Hey guys, it's Thanksgiving, 2020, (the most wonderful year of all years).
And I know you're probably thinking, "Josh, are you really going to do one of those 'what I'm grateful for' videos???
Yes. Yes I am.
Click Video To Continue...
Everybody have a great Thanksgiving if you're here in the States. And if you're outside of the United States, then just have a great regular week!
Stay safe and I'll talk to you next time. :)
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Pablo Picasso. It is “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
I think about that quote all the time when I'm making music. I feel like if I'm not pushing the envelope or breaking the rules or bending the rules just a little bit, then I'm either bored with what I'm creating, or I feel like the people that I'm going to be sharing this music with are going to be bored.
That's really what it comes down to for me. I feel like everybody needs something that they're doing for themselves, even if they are making music for other people, like for sync, like I do a lot. Or whether you're just trying to write music for your fan base, or whatever it may be. So for me, this quote is the one that I most identify with and I kind of carry with me no matter what music I'm making and who I'm making it for.
So I'm going to share three rules for sync and how I go about bending them, breaking them, or taking them out of context to make the music more interesting.
One of the first rules that you often hear for sync is don't use nouns, don't use person place or thing names, right? One of the themes that you're going to see as I go through these rules is don't do this unless you mean to. And that's the key part of it.
If you're going to break the rule, make it obvious that you're breaking the rule, do it on purpose. So, for example here - don't use nouns, don't use a person's name. It makes sense in general, for sync. You don't want to be singing about some person named Tim? It's if the characters are on the screen or in the film, and none of the characters are named "Tim", then why are you singing about this person?
And if one these people are named "Tim", then it ends up being kind of too 'on the nose' and the song just feels weird. So what you could do instead, is to kind of bend this rule a little bit. What if you wrote a song and used a non-traditional name, but you wrote it as if that word is a name.
You could imagine a blues or rock song or something, like a gritty blues song where they say, my name is "Trouble", right? So it's kind of a nickname. Or they call me "Sin", and then it's like a metaphor for this other thing. You're not really focusing on what the name is of the character though. You could get away with doing something like that. I think that it could be kind fun to write a song like that.
A second sync rule is don't use 'he' or 'she' pronouns. That divides up the opportunities that you have to sync that song. So if you're writing a song and it's all about 'she this' and 'she that', then that's going to mean that those sync opportunities have to be from a female perspective. It can't be for a male character on the screen or in an ad or whatever.
Those are generally good rules if you're trying to maximize the opportunities for your song. However, one of the most common sync requests are for 'female empowerment' songs. There's a bunch of other ones, but female empowerment is a big one.
In those cases, you really want to lean into the 'she' and the female, the feminine aspects of the language that you're using in the song. Those are situations where if you hear that rule or someone on a panel saying 'you know, don't use nouns and don't use he or she, and all these other things', then it's like, yes, but if I want to, then you can. As long as you do it well, then that's all that matters.
The last rule that I'm going to share with you is don't use cheap sounding instruments, right? We hear that all the time. Don't use cheap sounding virtual instruments. Your midi sound is dated. Or it sounds cheap, or you need to update your sounds. Again, that's true, unless you are doing something on purpose, right?
So if you listen to "The Postal Service", there's a couple of songs where they use string pads in the back of their songs. If you listen to those, those strings don't sound great. Like if you just took them out and tried to make like an orchestral string arrangement using those string sounds, it would sound horrible.
But the whole thing about The Postal Service that I heard an interview with one the of The Postal Service band that they used just one (I think it was a Yamaha) keyboard for all the sounds on those albums. And it totally works because they're playing off of the fact that things sound very lo-fi in that style of production.
If you listen to the band "Cake", man, pretty much any song, if you listen to the guitars, the guitars sounds so bad! I've heard it in an interview where they purposely use a super cheap guitar that barely stays in tune. It's just part of the sound, right?
If you listened to "Bone Lovers" "Skinny Love", the guitar on that sounds horrible! It's like out of tune the vocals - he's a great singer, but the vocals are doubled and tripled and they kind of clash in places, but it's part of that sound, and he's doing it on purpose.
