Sometimes after I play a gig, a sound engineer or someone from the crowd will approach me and tell me that they’d like to work with me and potentially record my music. I took someone up on this once, and we ended up with a pretty nice result.
Sometimes I get Facebook messages that are similar. I once received one that said:
“Hey! I loved your music. I didn’t hear anything professional on your site so let me know if you want me to produce anything for you.”
I got defensive immediately and fired back asking what the person meant by “professional.” They clarified that they meant “radio-ready,” which in the audio world equates to loud so it can stand out against other tracks. But it pissed me off.
Who was this person, and why were they trying to get me to believe that my tracks weren’t worthy enough of approval from the mass market? Some more assumptions they made: that I want to be on the radio, that the radio even matters anymore, and that I’m only a songwriter with no vision for how my music should sound on a record.
I produce my own music, aside from one track that I did with a producer, and I always have. Even from age 15, I spent a lot of my time on an analog 4-track recording my music. I eventually evolved into a pretty nice studio set up in my basement, along with synthesizers and other instruments.
My recordings are mixed, recorded and arranged by me. I could almost certainly get a more professional results by industry standards if I were to work with engineers and producers… but my tracks have the element of me in them that would be diluted a bit by others joining in.
They may be rough around the edges sometimes, and perhaps they wouldn’t stand up to other tracks on the radio or on a discovery Spotify playlist… but I’m okay with that. There’s this assumption that music should be made to be sold and to be consumed by as many people as possible.
I believe music should just be a unique expression of the artist, whatever that means. Whoever shows up to listen is the audience, big or small, and by the end, we’re all changed for the better.