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5 Excuses I’m Tired of Hearing from Music Producers

Some time ago, I loved to complain. I lied. I still complain from time to time, but I used to blame my lack of success (whatever success means to you) on many different things I thought I had no control over.

After talking to some of my producer friends, I realized that I wasn’t the only one whining about why I wasn’t making money in the music business. That’s how we measure success, right? Well, money doesn’t exactly define success in the business we’re in. I know Grammy winners that live in studio apartments, and underground mixtape rappers that drive Maseratis.

Here are some common excuses I’m sick of hearing:

1. I Don’t Have the Right Gear

You do know it’s 2018, right? We are truly immersed in the Digital Age baptized by the Internet, and blessed by ultra-fast computer processors. I’m gearing this excuse more towards the old farts — the ones that have been in the industry for 20-30 years that think because they don’t have a Studer A800 or an SSL 4000 G+ in their studio, they will never make hit records. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Technology has advanced so far, that even stock plugins can get you “industry standard” results. I know multiple Grammy-winning mix engineers that have used D-Verb in platinum records! Is that blasphemy? No! That just means they know how to manipulate their sound even with the most basic tools.

The result of a great record is not because they used an expensive piece of gear, or they’re using the coolest VST out on the market. It’s the ear, not the gear.

2. I Don’t Have a Cool Studio

Again — it’s 2018! Do you know why it’s so difficult for recording studios to stay in business these days? The laptop is literally replacing recording studios as we speak.

Around the early 2000s, I would take weekend trips to an artist’s pad so I could produce their records right in their apartment. You could say I was ahead of the curve. We would sit down, smoke a couple joints, and write some songs with my guitar. Then, I would program the chords into my $100 MIDI controller using Reason, or whatever DAW I was into at that time.

Next, I would record the singer, mix the track, and master it right then and there! My artists were able to sell those records, and get gigs to move their careers along. I got over the, “I don’t have a cool studio, so I’m not even going to try” phase. It’s a mental thing. It will take time to get over because it’s directly tied to your self-worth and confidence. Change your attitude, and it might change your career.

3. I’m Not a Musician

Do you know how many producers I know that don’t know a C Major scale? This drives me absolutely bananas being classically trained, but it’s a different world today. There are so many built-in tools included in most DAWs that can help anyone overcome deficiencies in music theory with a click of a mouse.

Sampling is so popular and accepted now, all you need to know is how to cut up and rearrange loops together to compose music. Websites like Splice and Sounds provide thousands of options for loops, one-shots and drum samples to help you quickly put together a musical masterpiece. Learn the software you use from front to back and master your craft. Figure out how to get from point A to point B as quickly as you can. It can be done.

4. I Have Ten Soundcloud Followers

That’s okay! The music industry is completely saturated. Due to the advent of the Internet, there are more genres of music than you can imagine, overwhelming amounts of recording artists, and a plethora of good and bad music. It’s all there. For a producer who is just getting started, you’re going to feel like you have no voice and no way of connecting with people. Understand that music is being consumed in more ways than ever before.

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During the 90s, people had to go to shows and watch music videos on MTV. Those days are long gone. Back then, recording artists were frowned upon for creating music for commercials, TV shows, and movies. Just the thought of “selling out” could put their career six feet under.

Nowadays, you must think about how people consume music. As a music producer, be aware of where you hear music. Music is in commercials, movies, video games, VR systems, and places we haven’t even thought of yet! You might have ten followers on Soundcloud, but how many people from the general public actively listen to music on Soundcloud? Think of all the different places you could have your music heard, and proactively take the steps to get it there.

5. I’m Just Going to Quit

Quitting is an excuse. Choosing the option to stop doing something because of whatever logical reason you’ve decided in your head at the time is a cop-out. If you’re a real producer or someone who truly can’t live without creating music, you can’t quit. Trust me, I’ve tried a few times. I first went to college for Pre-Med and turned down Julliard. I know, I’m crazy. It wasn’t my part of my journey. Instead, I went to the University of Washington for a few years, then dropped out to play in a pop-punk band. That was the most exciting six years of my life. We made tons of great records and I toured the country.

Then I quit again. I wanted a real job and a family. Those things will happen, regardless, but at the time, I thought I needed my Bachelor’s for where I was in my life. Then I moved to LA and got my placements for major labels and major TV networks. The last one did it for me. I realized that no matter what I do in life, I will always be a producer. Quitting is not an option.

Being a producer in this era is a great privilege because there’s so much power that is so easily accessible. If you’ve walked into a music school in recent times, you know that every student has their own laptop with all the software they need to make hit records. We are no longer tied down to hardware, desktops and tape machines.

The age of analog is over. Sure, it’s nice to own a Neve mic pre or an 1176, but most of us can’t afford those luxuries. Plugins and VSTs are so advanced that they can replicate any of your favorite analog devices.

Do yourself a favor and give yourself a little more credit. Excuses will keep you far away from your dreams.

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Jin Wooh

Jin Wooh

Jin Wooh is a producer, composer, audio engineer, A&R and educator with credits on major labels and TV networks. He has taught at the Los Angeles Recording School in the Recording Arts and Music Production programs. You can follow him on Instagram and learn more at calidreamco.com.

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