A Year in the Life of a Producer

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Happy New Year School of Synthesis readers. In a moment of retrospection I thought it might be interesting to document my musical output for 2016. Part for myself but part out of interest for others to get an insight in to what an professional producer may do in a typical year.

So I guess an introduction in to what I do would be a good start. Im a producer that’s been making music for over 20 years. Probably closer to 30 but let’s not go there. I started as a DJ in Melbourne playing all forms of early house and techno. From there I started an electronic music show on 3RRR and Kiss FM radio in Melbourne and started releasing music as FSOM alongside Melbourne producers Steve Robbins and Josh Abrahams. In 1999 I relocated to the UK for ten years where I started a Drum & Bass label called BS1 Records and joined a composition house called Delicious Digital. In 2009 I returned to Melbourne and started samplify with my old music partner Josh Abrahams. samplify is a music production house where we write and produce all kinds of music for ourselves, artists, and to picture. We also do lots of sound design too. Check it out - http://samplify.com.au 

So what did I make this year? How many tunes? What kind of projects? 

It needs to be noted that I am father of two young children and I also run two businesses. Needless to say time is limited. If I didn't love my wife and family so much I would probably spend 18 hours a day in my studio. Having said that, the adage of ‘if you want something done give it to a busy person’ really rings true in my life! It’s funny that as an aspiring artist you learn and create and that means you dilly dally about, but when you are constantly under the pump there is no time for self doubt. For me it’s about banging those tunes out which involves creating ideas, sticking to them, creating the instrumentation and arrangement and then master. When you are writing to picture your deadlines can be as short as half a day, so time becomes precious but I have found that some of my best work has come from these deadlines.

Even I wrote many tunes every year, I feel that you end up with only a select few that you will be proud of forever.

I would guess that in 2016 I wrote, produced, mastered and worked on approximately 80 tracks. I could break it down further like this.

 

Composition / writing:

I wrote about 40 original pieces of music in the past twelve months. These could be divided into two groups; artist and corporate tunes. Artist tunes are either tunes I wrote as an individual artist or part of a collaborative. They are for no particular purpose other than creativity. I also consider writing for corporates (video games, film, TV etc) to be just as creative but the end goal is to write and deliver to a corporate company so it isn’t considered ‘artistic’. So artistically I wrote about ten - fifteen pieces of music. Three techno tracks, two house tracks, two electronic tracks and a few drum & bass tracks ( https://soundcloud.com/davidecarbone/tokyo ). The D&B tracks I’m keeping for an album I plan to release in the next year. One of them I wrote with established Australian drummer Ben Crook ( https://soundcloud.com/davidecarbone/drummers-decension-original-mix/s-K... ). It’s a little left-field in that it’s all about musicianship but yet it follows strict D&B protocol. I regularly get people commenting on how well I do D&B and as an established D&B producer in my time in the UK it makes sense. I love to make the stuff so this year I will focus on completing an album and shopping it to (hopefully) to an established and current D&B label. The other techno tracks are due out on Carl Cox’s Intec label and the house tracks are ready to shop, one of them alongside a number one selling Australia artist. I guess as you get older you like to stay in touch with your younger creative side and there’s a balance between making money and getting cred. Personally I’m just as proud and feel as much personal satisfaction from corporate tunes as I do artistic ones. It’s all about challenge and achievement for me. How it comes I don't care. So in terms of corporate writing I wrote about 20-25 tunes. The major projects that occupied my time are the up and coming video game Ticket to Earth and music for Ford and Lincoln motor companies. I’ve felt much satisfaction from the pieces both I and my music partner Josh Abrahams did for these projects. They span the full gamut from Orchestral to dubstep to rock to ambient. The video game stuff has been really cool as it’s a lovely middle ground between my artistic stuff and corporate stuff. The D&B tune I wrote for it as a lovely confluence between everything I do and have done - orchestral composition, drum & bass production and sound design. 

https://vimeo.com/175492634

I also wrote some scary pieces and techno tracks. It’s been an awesome job that I have loved working on and playing the test builds featuring my music is really great. Another cool job I did was for a short film, dubstep meets established classical - short but sweet! 

https://vimeo.com/180253949/4d09df7ebb

I also wrote music for this ad which was a little different for me to say the least! 

https://vimeo.com/175491554

Some of the work I did for Ford and Lincoln has been hugely rewarding too. They are big challenges and there is a rather large expectation for myself and samplify to deliver. It’s really about massive production that stands head and shoulders above the clients competition.

https://vimeo.com/197725079

These were my main corporate jobs but there were several other corporate projects I worked on in 2016.

 

Production and Mastering.

There’s not really much to say about mastering as it’s pretty straightforward. You get a tune, fine tune it, run it through some nice gear and bounce it out. I must have mastered about 10-20 tunes this year. 

In terms of production I worked on approximately 20 tunes this year. Two remixes with and for Carl Cox and both have been well received. Carl is pretty busy so I help put wherever I can. Josh and I both co-wrote his album he released in 2011 and since then we’ve been closely involved with him. Among my many crepitations being a producer for Carl Cox is always very well received! I also produced and co-wrote an album with a student from the School of Synthesis. It’s not something I normally do or have time to do but I think this artists has great songwriting ability and it was lots of fun realising some of her ideas. That’s currently being shopped around. I produced several other tunes for many producers that I met through the School of Synthesis. Some of them have signed to foreign labels which is great.

 

Sound Design.

It’s hard to quantify the amount of sound design I have done but it’s been a fair bit. Lots of it for the video game Ticket to Earth, Ford, Lincoln and several other projects. Sound design is something I love to do and I’m always practising and learning new software, hardware and techniques to stay up to date. 

Looking back its been a great year, both in terms of personal and financial reward. For me it’s all about that balance and further breaking it down it’s about learning, creating, collaborating and planning. This year I want to be a little more focussed because time is precious. Partly due to my commitments and my increasing years. My focus is on growing samplify and getting involved in more great projects, completing my D&B album and getting it signed and launching our online courses (stay tuned) at the School of Synthesis.

 

What’s your creative goals for 2017?