He's not trying to write a Celine Dion monster ballad and using like a crappy guitar and vocals that are doubled and kind of out of tune in parts. He's doing this particular thing, and he's meaning to do it, and it is on purpose. And that's kind of what makes it interesting, right?
So that's what I want to leave you with for this week. If you're going to break the rules, know why you're breaking them, and do it ON purpose. Do it WITH purpose.
This is for all my artists friends, who have sensitive hearts, and feel things deeply.
More than any other week this year, I believe we need to really protect our hearts and your minds.
I think you know this,
With the election chaos, it might get kinda crazy. There might be some rioting and maybe some violence here in the US. And it's hard to know how to prepare to it emotionally.
I want to talk to all the artists out there like myself, music artists, but artists of any medium that might be kind of sensitive and feeling a sense of dread and fear right now. I want to speak to that and I want to ask you, and petition you, to really protect yourself.
I'm going to give you a couple tips.
First of all, I want to talk about the concept of fear. There is a really great book called "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers. She talks about how the underlying fear of all fears is this concept of not being able to handle the situation. Whether you're approaching your car breaking down, or losing a job, or a relationship issue, or you're afraid of a health issue, the fear of not being able to handle it is usually the fundamental fear that's actually underneath everything.
I haven't explored this enough to really know how true that is. But I do think that resonates right now, with this concept that you're afraid of what might happen with the government, whether it's local, or national, the federal government, and you're afraid of the election results. You're afraid of rioting that hasn't happened yet. You're actually maybe afraid of not being able to handle it, not being able to handle the results of whatever happens in this election.
I'm asking you to do a couple of things to help you.
Number one, I want you to look into doing something in the morning. The first thing you do when you wake up, Whether that's 5:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 5:00 PM, whenever you wake up, I think you should do two things. My two things are to go for a walk. I do it right off the bat. And then I also meditate. I go through a meditation, and I use an app called "Oak" that you can buy for a couple bucks for your phone, and it walks you through meditation. It helps you recenter. And that is so good for me. Now that may not be your thing. Maybe you would rather play with your animals and, call your mom, go for a run or play an instrument, or do some music production, whatever you're going to do. That's totally fine too.
But I want to ask you, I want to challenge you, to get into a habit this week of doing two things before you look at any kind of news. Before you look at the world and have to do your other things, just do two things that are helping you recenter. Okay.
Number two is I want you to limit your time with the news and social media this week. If you've already voted, if you've already argued your stance on things, it's probably not going to do much this week to keep arguing and fighting, right? So I urge you to stay away from those kinds of conversations. Stay away from arguments with your in-laws and fights about who you support. Just take the time to limit your social media contact, your posts, your comments, to less than an hour a day. Okay?
Even if you can do less than that, I encourage that as well. Social media right now is going to blow up in so many ways. And it's going to be very tempting to tune in like it's a reality show. You don't really need to.
Guess what? The world's going to keep going. Whether you're looking at it or not, you might as well take care of yourself so that you're in a better position for the next couple of months. And you're in a better position for the holidays and how to take care of your family through a pandemic and how to go forward.
Lastly, I want to urge you to do something you love doing. So right now, I'm really loving making lo-fi hip hop music producing and mixing, and we've got a channel I'm working on and I'm really loving that process. So I'm going to just do a lot of that this week, because I really enjoy it, but I'm not going to put a lot of pressure on myself. I just got to do it because I love it!
Now, let's talk about three 'do not do's'.
Number one, don't hide right now. There's a temptation for a lot of very sensitive people and artists to stick their head in the sand and just hide and wait for this whole thing to kind of blow over. I wouldn't suggest hiding because you're going to miss out on certain amount of engagement, but again, limiting yourself to the engagement, protecting yourself, but not hiding.
There's a big difference between, totally engaging in something and just moderating yourself. So again, an hour a day of news and media, but not hiding. It's good to be with friends right now. It's good to talk with people you love. It's good to laugh. It's good to enjoy things. Watch a movie, play a game. Those types of things.
