Custom Production Work? Here's 3 Tips!

Sep 23, 2020

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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