Why I Started Produce Like A Pro
Today, I’d like to talk about why I started Produce Like a Pro. So firstly, please, as ever, subscribe, go to producelikeapro.com, you can sign up for the email list, there’s a whole bunch of free stuff. You can download drum samples, have access to other videos, and other exclusive fun stuff. There’s sessions you can get. It’s wonderful.
And of course, if you’d like, please try out the 14 day free trial of The Academy, where we all get together, we share mixes. Each month, I put up a new mix for everybody to mix, and then we critique it, there’s a great forum in there, and it really is wonderful, and everybody helps each other. So please try it out, it’s a great place.
So I started Produce Like a Pro because of my experiences. I grew up in a little village in England, and I would buy vinyl records, pre-internet, pre-CDs, I would buy vinyl records, and I would scour the back of the records for all of the information. I wanted to know who the producer was, the engineer, the assistant, what studio it was in, obviously what musicians, what gear they used, but if you go back to some old records, like old Jazz records that my dad had, they would even describe what mic they were using on the instrument.
It was a pretty exciting time. You know, as a kid, and there was no access there. Now, obviously now, we have YouTube, we have so many different ways to get access to this information, but what I really felt like I wanted to do was share my journey, because my journey was not traditional at all. My journey is probably like, 99.9% of you out there.
So I felt like I really identified with most of the people on YouTube, and I’m not talking about the professionals like myself. I think the professionals are very well covered. I think that we all know each other, we all share our tricks and tips, and we all have access to expensive equipment.
The people that I want to help are the people like me that grew up without any kind of knowledge whatsoever, and really, really wanted to learn. I feel like anybody now that has an iPhone, an iPad, an Android, a laptop, whether it be PC or Mac, any kind of computer whatsoever. Any kind of device that can run as software. If you’re a musician, or you’re musically inclined, you can be a producer.
Does that mean by having the equipment, you’re immediately going to become an amazing producer? Of course not, but the equipment doesn’t make you a great producer. The creativity does. So I love that this world is opened up to all of us now, because if I was starting again, I wouldn’t be able to afford all of this equipment. There is no way. This is twenty plus years of my doing this and slowly buying and acquiring pieces of equipment. You know, some of the gear I acquired is because people owed me money and couldn’t pay me, so they gave me an old guitar. This is twenty plus years of getting gear together.
If I was starting again, I would start much humbler. I would probably have a very simple system, probably even a laptop, one mic pre, one nice IO, one or two microphones, and then build from there. That’s what I recommend to everybody. Start simply and build, because creativity is king. You hear me say it all the time, but I really, honestly believe that. Creativity is where it’s at.
If you listen to Lorde, Royals, you know that the most important thing about that song is the song. As Quincy Jones says, the three most important things in music are the song, the song, and the song. Thank you Tommy Vicari for telling me that.
So keep it simple. Keep it about the creativity as you learn and as you get through this, you will want different pieces of equipment, you’ll want more plugins, you’ll want to buy better microphones, but please be aware that having that equipment at first, the expensive equipment is not the most important thing. Creativity is king.
So the reason why I started this channel is to pretty much share my journey, and share how I got here, because I didn’t get here traditionally whatsoever. I was a musician, playing in bands. I had my most success in England as a bass player, but I’m actually a guitarist first. So I had some success in England as a bass player, I had studios in England, starting with two cassette players bouncing backwards and forwards to four-track cassettes, to reel-to-reel eventually.
I went to an MSR-24 1-inch. Had ADATS and everything, but I did it all completely home studio orientated. I never once worked in a commercial studio. I wasn’t an assistant engineer. I didn’t build up a whole bunch of credits, you know, being in the room, plugging in microphones, getting assistant engineer credits. I literally had to do it all myself.
Even in the early 2000’s, up until working with Dave Sardy, when I was running the studio, I was the assitant, I was the engineer, I was the producer, I was the mixer, often I was the guitar player, the bass player, the keyboard player, and the song writer. I was all of those things to everybody.
So what was I doing in those ’90s and 2000’s? I was being what you guys were doing. I was living it and breathing it, and I got to be here — I got to make the Aerosmith records, and the Fray records, and all of these wonderful albums that I’ve been blessed to be able to do, I got to it by doing it in a non-traditional way.
I didn’t go through studios, I didn’t have a lot of friends that were very successful. I had to work really, really hard. So I feel like, for me, when I look at the landscape of YouTube, I feel like what I can give back here is the knowledge that you can do it, and you can do it outside of all of the traditional ways. All bets are off. It’s all about finding new ways, and to be honest, as Jack Douglas said, the amateurs drive this business.
Jack Douglas, who produced Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, John Lennon, you name it, he comes from that place where he wants to work with the amateurs. He wants to work with them because they’re the ones that bring in all of the creativity. They don’t have a stock way of doing it. When you’re working with somebody, doesn’t even have to be young, somebody fresh, somebody who’s just starting their journey and discovering, because all of the greats in this music industry are always learning.
Look at David Bowie. You know I’m a huge Bowie fan, so I’ll go off on a tangent for a second, but look at David Bowie. Two days before he died of cancer, which he’d had for 18 months, he was at the premiere of his musical that he had co-written. He was dying of cancer, so he brought another writer to help him, and co-direct it, and he was at the premiere of it two days — that’s the person that I want to be. That’s the person I strive for. Someone who is always learning, has no set ideas, has no dogma, isn’t telling you the right way and the wrong way to do something.
There is no right way, there is no wrong way. The only real solution is creativity, is greatness. Strive for greatness, strive for something that’s beautiful. You could be a mixer or a producer that does atmospheric music. You could be a mixer or producer that does hard, heavy, heavy rock. You can be whatever you like. There is no right way, there is no wrong way. There is no ranting guy that’s going to tell you that you have to do it this way.
Well, there are people doing that but you know what, ignore it. Be creative. Try stuff out, because some of the best music ever made wasn’t perfectly in phase. Hey, try to get things in phase, please, technically, try and do it, but the bottom line is like, the song, the song, the song is the most important thing.
So I started this channel and I started doing this purely and simply to encourage people, because I realized that my journey and my success has come from a completely non-traditional way, and of all of my contemporaries, I’m one of just a handful that did that. Now, we’re blessed. There are other guys that did that as well, but I didn’t go through studios.
I didn’t have family members or anything that could help me. My journey was purely and simply like, hustle, hustle, hustle, find bands, develop them, get them signed, you know, actually like develop relationships with people, and I’m blessed, but I’m blessed because I worked really, really hard, and I created relationships, and I know that through my journey, I can help you. I can really help you.
So thank you ever so much for watching. Hopefully, this sparks up a lot of conversation. I want to keep this positive, I want this to be about how we can help each other. That’s the reason why I started The Academy. It’s a great place where everybody in there is incredibly supportive of each other. They help each other, they listen to each other’s mixes, they give constructive critiques, they don’t make it about trolling, they don’t make it about one-upping each other, because we’re all here to learn together.
This is a beautiful world of music. We are blessed now through YouTube and all of the technology available to us where we can have businesses where you can make your music, whether you be in Kentucky, or whether you be in Florida, wherever you are, whether you be in Germany, England, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, it doesn’t matter where you are now. You can make music for everybody all over the world. You can mix your song in the Ukraine that was recorded in Australia, or vice versa.
It is a wonderful time to be in music, and it’s all about creating a sense of community. About everybody sharing and helping out. Thank you ever so much for watching, have a marvelous time recording and mixing, and please go to producelikeapro.com and check it out. I really appreciate your time.