Artist Tips: What’s Better? Quantity or Quality?

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We ask ourselves all the time: should I put out lots of new stuff, or just wait to make a great recording? What’s better? Quantity or quality?

I deal with new artists every day. It’s really a blessing for me, because I feel like I can help people at the ground floor of their career and hopefully steer them in the right direction before they make a heap of mistakes. Sometimes they’ve already made the mistakes, and I can help fix them. Sometimes the mistakes are unfixable. You never know. One of the common themes I notice among new artists is a yearning to put out lots of new material, and I wanted to discuss this in this blog to maybe help a few more people out, or at least give you some things to think about before you go into the studio to record again.

Now don’t get me wrong, you need to be putting out new music constantly (or as often as you can). It’s like a conversation with your fans. If you’re not saying anything, people aren’t going to listen. New music is your artistic offering to the conversation you’re having with them, and the more you put out the richer the conversation – but what’s more important? Putting out as much music as you can to keep that going (and maybe let the quality suffer a little), or should you wait a little longer and just put out one (or a few songs) that’s slamming?

In short – NEVER EVER EVER EVER SACRIFICE QUALITY.

Now you can stop reading there if you want, but let me explain why.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it had better be damn good. 

Why does it matter? In short, the interwebs. Once something is online, you might as well assume it’s out there forever. The second you put your music out into the world it can be heard by ANYONE, at any time. Now, that may sound great but what happens when they click to the next artist on Spotify they see that’s like you and it sounds WAY better? You sound local. You sound like you’re not any good. You sound…amateur. Ugh. You’re not going to make many new fans that way.

You might be a great artist and an amazing songwriter. But if your art is presented in a way that’s sub-par you lose potential fans every time your music is compared to the big artists. And you will be, every day, and every second your music is out there. You’re better off with ONE song that screams PRO than 10 songs that eek of “local band” quality.

“But I don’t have the money.”

Yes, you do!! Anyone can do anything they want to. Maybe you don’t have it now. But saving for a few months could mean the difference between you putting out a single that’s mind-blowing and the best thing you’ve ever done vs. releasing an EP or album that’s crappy quality. If you’re going to survive in TODAY’S music industry, you can’t have a defeatist attitude. You’ve got to be a hard-headed CAN DO person, who will stop at nothing to get their way. I know people who have found investors, saved for months, put their recordings on a credit card – WHATEVER. I played cover shows with my band, and every dollar we made went to recording for over a year. It worked. Once a month, we would record a new song or two, whatever we had enough money for. Do what it takes, and come up with a plan of action that works best for you, and get the BEST you can get. And furthermore…

You get what you pay for.

One of the favorite lessons I can remember my Dad teaching me was about “the cost of free.” Sure, your buddy may play drums, or own a studio. Maybe you’ve got friends that can cover all of those bases. But what does it REALLY cost? Most likely, it will mean that you’re not getting the best quality musicians, engineers, and producers on your record. And you can’t afford that.

Paying people demands a level of respect you’re not going to get with your buddies. Even if your buddy is a producer, he’s very likely going to prioritize his other clients over you. Every time. Money talks, people! So, you get put on the back burner. And you can’t afford that. Your music is IMPORTANT, and demands the same level of attention everyone else gets.

Besides that, “hiring” your friends makes it even harder to get what you want, musically speaking when you have to be the “bad guy.” What if you don’t like what they’re playing? It gets kinda weird, you know? You don’t want to tell your bud, ‘cause he did this for free, and you say to yourself…”it’ll be fine.” UGH. NO. It will NOT be fine. It will be worse. It won’t be as good as it can be. And you can’t afford to do that!!

Great producers, engineers, studios, and musicians are WORTH the money. They make sure that your precious record isn’t mis-handled. They ensure that it’s done right. They bring years of experience (of making plenty of mistakes already) and know the best course of action for your project. And you need that advice. Your music deserves it.

It’s now up to YOU, Dear Artist, to compete with the big boys and girls. It’s up to YOU to find producers and writers that will help you craft your sound and fine tune your recording until it sounds like it belongs on the radio – just like all the big names. So take your time, research all your favorite artists and find their producers, mixers, and musicians – and save your money. Be patient. It’s worth it, trust me. :)

 – J

Josh Goode is a Dallas music producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and Tex-mex is his muse.

