Episode 76: Intro to Production Music

Mar 29, 2023

We've got the talented Dave Kropf from 52 Cues joining us to chat about production music! We're diving deep into this niche world of sync licensing and Dave Kropf is here to drop some serious knowledge bombs. Production music has become increasingly popular in recent years. With streaming services on the rise, there's a huge demand for it. This episode gives amazing insight into what to expect from this facet of the industry and how to wrap your head around it. If you like analogies with your education, you won't want to miss this episode. 

Looking to learn more? Dave is your guy. He's not only an extensively credited producer, but he's also a teacher at 52Cues.com, at Full Sail University,  and has a YouTube channel dedicated solely to this topic.

Listen to the episode here 

Please note transcription likely has errors but we provide this still hoping you get what you need from it!


Hey, What's up friends, Mike here with the Songwriting for Guitar Podcast, episode number 76. Intro to Production Music with Dave Kropf. Now, this week, I've got Dave Croft from 52 cues on and we're gonna dive into production music. Now, this is a big thing. I talked about licensing. It's what I do. But there's various facets of licensing. You can go through so many different areas, there are different buckets. And one of these areas that I deal with is Production Music. This is different than the songwriting aspect, there's a whole new set of rules. There's a whole new playbook that we have to follow. And Dave is a pro when it comes to this. And we're going to dive into this world. And also to we're going to tell some great stories. We're gonna tell some great analogies. We're going to talk about coffee, we're going to talk about books, we're gonna get into all of it. This was the first time that we've really chatted, but honestly, it was so motherfreakin Jill, that was basically it. Dave and I just like, you know, hit it off like that. So not only is there going to be great connection, but there's going to be a lot of great info, especially if you're someone that's trying to understand how do you get into that world of Production Music and what are some of the general rules So enough of Mudjimba jab? We're gonna dive into it episode number 76 Intro to Production Music with Dave cross.

Dave, I'm super pumped to have you on this podcast because I want to get into production music because to me, I started in licensing with not thinking about Production Music, it was like full songs were doing vocalist, and that was like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then suddenly, I had a friend Josh that was like, Hey, man, could you make me some acoustic instrumentals? Well, really, it's gonna be for this this kind of production. I was like, what's that? He was like, Well, it's kind of like licensing, but it's a different form. And I mean, that is your that is your bread and butter. That is your world. That is the thing built the thing that you teach. The community you've set up that is like, you're in it.

Unknown Speaker 2:39
It's yeah, it's all about the YouTube channel. You know, it's 100%. I was just talking to a buddy of mine this morning. I had coffee with you know, we were talking about the YouTube channel in the community and about how, you know, it's really grown organically over time because it is such a laser focused niche reaction and library music, specifically, instrumental production and library music. Yep.

Mike Meiers 3:00
And when somebody goes, that's a thing. It's like, it's like, it is a thing. This is absolutely a thing.

Unknown Speaker 3:06
Yeah. If you've ever seen an episode of toddlers in tiaras, 1000 pound sisters, Temptation Island, or even, you know, even live sports. Yeah, you know, the music that is being played is not like a composer didn't sit down. And check out an entire episode of like Love and Hip Hop Miami and say, you know, what, you know, get their quill out and their, their staff paper, I'm gonna score this entire film, not only does production move way too fast to have a custom score, the budgets are like razor thin. And, and the turnaround is way is way too quick for these and there's so much of this unscripted television that's getting made. And the vast majority of it uses Production Music that lives in a catalogue that an editor sitting in their editing bay, you know, with Final Cut or Premiere or whatever. And with a playlist of music that matches whatever mood or emotion they are wanting to communicate in the scene. And so, yeah, that's, that's, that's what I teach. I teach at Full Sail. That's what I was. That's what I talked about in my community. It's what my YouTube channel is all about. So my pot, it's a literally what I do all day, every day production and library music.

Mike Meiers 4:22
That was a great explanation to have what because I think people are like, what is that? And it's like, you distilled it down to what is so important, because especially I feel in the past two or three years. There are so many new shows new opportunities. There's another streaming service that's popping up. There's another show that's coming up, and they need music.

Dave Kropf 4:45
Yeah, it's like, we can all roll our eyes. Anytime we see a new streaming channel come out. We're like, Oh, does the world need this? I'm like, I see dollar signs right there that needs 24 hours worth of programming. And that programming if the vast majority, the vast majority uses Production Music of some kind, catalogue Production Music. And I think that you know, during the pandemic, and COVID, and everybody kind of went inside and nobody could go to scoring stages anymore. And editors had a bunch of TV that needed editing. And so Production Music kind of came into the consciousness of the musicians of composers of video game composers, you know, film scoring. Now, suddenly, Production Music is not this kind of industry, secret. I mean, I've been, I've been at it for nearly 10 years, and I've known about it for longer than that. But now it's kind of into the public consciousness.

Mike Meiers 5:43
I think it's because people like you are bringing it to light because they're seeing this and now they're like, this is a thing, you know, people that are like, I love writing music, but they think I gotta be in a band, I have to do this. That was one form, but to suddenly, at least for me, when licensing, you know, about six, seven years was kind of opened up. I was like, Oh, wow, I was like, people make money from this.

