The Career Musician Ep. 47: Making Mega Trax with Derek Jones
True wisdom from his colleagues in this crazy business. We call music Mr Derek Jones from mega tracks. Now if you haven't heard mega tracks as a production music library based out here in Los Angeles California if you're not familiar with production music libraries then Google it because you should be as a career musician and if you're not a career musician just listening for fun will basically a production. Music Library provides catalogs in large volume of what we call underscore or music cues and now this is the music that oftentimes you here under the dialogue and some of your favorite movies and TV shows. Well mega tracks literally is mega. They are John. Norma's company and they have thousands tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of different cues and songs so forth by a plethora of composers and artists now. Derek Jones is the man behind the curtain. He runs their multimillion dollar studio facility and is in charge of quite a number of the productions. That mega tracks puts out. I will let Derek tell himself. Trust me this. Man is extremely knowledgeable with a vast skillset that runs the gamut from production composing mixing engineering and so forth. Check it out right here on the career musician. Podcast so welcomes career musician. Thank you and you are by title engineer producer. Xyz What how do you describe yourself? My official job title is director of Creative Services and production slash chief engineer slash producer. Now that is impressive slashes but I slash. That's funny. I could what ended up happening just through time being at the same I've kind of assimilated jobs or positions into my position. And so but they're different enough that the title came with it. So you know I. I was an assistant engineer and then graduated first engineer. Second Engineer I engineer and then the chief engineer of the studio retired and so I kind of just became chief engineer but in addition to doing all of that I started to create a catalog for the company that I worked for and I started to do all that sort of stuff. So that's where the producer comes in. But then I also kind of oversee and wrangle all the cats and the owners of the company for their albums that they do so. That's where the the director of production and creative services. Because I I also do like I also oversee customs stuff when customs stuff comes in so right and you ask. You've spearheaded a couple of projects that I've done but you access which me are. We allowed to divulge the name of the company work. Yeah I mean we can okay so into called Mega truck production music and we we make music for licensing in TV and film so we don't score a lot of musicians also you score films and it's we don't score what we do. Is We record the music ahead of time in hopes that somebody will have a use for it later. So if you if you think like John Williams writes the score to a movie but in one scene the actors go into a nightclub. They're not gonNA have John Williams. Try to write media music now and so we have albums of music. We literally do every Selah music off right do. It's it's crazy. We just did a hybrid FLAMENCO project together. Yeah Yeah and it's just one death like you said hundreds of genres. Yeah that's another reason why I like working there when I first moved out to La. I was looking at different studios to work well originally when I moved out here to La. I was trying to be a a touring musician. I'm a drummer. Actually one of my question to principal and It's just funny. How life kind of keeps coming back around and smack in the face so since high school of always being the drummer you have to get the microphone to record drums. When you're in the band Um you know the singer just shows up at the one microphone and the guitarist will either plug indirect through their little whatever boss pedal they have or whatever you know This is back when like task. Campos studios on cassette four tracks for having garage amazing and we were all recording. Little Demos to get gigs and so I ended up having to learn how to record my drums and I was blessed to go to a an amazing high school public high school in Massachusetts. That had a phenomenal music program. We had a music wing of the high school and the band room was big enough to the bathroom so big that we had are marching band. Drumline setup all the time and then we had our entire orchestra set up and then we had our entire jazz big band set up in an arc around because it was set up like You know Like a orchestra style. Where kind of ARCS around the room? There is a little tiny town called. Lynnfield Massachusetts Twenty minutes north of Boston but A lot of sports players live there like a lot of the Boston. Red Sox live there a lot of the Boston? Bruins live there And so the town has a lot of money But in the sixties they built a new high school and the music program was always really strong there and they decided to spend in. This is like nine hundred sixty five sixty eight. I think they spent something like two hundred fifty or three hundred fifty thousand dollars building the bedroom. It's all acoustically designed. It had acoustic panels on the wallet. Had these huge eight foot diameter convex sound clouds that hung at different levels. The basically was like a second gymnasium so imagine a high school gym but converted into a music room. So the allure had these The the the floor was like a normal floor but then halfway there were these concrete risers that they built into the floor. So you had like instead of having wooden risers that you set up on you know so that the the percussion is the back and these were like. They framed it and poured the concrete on kilt these concrete. Here's that were about to ask four or five feet deep. And they aren't