Music, being an invisible subjective art form, is wide open to anyone’s opinion. And that is especially true when getting a song critique. When a particular “anyone” happens to be a celebrity or influencer, they hold in his or her hands an incredible amount of responsibility not only to the person receiving that opinion, but to anyone and really everyone listening to or reading that opinion.
But what happens when someone held in extremely high regard utters an opinion which is flawed, wrong, or destructive?
Well, that probably doesn’t happen very often because anyone held in extremely high regard would be admired because they are all-knowing and consistently correct. Right?
Not necessarily. No.
I can fill pages with “authoritative” opinions which turned out to be very wrong and demonstrably destructive.
Here is one of many examples:
One of my mentors and a good friend, Quincy Jones, once raised his finger to my nose and leaned over his living room table, locked his eyes on mine and said, “G.G. listen to me, if you ever want to get a great drum sound, you record those drums on tape. You hear me? Tape. Not on a computer. Digital drum recordings don’t have the same warmth, magic and soul as tape. Remember that. You hear me?”
Now, had I not completed 5,800 hours of deep research into the differences and similarities between digital and analog (tape) recording, mixing and mastering, I might be bankrupt right now.
Why? Because I probably would have believed Quincy and would have been investing in stacks of 2-inch reel-to-reel 24-track tape and hours and hours of expensive studio time, as well as cartage costs, producer payouts and engineer fees.
However, having arrived at empirical research findings which show very clearly that digital recording, mixing and mastering technologies far out-perform analog in every category studied, I was able to safely navigate my way through the authoritative finger-in-my-face episode with Quincy.
In that uncomfortable moment sitting in Quincy’s living room I remembered an important two-step technique my Mother taught me to use whenever I found myself in an awkward social situation:
So, I smiled and I nodded.
“Tape! You hear me?”
I then inserted my own step three:
Change the subject.
Since then and to this day, I have often received, and still receive compliments from the Head of Licensing International for The Disney Music Group and 20th Century Fox for guess what? Among other things, my drum production. All of it done in-the-box; on computers.
To be fair Quincy has also obviously shared with me incredibly useful wisdom and amazing insights into many aspects of life, music and world culture. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming when I think of how lucky I have been.
Let me distill more than 5,000 hours of research into the following simple statements:
“It’s not the canoe, it’s the Indian.”
“It’s not about your gear, it’s about your ear.”
In other words, it’s about developing SKILLS.
Myths and Brainwashing
• It’s not about the tools, it’s not about the rules,
• It’s breaking the mythmakers and brainwashing fools.
• Though willing accomplices they may not be,
• B.S. and lies pass through crowds easily.
So, I make it my life’s work to help curate truth and get rid of the lies in the field of music production and sound.
After 30 years and tens of thousands of hours of studio time and mentoring, I recently completed another lengthy, deep-dive research project:
What is the best way to assist an independent musician and help them succeed in life?
I found that the answer was two-fold:
Help them improve themselves as people so that they have a strong foundation from which they can realistically succeed in their career long-term; that foundation being a well-balanced life.
Help them with their art and give them attention, care and honest, detailed and constructive feedback with workable suggestions of how to improve their craft. It’s amazing with all the technology and resources out there, how much the HUMAN ELEMENT is missing from our culture, and how ARTIST DEVELOPMENT with a personal touch has been, to a large degree, lost in our industry.
The first step became what I now call Vice Watch. Here is a detailed article I wrote for Tunecore explaining exactly what Vice Watch is all about and how you can improve the quality of your life starting right now.
Regarding Step B, I have developed a revolutionary approach to caring for artists with a super-detailed song critique that has helped create life-changing progress for my clients.