Unknown Speaker 6:04
Yeah, people make, you'll make a lot of money. And it's a it's a lot of money at a little bit at a time, right? Because yeah, this isn't necessarily and I've talked about this in my on my podcast before, this isn't necessarily art, right? Let me throw an analogy at you. And this, this may or may not offend your audience, but hear me, right. Like, if you want to be a chef, you're going to like cook at a fine dining restaurant, and people are going to come from all over, they're going to eat whatever you give them. That's fine. That is arts. But that's that's not necessarily what we're doing. We are much more like the line cooks at a waffle house. You know what I mean? Like, the customer comes in, it might be a television show, it might be a season of Survivor or or the bachelor or whatever, and says and talks to the waitstaff. We need this, this this and this, this this year, the season of The Bachelor is in Australia. So we need all of this production music that has like didgeridoo and all of this. So the library the waiter or waitress takes the order and puts it up in the window and me the short order cook in my little kitchen. I've Okay, so we have dramedy cues that need an Australian flavour. So that means pizza Kado strings and didgeridoo and I go cook it up and I put it out in the window. The publisher takes it back to the client and see and see if they like it. And it's it's it's really it's the short order cook of the music composition world which may or may not Well, I there's no way about it. It's not glamorous, I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen my my name and a credit. And that's okay though, because I'm making a little bit of money over several queues. And those queues have a lot of long shelf life. I'm still getting paid for cues that I wrote seven years ago, they're still showing up. Every now and then on royalty statements.

Mike Meiers 7:56
It's very much I tried to describe it once to someone I was like you have to not overthink, you need to start streamlining a process. And you need to remember this as long term.

Unknown Speaker 8:09
Yeah, if you have rent due next month, this is not the way to go go play a gig go to teach a lesson. That's that's immediate money. But if you have rent due in 13 months, yeah, then now we're talking it takes, you know, nine months to 12 months to get paid just because it takes that long to get into the library to filter through the catalog into the music supervisors into the editors and then to get placed and then to get cue sheets. And then to get your royalty. So it is a long game. You know, I would I would plan on you know, several years before the snowball gets big enough to where you can take a serious look on whether or not you still need that day job or Yeah, and that's not even to say that you have to quit your day job.

Mike Meiers 8:52
You can still Yeah, it's still a thing you can do it. And that's what I find interesting. Because it just how you describe that process to of just how it boiled down. When I was doing a lot of you know, I still do lots with artists were doing full songs. They're always talking supervisor, supervisor, and I was like, oh, wait a minute. Why aren't we talking about the editor? The guy that's in the guy or gal that's there. That is like given them in like, the song does not have any clean edit points. This is

Unknown Speaker 9:20
Yeah, it's so important because editors, they don't they don't spend a lot of time listening to music as much as they spend looking at music looking at waveforms. And so if you have, you know, a waveform and a cue that's just like toothpaste with zero transients, and that's not necessarily usable for them and so it's all about you know, reducing friction to the editor, putting edit points, making like phrases really predictable and symmetrical so that a it's easy to edit and be it doesn't get in the way of a scene because your music seems so pejorative, but it's it's kind of like wallpaper You know what I like? I've used this analogy before. Like, imagine or think about the last time you were in a hotel. Okay. Okay, you got it in your mind you were in the hotel now now kind of play through when you checked in. Yeah, the conversations you had. First of all, can you kind of picture the lobby? Probably. Could you picture any of the artwork that was on the walls? I guarantee you there was artwork all over that lobby. But I bet a bet you couldn't recall like gun to your head, you could not recall one of those paintings and it is somebody's job to make the paintings on like the Albuquerque days in somebody got paid really very real really good money to make that artwork. And chances are they're highly skilled artists, they probably have a passion, they probably, you know, they probably have paintings of their loved ones. And they probably have a Masters of Fine Arts and all of that business. But their, their artwork ends up in, you know, a Makita in Seattle, and that's fine.

Mike Meiers 11:08
These descriptions are hitting hard because I'm just like, it's so built in and just like Knoxville, and it's just like, the one that has the broken like Coke machine that's next to it has that beautiful painting is right, it looks like

Unknown Speaker 11:22
it doesn't matter because the job of that painting isn't like nobody's buying a ticket to the gallery. Did Best Western, right in downtown Des Moines. Nobody's buying a ticket to that art gallery. Right. But the painting the artwork in any hotel or motel or whatever is there to provide ambiance it's there to provide mood. It's there to kind of set the set the atmosphere of the environment and for production music. We do the same thing. Nobody's buying a ticket. Nobody is nobody's lining up to hear Dave's like jangly ukulele cues with glockenspiel and handclaps nobody's nobody's that's not ripping up the Spotify download plays. But music supervisors need that music. Yeah, is that music works well underneath like arts and crafts videos, or back to school sales and all of that stuff.

