I stopped working in music after recording something like the 47th (objectively) terrible rap demo in a row.
I remember wanting to pull this guy aside and deconstruct his lyrics with him – how “more hoes in the back than a firetruck” was fine, but “shoot you in the calves like Cleveland” was, well, confused and definitely not as clever as he and his boys thought it was.*
I didn’t say anything. Just mixed and mastered it, took the check, and smiled as I locked up for the night.
It wasn’t fun anymore. Nothing was working the way I wanted it to. I loved music, but I was hating working on THIS music.**
For these and a million other reasons, I started working in finance shortly thereafter. First, just to get health insurance and not be working bizarre hours/on the road for long stretches of time. But gradually, because I liked it.
Who would’ve thought.
A music producer is a good listener. They listen to what’s happening in the world, they listen to what the artist wants to say, and they figure out how to bring the two together.*** That’s what I thought I was supposed to be.
An advisor, as it turns out, kind of does the same thing. But instead of an artist making a hit (or a dent, or a whatever), I get to help people bring all sorts of ideas, visions, and beauty into the world. It’s a genuine partnership, and I get to produce the results alongside them.
And nobody wants to “shoot you in the calves like Cleveland” anymore.***
When Brian Koppelman talks about leaving the music industry to become a writer, he talks about how he wanted to “stay a fan.”
He hated the music industry after working in it.
I get where he’s coming from.
Maybe I’ll make some music again. At some point I’d love to do some producing too. But for now, it feels so good to still be a fan.
I get to love it because I don’t need to do it to pay the bills.
I’ll always be a fan now.
*funny enough, I still think of these two lines all of the time, so what do I know?
**it was way more than the rap demos. But this story stands out uniquely in my mind.
***sometimes they bring it together, ex. What’s Going On, and other times they bring it apart, ex. Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band. My point is – the producer is aware of what they’re doing and why relationally, sometimes in a unique way to
****but I still hear plenty of crazy s***. Just not stuff that’s going to go out into the world with my name attached to it, which is fine. I worked with enough crazy artists to be ok with whatever random take somebody I’m working with has.