Production Tips: What’s The Best Way To Produce A Track?

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Production is a weird animal. There are lots of ways to do it, and no real “right” or “wrong” way to make the magic happen. So how do you know if you’re doing it the best way possible? I’ve been producing records for 10 years now, but still feel like I’m learning every day. Nonetheless, I wanted to begin to share some of the things I’ve learned and hopefully help you avoid the mistakes I made.

Figure Out The Song First

Everyone’s different, you’ll need to accept that. Some artists will come in with a killer song that you’ve got jack-squat to change and when that happens – consider yourself to be lucky. It won’t happen often, at least on the indie level. Unless you’re working with bands, most individual artists will have half-finished ideas that need to be completed. Do this first. Help them figure out when the song needs to do, what needs to change or be added or – send them home to do it first if you’re not a songwriter. Hell, don’t even schedule the session if you’re not a songwriter and adept enough at helping artists hone the song. It’s totally ok if you’re not – there are plenty of producers who don’t write but are wizards at ProTools, making sounds, beats, engineering, etc. But get the song nailed down first. Don’t even create a click track unless that song is done, and ready to be produced. You will find yourself in a world of uncomfortable situations and will potentially tick off a lot of clients if the song isn’t done. You will mess things up if the song is not done first. Finish the song first. Period.

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Session Player Spotlight: Daran DeShazo

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As a record producer, you are only as good as the musicians you surround yourself with. A great producer only keeps the best musicians he or she can find around to ensure you’ve always got magical performances to sift through. Being a record producer is not unlike being a coach – you may be making the calls, but the players are the ones actually making the plays.

I’m a guitar player, so I’m very picky (gah, pun not intended). And while I’m good enough to play plenty of styles and genres, I still realize my limitations, and I recognize that there are loads of players that are out there that can completely annihilate me on the fretboard, and I’m always happy to have them on the session. Besides, although I play guitar on many of my records (especially acoustic) it’s always better when you’re producing to be behind the glass rather than in the booth. You can’t really be objective as you need to be when you’re the one performing *and* producing. It’s akin to being both director and actor in your own film. You can go back and play the tape and see how you did – but it’s never the same as watching someone else do what they do best.

I first heard of Daran through my guitar teacher (Brad Barnes: great guy, phenomenal teacher) when I moved back to Dallas in 2000. Daran was a classmate of his at UNT, and Brad talked about him almost every lesson. He referenced his tone, his attitude, his technique: it went on and on. I heard so much about Daran that when I finally got the chance to meet him at a live show, I was nervous as hell. Like, sweaty palm nervous.
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Horns horny horns horns.

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Recording Horns @ Audio Dallas

Had a great day today cutting some horns at Audio Dallas! My good friend and client Charles Collins needed some alto and tenor sax, bone, and trumpet on a tune today, so I got to arrange and cut horns on “People Make The World Go Round” a revised version of the classic hit for Charles’ new upcoming EP.

The song itself is pretty hairy. Lots of meter changes, and the horns play a very important role in the recording. Alto sax took the lead, and then tenor sax, bone and trumpet filled out the vibe. Thankfully I had Randy Lee on sax (whom I’d never worked with before – amazing player) Gaika James on trombone and Keith Jourdan on trumpet. I’ve worked with Gaika and Keith several times before and they’re really solid players; some of my favorite to work with in town. Being a horn player myself (I started on trombone) I’m pretty particular when I’m cutting horns. Although Charles is producing the EP himself, he’ll let me chime in when I hear something weird, not that I had to that often.
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Review: “Got To Have It” by Larry Gee

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Larry Gee is a Dallas-based soul and funk artist who puts on a tremendous live show and who has been carefully crafting new tunes for his new record. “Got To Have It” is his new single, produced by the also ever-talented Beau Bedford.

The song opens with a classic and hypnotic sounding bass and drum, groove. Nice, smooth, and addictive. I love his dry vocals up until 0:35 – that was a great call. The female background vocals by The Affections are by far the catchiest part of the song, and I love them. Throughout the song Larry’s high melodies give me a Prince vibe, and it’s very effective. He’s got a strong falsetto, and it sounds great in this song.
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Groovin in Gruver!