Number two is, do not try to make something profound this week. You don't need to. What you're going to do is you're going to end up putting on yourself a lot of pressure right now. There's this temptation to say 'Hey, we're going through a crisis. I want to try to capture lightning in a bottle with all the emotions people are feeling and my thoughts and feelings'. You can do that next week. You can do that the week after - you can do that the month after. You don't need to do it this week. This week might be really, really difficult. I urge you to just take care of yourself and your emotions.
And lastly, I would say, do not do anything drastic. Don't move. Don't make any big decisions this week because we're going to all be a little emotional and it's going to be a little bit crazy.
If you feel like this video resonated with you, please consider sending it to some of your friends. Let's get through together!
Hey, I want to talk a bit about writer's block.
Is there anything that stifles creativity more than feeling like all of your ideas are just horrible? I don't think that there is!
I actually don't really believe in writer's block in terms of what most people think of (as in that there's something blocking your creativity or your ability to create).
I think that we can always create. I think what writer's block really is this feeling that all of the ideas that we've got are just bad or that we've done them all before, and we're really just bored with the ideas that we are coming up with.
What I have are a couple of different 'hacks' for getting out of writer's block.
One of them is doing some self analysis and actually going back and listening to some of the songs that I've written in the past, mainly recent. Then I do some analysis of them. I analyze the ideas that I have had recently with the song that I'm having the writer's block on. I try to figure out what it is about those ideas that I don't like. Why are they not working? And I get really specific about it.
When you go back and listen to the other songs that you've recently done, try to listen for what your habits are. And the reason that I'm talking about this is because maybe some of the things that we are feeling writer's block about what it is we are creating now, is because they're very similar to ideas that we've already had, or very similar to approaches that we've taken in the past.
And so I tried to figure out what some of those habits are, those those crutches that we always lean on. And one of those things for me, was when I get to my chorus. I was always trying to hit my highest note on the very first beat of the chorus. I just was trying to hit them with my money note right away.
And so when I realized that, I did a lot of listening to my own stuff and to other songs that I respected. I realized not every song has to do that! You know, like big surprise. Right?
I use that as a challenge to get out of my own writer's block and made it so like, okay, what happens if I don't hit my money, note on the first beat of the chorus. What if I save it for the second beat or even like halfway through or something like that.
It's that kind of self analysis that I'm talking about, where we figure out what it is that is getting in our own way.
Another thing is simplifying. Like sometimes our ideas - we're just trying to put too much into our song.
We've got too many goals and we're not simplifying and refining what the one message is that we're trying to get across. Look at those ideas that you've got and see if there's any nuggets of gold and maybe there's just too much stuff getting in the way of that. Maybe you need to just take some of that stuff out.
The other thing that I like personally doing, because I come from a drumming background, is I like thinking rhythmically and just seeing if rhythmically, where's my intuition at with this? Am I digging that? Am I liking where it's at? Or am I kind of bored with it? I tend to ebb and flow in different directions depending on what my mood is.
Sometimes I'm all about the downbeat. And in a lot of dance songs and happy songs, we'll have that kind of driving downbeat thing. And then sometimes, I'm just bored with that. I want to do something different, I want to do something unexpected. So I start things in rhythmic places where you wouldn't expect them to be started.
Sometimes, I like to combine the two, you know, like maybe my instruments will be very downbeat driven, but my melody will be very syncopated and phrasing in ways that you wouldn't expect.
So try some of these hacks and see if they work for you. Please post a reply if you have some thoughts on this!
Over the 20 years I've been producing, there have been these moments that have been these big "AHA!" moments. Moments that have elevated me from point A to point B, and then from point B to point C. Times when I’ve really increased in knowledge, and my music has been really elevated!
One of those moments was when I stopped everything I was doing and learned how to produce vocals. And producing vocals starts with great recordings, learning how to really record vocals well. Then, even if you're not doing the recording, getting the vocal files, comping them, stacking them, timing them, tuning them, EQ'ing them, getting them to fit into the mix just right, learning how to use effects, and learning what compression is.
All of these things are so, so important.
