Joey: It’s our second conversation together. What have you been up to lately?
Shanahan: I’ve been doing a lot of co-writing with other artists, finishing tracks, mixing, mastering, and tutoring. I haven’t been releasing too much; I’m very picky with my releases. Right now, I’m more passionate about finishing records and being involved in different projects.
Joey: Are you still designing samples?
Shanahan: Yeah! I work as a freelance designer for Cymatics, which is one of the biggest audio resource companies out there. That’s fun too, because making sounds from scratch allows for a lot of creative sides.
Joey: Do you think it’s essential to have different jobs within the music industry?
Shanahan: Yeah, the possibilities are endless. I think a lot of artists should understand that there are a lot of opportunities in the music industry to make income. You just have to find the niche of what you’re good at and what value you can bring.
Joey: Yeah, I’m just really amazed about how many options there are to make money in this industry. A friend of mine was talking about the value of making advertising music, for example.
Shanahan: That’s another great topic that you brought up. Everybody’s putting videos, but their content is so much better with music. Makeup artists or fitness models would prefer a customized sound for their brand rather than just a Calvin Harris song. It’s a huge market. I write for a lot of small fitness models and don’t charge them. I say, let’s just do a simple exchange where you shout out my name and can utilize a 32nd clip that I produced copyright free.
I build all of my Instagram following organically. If you do that throughout a month with several people that have hundred thousand followers, you can add a lot of value to not only your Instagram, but people would also start going to your Spotify, etc.
Joey: What are your thoughts on using your songs to sending them out for free of use?
Shanahan: Yeah, so I also do that with makeup artists. I’ve had a good amount of success using some of my Enhanced music that I would give out. Free music in return for a shout out is more common and works out better for both sides. Start off by making a relationship with these people. Even if you don’t know them, do some research on their Instagram. Make your Excel sheets, create your contacts, send your emails out one by one. Be very formal and explain how to bring value to them.
Joey: Sometimes I get questions from people on my Instagram looking for a ghost producer. There’s a couple of platforms where you can buy tracks, but they are looking to build a relationship with one person, which they can maintain for the upcoming years. How would you go through that process?
Shanahan: I’m a believer in privately working with a producer. I think there’s so much value in a building relationship with someone. A huge part of having someone write for you is trust.
Find someone that you are interested in and reach out to them personally. On the flip side, I’m kind of against the whole idea of online platforms. I think doing everything privately with your producer is the best move.
Joey: Do you do that physically or through Skype sessions?
Shanahan: Yeah, just Skype. I need my space and don’t like the pressure of having someone else in the room. It’s a matter of taste. I’ve been doing about nine years of co-writing and ghostwriting with clients, and it works out that way for me.
A lot of people are against ghost producing. I’m a firm believer in if you want to get in the scene, and you have another skill set, by all means, get in touch with a producer that you believe in and want to try to work with. There’s nothing wrong with it, in my opinion.
Joey: There’s a reason they call it the music business. The minute you say that you want to make money with your music, there are certain things that you will have to face.
Shanahan: Yeah, the moment you make that logo and branding, you’re putting together a small business plan. When you create a small business, you have to understand you’re going to be investing money, regardless of whether it’s on a producer or a singer, you have to get on Spotify, promotion, whatever it may be. That’s why when you pay a ghost producer, that’s part of your business. That’s okay.
You also need to look at time. Time is money. It takes a lot of time to produce by yourself, do all the research, and understand where your music is going. It’s a full-time job. You need to be open to getting help and working with others.
Joey: That’s 100% true. Half a year ago, I was at the same point with the business as creating content took a lot of time. I decided to hire a freelancer to help me with the content. In the beginning, it may feel a bit weird because someone else’s touching your product. But at the same time, it really helps because there’s so much more time for me to work on other things to grow.
Shanahan: I think it’s a great angle. Even if someone’s helping out with your website management, your social media management, etc. think about how many hours that gives for you to get right back in the studio. Whether it’s free or 50 bucks a month, it opens up the possibilities of what you could do as an artist.
Joey: Do you have any production tips?
Shanahan: Yeah, I have a few small things that I think a lot of artists could benefit from. I’m a firm believer in bus sending and bus processing. It’s a more natural way to control a large set of sounds into one. One thing that I like to point out to artists and producers is controlling your reverb and your delay as its own track. You have a lot more flexibility processing and eqing your effects using bus processing. This will help with a crystal clear mix.
Joey: What’s the other one?
Shanahan: This one is when you’re working with vocalists. Communicate with your vocalist before you get the end stems back. Try to get the least amount of stems as possible. It can be really frustrating and overwhelming to get 100 takes and stems. I like to tell my vocalist to send ten tracks. There’s nothing worse than spending hours on editing and tuning, and sending it back to the vocalist who actually doesn’t like the take that they sent you.
Yeah, vocal production and music production are almost completely different. Outsourcing things to mixing and mastering engineers can be really valuable as well.
I am a massive believer in it, too. If you have the budget and a good song, it really makes the difference. Especially today where the market for vocals is so popular. That could be your difference from signing to a label, getting Spotify placements, getting on a chart, whatever it may be.
Joey: Any plugin recommendations?
Shanahan: I guess I have a plugin tip; the plugin is called Track Spacer. I think Hardwell pointed it out probably five-plus years ago. It’s a very minimal plugin that has sidechain features but also analyzes the spectrum of the input signal and creates a reverse eq curve. Say you send a kick drum in, it analyzes the spectrum of that kick and creates a reversed EQ curve. This especially helps with getting your bass and kick to sit perfectly in the mix spectrum wise.
Having something visual to see in your mix is really helpful. Sometimes you can’t pick those details up with your ears.
That’s something people overlook. If you have a small bedroom studio, that’s awesome, but you can’t always rely on that being a functional space — test different headphones and speakers. I usually recommend headphones to producers since you have fewer problems with acoustics.
Joey: Do you have any headphone recommendations?
Shanahan: I’ve been using Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones for probably ten years. I trust them more than any monitor I’ve ever used. For an affordable headphone, they’re amazing.
Joey: It was really nice talking to you again, man. Thanks again for your time!