Music Production Lessons From John Feldmann
John Feldmann is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He is known to be the lead singer and guitarist for the 90's punk rock band Goldfinger. He wrote a lot of songs and he is also a music producer. John has done production work/songwriting for bands such as Story of the Year, Panic! at the Disco, Sleeping With Sirens and many more. You can check out his website and his Instagram to find more about him and what he is up to.
Goldfinger is a legendary band that still produces music to this day and because John Feldmann has such a vast history of being in the music scene and doing music production, anyone can learn a lot from what he has to say. So I listened to all podcast where he was a guest and I managed to write down a lot of music production advice that would give.
"Put your 10k hours in and check back with me then"
John is an advocate of hard work and almost in every podcast appearance he is stressing about 10 000 hour rule. If you put in the time, then the results will naturally come. "You got to show up!" as he says, and put in the hours, because that is where the results are coming from. He says that he writes one song a day and after all this time, which is well over 30 000 hours, he still needs to show up every day and "work work work". "You can't lock yourself in a closet and pray for a sandwich. You got to get out and make it."
John gets from 50 to 100 song submissions a day and that why he says that you need to put in the hours first. He sees the whole process as it is - if you didn't put in the time, then there is nothing for you to show and to stand out from the rest you have to naturally put your energy into your craft and your passion. "I hope every artists gives every piece of them"
One of the reason for why he put so much time into his passion is, he wanted to get away from his old lifestyle and his old job of selling shoes. "How do you go as hard as you can? The last thing I want to do is go back and sell shoes." I think dissatisfaction can be a good fuel and help someone to get to those 10 000 hours since for some of us passion can sporadic and last only for so long, but it requires discipline to really get somewhere.
"If you stay the course, and do the work, it will turn out great for you!" and "Living and breathing music is the only way I succeeded."
"I always had mentors, I never pretended to know everything"
Learning from others is really important and it is what made John who he is. We all start from nothing and other people are usually the help we need to move forward. John would tell how he would ask hundred's of questions to one mixing engineer in order to learn mixing and mastering. He would tell about really stupid mistakes that he did and how eventually he would find out why it was wrong and what to do better instead. That its just a natural part of the process.
That's why so many bands and artist come to John. He is valuable and he is paid precisely because for his experience and because he has come such a long way to be a music producer and to know how to make a good song and a good production. "Its in my bones, when people go to me they get 40 years of experience"
The song is king!
When talking about gaining and audience and getting noticed in the music scene, John always states that the song is king. You can do clever marketing and promotion, but if your song is no good then you will still go nowhere.
John shares a lot of tips on songwriting and music production:
He always starts from the hook. What is the hook for your song? If there is no hook, then there is no song. Loop the chorus or verse and come up with a lot of musical hooks.
John always asks - What is the song about? Be sure to have a specific message and mood that you want to express with your song.
John likes "anthemic" choruses. He wants to stand on the stag and for his audience to sing the lyrics back to him.
You need to write a lot of songs. John mentions how there would be 40 finished songs and they would only pick 12 for an album.
The more specific the lyrics are, the more it connects with people. John was surprised how well the fans received the lyrics for his song Tijuana Sunrise, even though he wrote about the experience that what specific for his life. "I woke up in jail in Portland, it happened to me, but people take it and make it their own."
If you are going thru hell, keep going!
I really appreciate the fact that I could learn from John and his craft. It is always interesting to discover what goes behind the scenes of your favorite songs and productions and by listening to John I learned a lot. He, for example, expected a lot more success for his song "Here In Your Bedroom" when he initially released it. Sometimes the life goes not the way you expect it to.
He also talked about mental issues and how keeping up the work has helped him to deal with that - "Idle mind is the devils playground".
In the end it is about what you put out in the world. If you show up, do the work, learn from other people and you are a part of the team you can put out something decent. "Only Handicap that you can have is bad attitude." and "Put out only positive vibes to the universe, and you will get it back."