This is one of the techniques and disciplines that I see lacking in most beginning producers and the reason why they're not getting better and they're not commanding attention with their productions.
It's because they don't want to stop and really learn this. They think, well, “I'll just kind of get by because my voice is really good.” Even if you've got a great voice, it really isn't going to be featured if you don't know how to produce the voice.
Let me show you a quick demonstration of what I mean.
This is a song called "Rise Again" that I released this summer with the amazing Lauren Light. And I'm gonna show you the raw track versus how it came out in the final mix.
(Music Playing - pre-production).
And now let's hear it in the mix with the production on it.
(Music Playing - Post production)
So the point is, if we take a vocal that's very raw, and it's recorded pretty decently well (I think she used an SM7B in her apartment where she recorded). She lives over on the East coast and I'm over near the West coast and we've sent files back and forth to each other. I was able to grab it, and I was able to tune just the little parts of it that needed tuning without losing the flavor of her voice.
I used some tools like Nectar, Isotopes Nectar to sweeten the voice up a little bit, put some saturation into it. There's also a little bit of reverb. And then there's more vocals that get stacked underneath it into that chorus B section.
And all of this stuff is doable! This is the kind of stuff that you need to learn how to do, because it will elevate your music significantly.
One of the best things I ever did was to stop singing myself and allow other people to sing. That was a very big thing for me, because I had taken vocal lessons for a year. I realized for me to actually achieve the levels that I need to achieve - that I wanted to achieve, I had to let people who have a better instrument in their voice do the singing, instead of myself. So that's why I recruit people like Lauren Light to sing for me, and to collaborate with her on tracks like this.
If you are interested in learning how to produce your vocals a little bit better, come join our producer course over at the Triple Threat Artist. I'll give you a discount code (FALL2020) that will give you an extra $40 off per month, and you are welcome to join us and hang out with us.
We, we meet every single week. We go over each other's tracks. I've got about 138 videos that my co-producer Josh and I have put together for you guys. It covers all kinds of topics, including drums, recording, production, mixing, all kinds of different elements. One of the big sections is recording vocals, recording and producing vocals. If that interests you, click below.
Let's do this! I'll see you on the other side.
Let’s make better music,
use coupon code FALL2020 for $40 off per month
Hey guys, this is Zion from The Triple Threat Artist.
I've been thinking a lot about the deeper meanings and the deeper purposes behind making music.
Now, I love making music and that includes producing, songwriting, anything I'm doing instrumentally. I love making music and I bet you do too. That's why you're on this list. That's why you're watching this video. So what are those deeper meanings?
Well, right off the bat, there's fame and fortune, and those are great. There's nothing wrong with any of that, but those aren't the deeper meanings that I'm talking about. Let's get to the heart of why we like to make music.
I'm thinking of four different reasons that have come to mind for me, and these overlap. They're not totally succinct. And these are just my thoughts. And I'd love to know if you have reasons that I'm missing here.
The first is to send a message, to send a message to the world, to put a message out. I think is an amazing reason to write music, especially this year, being 2020, it's a great time to send a message to the world. Whether that's encouraging, whether that's standing up, coming back, going out to vote - whatever your message is.
I wrote a song with a co-writer Lauren light called "Rise Again". We released it early in May and it was really motivated by the riots, the Black Lives Matter riots, and the injustices we've seen a lot in our country right now. And so it was my way and her way of sending a message to the world and saying, Hey, come back, Rise Up!
If we've been knocked down, we're going to come back. Think of the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. It's a great song for change. He's saying we could do better. We could be better if we tap into loving each other and empathizing with each other and getting along better in the world, there's a better life we could be living.
I think of the song, "In The Arms of the Angel", by Sarah McLaughlin that was used for all those really, really sad animal humane ads that were on TV for awhile. Those are extremely effective.
There's a thousand other examples in which songs are used to disrupt the normal status quo and invoke change. So that's one big reason why I think we should be making music.
The next is to express ourselves, to express our light. And this gets into our creativity. If you're like me, you love to create things. And that doesn't mean just music. I love creating businesses and revenue sources. I love creating when Legos are available.
