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  • Writer's pictureMatt Gray

Matt's Notes

Updated: Nov 30, 2021


"One of the joys of being a music producer is that I get to share in the personal stories behind songs.

Ironically, being a musician all my life I’ve not written but a few entire songs; that is the LYRICS.

I learned early on that I’m in so love with the sound of music and how the melodies and chord structures can make one laugh and cry, that lyric writing was beyond my standard skillset. Rather I choose to leave that to those who have a real talent for lyric writing. Those who take that giant leap to write their emotional stories down for others to read, and eventually hear in a song.

In working with songwriters, I get first hand knowledge of the writers’ joys, their sorrows, their pain…

reconciliations, praise to God, laughter – and chilling true stories that draw me into their world, and sometimes apply it to mine. That is the power of music; that is the power of a song!

It is the reason we all listen to music in the first place. Hearing a song that we heard when we were in high school takes us right back to that moment, doesn’t it? We can almost smell the air of that day in our first car when that song came on the radio, or played on that cassette tape.

Now – I get to dive in to all the stories of all songwriters who come to me to produce their song.

By Listening to their stories and their feelings that are written in a couple of verses, I get immersed in that story; so much so, that the music that flows from my emotional attachment to those stories, becomes one with the lyrics – as if they were always meant to be together. It is a very satisfying accomplishment that is priceless.

Beyond the music that is produced and preserved forever, is the smile on the writers’ face when they hear their lyrics become music. The relationship that is formed over the music that we create together is also priceless and can be very therapeutic and healing in this crazy world. After all – these lyrics, these songs are their “babies!” They have kept them in their care for sometimes years, not allowing anyone in the world see them, hurt them, change them. The writer must come to trust me enough to share their “babies” with me, and allow me to help them grow into beautiful jewels, so they can be an inspiration to the world. I’ve been blessed to have so many song writers and artists come to trust me with their music, and I trust they all agree that the music brought their story to life.

We all have a story to tell – what better way to tell it than with a song?"

Gray Sky Music

Recording Studio and Jingle Production Company


What exactly does a music producer do?

"Most music lovers are very connected to their favorite music artist. They listen to their music; they search for their pictures online; they follow them in the news; they even buy tickets to see them in concert. However, many music consumers rarely know who the producer was on their favorite artists’ recording.

As a music producer myself, I’m finding that many musicians, singers and songwriters do not know what a music producer does. Although I work on a much lower budget ranking of music producers as compared to those who are commissioned to work for major record labels, I’m still a legitimate music producer. That means singers/songwriters/musicians pay me to “produce” their music.

A music producer is like:

-A coach for a sports team

-A conductor of an orchestra

-An officer in the military

-A manager of a corporation

A music producer is someone who has a very well trained ear for music. Many producers can play many instruments and have earned experience from playing “all the positions” on the field, so to speak. They have played an instrument on a recording session; they have played in a band/orchestra; sung in a chorus; made their own recordings of themselves or someone else on a small recording device or a computer and have knowledge of how to ‘mix’ a recording; they have a natural leadership ability that inspires and encourages all the people involved in a recording to do their very best. A good producer can even make musicians/singers exceed their natural abilities to sound even better on a recording than they do live. A music producer has been told ‘how’ and ‘what’ to do when playing and recording music so much, that they know what it feels like to be the performer; the singer; the guitar player; even the ‘roadie’ who sets up and tears down the equipment. Just as an officer in the military starts his career from the very bottom ranks, and through hard work and by listening and learning everything he was taught along the way, he gains an understanding of what it takes to get to excellence; so too a music producer has developed the skills necessary to make an excellent music recording. A good music producer will never ask a musician/singer/artist to do something that will make their work sound worse – on the contrary, they will only push the person to be the best they can be, and in turn make the recording the best it can possibly be.

In the modern age with the use of helpful recording software and virtual instruments, a producer who has sharpened their skills in playing many instruments and programming virtual instruments can make complete song recordings themselves without any additional musicians. Although nothing beats the fullness and energy of live musicians, these “one person” productions are very cost effective and can be very affordable to an artist/singer/songwriter. Many music producers make a very good living by making these “one person” music productions and getting their productions on national TV shows, video games, and even major motion pictures. And so the quality (if produced correctly) is not compromised. If the quality of the production is good enough for broadcast, is it good enough for an artist?