Mike Meiers 12:19
I feel production music to it is, you know, artists are just this is my work. This is what I'm giving. And it has to be a capital A Yeah, it is just like, you also have to be like, Okay, calm down your ego, you are not what you're creating is not meant to be the center of attention. It is merely to support something that is going on. And that if any point it feels that it's distracting, it will not be used.

Unknown Speaker 12:45
There it breaks. Yeah,

Mike Meiers 12:46
your job is to be there support, things that you touched on to I feel I love mentioning because it's like sometimes people are like, What do you mean, the feel the, you know, capturing the essence of what's happening, and also kind of highlighting it to give it more authenticity, the seeing the act, you know, what's happening? Do I believe it or not, and the music is either going to amplify or hinder? That seems right? The ones that amplify us, the ones that hinder don't get us it's that simple.

Unknown Speaker 13:20
Yeah, yeah. And it's here's the good news for your audience and folks who are songwriters that, that take, it takes a real heavy creative lift. Yeah, the good news is, is that it requires creativity. But it requires much less than you think, to be honest. That's not to say that the music is less than that's not to say it doesn't need to be as quote unquote good. But it just requires less creative muscle think about that. We all know who Ted Cruz is, right? Like the bodybuilder actor, right guy could probably lift a car. And when you are writing a song from scratch that's really coming out of your soul in your ID. Right? You need that kind of muscle. Yeah, but you don't need a Terry Crews to open up a peanut butter jar, right? You just need maybe the right tool, the leverage. And in fact, if you bring Terry Crews energy to opening up a peanut butter jar, you're probably going to break the trigger. Probably I mean, if Terry Crews if he pushed, like, lift a car energy into opening up a jar of peanut butter, the whole thing falls apart. So so it just takes less less creative lift. And so it's more about learning what kind of when the back, you know, back back down your creative self and serving the editors serving the publishers. And to be honest, kind of putting your ego in the in the back seat. Right egos fine, it's fine for Spotify plays and you know, applause and adulation from an audience, but there's no room for egos in the production music industry because quite frankly, nobody has time for that. Nobody has that There's a there's a production house, you mentioned Knoxville in Knoxville, that does a lot for Discovery Channel. And at any given time, they're editing 13 shows at any given time, five days a week, 40 hours a week 13 editors, editing shows that's a how much TV is getting made, and be how much they need to get through. And so

Mike Meiers 15:23
they do not have to be like, Excuse me, if you're going to use my cue I would like you to use.

Unknown Speaker 15:29
Right? Yeah, you know, I love this cue here comes out another bad English accent. And I love the fact that it's written in 716, I'm going to spend the next 30 minutes figuring out the edit points of this clearly artistic time signature, and no, it's friggin four, four.

Mike Meiers 15:46
It's so like it, you know, quieting the ego, which is great, because again, all these things that you're mentioning, just a reminder that this is a service based industry period, you are serving a client, not the reverse. Yeah, it is cool to see your music get used. It's awesome. But you are providing something that they need. If you don't provide it, there are people in line that will gladly be like, Hey, this is what it is. And I'm happy to serve Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 16:17
you cannot throw sand into the gears of a production, right, you're only going to slow everything down. And when you start creating friction with an editor, they're just going to move on, you know, I mentioned Discovery Channel, they have something like 700,000 cues in their catalogue 700,000. So the fact that anything gets picked is nearly miraculous. And so if your cue is difficult to use, because it's like I really like it, but it's just the editor was this digits going to move on, you have 699,999 other options that don't introduce friction into the whole, the whole process.

Mike Meiers 16:55
That is that's the point. There's so much more. So if you're like, Well, no, no, it must be this. Cool. This is not the place for you.

Unknown Speaker 17:03
Yeah, go go release it on Spotify, go play it live, do you be youth and you know what man, the world needs that the world needs art. But don't make art and then be surprised when you know, the downtown Howard Johnson in Orlando. So if I hit all the

Mike Meiers 17:22
big, big ones you're just named.

Unknown Speaker 17:25
Don't be surprised if they're like, You know what this is great. But it doesn't really doesn't really work. That's the

Mike Meiers 17:30
thing too. There's, there's a place if you want to go and that's awesome. But the need for really focused music that is serving all the edit points that is serving that you are able to, I think also not overcomplicate because that was another thing I learned about as I was, well not the thing that I've learned at all, but I'm still learning but like when I started, we all are why didn't use that and was like, Oh, that was busy as hell. I'm confused. And there's so many things that when I was like put if I only use like two things that's just like, oh, because I'm measuring the idea that this is the center point. This is not the center point, this atmospheric pad. And this guitar swell is all that I need to indicate that this is an eerie underwater scene. Yeah, that's

Unknown Speaker 18:19
yeah. And coming from from a songwriting perspective, you know, yeah, songwriters are used to making sure that their music tells a complete story, right, the hero's journey, you know, Act One, act two, Act Three, the bridge, you know, that's the dark journey of the soul and all of that my favorite Joseph Campbell book. That's so good. Yeah, yeah. And, and that's fantastic. And great songs do that. In fact, I'd say great songs need to do that take the listener on a journey. However, in production music, you're not telling a complete story, you're telling one scene of the story that the editor is putting together. And so Production Music needs to have one mood, one emotion, very rarely, will an editor if they have a scene that starts melancholy and ends joyful, very rarely, not always, but very rarely will they go look for a single cue that traverses that emotional terrain. Instead, they're going to find a melancholy cue, find a joyful cue and stitch them together.