Oh my gosh, do not get me started! I love Legos. I have a little brother with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. And when we have a chance to play Legos, I think I'm more excited than he is, because I just love to create it's so fun! I think there's something to be said about creating, doing music for just the purpose of the feeling and the benefits of creating. It's our way of sort of tapping into being like God, if God is a creator. So I love that.
Next I would say is to empathize and support. To empathize with the human heart. I'm thinking of several songs. One that came out, Billie Eilish's brother Phineas is an incredible artist. If you haven't heard him and followed him, I strongly suggest you do. He's incredible.
Phineas has a song called, "I lost a friend", which is all about losing his best friend. And he was even quoted as saying, 'you know, there's this feeling that guys can't express the love that they have toward other guys without sounding gay for straight men.' And he said, 'this is stupid. I loved, I loved my friend and I lost him and I want to sing about it.' And it is one of the most moving most raw, incredible songs! I highly suggest you check that out.
One of my favorite songs is by Dido. And if you know me, you know that this is one of my favorite songs. This came out like in 2003 or something like that - a long time ago. For some of you, you weren't even born! It's called "Here With Me". It's incredible! I think it's 'the' perfect song.
It expresses the feeling of not having your lover with you, not having your romantic interest or your partner or whatever it is with you. And that I can't sleep until you're resting here with me. I can't breathe. I can hardly do anything until you're with me. And I love that kind of empathy that she captures in the human heart.
I had an opportunity couple years ago in 2016, actually four years ago, to put music to a poem that my friend Brooke wrote. Brooke was struggling with cancer and she has since passed away.
I flew out to DC before she died. She was working for the White House at the time, in the Obama administration. She gave me a personal tour of the West Wing of the White House! It was incredible!
I went to her little apartment and she had written a song about her struggle with cancer and it's called 'October'.
(Music and vocals from "October" play.)
i want to show you the song. I'd really like you to listen to the song, and if you like it, please post it! I just went with her to her little bedroom (the acoustics were best in that room). I recorded her voice speaking these words, and talking about this poem. I put music behind it and I released it. I was able to show it to her right before she passed away.
At the time she wrote this, she was in remission and thought she had kicked cancer. The whole purpose of this poem that she wrote was to express her frustration with the fact that every October she's reminded so much about her cancer, because she sees all the pink everywhere. And even though people mean for it to be a very big support "Hey, we're supporting cancer awareness" for her, it was, as she describes it, 'a bitch slapping every year'.
I loved the sentiment, because I'd never heard it from this angle before. And so I wanted to put it to music and I was just extremely honored to be able to do that, which just leads me back to my point, to empathize and support the human heart. The emotions that we have are one of the most beautiful reasons for why we're making music.
Whether that's sadness, depression, or fun and celebration, and to go out driving, and in the club and capturing, you know, the excitement of a sports game, or a win or a victory in your life! It's those moments! To be able to capture those in music is so amazing.
Sometimes you can do that better with a song than you can with words. There's something about the melody and the tension between the intervals of the notes, along with the words, can create a sentiment in a message that words alone cannot do. It's one of the most amazing things about a piece of music.
Lastly, music is an amazing tool to be like the 'soundtrack' to your day.
If you've ever gone to have a massage at Massage Envy or whatever place you go, and they put on the spa music in the background, it's so relaxing and it fits what's going on, it's very similar to yoga. They put on something very soothing and to have something, even if it's just one chord that's just moving and playing and swelling. And it's just a chord. Sometimes that can be so beautiful and can be a perfect soundtrack to what you're going through and what you're doing at that time.
I've recently started a YouTube channel with a buddy of mine, and it's called Lo-Fi Panda. And it's all Lo-Fi Chill Hop or Lo-Fi Hip Hop music. It's the kind of music you can put on and just put on in the background while you're working and studying.
This has been around for a long time, and I'm just excited about doing it. I'm working with other producers and we're making this kind of music and putting it out on our channel. And I have to tell you, I didn't expect to love this so much! I really love this!
