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Is professionally produced music important anymore?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve had no problem getting work as a music producer, even in a recession. I’m working on 6 albums and keep getting calls for more, but then I’m cheap as far as many music producers go with my experience. Most of my clients hire me because I also compose and engineer in my own studio, so I’m a one stop shop.

This regular work has in no way filled me with delusions about the importance of professionally produced music to the general public though. I have found myself asking more and more, what is the point of what I do for artists anymore? Is there a future in professionally produced music? Do the majority of people care?

Before you scoff at this question, peruse these valid issues that have partially led to it, such as:

  • The decline of record labels and shift of the industry into the hands of DIY artists with limited budgets
  • The proliferation of affordable music production equipment and software allowing artists to Do It Themselves at home
  • The popularity of live, reality ‘Idol’ type music shows and Youtube
  • The proliferation of poor quality music formats like 128 kb MP3 files
  • The popularity of poor quality music playback devices like iPods with headphones
  • The question of the value of music in a world of free downloads

One could argue that people are used to professionally produced music, and so they will still demand it, despite the shrinking budgets for artists and music lovers. There is no question that the world is shifting towards enjoying more music than ever before, and that music is increasing in popularity.

But my most significant argument for the rapid decline in value for the music producer is, given the above, can the average person even tell the difference between music with no producer and that which is professionally produced? Will they be disappointed with acoustic versions of songs?

Tests I’ve done have proven the answer is no. Most listeners primarily want to hear the singers voice, and the melodies sung with simple instrumentation, and everything else seems superfluous.

I think a producer contributes significantly not just to the quality of sound of the music, but to:

  • The performance, emotion, and confidence of the performers
  • The arrangement of the song, including lyric phrasing and song structure
  • The melodies and musical instrumentation of the song
  • The accuracy of pitch and timing and sonic quality of the recorded parts
  • The range of tone across the frequency spectrum of the music
  • The mood, feeling and energy of the song

But of course, I’m biased! And as illustrated, these are decreasing in importance to the general listener.
In industries like film, TV, and advertising, these elements have become standard, so there is no question that they will require professionally produced music.
For music in general though, the question remains, given it is proven most people can’t hear the difference, is there a future for the professional music producer?
Will a shift in the importance of the arts and education in society affect the demand for musical perfection only an experienced producer can provide?

recording in bedroom

Playing For Change: Song Around the World “One Love” Video

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Playing For Change: Song Around the World “One Love”:

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens. So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
— Bahá’u’lláh

Help Me Help Your Music.

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Are you a musician / artist?

I’m wondering if you can spend a minute to help me help artists like you.
I am trying to gather some anonymous research data from artists on what is an affordable amount of money per month for them to spend to obtain assistance towards a successful music career.

I have been in the process of trying to restructure my company, Pro Soul to be able to assist artists. We are exploring various monthly subscription based packages that will provide artists with consulting, services, and resources they need to develop a strong healthy career and fan base depending on what they need and can afford.

All you have to do to assist and state your opinion is fill out 2 short polls:

WWW.jarome.com/poll/

Pro Soul’s new mission is twofold: To provide music fans with great music by diverse International artists and to affordably assist artists in developing their career in a changing music industry to build a strong, long lasting audience they have a close relationship with that will create financial rewards that far surpass those possible with simple CD sales.

The new music industry is drastically changing, moving away from major record corporations and back to independent artists, moving away from physical product to digital media. Economics will bring in $4.8 billion in revenue from digital downloads in the US alone in 2012.
I blogged about the changes in the music industry more here:
the-end-of-the-music-industry-as-we-know-it

In this receding tide, Pro Soul’s aim is to assist artists to clear the path of discovery and purchase of music by enabling artists to more easily connect with their fans, and enable fans to purchase and access music more easily than they ever have before.

Pro Soul will consult artists with information provided by the worlds most knowledgeable experts in the future of the music industry, and provide virtually every aspect of what an artist will need in their career, performing those duties the artist does not want to take on themselves. We will provide the latest innovative techniques and services that have been proven to work to bring paying, dedicated fans to artists.

Key individual behind Pro Soul will be myself founder, music producer, audio engineer, and composer for over 17 years, Jarome Matthew. I achieved early acclaim with gold dance tracks on top 40 radio and a number of major label compilations in the early 1990’s and now produce and consults artists internationally and teach these things at a local college.

Although expenses and financial goals will be important in the first year, focus will be on assisting clients to become successful in generating enough new fans for them to see the signs of a successful long term career in the industry.

Right now all of this is just an idea developing. Based on the results of the poll and other research and consulting I am doing, and financial analysis, hopefully this will all be a great asset to artists and help me finally achieve my dream of really being able to help them.

Visit again to keep updated on how it’s going.

The intricacies of modern music production

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Most people have no idea how much is involved in producing music, and that includes the artists and musicians themselves. That’s right, most professional artists don’t really realize what goes on behind the scenes in producing their music. They leave it up to a professional like myself, a producer (if they want it done right).
The idea of sculpting a bass sound on repeat for 4 hours is just beyond their comprehension, but that is the kind of thing that goes on amongst mixing together many competing elements so it all blends perfectly.

Today was an example of that in recording the last of the Cello parts for Elika Mahony’s album which will be completed this month. I’ll tell you more about that 3 year project soon.
It was very cool to hear someone play something I composed on keyboard on the cello, but professional players aren’t fond of working with non professional composers (ie: composers that don’t write out scores for performers to play). Even though I had the parts professionally scored, the timing didn’t match up with the parts I composed because the piano wasn’t played strictly with a metronome. This means that when the parts are scored, it is very difficult to figure out the beats and bars. There are ways around this but they require a lot of work like creating tempo maps which I won’t get into now.

Basically what it comes down to is that since artists don’t know what’s involved with these kinds of production details, it is hard for them to know how to prepare for them. Generally, if you want to add any instrumentation, music needs to be played perfectly to a click when it is first started, if it isn’t, it will require a lot more time and money.

It’s all part of the many intricacies of professional music production. It’s hard to believe how much goes into a song sometimes, even for myself. But when it’s done right, it sure sounds amazing. It can capture the heart and stir your very soul.