Sure it is!

When a songwriter or artist hires a producer to produce an audio recording of their song, they are putting their trust into that person to create the music that best suits the lyrics of the song, and/or the personality of the artist. Recorded songs are used for many different purposes. Once the producer knows what the purpose is for the recording, he/she will know exactly how to get the production to fulfill that purpose as close as possible. Without even knowing it, many artists and songwriters take on a producer role when they contact a studio to have their songs recorded. They are so attached to their songs and/or their artistic ‘brand’ that they might not realize that they really need the extra outside advice to polish their act and music. All music artists who work professionally on a national level, use a team of managers, marketing professionals, publicists, attorneys and yes, the music producer.

“I’m just a ‘local artist’ – I don’t need all that.” – you might say. And for the most part you are correct. However – at the very least, when you get your song recorded, you owe it to yourself to have it professionally produced. Unless you have the equipment and knowledge to produce yourself, you can get the more out of your investment of both money and time by bringing in a music producer. You’ve spent valuable time on writing these songs, playing gigs, practicing, marketing, etc. Now make the recordings sound like that. Make them sound beyond what you could do in your bedroom. Bring your art to life with a great music producer.

And so, yes, I am a music producer. Bring me your song, and I can record it. I can bring it to life.

I have rates that are accurately adjusted to get you a fully produced song, with a full band sound that are much more affordable than a commercial studio. I may not be affiliated with a major record label – but I can be your first stop. Millions of songs are playing every day, 24/7. Why not make yours one of them?”

Gray Sky Music

Recording Studio and Jingle Production Company


How does a producer work?

The producer begins the project by learning about the artist, their music, the song, it’s lyrics and it’s style. Then they lead the recording session by either playing the instruments themselves, or acquiring the team of musicians who will perform on the recording. They work with the songwriter/artist on an arrangement of the song that will be appealing to an audience. They also ensure that the song will accurately express what the writer is trying to say in the lyrics. They create a demo of the song so that other musicians and/or the artist/singer/songwriter can hear how the music might sound, and so that any extra musicians can hear how the song goes and get ideas for what they will play on the recording. The producer also write’s charts for the song – that is a guide for the chords and arrangement of the song on paper – so that all musicians will be able to play together.

The producer also has knowledge of the technical aspects of the recording equipment so that they can work with the engineer (if there is a second person) to “dial in” the sounds necessary for the song. The producer then ‘coaches’ the singer/artist to record the vocal track on the song. The producer knows the singers/artists voice and knows all kinds of tricks and tips to get the vocals to match the song perfectly – and to make the singer/artist sound the best they can.

With the vocals finished, the producer then either mixes the song themselves, or oversees an engineer to mix the song; paying very close attention to every detail of all recorded material. The volumes and equalization adjustments of all the instruments and vocals must come together to make the recording pleasing to the ear. The producer has the final say when the song has reached a point of sounding the best it can. A producer stamps their name on the song as their production and a good producer will not release any song production that they do not feel comfortable letting the world to hear as ‘their’ work. This gives the artist assurance that the producer treats their song as his/her best work and also puts their own reputation on display for future work endeavors. A good producer works for the song; not for the money.

Gray Sky Music

Recording Studio and Jingle Production Company


How Much Does a Jingle Cost? You Said How Much??

Yep. I get this question all the time. The number one deciding factor as to whether or not a business will actually buy one. I’ve learned over the 25 years that I’ve been selling and producing jingles that no matter how many times I get asked that question, it’s always difficult to answer, and in doing so, the selling of myself and my product begin. Sure it would be easier for me to just have a blanket set of prices that encompass every single business that I might be able to serve, but I don’t always gravitate to ‘easy.’

I compare it to asking a home builder, “how much does it cost to build a home?” Sure it would be easy for a builder to say “250 thousand dollars.” “But how much would it cost to build the house that ‘I’ want?” “Well, that depends on…..”

For most people that is a very legitimate question because let’s face it, jingles are those things that just about every human on the face of the planet has heard, and maybe even know exactly what a jingle is; but where do they come from? Who creates these things and why are seemingly only a few musicians/production companies around that actually do this kind of work?