It started as sort of a business adventure, but it's quickly become a passion. I listened to Lo-Fi Hip Hop all the time when I'm working, when I'm reading, in the car, while I'm cooking in the kitchen - I've listened to this kind of music. If you want check it out, please follow us if you'd like to.
I'd like to hear what you think. These are the four reasons of mine - was to send a message, to express your light, to empathize with the human heart, and to be a 'soundtrack' for our lives.
Those are my deeper purposes for why I make music and why I love music.
What are yours?
Talk to me!
Now go make great music!
Zion and Lauren's "Rise Again" https://youtu.be/pLnXBSgGRRs
Finneas' song "I lost a friend" https://youtu.be/3mMVcCMO_Ng
Dido's song "Here with Me" https://youtu.be/PSu5nAQ7uZw
Zion and Brooke's "October" https://youtu.be/IBx7lxhj3p0
Hey guys, this is Zion from The Triple Threat Artist.
I am at Bryce Canyon National Park, which is in Southern Utah. I'm kind of doing a work vacation, working in different parts of the Western United States, and this place is incredible. It looks a little bit like this. (shows Canyon). Pretty awesome, huh! I wanted to shoot the video over there on the rim of the Canyon. However, it is too windy and I don't want this to be super annoying when I do this video.
I want to talk to you guys about something that has really impressed me a lot in the last few days. And that is the most amazing instrument that you have in your studio. Ans it might be the most underutilized instrument. So to get into this, don't you like my little teaser here to get into this. I want to tell you a quick story.
I have a friend named Corey in Phoenix that invited me to a house party....
<Click video to hear full story>
Do you love these kinds of discussions? Send a reply to this, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!
Talk to you later, guys. Now go make great music!
What's going on, guys. This is Zion from The Triple Threat Artist.
Let's talk about your self-esteem.
As a music maker, a producer, a songwriter, an artist, or a singer ... Self-Esteem is something you have to have! And that, of course, is something that builds and must grows as you get more experience,
But I don't know how many artists and music makers I have met that do not value what they have and what they do. They've work so hard on creating something, and then end up selling it for pennies, or do terrible deals with people because, and they give away all their rights.
So let's talk about that. It's is a terrible thing to do.
But before we get into it, please click the like button and subscribe to our YouTube channel. I would really appreciate it. And feel free to leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you guys.
So a couple of weeks ago, I just finished creating and produced a couple songs with a co-writer and friend of mine. She's an amazing artist (let's call her Jessica). And it was expected that she was going to start submitting our songs, after they're completed, over to some licensing agents for them to pitch our music. But unfortunately the only deals she ended up finding were exclusive deals. In other words, our songs would have to be just with them and we couldn't use any other licensing agents. But they were also asking for some publishing on the back end, which means they would have ownership of the songs so that if it got played on radio or anything like that, they would take some ownership of it.
Now, as you know, songs ownership is always split into two parts. There's the master owners, and then the publishing side. And the publishing side actually has two parts to it, which are the songwriters and the publishers. So if somebody doesn't have anything to do with the writing of the song, they might ask for a piece of the publishing, which in a sense, they're asking for a piece of your song with the promise that they're going to pitch it.
Well, this is not a good deal. In my opinion, this is kind of how the old school way of working. I understand why people do this. I get it. I understand why licensing agents would want to do that.
But as an artist, I don't have to do that. And I have the self esteem to say, no, I am not going to do that shitty deal.
That is a shitty deal. You're asking for a lot of ownership and a lot of credit on something you didn't create.
Now there's enough awesome licensing agents that will hustle and do work for you, who are going to be thankful for your songs and won't ask for your publishing. And they'll work with you non-exclusively, which frees you to use other licensing agents if you need to. You work won't be trapped in their little vault and not being able to work with other people.
There's a lot of great licensing agents that will do that. You gotta reach out to them. You got to figure out who they are. You got to work with them, you got to negotiate.
And that comes down to self esteem.