Mike Meiers 19:21
And it just makes it so much easier, I think for the Creator. Because if you realize all you've got to do is create this one feel. And that is it. You don't have to worry about resolving it. You don't have to worry about finding the other section. Right now. You just have to give this feel that it's uneasy and that something is about to happen. But you don't have to tell me what that thing is. That's going to happen. You just got to get me to this point.

Unknown Speaker 19:46
Yep. And the challenge is at from the composing standpoint, the challenge is is making sure that your cue and by the way, just to define the term cue that the I use the term cue to describe any instrumental piece have music written for media, whether it's games, films, television, or whatever, specifically, instrumental versus a song, which could mean something different. But the challenge is, and what we have to learn is even though it's one mood and one emotion, the cue still has to have some kind of developmental arc. So how do you have development in a queue when you can't rely on everything that your songwriting brain is like a klaxon. Yeah, change gears change gauge chord change chord change. And you can't do that. So you have to do things like layering and density of your layering to make sure that we're slowly building it up and going back and forth between an A and a B section. But the B section isn't like a B section, like you think it's a B section, that's more of an energetic B section. And so that that can be a real challenge for the songwriting artists brain.

Mike Meiers 20:51
And I think that the the challenge for most artists is like, once you do one, do another one, do and repetition is my friend, especially what I've discovered is like, cool, you know, that moon that atmosphere, do it again, do it again, do it

Unknown Speaker 21:08
again. Because when you go to pitch your music to the library, you know, they might say this is great love this drum DQ now send me 10 more. You're like a, if you haven't, like sorted out your sustainable creativity, or where your ideas come from, because you spent the last 10 years just waiting for inspiration to strike while you were walking the dog or taking a shower, which is great. Take advantage of those when they happen. But that's not sustainable. You can't, you can't build up a 20 3040 year career with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of queues by waiting for just inspiration. And that's so much pressure

Mike Meiers 21:43
to put on yourself to that one inspiration that one idea is going to fuel all of your financial success.

Unknown Speaker 21:52
Oh my god, and and then when it doesn't happen, you feel like a failure. Yep. And then And then here, here comes impostor syndrome. Glad to see you. And then procrastination and looking at writer's block. And then you know what, I'm just gonna quit. I'm gonna sell all my gear and see you. Would you like fries with that, which is great. You know, I need me somebody served me some fries. But if you have ambition to be a composer, you've got to work out where your creativity comes from. And Production Music gives you a relatively lower barrier of entry. Let me it's not a low, it's not easy, but it's also not like, moved to LA and score a movie, right? That's a very high, that's a very high barrier of entry.

Mike Meiers 22:32
I think the thing, too, is, this is where where I hear folks that are like, I'm into a bunch of different genres. I really love the experimentation. And you know, I'm like, great, because guess what, you should be a little versatile. You know, sometimes when you're an artist, you have to stay within a particular realm. Like, you know, there we go. But the idea if you can be like, Hey, do you enjoy indie rock? Yeah. Do you enjoy doing a little kind of like dark instrumental underscore? Do you also enjoy the idea of like, maybe a little southern rock, you want to have that versatility, especially for me as a guitar player, it's kind of nice to have that leeway of like seeing something that says like, pilots this one is looking for pop punk. This one's looking for a little more kind of like, country, but I have that versatility in that outlet to go ahead and make that

Unknown Speaker 23:23
yeah, and and for guitarist because I know, this is you know, a guitarist, podcast. guitar is still one of those things that's very difficult to reproduce in MIDI, right? I'm a drummer, right. And so they started, they worked out drums and piano like first and then everything else is coming along. But guitar believable guitar is still, you know, difficult to pull off convincingly in MIDI. And in fact, I have one contract for a library that in the contract, it says no MIDI guitar, I'm contractually obligated not to use MIDI guitar. And so you know, your listeners who are pushing, you know, their guitar skills. I mean, that is a real superpower. That UPS a guy like me who Yeah, I have guitars hanging up, and it's really nice, but it's all like drop D tuning and, you know, open, you know, power chords and that kind of stuff. And so anytime I need like, real like, big boy guitar playing, I have to bring somebody

Mike Meiers 24:20
I see that's what made me feel really, at first. I was like, I wonder if there's a home for and it was like, ah, and you're right, because the one thing when I have a student that's like, is that many guitar in the back in there? Like yeah, could you tell? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, it sticks

Unknown Speaker 24:34
out like a sore. Yeah, it's the uncanny valley of music. Yeah. 100%.

