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The land of the advice-less


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Roll away the stone, don’t leave me here all alone…”

We’ve been overrun. Run out. Ransacked. And run off. Our enemy is brutish. Comfortably smug, with their chest’s heaving freely in the open breeze of a town we once held claim to, these barbarians now wear our holsters. Each tip of their hat is a smoldering reminder of our broken municipality… each jagged grin, an effortless pity they hurl like beggars breadcrumbs… They mock us, while wearing our fine coats. They huddle and jeer as we pass by - and it’s back to the hills we go. 
 

Our enemy has no sympathy, child. That’s just their way. The way of The Voice Over People.

Or maybe, musicians, it’s us. 

For as long as I can remember, the musicians of fiverr have held no prominent place on the forum. If you’ve ever met a musician, you know exactly why: 

1) People who know everything don’t need advice  

2) Musicianship is the promise of less homework  

3) Asking three musicians to come to a consensus is asking two, too many  

Throughout the experiment of the fiverr forum’s “audio section,” you’ll find enthralling threads like, “name a bunch of audio gear,” or “take pictures of your microphone,” or “let’s all count to four a bunch…” but what you rarely see is practical advice for musicians, songwriters and production folks that navigate them through the marketplace world. It’s a strange truth about this forum, when in every other category, people are crawling over themselves to unearth some fortune altering guidance. 
 

As a Pro/TRS songwriter, I get my fair share of unsolicited messages looking for help. Inevitably it’s always the same message:

”Hello dear sir. My name is Twinkle Toes Moser and I’m a songwriter/performer. My music has been featured on coveted platforms like “The Internet.” My songs are amazing. 2 out of 2 of my grandmothers agree, I’m the next big thing. I write to you today in the hopes that you can focus all your experience into a single paragraph, in order for me to have clients. Or, even better, can I just have your clients? After all, I know a whole song on the piano and I use Pro Tools. Clearly, I’m passed the learning phase. Please write me back asap.”

Sure, this message is misguided. It’s even against the rules. But somewhere buried deep is the recognition that Mr. Toes Moser doesn’t have all the answers. So, fair enough, you can’t blame someone for taking shot. 
 

Thing is; Twinkle doesn’t want advice. He’s actually on an affirmation tour.

What he wants to hear is, “Thank you, oh thank you for writing to me. As fate would have it, I recently ran into record executives - transported directly from the early 90’s at the height of record advances - and they gave me a stack of ‘big star’ contracts to hand out. Not only can you have one, take them all. Don’t change a thing. Everything you’ve ever learned, is in fact, the only things that can be learned. You’ve nailed it. Here’s some money.”

But I don’t say that.

Instead, I give him the best advice he’ll ever hear: write better songs.

This is not what he wanted. So we slip down the “no credits” musician rabbit hole: music is subjective, what’s bad to some is good to others, so and so didn’t know how to play an instrument … on and on, until finally - with no more clients than he walked in with, Twinkle Toes reloads and lives to shoot his shot with another writer, another day.

But what if it didn’t happen that way? What if, against all possible odds, this guy would have gotten the advice “write better songs,” and simply asked, “how?” Well, in that unlikely scenario, possibly I fix his sales slump. Or maybe he decides that my method isn’t correct for him, but out there exists a person who can mentor his way. In any case, nothing can negatively result from the asking. It sets about a brand new quest that asks far better questions.

In some ways, I’ve always felt that our lack of dialogue here shares a DNA with the stragglers looking for “positive feedback” rather than “productive results.” Chances are, if you aren’t doing well - it comes down to the writing. There’s probably a lack of “product knowledge,” coupled with an inability to provide high quality musicianship on organic instruments. But more than any of that, it probably stems from the fear of being told: you’re not good yet, work harder.

Not all of us are going to be great at marketplace environments. There’s a variety of reasons to that, some legitimate - most user induced, but that’s the reality. Not all of us are going to translate our “real world” successes, cuts and sales into this new world medium.

Whats even more, most musicians and writers here (and everywhere for that matter) have never had any real world successes. Most of them never will. Most musicians and songwriters are sinking fast. And yet, there’s barely anyone seeking advice.

Theres no thread dedicated to avoiding the second verse trap. Or double entendre hooks. Or dual narrative writing. Or bridge purposes. There’s no threads discussing how to qualify customer’s better, when to provide audio samples, co-writing to a good review, expanding to a customer’s network.

Many of us have major cuts, pitched major artists, have fairly good sync deals, TV and commercial themes, movie scores and a ton of album placements. It can absolutely translate to fiverr. But you have to know where to spend your energy. Even if it means getting better, doing more and asking how.