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Man, oh man. Texas is huge. I mean, Dallas is big too, but Texas is a HUGE state. I got hired to DJ and play live at a private event in Gruver, TX with one of my songwriting buddies, Blake Burrow and on the road out to the event I am reminded of how large the state is by the length of time I have to drive…from Dallas it’s a 6 HOUR drive!! I’ve driven further, and at least I can hang with my bros Justin and Griz as they’re playing the gig as well. But for now, this little producer/songwriter will be crammed in the back seat blogging my face off, getting ready to make the crowd dance their asses off to the latest country and pop hits! Until then, friends…enjoy the fact that you can stretch your legs! Cause I. Can. Not. Move. Lol…

– J

Josh Goode is a Dallas, TX based record producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and tex mex is his muse.

Keys today for legendary drummer Charles Collins!

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Had a blast today working for Mr. Soul himself, Charles Collins! Charles is a legendary drummer from the 70’s, and he played on TONS of hit records including Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle, The Temptations, and tons more of those old school pop and dance tunes. You can check out his credits here. It’s pretty insane. Thankfully for me, he moved to Dallas years ago, and now I’m his official “Pro Tools Bitch.” LOL…I help him realize his visions by bridging the gap between his old school techniques and flavors and the new school way of recording. And don’t get me wrong – Charles is a very hip musician who uses lots of new techniques to craft his records these days: it’s just easier with a guy like me to help him get it done faster. I’m very lucky to be working with him (thank you Bradley) and am thankful I can call him a friend and mentor in the business. We had the pleasure of working with Will Foraker today, who KILLED it on keys using his amazing Nord Stage2. I’m also producing Will’s first solo project, which should be done by the winter of this year.

Charles will be done with his upcoming EP when he’s damn good and ready. Hahahaha, but seriously when it’s done…watch out!!

– J

Josh Goode is a Dallas, TX based record producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and tex mex is his muse.

Had a blast at Mercy last night!!

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Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Mercy Wine Bar for having me out tonight! It’s really a dream when you can play at a venue that will let you get artistic, and be yourself – but better yet – it’s even better to play and always know there’s going to be a crowd there that will truly *appreciate* it. I got to get really DEEP with my looping and created a number of very magical moments on the spot. That’s always SO satisfying to be able to do here in Dallas, as it’s not always so welcomed to be super experimental here. So thanks again – you guys make it worth it every time. Even better, tonight my good friend Don Brown came up and jammed some harp with me and then my favorite singer on the planet Sarah Sellers came up as well! So basically – it was UH-MAY-ZING. I love producing records, but it’s also so satisfying to play live, and just live in the moment.

– J

Josh Goode is a Dallas, TX based record producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and tex mex is his muse.

Vocals with Hannah Claire @ Audio Dallas!

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Well, we’re at it again!

Just finished a few more vocal sessions with the lovely and talented Hannah Claire! The vocals we recorded were at one of my favorite studios to work at (Audio Dallas) and it went very smoothly, as always. Thankfully I had Bradley Prakope at the helm of the starship Neve VR this time around, so it was very easy to sit back, produce, and just watch the magic happen. I got to hear the newly polished versions of a few songs I wrote with Hannah months ago, and that was really exciting too. I know everyone says that their latest work is their best – but this really is her best work as of yet. I love the songs, they fit her perfectly. The style is even more zeroed in to her own artistic angle, and I think that when people hear the “New Hannah” theyre going to absolutely love her work even more! It’s indie, it’s pop, it’s earthy, it’s tender. She’s gonna be an incredible songwriter (not that she isn’t already) but just you watch…you’ll see. until then, please enjoy some of the songs off her album I produced last year.

Have a great day!

– J

Josh Goode is a Dallas, TX based record producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and tex mex is his muse.

Session Player Spotlight: Curt Bisquera

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Well, when it comes to drummers – I’ve been a lucky guy. I’ve played and recorded some of the best, but there are few that can compare to Curt Bisquera.

I first met Curt on the first record I did with Bradley Prakope (Plee – Heirloom). We were introduced by a good friend (the equally legendary) Bob Parr. Bob knows just about everybody in the business, and was able to hook us up with Curt’s number. Since he loves doing cool indie records, and Bob was already hired to be on bass – Curt was in.

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