Mike Meiers 24:38
But that's so for me. It was exciting to just have those outlets. But what it made me do in my composition, simplify. It really embraced the idea of simplify because again, yeah, it's great. We're using guitar, but let's not go all in a momsteam All right. We do not need to do our much

Unknown Speaker 25:00
Yeah, and if you have basically you know, you don't have to be Jocko, like come on just just calm yourself just hold down the roots. Yeah, it's again it's that Terry Crews energy you don't need to build but you don't need to bring bodybuilder energy to open up a jar of peanut butter you know you don't need that much that much of a creative strength. And and so some some of the best cues that I've that I've heard were from guitarist who are playing like really talented guitars but they get into the mindset, it's got to be MIDI and all of this stuff. You know, and I want to circle back to something you said about kind of the versatility. Versatility is good, but in my experience, libraries are really looking and wanting you to bring your core competency to the table. Like what's the thing what that like whether you want to call it the desert island thing or whatever, like if you sit down in there you have zero agenda and you play, you know, Travis picking or if you you sit down and you play inveigh or whatever, I would say start there, start with the thing that just comes out of your muse already. And then learn how you can leverage that into the production music world learning about learning about how cues are put together, learning about what editors need, and things like edit points and mood and emotion. And this is, you know, this is what 52 Q's is all about. We have we have. We have guitarists, we have vocalists, we have flute players saxophone, yeah, all across the spectrum, many of whom are very accomplished musicians, whether they're, they're like composers with a capital C or whether they're gigging musicians or music directors or educators or whatever, just learning how they can leverage their own core competencies, the thing that just comes out of them easily, so that they can then use those in production music. And I think there's there's absolutely room for any instrument any I mean, I wrote a cue with like, slide whistle, like a couple of months ago, you know, I have a jaw harp here and accordion and all this stuff. And there's there's literally no genre that could not find a home in production music.

Mike Meiers 27:19
How many times have you gotten the feedback from someone? Hey, your song sounds dated. And you're wondering, what does that mean? What do you mean by date? What could What do I need to do to fix this? Well, guess what? I want you to go songwriting for guitar.com. Right now, Laney Dion has a free training up right, this very moment, in which you could do three things that will transform your melody, move it into a modern context, but still bring in a way that feels authentic to you, that represents what you're trying to capture. There's no sacrifice when trying to make something modern, you can still be authentic to you and your story. But you got to go to songwriting for guitar.com to watch that training, because it's only going to be up just for a little bit more and then it's going to be down. So stop wasting time. Go there right now.

I think 100% Starting with what is your core strength and starting there is super important because it's like just delivered the best current you. You can build, you can learn but just start right there with that and do lots of that. Do it well, because when you do the thing, well, that makes heads turn that makes me sort of like because that's the authenticity part that also comes through that's the authentic you. Like obviously, if you had him on the podcast, like I can't do hip hop, I am not going to try to sit here and be like, Oh, do you watch me crush this? No. It's not it's not possible. It's not going to be the thing that I'm going to be authentic about. But if you tell me like, Hey, can you crush out you know, some, you know, atmospheric guitars that are looming in tents and feels like you know, that have swells that are eerie with paddles. Okay, for days. Here we go.

Unknown Speaker 29:06
Let's go. Yeah, the guitarists who are like the tweaker guitarists who are like I'm gonna hit one note and then I'm gonna sit there and like mess with effects pedals and all that stuff. That is gold, that is gold for like tension music and I would spend a lot of time like an Omnisphere or an all these kinds of plugins, but it's all like in the box. But if you could, if you could bring that energy to ACU I'm telling you, man, I'm telling you not to mention, like if you're just a rock guy, if you're like, like Foo Fighters or whatever, then sports broadcasting all the boots and clap stuff of like that whole side of things. Infinitely infinitely usable. And guitar really really is at the forefront of so many production music styles and,

Mike Meiers 29:50
you know, things that I remember getting first couple of cues just like oh, that was so simple. It was just kind of like that, like moment of like painting into the assembly of lean. And because it's straightforward, it's exactly what they wanted and not like me being like, well, if you move on into three minutes and 28 seconds, that's where it starts.

Unknown Speaker 30:11
Right? Yeah. Just hang on, buddy. No, I mean, most cues are 90 seconds to two minutes. And so it just doesn't know. Now, I want to be sure. That simple doesn't always mean, easy. Yeah. Simple means that there's a very straight path. He doesn't require, you know, bodybuilder energy. But there is a learning curve to it. There's absolutely a learning curve to it. And I'm a student of it. I'm still learning. You know, in my podcast this year of 2023. I'm doing my year of taxi where I'm, I'm submitting queues up to taxi.com. And following and and see if they get returns if they get forwarded. And all of that, and I've gotten returns, I've gotten returns on, on on queues that that have gone on to get placed in other libraries, but it's all a learning process. That's

Mike Meiers 30:57
Now that to me, is also intriguing. People are like, do you still get rejection? And it's like, yeah, it's I think, what changes is the reaction to rejection? I think people that lean in and do this, when there is a rejection. It's less of an ego that's bruised, but more or less leaning into being like, Okay, why didn't that work? That's interesting.

