Songwriting - Producer

Technology and the Songwriting Playing Field: Avoiding the Pitfalls

Not that long ago, most of the music you were likely going to hear was good music. I’m talking about before the internet made streaming easy and everywhere. If you were a child of any time before the later 90s, the music you heard was probably the music on the radio, and then the albums you bought.

You can listen to songs from any era before the 2000s, and you’ll be hearing songs that, for the most part, have been professionally produced and recorded. Someone shelled out bucks to get it done.

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Today, you can write a song in the morning and be recording it before your morning snack, and then streaming it/selling it online before lunchtime. And many do.

And because you can do the whole process on a smartphone if you wish, it means anybody can be doing it. Technology has levelled the pop music playing field.

Because of the ease with which songs can be recorded and streamed, and because it can be done practically for free, bad recordings of bad songs are easy to find. In fact, the ease of recording and streaming has filled our lives with — let’s be honest — garbage. Hopefully we’ve learned how to know what’s good and what’s garbage.

Money, for all its evils, used to be the great filter that mainly kept garbage from ever seeing the light of day. Because it used to cost serious money to get something recorded, you needed to be certain that it would be sellable.

To make music sellable meant finding a producer who knew what would sell. It also meant using the best equipment and most knowledgable people and players who knew how to use that equipment. That meant more money.

More money wasn’t a problem if you had something that you knew would sell. Record companies would drop any performer like a hot potato if their songs didn’t sell. It was most definitely a “what have you done for me lately” kind of world. And the bottom line — money —  was what it was all about.

Today, many songwriters bypass professional production to save money. The end result is often a recording that sounds “pretty good.” But if you really want people noticing your songs and appreciating their excellence, “pretty good” is actually “not good.”

It’s a bit like playing on a piano that’s “pretty well” in tune. A tiny bit out of tune is useless. And a song that sounds “pretty good” can damage careers before they get going.

Getting your recording professionally produced will cost you, but there is going to come a time when you need to sit down and consider what you’re doing all of this for.

If you’re simply getting your songs out there for family and friends, I say great – get it done! And we should all be thankful that we live at a time where the technology can help us get it done, and is easy to use and inexpensive.

But if you’re wanting to make it in the industry, and really draw some attention from big players, you need to give your songs their best chance. I’m a believer in using personnel that really understand the market you’re hoping to target.

I really like this article, “The 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Recording Your Music“, written by producer Jesse Cannon. He’s got some good advice for what to look for in a producer.

All of this is simply my way of saying: songwriting excellence means little if all people ever hear is a poor recording of your music. Today may be the day that you need to stop and think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It may be time to take your music to the next level.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter

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