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Audio Toyes #4 - Producing

Brian Toye
January 10, 2011

Pause on the production song, something different this week.

I don't know why I wasn't able to sleep the other night. I started thinking about the music business. How I had no idea what made it turn when I was younger. How I had no idea why or how certain artists/bands became so famous. It was just some mystical process when I was younger.

So many times when I hear of a new artist, its in the following manner. I hear, “Oh man not that song again”. “What a sell out”. “Did you see that video?” with a sarcastic and disagreeing tone. Not too long after hearing these mutterings at school/work social events I end up hearing the song in question on the radio. I may catch the video eventually. More often than not I begin to hear more and more about the new artist as his or her career takes off. This is the general cycle that occurs over and over again from the Brittany Spears, Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys to the Prozac’s and Owl Cities to the newest country singer. Luckily for rock artists, at least the condemning doesn’t start till the second album. When their fans are upset it doesn’t sound just like their first. At least these rock stars have a year or so to bond with the fans lol. Anyway, I hope you are hearing me. Seeing my point if u have never thought about it before. I am sorry to break it to you. The artists you fall in love with or fall in hate with from first sight are not the people you think they are in your head, your personal vision of who you think they are based on their video or album. Lets not forget that, and I bet, 99.9% of the time every artist you have judged from seeing just one project (song/video) most likely started playing an instrument not long after age ten. Probably spent thousands of hours listening to every genre of music. Most likely joined many bands. Played local bars when they were too young to get into those bars. Covered all the rock and country classics. Wrote songs about Love and Loss and Hate and Greed and life's Frustrations. Wrote poems and painted pictures if not with brush and isle then in their minds eye. Grew as artists and became familiar with every genre from metal/rock to country/pop and rap/hip hop. Then, after all of this unconscious preparation the little ten year old kid who loved to sing, or loved to play guitar (or both) finds himself or herself on the latest music video singing a song he or she demoed a few years earlier. One of hundreds (only one of hundreds of songs they have written) that some investors decided had potential to make a profit. And so these investors paid for studio time and a Producer who took this song from simple chords and vocals to a high quality production. This Producer has most likely been sharpening his/her skills for the past decade. No one knows his/her name..yet. He's the guy that’s recorded all those high school bands, moved on to do a couple indie records, and now happens to be hired for this new no name artist (who will be the next big thing). The investors also paid for a video production to tell the story, this song, in the format of video. Again, a film director, probably went to college for film and spent thousands of hours and dollars on indie films that you have never heard of, building his or her skills over the years to finally find him/herself being summoned to take on this music video project for this unknown artist. The artist meanwhile, continued writing songs of different styles and continued evolving as a person. A year later when that song and video hits the airwaves the artist has long passed that artistic stage. Just like they have every time they write a new song. But the difference now is that you, the listener, tuning into your local music video channel, seem to think you are given the right to judge this person, based on this one song. This one video. This one or two weeks work. And you do it as though the artist has no human rights, your just plain mean. Does anyone not think about this? It just always seemed silly to me when I hear people ranting about songs and artists they dislike. Find something you do like about the song/production/video/performance or say nothing at all. Obviously, there is some thing great about EVERY song that makes it to that professional stage. It has to have, because so many professional ears have had to OK it. And they are a bit more qualified than the guy who buys ten songs off iTunes each year.

End rant.

PS. That no name record producer and no name film director now get nominated for a Grammy. They win. Their phone starts to ring. They do more albums, more videos. A few years later they become household names. You recognize their name and sound/vid techniques. You wonder how anyone could become so successful in the business. You want to be in that position making records or videos or movies. Well, how is what you haven’t seen, the grinding it out, that’s how. No such thing as overnight success.

Congrats to anyone and everyone who has ever spent time producing a creative idea.
They get a Grammy from me.