So I had to talk to my co-writer and say, "sorry, I'm not going to go with this deal." And she was pretty disappointed, but you know I ended up sending an email out to about 16 different licensing agents the next week and three or four of them got back with us that are giving us incredible deals, who are excited about the songs and they are pitching them right away. In fact, they already pitched them this weekend for several different Netflix briefs. So it's pretty awesome.
And why did I do that? It's because I know my value, and I know the value of her, and the value of our song. And unfortunately she's still new at this kind of negotiating. So this isn't a knock against her at all, but it is an example of understanding your value and your worth.
This brings me to the point and the topic that I like to talk about, which is the difference between confidence and grandiosity.
Grandiosity is the appearance of confidence. It's a false self-esteem that's created out of a low self-esteem. It's almost like you're candy-coating your appearance to look as if you're confident when you're not. That's what grandiosity is.
Grandiosity is often promoted in music and in media and TV and culture as, "Hey, just fake it till you make it." Well, unfortunately, a lot of people can see through that, faking it until you make it as not a good idea. And grandiosity often speaks to a very low self-esteem.
So how do you build self esteem?
By doing stuff and getting good at it, and understanding you're good at it, and getting feedback, and getting deals, and getting placements, and getting your music sold, or people listening to it and liking it and loving it. That builds your confidence so that when you speak about your music and when you ask for a higher percentage, you're doing it out of evidence. You're not just making it up. You're not contriving a self-esteem. You're doing it out of, "this is good....this is valuable stuff. Not everybody's going to like it, but I can command what I think I'm worth. I can ask for the percentage."
Now this plays into songwriting also, if you've ever worked with a songwriter, another collaborator, and you've had to negotiate the percentages, usually it's 50/50, if you're going into a good songwriting collaborations. But occasionally you might work with somebody that doesn't really know anything about music, but can write some good lyrics. And you need to negotiate something like "I'm going to give you 25% of the songwriting credit for the song while I'll take 75%." Well, it takes some confidence to say that it takes some confidence to negotiate that. And honestly, you should have the balls to do that. And you should have the balls when somebody comes to you and says, "I want to renegotiate. I think I'm worth more." You should have the confidence to say, "okay, let's talk about that. Maybe you are." And not every deal is going to be absolutely perfect, and absolutely just, I don't know how many deals in which I thought, huh? I didn't really pull my share weight in that. Or, "oh man, I did 95% of that, but we originally negotiated the 50%. So I had to stick with it." That's going to happen. But what I'm trying to say is that your confidence in your abilities needs to be apparent as you market yourself.
I'm tired of seeing artists, and I'm tired of seeing bands who do not value theirselves. And they work so hard in making a name and building an audience and making great music and investing hours and hours and lessons into their skill and their instrument. And then they just give away their shit. It's stupid.
We are in command in this business, the artists, the music makers are in the command seat. And yet they're failing to see that they're in command. They're constantly giving away their stuff for nothing. This is why the CEO of Spotify is making millions of dollars. And you're making very little of that. (Hopefully some of you are making more than a little).
I hope this resonates with you guys. There's a quote that I love from Dave Pensado that has to do with this. Dave Pensado is a mixing engineer over in LA. And he's just an amazing guy, is a podcast called Pensado's Place that I highly recommended. I'll put a link in the show notes to it, but he says, "you need to have accurate expectations of your value. If you're not making money from what you're providing, it's probably because you're not worth anything yet." And that's okay.
So you're getting paid for what you're worth. So if you're not getting paid anything, you may not be worth a whole lot for what the market bears.
That's okay. Just get better, get better, be more original, provide something for the community of artists and musicians that is needed and looked for.
I hope this has been encouraging to you guys. This is Zion from the triple threat artists. I'll be having more videos like this.
Please leave a comment below. If you have any thoughts on this, I'd appreciate it.
Talk to you later.
Hey guys, this is Zion from the Triple Threat Artist and I'm at the beach in Oregon and it is beautiful here. The smoke has dissipated quite a bit. It's actually very, very, very nice and I'm on vacation! But today I wanted to talk to you guys about custom work.