The folks participating the most are the voiceover people. And while their work can certainly be wide ranging, on just one show I work with - 14 people make up the music department, whereas only one person makes up the VO area. This obvious disparity should have the forum crawling with musicians learning both their craft and the world of marketplace sales.

But it isn’t.

In a world that loves itself an instant positive feedback loop, no one wants to hear “work harder.” But what if you’re sacrificing our next Stevie Wonder by refusing to seek advice? What if you’re some “rough shape” Prince in the making - waiting for two key pieces to fall into place? What if the difference between feeding yourself with songwriting is in your pursuit to ask how? What if you’re wrong, but your getting it right leads to your artistic and financial breakthrough?

Where are the folks actively searching for answers?

They’re in voiceover work. 

Edited by damooch916
Abducted by aliens. Forced at phaser point.
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6 hours ago, damooch916 said:

Where are the folks actively searching for answers?

They’re in voiceover work. 

Hi, Tommy,
Another entertaining yet insightful post. Thank you.
Are you saying that Voice Over artists are frustrated musicians?

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2 hours ago, vickiespencer said:

Are you saying that Voice Over artists are frustrated musicians?

No. Not that I know of, at least. I’m saying that the VO crowd tends to be more inquisitive about their marketplace journey. They seek advice - legally and otherwise - to strengthen their chances in the freelance and professional world.
 

That world, by the way, bleeds over more and more everyday. It’s gotten to the point where I work with as many tv shows and albums due to fiverr as I would otherwise. That may seem like a leveling of the playing field, but it isn’t. It means that the playing field has been overtaken by the business professional - and anyone intending to compete better learn the ropes - while everyone clinging to the “professional old world way,” better learn to navigate the market. 

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10 hours ago, damooch916 said:

Where are the folks actively searching for answers?

They’re in voiceover work. 

Yup. I've seen this too. I think it has something to do with the fact that we're not viewing ourselves as artists only, but business folks, too. Perhaps the music crowd is just too creative, and don't like to deal with anything that isn't "artistry"? 

Edited by smashradio
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1 hour ago, damooch916 said:

I’m saying that the VO crowd tends to be more inquisitive about their marketplace journey.

Is it possible that musicians are, by nature of the way their success happens, more competitive?  Musicians compete to get the gig at the club, get signed by labels (when labels were still a thing) and compete on the Billboard Hot 100?  Although VO artists audition for some parts/gigs, there is nowhere near as much direct competition between us, which might prevent cooperation? Just a thought. 

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Love your eloquence and storytelling. I'm both impressed and humbled by it! 

Regarding the topic, I believe the VO technique isn't as deep nor complex as the music world, and that simplicity makes it a lot easier to both give and receive advice. If someone drops me a 30 sec read sample and asks for feedback, I'll be able to give thorough analysis and advice in roughly 5 lines. I doubt (in my ignorance) you can do the same with music?

Plus, imagine creating a learning series for the basics: I think VO basics would take way, way less time to teach than music basics. 

I'm just assuming, though. The little times I dwelved into the music world I found it so, so damn vast I didn't go any deeper. I personally use 4 plug-ins max to process my voice overs. Producers can have 100s in multiple tracks, 10ths for each instrument. And that's producing, not even composing. My head is spinning already 🤣

Great thread! 

Edited by torrelles
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On 8/3/2022 at 4:02 AM, damooch916 said:

There's no thread dedicated to avoiding the second verse trap. Or double entendre hooks. Or dual narrative writing. Or bridge purposes. There’s no threads discussing how to qualify customer’s better, when to provide audio samples, co-writing to a good review, expanding to a customer’s network.

Dunning-Kruger effect.

I can sing. I like to think I have a decent voice. Real-world-instrument ability, though? I can plonk a piano (lessons as a child), can hold a flute properly (grade school band), can swipe strings on a guitar (four lessons, I think?), took one semester of music theory in college for fun, and can tell a time signature and if the notes are going up or down on a staff.

I'm in that pit, where I know enough to know I really don't know anything. All those things in that paragraph? No clue what those are.

Every instrument is it's own 'voice'. The ability to read music is like it's own language, and we're all seen 'fluent English' where someone is using Google translate and Grammerly. People can say 'I know what sounds good', but very, very few can explain or tell why. (I know VO gets that too. There was a thread a while back that shared a recording studio skit 'The Lion' and a similar voice clip of W. Shatner.)

As you said, the only way to get good is to do it. Practice, try, fail, practice, and try again.

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