around the entire one side of one half of the road they build staging into the room base. Yeah on stage. It was pretty amazing. And then we had a wing that the room is attached to where we had our own classrooms. We had our own lockers for our instruments Practice rooms with four practice rooms with pianos in them and stuff. It was like a kind of reminded me of like a little mini Berkeley That's cool but The way to to to recall all this detail I spent. I spent most of my high school in there. Like we could get a pass from the The music teacher. If we had study hall we could go to the bathroom and then we would just practice so I started to record demos. I asked the band director if I could cause it just sounded amazing in there. I mean it was all acoustically tuned and everything that was phenomenal and so I brought my drums into the high school and set the four track and started recording drum set in the big band room during like study hall and stuff like that and then I started experiment I started experiment moving Mike. Around and then I started moving my drum sit around. I just started getting into southbound and you know how sound works just a. Your brain was already on engineer tip. Yeah well before you might have even been aware of it. Just kind of happened intuitively. Exactly yeah so it kept coming back. It was like a reoccurring theme. You know I would give somebody a tape like man. Check out my playing. You know I'd love to work for you. I'd love to work with you in your band like when I'm trying to like you know Between High School and college and try to you know get gigs in college. They're like yeah. Germans pretty good but man who recorded that it's phenomenal. I need to record and I'm like yeah. I did but you know wired have drummer but you know I need somebody to record and it's like Oh okay I guess I could record So I had to record a scholarship tape to get a scholarship to go to Berkeley and And you know the everybody even halfway through going to Berkeley people teachers and things like that was taking. Mp classes they would listen to this and be like who recorded this. And I'm like I did like what concept record through. None it was just a straight into the task. It sounds phenomenal like in Nowy Q. No nothing in. It really kind of taught me from an early age that acoustics kind of trumps. Everything else we can. I love gear. And I'm not knocking any gear but there's the right tool for every job but if if scrap in your Polish interred so getting it to sound right before it hits the microphone and when it hits the microphone is kind of the most important thing but anyway so I started off as performance major in college and then halfway through I wanted to switch to MP e- NPR which is music production and engineering. Thank you and I went to the dean of that department and he was like. Yeah I would look to have your your grades a great. It's a solid three years of classes for this major and I was talking to him in my fifth semester. Think Berkeley at Berkeley so I would have been at Berkeley for six years and I was like. There's no way I'm going to college for six years so he recommended. I'd do this thing called professional music which is technically when I got my major in professional music. I believe they still have it at the school but it was kind of like a choose your own major. You got to basically pick and choose. You sat down with the Department head and you said this is ultimately what I WANNA do in the music. Business or in the music industry Whatever it is you know it could be anything. And then you in the head of the department come up with your curriculum based on that and the department head The guy's name at the time I believe was Ken brass. He would talk to the other department heads in. Get you waivers So that you wouldn't have to meet all the prerequisites to take certain classes that you need news so I was able to take. I mean I didn't get to do the full. Mpa Program but I got to take some music production and engineering classes. I got to take music business classes. I got to take arranging and orchestration classes. I got to kind of take a game at my goal. Was I'd engineering. Was the thing that I did but it wasn't like the thing I wanted to do. I really wanted to be a producer. and Just I always liked the idea that you know especially when you're a musician you're always going around trying to find somebody that needs work and I need you to work for them and wanted to be the guy that created the could hire other people to do it. Okay hold on. I got interject because one of the one of the discussions offices words of wisdom. Listen everybody out there. That's a gem right there if you're sitting here saying here's all my gosh. If I only get a Gig I need more work. Well that is it. You have to be in a position to create the word. Yeah and that's that was very insightful of you so this is in college at a Young Age. You were privy to this. Yeah I noticed that you could see it. Everybody runs into it and they see it and you know some guys go the route while I wanna start my own band. Because that's the way I can then generate work. I did that too. I mean I started. I started a band with a few friends of mine and then they eventually kicked me out of the band because they wanted to do more gigs in New York and I was living in Boston and so I was driving from Boston. A lot of New York on Tuesday night to play like the nineteenth hole at midnight and driving back the same night And then having to go to my day job the next day this was after I graduated Berkeley so It was getting rough and so then they were like yeah. Well you know we took a vote and we're GONNA switch to use this guy in new city so I was like whatever man okay so and then I started another group. That was just GonNa be like a casual ban like IM- Boston..