really want to spark conversation with these posts so if there are bits of information out there that you’ve heard that you want to ask about, post it as a comment on this post. I can’t guarantee I’ll know the answer, but someone else might know the answer and they can get involved. Tag a vocalist/engineer/songwriter/producer. Something that’s asked here might be something they’ve been thinking about for some time. Let’s push each other to become better musicians by sharing what we know.