There are many answers to this question, but one of them is this – taking a marketing idea and making a piece of music that fits that idea and brings it to a product that the world can hear, and it actually sounds amazing and does what it’s supposed to do: imprint a brand on everyone’s brain that they can’t erase – is a SPECIAL SKILL that many musicians, radio DJ’s, radio and TV sales reps, ad agencies, marketing gurus for most major corporations, just don’t have. If your general medical practitioner recommends that you need surgery to fix a problem on your body, does that same practitioner actually do the surgery? In most cases, heck no! They send you to a SURGEON! The surgeon specializes in SURGERY! Not all doctors are surgeons, and so not all musicians are jingle producers.

I’ll try to keep this brief to be in a blog format. Here’s what goes into creating a jingle:

-The jingle has to be sold: after all, if the client does not want to pay for a jingle, you have nothing to work on.

-Research on the business has to be completed.

-The jingle has to be written. Lyrics AND a melody that’s pleasing to the ear.

-The jingle has to be “sketched” so that the client will have an opportunity to be involved in the creative process and make changes if necessary

-The “sketch” (the demo) has to be recorded so the client can hear it.

-The master jingle has to be recorded. Drums, bass guitar, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, keyboards, percussion, a horn section (if needed), a vocalist as the lead singer, background singers, and any other instrument that the style calls for, all have to be performed in expected top quality to make the recording sound like what you expect to hear from commercially released music recordings.

Oh, and someone has to actually do the recording – you know, operate the recording software, have exceptional computer skills, set up the microphones, have all the equipment to execute the recording, save and back up all the files, and mix the audio tracks together to make sure everything is balanced and acceptable for release. Then, edit all of the audio files to create a set of variations to be used in any format that the client may need in the future (radio, TV, internet, etc).

When this final product is completed and delivered, it has the elements needed to serve the advertising needs of the client for years – sometimes 25 years! And all for one low price, paid up front, with not another dollar owed to the person(s) that created this marketing tool. It’s not a billboard that gets taken down after a while and becomes too expensive to maintain; it’s not a website that becomes outdated and slow with ever changing technology; it’s not a constant financial strain for as long as you can afford to pay for it. No. It is a special tool created just for your business/service that is paid for once, sitting there ready to imprint your brand deep within the sub-conscience of anyone and everyone who hears it.

Let’s recap and see how many people are involved in this process.

-A sales person

-A researcher

-A lyric/songwriter

-A recording engineer

-A musician contractor, a drummer, bass player, guitar player, keyboard player, 1 to 4 singers, maybe brass players, maybe string players, maybe a mandolin player, maybe a fiddle player.

-An administrative assistant who assembles the audio files into a jingle package with either physical or online delivery, including all of the typed file names and broadcast times listed for each variation[which must be accurate and specific], and a list of terms that assist the broadcast personnel in finding the correct jingle file for use.

Yep – it is possible that anywhere from 8-20 people could be employed to create one jingle.

In most cases this entire process is expected to be completed in a very short time. Sometimes within a few days! I’ve experienced first-hand in my jingle business, the entire process – everything listed above, from the sale to the delivery, happen within 3 days!

So how much does a jingle cost? Seems like a lot of money? You can’t afford it? Maybe not. That’s your choice on how you choose to market your business. For any musicians, radio/TV reps, ad agencies, and anyone else who thinks that “writing a jingle” is easy, it is….if you know what you’re doing, and if you are able to do the work of 8-20 people all by yourself, AND do it well, then you might make some money at it! All said with much due respect for all my musician friends, broadcast outlets, and ad agencies that I’ve had the pleasure to work with. In a free market world, there’s room for all of us. If anyone chooses to begin a jingle business of their own, by all means go for it! If more people sold jingles, then more people would buy them creating a wider playing field for all of us. Just do us all a favor: only put out good work. Keep it professional so we can all work. A jingle that’s thrown together with very little effort, and sold very cheap or even given away just to ‘get on the air’, diminishes the power of a jingle – cheapens the business that’s represented, cheapens station that it’s playing on.

How much does a jingle cost? Come see me – let’s talk about it.

Gray Sky Music

Recording Studio and Jingle Production Company

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