9/21/2009 11:26 AM
I live, eat, and breathe music. I guess I really do "eat" music, too. Today, I went to Safeway (for all you non–West Coasters: a grocery store) in San Francisco to stock up on food, and I had a pretty interesting conversation with the clerk who was ringing me up. I probably wouldn't have guessed that this guy is also a hip-hop producer. I don't entirely know how it came up, but next thing I know, he was talking about the Rockwilder battles he's been entering. If you make hip-hop beats, you have to check it out for yourself: http://www.rocbattle.com/
Rockwilder has a long list of production credits, including Method Man, Redman, Kelis, Ice Cube, Destiny's Child, Nas, 50 Cent, and Pink. Sign up and you can network with other producers and artists, battle thousands of producers worldwide, and even sell your beats and win cash prizes in tournaments.
The clerk at Safeway told me that he hadn't won a battle yet, and I empathized with him about the trials and tribulations of making music. Sometimes you really have to hear a lot of No's before you get to a Yes. What surprised me was his reaction to that. He's not really bothered by the competition. He said he makes music and enters the battle as a "stress reliever." Funny, so much of making music for me is stressful. Yet for him it takes away the stress. I guess it's the difference between doing something as a hobby versus aspiring to do it as a job.
I started making music because it was fun, and I got an adrenaline rush from writing songs I liked listening to. But over the years, a little taste of success here and there has made me get more competitive with it. You license music to a TV show, or you get a guarantee to play a festival, and suddenly, you need more "wins" to fuel the fire, to feel like you're going somewhere. It becomes an addiction. It's not enough to make music and enjoy the creation anymore. Now, it's really gotta "pay off." And that stress can take the joy out of it all.
Talking to the guy at the grocery store reminded me that I can't lose sight of why I got into making music in the first place—because it's fun....
Speaking of the joy, I recently bought a new music toy: A Keeley Candy Green Metallic Compressor. I love their custom colors. The first time I tried to buy it from a distributor, I got an email a few days later that it was actually out of stock. But I just had to have that color, so I reached out to Keeley (http://www.robertkeeley.com) directly, and they're sending the pedal tomorrow!
Berry Dickson at Keeley also gave me a little tip to share with EQ readers: Apparently, their 4-knob C4 Compressor is great for more than just your guitar pedalboard. Patch it into an insert on your mixer, and it's also handy for recording and live applications.
Keep living and breathing music!