Unknown Speaker 31:16
Yeah. What's the takeaway? What's the what's the learning moment? Yeah.

Mike Meiers 31:19
What's the thing that I can build on? Because if I gain a little bit of that, I can use that for the next couple. Which it's just you're getting more insight to the process?

Unknown Speaker 31:29
Yeah. 100%. And so like, when I got, you know, those taxi returns, you know, they sting no matter how many cues I'm coming up on, like 600 and something cues that have been published the returns the rejections still stink, but the difference is, is a what you do with it and be how long it sticks on you, you know what I mean? And don't and don't let it derail without, like, you know, table flipping and like raging out and all of that, which, you know, I'm still human right. I'm still like, that little artist brain is still there. I've I've managed to tamp like artists to Dave way, way down. But he comes out every now and then like, with a little bit of a you know, like, I've got to Paint

Mike Meiers 32:12
me a baguette right now. Right now. Now, one of your sayings that I like, and you even have this as a posters cup. And I think this is where I stress for guitarists, especially if they're trying to understand something listening, but also to read the fucking brief. Can we just talk about that? Can we just talk about that that to me? When you are wondering, well, why am I getting rejected? My you know, I'm looking at what I'm doing sonically? It's hitting the mark, it's okay. Let's go back to what they were asking for. Can we see that? Oh, wait a minute. Here's what they were asking for. And what you're giving me you are trying to force a square into a circle? That's not it's not going to work? It's like, yeah, it's good. But look at what they're trying to measure with. You're not even close to that. You're lightyears away.

Unknown Speaker 33:04
Yeah, I think it manifests itself in a couple of different ways. The first is either thinking, I got this, I got this. So I don't need to read it. I know that they want a contemporary Hip Hop cue on it next, or they just kind of blitz through the references and like got it. And don't read the brief. The other is saying, hey, I want to write what I want to write. And like what you were saying, and just try to like, shoehorn it? Well, it's like 75%. There. I mean, you just, you don't have any hope against somebody who is 100% there with your 75% there and just trying to shoehorn something and wrangle it into the brief. And up part of it, I think is is impatience wanting to get done. And also, if you have a queue that maybe has gotten rejected, you want to try to find a home for it, or like, it might work, which is fine. As long as you know, I didn't read the bleep and brief right, and I'm just trying to trying to make it work. But I think most most students that I've talked to, when they run into this, they write what whatever they want to write, and try to force it into a brief that matches in that general that's, that's just not how the gig works. We're again, we're short or that would be like, let's go back to Waffle House. Here comes another metaphor. Totally. I've been I've been teaching for like 25 years. I can't stop myself. My apologies if metaphors are tires,

Mike Meiers 34:29
I love metal. I think it's fair to say I didn't want to be like the short

Unknown Speaker 34:33
order cook that says, You know what, I'm going to open up the Waffle House and I'm just going to make I don't know. Let's make pancakes today and look at all these pancakes and Yeah, a couple of people might like them, but it's like if you don't like my pancakes that's on you. How dare you not like my pancakes and they got the guy walks in. He's like, I ordered an omelet like you'll like this. I'm allergic to eat right? You're Zack But that's, that's that's the mentality. And thinking that well, they just got it wrong because they didn't like my pancake. You see, I'm

Mike Meiers 35:06
loving your metaphors and analogies. It's because I, my my go to would be, it's like I'm a big I love the great British baking show I could watch repeats all over. But it's every time let's say he wants to talk and then he and then pause, pause like this is good, but it's not what we asked for.

Unknown Speaker 35:22
Right? And it's might be the best torque on the best moraine on the planet, but they wanted a tour. It's

Mike Meiers 35:27
like what, you know, when I do critique sometimes I'm like, Cool, what was the reference? And what was it for? Because that gives me some system of measurement. Right? And if you're telling me oh, I don't have one. I can't really do anything right now, because I don't know where this is going. But if you're like, it's for this brief, and I'm like, Cool. They asked for modern Machine Gun Kelly rock. Okay. Okay, so let's listen. Cool. Sounds like the Allman Brothers. Love is great. But that is just not going to work.

Unknown Speaker 35:54
Yeah, yeah, I've heard another analogy that Michael Lascaux from taxi uses. It's like he used to work at a shoe store. So it'd be like, I come if you have a customer that comes in orders a size nine pump, and you gave them a size 13. sneaker? That's great. That's an Air Jordan. Wow, that's an amazing, that's a $500 pair of sneakers. It is useless to me. Yeah, it might as well be a flip flop for a toddler. That's how useless it is.

Mike Meiers 36:20
We could just keep on we should do just get the rest of it is just come on now. But I think it just what it's trying to point is, I think, when people feel frustrated, acknowledge the frustration, but then do the pause to be like, why? Let's take a look. There's some kink in the system. Was it the production quality? Was it too busy? Was it not what the proof was supposed to be? Yeah, did I not have some sort of production reference? Was I not listening? It's usually one of those things in the realm.