Here are a few recent testimonials:
“Thanks for that awesome critique! I always find it amazing, the intensely-packed usefulness of reading your critiques……not just this one, but all of them. It’s some of the best learning experiences I’ve had in music production. I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to record new drums into the track! Very helpful to understand your points. You have a real knack for honing in on the weakest link in a track” – Steve
“I started working with Gary one year ago. By following his advice, I now have a successful Record Label – AND, it’s not just another label. I am constantly opening doors because of the quality of the recordings I produce that people are referring to as Masterpieces. Gary has somehow developed workflows for everything. How I mix now is totally different (and I was an “experienced” mixing engineer before), this new way of mixing is amazingly effective and efficient. It really is revolutionary. I use it all the time now.” – Ples
But aren’t there plenty of people and places from which to get feedback out there or critiques of your songs?
Yes, there are.
Then what is different and so valuable about these song critiques?
Each one of my song critiques is one part of a revolutionary system of critiquing. Your song critique becomes an integral element within a GROUP of case studies that each musician (including you) can study and learn from. In other words, you will not only benefit from having a super-detailed song critique of your recording(s) with exact guidance and instructions of what to do to to improve your track(s) with each version you submit – until your track is approved as radio-ready and broadcast quality – you will ALSO be able to study a NUMBER of other artists’ tracks and THEIR song critiques, version by version as THEY progress to the point of receiving an approved mix and master.
Studying other artists’ tracks is what Steve was referring to in his testimonial by the way:
“I always find it amazing, the intensely-packed usefulness of reading your critiques……not just this one, but all of them.”
I give every one of my clients a thorough written critique of your track so that you can improve the writing, arrangement, composition and production in your songs and guide you to understand where improvements can be made and what strengths you have as a songwriter, producer or artist.
• You receive minute and detailed instructions of exactly what to do to fix your mix in your home studio with every critique (all DAWs).
• Your initial recording is Step 1 of a full and complete Case Study, whereby every subsequent mix you finish is uploaded and thoroughly critiqued newly, until your track is accepted.
• You get your tracks Ready for Release and Ready for Shopping for Lucrative LICENSING Deals.
• We guarantee that your “before” and “after” mixes will not only blow you away, but anyone who listens to your tracks. The SPEED with which you will be able to complete tracks will also improve dramatically.
• You get access to a brand new state-of-the-art critiquing platform.
• All of your tracks and the accompanying critiques will be super organized so you know what to do.
• I will help you hear details you never knew existed and give you access to scores of other songwriters/composer critiques.
• Explode your knowledge of how to achieve broadcast quality, radio ready tracks like never before.
AND, during the onboarding and submission process of submitting your track(s) for critiquing you will learn a revolutionary method of preparing and uploading your tracks which will INSTANTLY help make you a better songwriter, arranger, producer and engineer.
There are also certain critiques that have been designated as “Legacy Critiques.” These critiques contain timeless information and deep-dive research findings concerning VITAL aspects of songwriting, arranging, mixing and mastering.
In addition, you will be able to study, and may even yourself receive Video Critiques, where you can watch Replay Videos of live remote critique sessions, with the artist present, and pristine quality audio soundtracks, including detailed up-close views of my DAW.
As with every aspect of music, it’s one thing to talk about it, it’s altogether another to hear it (and see it!). See actual completed detailed song critiques, listen to their corresponding tracks and experience the system in action here.
I am now starting another extensive research project and would like your help. By signing up for a song critique right now, you and your music career will be a part of my latest limited number of case studies where I will help guide you through the steps necessary to help you raise your odds of earning a lucrative living with your music SIGNIFICANTLY.
Once you sign up you can immediately schedule a one-on-one Zoom call with me where I will personally take you through the submission process and answer any questions you have regarding your music, your career and life!
We are currently accepting a limited number of musicians into our song critique program. Sign up here now before all the slots are gone.
Here’s to a balanced life and a long and successful music career!
Written by Gary Gray – Award-Winning singer/songwriter, composer, producer, engineer and Music Supervisor who has mentored hundreds of musicians from around the world. Gary himself has been personally mentored by legends including Quincy Jones, Phil Collins, Phil Ramone, Jermaine Jackson and others. Gary is a voting member of the Grammy Recording Academy with hundreds of wins under his belt and clients like Disney, 20th Century Fox, CBS, ESPN, and more.