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The Career Musician Ep. 47: Making Mega Trax with Derek Jones

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Man. He's like you gotta get this guy so you got to get this guy to record guitar for you and I'm like okay. Okay Okay and you know. He kept saying his big things acoustic guitars to but he does electric as well and bubble and then we had something. Come up where we needed. I think it was acoustic guitars and so I was like. Hey you know what we should try this guy and that's when we that's right see. I should've just asked you. You have the perfect memory. While freight Orient Junior is now playing percussion with Chicago. I think so yeah. He plays percussion with so many different people. Sure but he plays percussion and drums and one of the cool things about working. At mega tracks You know he was one of the guys that we would hire to come in and play all the time I mean. We've had like being drummer geek out on the drummer. So I mean we've had a lot of really big name drummers through just you know all the big guys like Vinnie Kelly Yuda Greg and welfare to write his junior Lee. Yeah and You know just to sit there. And like I'm setting up microphones on the drum set. And I'm watching them play and I'm like everybody would freak out with you. Know like a big artist like oh so and so is in the studio Bon. Jovi's coming here. Whoever you know and I could care less about stuff like that I'm like Oh my God you know so. Yeah so you know you get these guys that come in so that that's kind of one of the fun things about working. At mega tracks is You know we get. The owners are musicians and so you know. The music comes first especially in the music publishing industry. Now there's a lot of companies that are owned by venture capital firms or investment banks or corporations and so you know the music is just a commodity that they push to make their money But one of the things that I love about matrixes. The music always comes first. You know and you know we don't necessarily have to hire musicians for everything you're doing an EDM album. It's not like we have to start. You know calling around to find. Live Trumpet Players. You know freedom but if it makes sense to do it we do it. That's one of the great things about working there. That's what I love about you guys you. You do hire everybody now from a producer programmer. Dj Guy to the most incredible world class musicians like you said The the thing that we try to do is we try to find the guys that do it for real and then we try to hire them to come in. And do it with us. So From the composer's to the musicians you know everything in between arrangers orchestrators everybody. So that's kind of one of the fun things about some of the bigger projects that you've done that you really proud of. There's so many there's so many so just to put this in perspective so I've been there for Eighteen almost nineteen years and I added up the other day from the day that I got there until like a month or two ago. I've done a over seven hundred albums. I think it was like seven hundred and thirty five albums Oh my goodness the way we do it. We're kind of like a hybrid between incredible a record label. And you know like some musicians may be familiar with the more like royalty. Free music libraries where. Oh Hey I've got thirty rock tracks. Let me just throw them up there and see if they make any money sure We DO TARGETED ALBUMS. So we talked to our clients and we focus our efforts on music that clients are. GonNa want to us and we package it in a way. That makes it easy for them to find so we make albums the way a record label would make an album. Whatever but It's targeted towards. Hey we're going to do a sports rock album for sports channels. Hey we're going to do You know TV a music for TV commercials. So we do an album of You know music. That's specifically geared for TV commercials and it could be in a specific style. So you know we do albums just like a regular record label would but we just do it on a scale that is not normal for most record lists it's much larger last year We just since we just finished up the year. I had to do a bunch of analytics on the production. We did last year and budgets and all other stuff we did one hundred and a hundred and seventy six albums or that. I was directly responsible for so one of the other things that we do too. Yeah so we make our own music in in house we call it in house. Where we're we're in charge of it where overseeing it we're producing it but then we represent other companies as well as a what they call a sub publisher so for example There might be a music company in Germany and they are doing their own thing in Germany. But they don't have any representation in the United States so then they approach us and we then represent them in the US There's another company There's a couple of companies in the UK that we represent here in the US so on top of the one hundred seventy six albums that we did in-house that is just ours. We also then represent all this other music from other people so I think I think we about I want WanNa say it's a four hundred or five hundred albums a year with all of the third party catalogue which you responded before last year. Seventy six hundred seventy six looking at the website here by the way it's matrix dot com. What I love about it and you just said that you're making specific projects so they have a Valentine's Day playlist this just on the top banner. The sound of Twenty Twenty Looks Futuristic. Spring break compilation here. Mardi gras compilation. You know happy hip hop compilation. An interesting thing about hip. Hop Hip hop nowadays is very dark. yes go do with happy hip hop but Dr Gray dark sad