Unknown Speaker 36:56
And the thesis statement, underscoring all of this is you have to get yourself out of the way and recognize that it's a service industry. This is a service industry, we're there to help someone else tell their story. And when you get yourself out of the way you open up to all of these opportunities, and you realize that they're doing the work for you. Like when you listen to brief and you're like, Okay, this instrument, this instrument, this tempo, this key signature, this chord structure, Boom, look at all of those compositional decisions that you don't have to make anymore, which leaves you bandwidth creative bandwidth to, to, to work on your mix, or to work on a really good melody or, or work on, you know, a new technique and your dog or something like that. But it's doing the work for you. And we haven't even talked about references, mining for references, and

Mike Meiers 37:51
that's the thing too, yet they're asked, they're giving you essentially, here's what we're looking for, can you do this? It's almost silly for me not to be like to do the opposite and be like, Oh, I'm not even gonna listen. I know a general idea of what this library usually likes.

Unknown Speaker 38:08
Right? And but when we're in our ego, it's that doesn't, that doesn't really factor into it.

Mike Meiers 38:13
It's amazing how we stand in the way of most of the things we want to do. The ego is awful. It is a terrible, terrible person, because it's just like, I'm doing this for you. And it's like, actually, no, you're not you're

Unknown Speaker 38:27
not what you want is you're either compensating or, you know, you're looking for validation from your peers or whatever. There's maybe some trauma baked in there, but not to get too too deep. But you know, Steven Pressfield in his book War of Art, he kind of gathers all of this stuff up and calls it resistance.

Mike Meiers 38:44
I love it and I love do the work. That's probably someone Oh, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 38:47
I turning pro is also good. Yeah, his whole Steven Pressfield is fantastic.

Mike Meiers 38:52
I Yeah, because that's another thing we could talk about books but that it's, that's that's one of my go twos constant and I just go back and listen to reread. I've an audible, I'll read it just be like, because there are things that just pop up that make me go like,

Unknown Speaker 39:06
okay, cool. Yeah, I listen, I have the audio book. I'm such an audiobook person. And I listened to it at least once a year. I at least once

Mike Meiers 39:14
because I think people need to remember no matter how far down the process, you still have to keep it you know, under the the ego the fears what Elizabeth Gilbert says they love she was like your your fear and your ego, everything. They don't have to be the driver. They're gonna be there for the journey. They're just in the back seat, and they're not dictating where you're going. You kind of That's right, you can do that.

Unknown Speaker 39:34
Yeah. And when you have your ego baked into it, when you get the return, when you get the rejection, you have no choice but to take it personally. Right, because you've invested your own value as a composer into the thing that you are trying to get somebody else to give you money for. And if they do that, they have to assign value to it. They're the gatekeepers. And if they say you know what, no thanks, you know, thanks, but no thanks, then you will you have no choice but to come away. Feeling devalued and feeling worth less? Yeah, it's tough.

Mike Meiers 40:06
It is tough. But what I find interesting the people that stay within this niche that stay with it, they get the rejection. But they're also like, I'm curious, okay, I'm good. And then they just dive back in there next morning, they're there. They're opening up their da. They're building out things they're researching. They're going on to, they're listening, they're listening. That's another thing. They're listening, they're probably spending more time listening than they are building because they're like, if they listen more, they're attuned to what is working. Right. And it's almost like they extrapolate it, and it's just like, in their little wheelhouse, so that when they go in, they open up their DAW and they're in their studio. They're not pulling from a dry well,

Unknown Speaker 40:46
that's right. Yeah, it's huge. Yeah, it's in listening and everything that is here comes analogy, we need a warning bell. It's like it's a bank account, man, you have to deposit into the bank account. So you can withdraw from and the more you deposit, then the bigger that sum gets, and then it starts generating its own interest. And then you realize you can deposit just a little because you can withdraw. Because it's it's building on itself. And that's when like references become influences and influences become deep seated influences. And, and so yeah, you've got to put in before you can take out, you've got to deposit into your creative Muse before you can withdraw from it.

Mike Meiers 41:22
And it opens you up to things that you didn't know that you would like, because when I dive in, and I discover things I'm like, I didn't know I thought I had this blanket statement like rare rubber merch. This is not in suddenly, it's like, oh, wait a minute, this is actually really good. And suddenly that makes me kind of go like, well, if I believe something that wasn't true about this, what are other things that I'm not believing that aren't true? And it kind of honors this entire process of me being a more open minded individual and willing to be like, Hey, I'm let's dive in.

Unknown Speaker 41:54
Yeah. Now Absolutely. Man, you you know

Mike Meiers 41:57
you have a community you're teaching at Full Sail. What are you know, if somebody's listening this and they're like, I want to start diving in this. This seems like it's calling me. Like you're telling me these things? And I'm like, Are

Unknown Speaker 42:07
you feeling the pull?

Mike Meiers 42:08
I'm feeling the pull. Like you had me at the Waffle House analogy? No, I'm leaning into what you know, what are some? What are some starters for someone that wants to get into this world?

Unknown Speaker 42:18
Well, I mean, is it is it too shameless to say, head over to 52 Q's dot com.

