WANT A CAREER IN MUSIC? YOU NEED A POINT OF VIEW. – By Finn McKenty
The good news for aspiring producers is that recording gear is cheaper and better than ever, putting pro-level tools in the hands of more people than ever. The bad news is, that means the market is flooded with people who can make pretty good recordings. It means the competition for recording budgets is higher than ever, with more and more people fighting over the pieces of a shrinking pie.
Are you worried about how the fuck you’re going to build a career in such a brutal industry? If not, you should be! There’s a reason why most people can’t make any money in this business.
But don’t give up, because the solution to is incredibly simple: just be yourself.
You don’t need to buy more gear, download more samples, learn more “top pro’s secret tricks.” You need to find your own Point Of View (POV) and become so obsessively laser-focused on it that it defines you. THIS is the key to carving out a creatively fulfilling and profitable niche for yourself and building a career as a respected professional.
OK, so what exactly is a POV?
Your POV as a creative is like your handwriting: it’s your unique aesthetic fingerprint that you unconsciously put on everything that you make. It’s the way that you see things— your point of view. It’s what sets you apart from everyone else, it’s the thing nobody else in the whole world can copy, and it’s what ultimately makes you valuable.
A few examples of producers you may know of and their POV (as I see it, anyway):
- Joey Sturgis: Surgically precise, hyper-polished and cinematic. Nothing is an accident.
- Kurt Ballou: Raw, nasty, dirty and pissed. Punk rock straight out of the gutter.
- Andrew Wade: Kind of halfway between the two— modern and polished, but still a little dirty in the right places
An album with a POV: Suicide Silence “The Cleansing.” It’s raw as fuck, nasty, imperfect– even bordering on sloppy at times. But it’s PERFECT for what it is, and all these imperfections are what makes it so pissed off and full of energy. Can you imagine how boring, flat, and sterile it would be if someone “fixed” all the imperfections? Thank god the band and producer trusted their vision (their POV) and didn’t fuck with it.
You may love or hate any of these guys’ work, that’s beside the point (and actually, the worst thing is when someone is indifferent to your work). The point is that each of them have a very distinct POV that doesn’t change. You don’t go to Joey and ask him to do a Kurt-style recording or vice versa. And if you did, they’d politely tell you to fuck yourself. Because they only do projects that are a fit for their POV.
Got it. So how do I develop my POV?
Finding your POV isn’t easy, so give it some time. The best way to find it is just to make as much shit as you can, as fast as you can. The stuff that you enjoy the most and comes easiest to you is in your POV. The stuff that never comes out well no matter how much you grind at it isn’t in your POV. Do more of the shit that works and less of the shit that doesn’t, and eventually you’ll figure out what your POV is.
Note that your POV may not end up being what you expected it to be, or what you wish it was. You might have thought you were going to be the dude who is really good at super clean, hyper-perfect guitars only to find that what comes naturally to you is raw, natural organic drum sounds.
But you don’t really get to choose your POV, you just find it. So get comfortable with it.
I think I know what my POV is. Now what?
Focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. The toughest part here for most people is learning to say no to things that aren’t a fit for your POV.
Of course that means you should say no to any paid projects that aren’t a fit, but it’s more than just that. You also need to be careful about where you invest your energy. For example, if you’re the “raw, organic drum sounds” guy, then you should focus your energy on getting even better at that, not fucking around with random cool synth patches in Ableton or whatever.
You need to be an ultra-specialized ninja assassin who does one thing better than absolutely anyone else. Focus, focus, focus. Learn to say no to anything that takes you off that path!
The bottom line is this: The only way to win in this business is to be yourself, only yourself and nothing but yourself.
Learn more about business, marketing and self-promotion from Finn on his site, The Punk Rock MBA
Click here and listen to Finn’s guest URM Podcast episode where we discuss standing out from the crowd.
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