The Unsung Mentors of the Music Industry
It seems like there aren't enough music industry "veterans" willing to share their expertise with those trying to break into the business these days. In fact, many have the attitude that everyone should have to learn things the hard way and are unwilling to share their own personal do's and don'ts with the up and comers. Are they trying to hold on to their own glory by keeping others down, or do they simply want the newbies to make their own mistakes to learn from? This raises the issue of who, if anyone, should step up and help independent musicians try to find their niche in the national and international music markets. Obviously, a manager is an artist's second mother, holding their hand, wiping their nose, and trying to navigate them through the twists and turns on the highway to fame. But the truth is most "indie musicians" are going it alone. It helps to have friends who are already involved in the industry, but that is not always an option. Not everyone has a parent or family member with their own record label who can propel them to the top. It's unusual to find a national artist seeking a fledgling musician to mentor who's not out for their own gain. Who then can they turn to?
The obvious answer isn't so obvious. Some of the top priorities of an independent musician should be to cut a top-quality demo and release an even better quality record, regardless of being signed to a label. It is during the recording process that indie artists can make the most intimate and valuable relationships with those that have already acquired the obscure ins and outs of the music industry. Engineers, producers, and anyone in duplication have already found their niche and knows what it takes to become successful in such a fickle market, that is, if they're any good at what they do. That is why it is so important for independent artists to hook up with an exceptional recording studio and not produce another run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen garage studio demo. Not only is the equipment typically of a better quality than you'll find in someone's home studio but the connections made with people already familiar with the industry are far more valuable and worth paying for the session time. These people entered this sector of the business for exactly that purpose; they found their experiences could help advance the careers of artists trying to make it big.
When someone opens a recording studio, they are opening up themselves and their engineers to musicians looking for advice from those who have been there, done that. These businessmen and women share the familiar story of taking what was learned the hard way and utilizing that knowledge and experience to help others achieve their own success. Billie Stevens opened Dinky Music Recording Studios in Corona, California back in 1998 with the idea that he could share some of the knowledge he was gaining in the business. "I was still new to the game but had just inked a deal with Maverick Records and the Warner Brothers Records family and thought I could tell somebody what I was learning. After a major label debut, a year on the road, and a pocket full of lessons, [mainly] things not to do...I took the experience I had learned from working in the [industry] and started recording demos for friends and bands in the area." And from that idea, Dinky Music has become the epicenter of the massive underground music movement in southern California, helping musicians in every genre from rap to metal to commercial jingles, as well as providing services for national musicians. Not only do clients walk away with a high quality record from a solid name in the music industry, but they also leave with a new perspective of the business and some tried and true advice. This is the kind of connection that is vital to the success of any artist.
The relationship forged by a recording artist and a studio is not a one time deal, most musicians return to the same professional studio where they recorded their demo to record their full album. The rapport between engineers, producers, and artists can be the make-or-break factor when it comes to making a name in the music scene. Indie musicians should take note: ditch the converted garage with the computer and one microphone, find the right professional studio that can fit your budget but more importantly your needs, and take home insider industry lessons that will make the road to fame much less uncertain.