music. Yeah doesn't really get people excited about anything So TV commercials TV shows. They're always asking like do you have any like happy. Upbeat HIP hop music. And it's really hard to find. So that's why we put that together. I think of DJ Jazzy Jeff. Fresh Prince Right now trying to get more stuff like that that all retro so basically what you're doing is you're you're trying to take some of the hip hop and trap sounds of today. But then you're you're doing a A beat or composition. If you WANNA call it that's more faster tempo. More major key is at a minor key like Atlanta trap is kind of like the big thing has been the big thing for licensing music. Licensing always follows behind the billboard trends usually by about a year maybe anywhere from like nine months to a year and a half so something big will come out on the radio and on you know spotify now I guess and And afterwards gained certain amount attraction. That's when everybody in TV and Film Stars to say all full. That'd be cool. If I can put that you know I love that sound. We should do something like that. So and that's kind of where we come in but the funny thing is a lot of the music that's written by artists. It doesn't really work that well in sinking to picture with dialogue going on top and also their stuff. So that's kind of where we come in. You know. A lot of people used to look at music. Libraries is kind of like. Oh well that's just like a cheap knockoff but but now is so. It's not I mean especially. I can run with our studio. You say I noticed that trend when the black keys came out and then like you say maybe nine to twelve months or so later every. Tv commercial had like a black keys sounded like guitar riff and those old school drums. It's so funny that you mentioned that is spot on and now to record labels are starting to realize the power of Indus Filming TV places. I remember hearing stories about Imagine dragons imagine dragons got put on the map because of I think they got a placement in a TV show and a policeman on the TV commercial. Almost back to back within a few weeks of each other. And then all of a sudden all the radio stations and you know All of the streaming services and stuff started getting emails and phone calls like. Hey Do you have that group from that from that show or from that spot and it put on the you know So there's a lot of power in doing music for visual media and You know if if if you can write attract that works really well. They're phenomenal songs. That just work for placement in TV and film because maybe they're too distracting. If if you have an artist that comes to your a musician and you say or you track them down. Hey creative project for me. What are some of the things that we might find now for those? Who Don't know times you guys will administer brief. We'll get a brief of what the client wants what you're looking for. What are some of the things that you tell the musician or artist that might not be on the brief or that more nuanced? What do you well and this is something that I talk about a lot when I do seminars and I speak at things. There's a couple of key things you have to think about when you're writing music for licensing in TV and film or even when you're playing on tracks for licensing team film and that is the Cliche. The cliche is very important for what we do. We're not trying to break new ground. We're not trying to be the innovator. Nobody is coming to a music library to find the next new sound that nobody's ever heard before you know. I. I had this one guy I asked for. I don't remember his name but I wouldn't say it anyway but I I remember. I asked for I needed happy Acoustic ukulele music. We've all heard that you know happy. You know hand claps maybe tambourine in commercial absolutely up and he sends me back these recordings that were kind of new agey. Jazz Virtuoso type playing Ukulele with tons of reeve-irvine delay on it. Soloing over the entire thing with like these lush keyboard pads. And you know some ambient percussion like I could just see him as he's recording throwing his hair around with a fan blowing on them and you know I mean. It was the most epic Ukulele. I've ever heard live in concert. It almost sounded like a using nylon string guitar. I mean it was like imagine like Yanni Reggiani on a on a on a Ukulele. That's kind of what the side and you saying dude. I can't. I can't use this like I need happy. Ukulele music and then he kinda got all mad. Like this is amazing. This is True Art. And it's like well dude that's not doing whereas very specific pitch we are. It's almost like if if a musician musician were to think about the sounds that they use when they create a song you know like you have your different virtual instruments and sounds in them. That is kind of what we are. Two people that make TV shows in TV commercials and films. We are one element that gets put together with other elements to make a final composite product. Great analogy you know and so you would never want like if you're a guitarist you would never want a drum groove or drum. Beat that just completely overshadows the guitar out of your virtual instrument and you know. Sometimes that's what happens with music when they put it up against picture and it's like well. I can't even pay attention and what this guy is saying because this music is just so distracting right and so You know not that it has to be boring but you just you have to think of ways to keep it interesting without being so obtuse and you now in your face and I would. I would say for anybody working with production music libraries. Especially of your magnitude be open. Be Pliable a great example as the last project you and I just did together..

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