Now and then as a producer, you're going to have opportunities to do a piece of custom work for somebody. So what do I mean by that? That means somebody's going to come to you and say, Hey, instead of pitching me something you've already made, would you be interested in actually creating a piece of content, a song, or producing something, or writing something for a spot. That might be a brief, that might be a commercial, that might be whatever it is.
And so now and then that happens - and it all depends on the price. It depends on whether or not I think I could do it for me to even go after it, but sometimes I do. And this weekend I got approached about creating a piece of music for a podcast, which is really interesting. I've never had that before. So they need something for the beginning of a podcast and then little stingers in the in-between, and then an outro as well. So I had to create a piece of music.
They gave a bunch of references. They gave different songs. And one of the songs is by an artist named Michael. He's an incredible artist - he is one of the best artists right now. I'll put the link in the description, but I'm gonna just call him Michael. If you're familiar with the show, Big Little Lies. He did the song that is the intro for that show. I don't think that was a custom piece of work. I think that song was already out, and that show chose that song as their intro. And it's a fantastic song. I think this guy is one of the best artists right now - of all time. I think he's phenomenal. And again, I'll put the link below,.
They had referenced a couple of songs of his as what they're kind of looking for. So I wanted to talk to you guys about three lessons or tips for doing custom work that might be helpful to you.
Number one is capturing the emotion. Oftentimes when a client says, Hey, we like this song. What they're saying is we like the emotion of the song. We liked the way the song makes us feel. And that is vitally important because it doesn't necessarily mean they want the exact instruments or the exact tempo or exact whatever. They're looking for the emotion. And trying to identify what that emotion is, can very hard. It's very difficult. And sometimes I nail it and sometimes I really miss the mark, but that's one of the first things I do is I try to figure out what it is they're actually asking.
Number two is having the humility to make edits. When you do custom work, you're going to send the piece of work back and say, what do you think? And guaranteed, they're going to have changes, or they're going to say, I like this, but I don't like this. And that's actually a good thing.
If they didn't say any of that, they probably just don't like it. And they're like, eh, this isn't working. But if they come back with edits, that is a good thing. Listened to those edits! Have the humility to make those changes! Because you're on the right path - you might have a chance of hitting the mark! So that's a big one. A lot of producers, songwriters, creative music makers, other creatives - have a difficult time with that one. They don't like to be humble because they think everything they do is awesome or they're afraid they can't make those changes correctly. And here's the deal: you may not be able to, but a professional tries! They give it a shot, right?
Number three is understand the medium in which people are going to be listening to it. Now, one of the weird things about what I'm doing right now is I'm doing this is for a podcast, which means the song is going to be played back in mano. I don't know if you guys listen to podcasts or audio books, but whenever they have music in it, it's in mono and it sounds terrible. So I have to know that going into it, that whatever I do, I need to mix it, such that it sounds decent in mono. And which means it can't have any phase issues. That's a little bit difficult and hopefully I can make that work. There's utility plugins in your DAW that usually allow you to listen to whatever you're listening to in mono. So that's going to be the final phase. If they like what I'm doing and they're liking the direction I'm going, I'm going to put it in mono and try to mix it that way. So that it sounds the best I can with that limitation.
So again, just knowing what medium, what way in which your audience is going to be listening to it is really, really important. If the custom piece of music is for a commercial, you want to know how it needs to start right away, right? Because commercials, they don't have much time. If it's to be played in a club or something like that, you want to make sure that bass is really nice and round and works really well on subwoofers, just knowing the kind of medium that your audience is going to be listening to is super important.
Again, as a recap, the first one was knowing the emotion of the track you're going after for a custom piece of music. The second one was having the humility to make edits. And the third one is knowing the medium in which it's going to be played back on.
Those are my tips for a custom piece of content. This is Zion at Triple Threat Artists. I'm going to be posting videos like this that are just talking about the philosophy and my thoughts about making music. Myself and Josh, Josh Doyle, who is my collaborator and Co-business partner over at the Triple Threat Artists. We're going to be making more videos like this. I hope you like it. And if you have any questions, put it in the comments below and come check us out at the Triple Threat Artist.
All right. Signing off. Bye.
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