Here’s something that I posted a couple of years ago that I felt I should repeat. There are a number of questions that I constantly get in emails, blog comments, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – you name it. The same themes keep occurring so I want to present a few parameters so I can help you better.
Here’s the deal. I promise I will do my best to help you if you have a specific question!
That said, when you make a question too general you put me in an impossible situation in that you probably don’t really want to hear any criticism in the first place, you’re just hope that I’ll fall madly in love with your music and open every door in Hollywood for you. I wish I were that powerful or had those kinds of contacts.
If I tell you “This is no different from something I’ve heard a hundred times before,” or “I have no idea. I don’t know your market,” you’re going to say, “That guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” or “He doesn’t want to help me.” Let’s face it, you really weren’t looking for a critique in the first place. You were looking for help placing your music, which I can’t provide. That’s why specific questions are the only way you’ll get a specific answer from me.
So here’s a list of 20 questions not to ask not only me, but most other music professionals as well:
1. Take a listen to my song I just sent you. First of all, I wish I had the time to listen to all the songs that people want me to listen to but I don’t. Please don’t take it personally or feel offended. There’s only so much time in the day and most of it is taken up already.
That said, I’ll TRY to listen to your song only if you have a specific question, but it must be a stream and not a file that you sent me. There’s a potential legal issue if I accept a file, sort of like record labels not accepting any unsolicited material, plus I don’t want to clutter up my drive with more files (and ones that might contain a virus at that). Put it on YouTube with a private link or on Soundcloud, ask a specific question, and I’ll try to have a listen.
2. What do you think of my song? Go ask your fans. They’re much more important and relevant to your success than I am. You do have fans, don’t you?
3. My songs are on Spotify or We just finished mastering our album…… Sorry, it’s too late to ask any questions about it. Your product’s already complete. If you want advice on distribution or marketing, go to my Music 3.0 blog, but check the archives first, and once again, be specific with any questions.
4. Will you listen to my CD or album? See above.
5. Give me some feedback. On what? The mix? The songs? The arrangement? The production? The sound? A question like this makes me think that you’re only looking for a pat on the back.
6. Which song is the most commercial? Once again. Ask your fans. They’re the ones that count. And by the way, so many times the song that you think is least commercial is the one that everyone likes anyway.
7. How can I make my songs better? Do you really want to hear me tell you to write better, play better, and use better sounding instruments? That’s a good place to start before you even ask the question.
8. Can you introduce me to…..? Nope, I probably don’t know them, and if I did, it’s unlikely that I’d introduce you unless I knew you a lot better than just from an email. When I introduce people, my rule of thumb is that both people will be so happy at the result that they’ll call me the next day to thank me. Do you fit into that category?
9. Can you introduce me to publishers, record labels, etc? Nope. You probably know more of them than I do at the moment. Here’s a tip. To meet publishers, join the AIMP for 60 bucks a year. Want record label contacts? Try the A&R Registry.
10. I have some songs that I’d love to get to ….. Sorry, I’m not a publisher and I barely have enough time for my own things as it is.
11. Will you write with me, or can I write with you? I don’t write songs anymore, and if I did, I’d probably do it alone anyway.
12. Can I watch you work in the studio, or Can I visit you in the studio when you’re working? Highly unlikely. If I’m working in the studio, I’m with a client who I can guarantee doesn’t want any distractions from people that they don’t know. If I’m working in my home studio, I’m working pretty erratically – 2 or 3 hours, then off on something else completely different, then back for an hour or so. It’s just not a learning environment.
13. Will you produce, record, mix my band on spec? Nope. My time is valuable and I get paid well for it. That said, I’m booked far in advance so it probably wouldn’t fit your time frame anyway.
14. Will you partner with me on a project? Only if there’s some money involved, and even then, I have to be absolutely in love with the project first. I no longer work on anything that doesn’t knock my socks off.
15. Wait, don’t listen to version 7 of the mix I just sent. Mix 9 is so much better. You’ve wasted my time. Next.
16. A full quality recording is attached. Next. I already told you I will only listen to a stream because of any potential legal issues that might come with a file download.
17. What should I do to get my music noticed? Sorry but there’s not enough time to write you an email that long. I wrote a book (called Music 4.0) that covers all that, or you can read my Music 3.0 blog every day for free.
18. Can you send me one of your books for free? Nope. I don’t get that many complimentary ones myself, and the rest I have to pay for.
19. I’m from (pick a country) and I want to translate your books. I have 3 book publishers that control my copyrights so you’ll have to ask them. I have no say in the matter. Be aware that they’ll probably want some sort of a license fee.
20. Can you please answer these 10 questions to help me with my dissertation? I’m sure you want answers that are sufficiently helpful and thoughtful, but I’m slow at writing and it takes me a looong time, so I really can’t do this via email.
I’m really happy to talk to you via Skype however, and answer every question and more. Make sure to record it because you’ll get more info than you ever expected. If you’re happy with a one sentence answer to your 10 questions via email, no problem, but neither of us will probably like that.
Wow, this sounds really harsh and I didn’t mean it to sound that way. Once again, I’m really happy to help if you have a specific question. Here are some good examples:
How do you do (name the technique)? Finally, a specific question. Ask away. I’m pleased to help if I can.
Do you think the bottom of this song is too big?
The song isn’t working. Can you tell me why?
How can I get the vocalist to sing in tune?
How do I get a better guitar (bass, sax, piano, etc.) tone?
What can I do to make the reverb work better with the track?
What can I do to make the drums punchier?
See what I mean? With a specific question I can get right to the core of the problem and help you. So feel free to ask away.