Mike Meiers 42:25
Think that's funny, too, because people are like, Mike, you've got to think I'm like, you realize that I'm saying that music is open? There's no, there's so many amazing programs that are out there. I want you to experience lots of different

Unknown Speaker 42:38
not one, not one person has like all the answers. And you might not vibe with me. You might be like that beard is stupid. And I only listen to people with amazing heads of hair, Mike. Like, I started losing this in my 20s. I'm like, Nope, I shaved it off. And then I'm like, okay, okay, God, just give me a good nice, full beard. And thank you, G man. Appreciate you, buddy. Okay, so I would say, if you're interested in production music, you know, and some of this is resonating with you check out 52 keys.com. It's a free community. It's run on a platform called Mighty network. So imagine kind of like Facebook groups without the scraping your personal data with some discord vibe to it. And so we've got a great community, we put, we put up feedback threads every single week, that open up for you, you can post your cues, you can give feedback, you can receive feedback. And and so we have that. And then we also have some other subscription tiers for folks who are really looking to push forward. And the subscription tiers start at $19 a month, and they get you things like some of the benefits our weekly live streams, I put a two hour live stream out every week where I'm writing live. We all I also do cube breakdowns, weekly cube breakdowns. Also do zoom office hours, I do live zoom based feedback and critiques where folks can send their cues and I'm giving feedback and critiques and we have monthly workshops so we have industry professionals from from music supervisors to to other composers to artists and mixing we have an editor coming up in the next few months. That's awesome, a Hollywood editor who's going to come in and talk about editing so we do workshops, and so a ton more. But it's free to join at 52 Q's dot com and if you don't want to do that, then you can check out you know, the podcast channel youtube.com/at 52 queues or slash Dave Croft, I put out weekly podcast video podcasts and it's all in only about production music industry.

Mike Meiers 44:47
There you go. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 44:50
That was that goes out good. That was

Mike Meiers 44:52
because too, I believe, you know, music is not a knife fight to the top. That's when I think that's what people are soon when you know there are people connecting within the online space that they think there's this sort of like, ah, back back. This is my, it's like,

Unknown Speaker 45:11
yeah, it's for everyone. There is men, the table is so big. And one of the things that I believe and I say is, you know, together, yeah, we are better together. And I believe in generosity. I believe in kindness. I believe in empathy. I believe in sharing knowledge. I mean, I recognize I have subscription tiers and all of that, but I make myself available, you know, in a way that that not a lot of not a lot of folks do. And I believe that one on one interactive, interactive feedback and interactive connection is vital for someone who's really serious about it. Like if you're if you're if you just want to explore and just like What's this whole production music stuff, then I don't think you're ready to subscribe and send me your $19 a month or whatever. But if you're ready then then go for that but it Yeah, I am not this ivory tower snatch the pebble from my hand type of Sensei, and only through you know, you have to earn my respect before I feel like bequeathing upon you my granddad knowledge. No, that wasn't how it was mentored for me. And I enjoy being that mentor for other folks.

Mike Meiers 46:18
I think the best mentors are the ones that they had someone that was like, you seem like you're kind of interested in this, and you got some potential. Cool, you know, you're rough around the edges. But we can we can spell those out as having those folks. Because we can name them we remember those moments where somebody pulled in you were like, especially in those moments when you were like, Hey, I don't know if I can do that. And then it's like, somebody was like, I don't know, I think you can you're like

Unknown Speaker 46:41
really? Yeah, super patient and just poured into you and let you make mistakes, you know, consequence free, you know, that was my whole first like two and three years in the production. I had a publisher come alongside me and set me up with another composer who was basically just a future version of me. Just like I say, I like telling my students there's nothing inherently special about me now. I'm just a future version of you. I'm on the same path. Just a few. So why don't you know, why don't I Sherpa you along the way and I can show you you know where not to step while we're while we climb the mountain together. I

Mike Meiers 47:17
love that because people I'm not the best guitarist. I'm okay. But I listen a lot. And it's just like, that's it. I've just been just a couple steps ahead. As it is right? Nothing crazy knowing they, I am not.

Unknown Speaker 47:32
I'm not the best drummer. And I'm certainly not the best composer. But I feel like I've got a bead on Production Music and being a teaching higher ed for nearly 25 years gives me the ability, hopefully, you know, successfully to communicate those things and make them approachable. David, this

Mike Meiers 47:48
was awesome. We're gonna do more, we'll come back with another episode full of just analogies. Just 45 minutes of several different

Unknown Speaker 47:57
I've got I've got to research more hotels and motels in in middle I want you to give

Mike Meiers 48:01
me the most obscure cities, the most obscure hotels. Dave, this was awesome. Thanks for being here.

Unknown Speaker 48:08
Oh, man, thank you so much. Keep up the good work. I really, really appreciate you. And I hope to see you and your listeners and everybody and your viewers hope to see you around over the community at 52 Q's.

Mike Meiers 48:25
And that does it for this week's episode. It was edited and produced by Christopher alias. I'm Mike Myers. Thanks for listening.