Reality Check: Which Way Is Up?

Reality Check: Which Way Is Up?

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the studio. I bumped into an old friend (Iet’s call him Ken) who used to work for me years ago. Ken had been a great assistant engineer who had moved to the West Coast to follow his true dream: to develop an unknown artist into superstardom.

Ken was now back in New York with his new artist (whom we’ll call Gina), shopping around for producers and material for her. He told me about the people involved in the project, and dropped enough names to make my head spin. I was curious, and we set up a time for him to bring Gina down to the studio.

A few days later, in walks Gina, an absolute stunner, the kind of girl who makes the staff go, “who is that?” After exchanging pleasantries, Ken started running through his plan, showing me letters, photos, press releases, etc. So Far, so good, I thought. He seems to know, what he’s doing and has all his ducks in a row. Based on the way he was talking, the people involved, and her startling presence, the odds for success looked good. I was eager to hear her sing, so I popped in the CD of a few cuts they had done and sat back to listen. Whoa, was she bad! She had no sense of pitch, no timing, she was basically what people would call a “nonsinger”. Improving the vocal tracks would be beyond even Antares Auto-Tune’s wondrous capabilities. To top it off, the music sounded like it was done in someone’s garage on a toy synth. I won’t even comment on the lyrics.

This is what is known as a paradigm shift. I tried to keep my composure as I turned around and saw Gina and Ken both bopping to the music. She was singing along, but in a different wrong key from the wrong key on the CD. In a nutshell, Gina was completely tone deaf. Since I was at a loss for words and wanted to avoid the subject of her voice, I asked who did the track. With a proud look in his eye, Ken said that the tracks were done entirely by him in his own personal studio.

Suddenly I saw how perspective plays a key role in the success of an individual. Here they were, walking the walk and talking the talk, but with no real substance to back it up. They had a great marketing plan, contacts like crazy, the right look, and they were doing all the right things, but they had no true perspective on reality.

It’s often a difficult thing to get an objective view of a situation or a song that you’re involved with and have strong feelings about. Try and take your feelings and emotions out of the equation to get a less clouded view. Perspective affects judgment, which affects decisions, which directly affect one’s fate.

To help keep things in perspective:

  1. Compare the music to a similar recording.
  2. Don’t listen to the mix for a few days.
  3. Play it for others, and listen to their feedback
  4. Listen in another environment.
  5. Be honest with yourself.

Ken was actually more interested in a personal relationship with Gina than a professional one. His attraction to her had prevented him from objectively evaluating her abilities, and he was risking the reputation and respect he’d built up over the years. Luckily, he realized the truth and bowed out of the project before it was too late. The lesson: Don’t let enthusiasm distort your perspective. Your chances of success will be much better.

At Skyelab Music, we work with many independent artists and guide them through the right steps towards achieving their goals. Our artists have signed record and publishing deals, had #1 Billboard hits and more.

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