“One-man band” is the new motto, where one man does it all. In today’s music the producers are the engineers, the songwriters, the arrangers and even the artist. Their job description has expanded and continues to. This is happening all over the work industry and it is becoming easier and more of a requirement, in some ways, in the music industry. It allows you to be as creative as you desire, that’s for sure.
Being the Creator
The Producer manages the musical creation process. They create the instrumentation or the beat and keep the creativity flowing for all who are involved.
Benjamin “Benny Blanco” Levin has produced for Katy Perry, Rihanna, Kesha, Britney Spears, Trey Songz, Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars and many, many more. He has co-written many songs with Dr. Luke and continues to work closely with him.
The songwriter writes the music and the lyrics. As a songwriter you are to write a good song with a nice form, chord structure and a great melody. Catchy lyrics stick with the listener and simple is usually better. Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald is a producer and songwriter who has come been around for a while and is still in the spotlight for being a “hit maker”. He has a background in music as he attended Manhattan School of Music and played in the SNL band for years. He is big fan of co-writing, which can be a helpful tool.
As a lyricist it is very important to make the song relatable. You want those who hear it to be able to say, “I have experienced that” or “Has that songwriter been stalking me?” You also want to show the information, not just tell it and show it in a new way. Punch lines are great and so is creative imagery. You want the listener to follow everything you say and go on the journey with you.
“There are songs I’ve written the lyrics for that have become number one songs, but sometimes I look back and think, “Well, that could’ve been better.” But at the end of the day, when you hear the muzak version of your song, it’s not the lyrics you’re hearing. It’s the melody. And when someone goes to play it on piano, you hear the melody”, says Dr. Luke.
Larry Gold is a renowned arranger who has worked with artists from Kanye West toe Reba McEntire to Patti LaBelle and the list goes on and on. As the arranger you bring a fresh creativity to the song. Development, reharmonzation, transitional additives, time change and adding orchestration are some ways to arrange.
Kanye West, who does it all, is an example of one who has great arrangements. He incorporates beats, samples, live instruments, orchestras and more for his arrangements. Why do people love him? Not only are his rhymes and lyrics great, but he also encompasses and expresses an interest and knowledge of true musicality. He performs with orchestras. Other rappers in the past have used live instruments, but he makes it his own sound. You can tell a Kanye West song by the beat and instrumentation. He does different things for different projects that work.
The Artist As the artist is your job to connect with the music and the lyrics and bring to life your interpretation. You are a creator in your own way to create meaning and portrayal of emotion and feeling through the performance. Michael Jackon, Ray Charles, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Adele, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga among others are known for their star-quality performances. Not only do they relate to the music and emotionally connect with it, but they make the experience of listening to or watching them a memorable one. They bring in great aspects and creativity to have the audience enjoy their recorded and live performance. Aspects such as movement, dancing, crowd engagement, live instruments, charisma, passion and more.
Evolving with the Times
One of the most important facts about the music industry is that it is forever changing and evolving. As the creator and the artist you must evolve with it to stay current and successful in growing your audience. Your audience is always looking for what’s new and if you are stuck in what already happened you may not be around for too much longer.
K-Pop artist Park “Psy” Jae-sang (Berklee College of Music Alum) with “Gangnam Style”, released music that was rapidly growing as the current style. This Strategy is used in all industries. Invent or create the trend for the next big thing or observe what is quickly growing into the next big thing and jump on the front wagon of it.
The Hit vs. the Song
There has been a lasting battle between “good” music and “pop” music (not necessarily popular music). Do you support the talented musicians or go for the new Dance song. An example is Justin Bieber vs. Esperanza Spalding at the 2012 Grammy tor Best New Artist. Esperanza took home the Grammy, which shocked the nation because of how “popular” Justin Bieber was. Not always will the “hit” win it and definitely not always will the “song” win it. The key here is to love what you have created and hopefully others will love it as well. In the end do what you love and what you can be proud of.
“If you go in just wanting a hit song, it’s not going to happen that way. You have to first be committed to making music you like.” – Dr. Luke