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What Every Modern Producer Can Learn From Mozart

What Every Modern Producer Can Learn From Mozart

Often, when society encounters the work of an amazing artist or producer, the word talent gets whipped out quicker than the Amen break at a drum ‘n bass festival. But what is talent really?

Have you ever wondered what music talent is? Are some of us just lucky enough to hit some kind of genetic musical jackpot? Well it does seem that way, but there is one factor that ties the greatest of the great with the humblest of beginners.

So, what exactly can every modern producer learn from Mozart?

It takes time to be good at something



Herbert A. Simon, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University, determined that on average it takes ten years for anybody to acquire enough skills to fully master their particular field[1]. In his bestseller The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shone a fresh light on the idea and the so called ten-thousand hour rule became part of the modern mythos of acquiring skills.

Although there are many studies that have observed similar figures for skills acquisition[2], further reading (and something we get into later in the article) shows this is not exactly the case. Practice in and of itself is not enough, rather spacing out and varying your practice seems to do the trick—as opposed to single minded focus on one outcome[3].

Although not connected to this article, we thought you might like to listen to a few of Mozart’s most popular pieces while reading this article:


However you slice the pie though, you still have to practice


For a lucky few, the process of acquiring skills is an unconscious and (seemingly) effortless process, but many mistake this acquisition for talent.

While a rare few seem to be born with innate abilities far beyond those of us mere mortals—Mozart composing music by age 5, Bobby Fischer Chess Master at age 15—what is often overlooked in the case of the lesser pantheon of “Talented People”, a.k.a. the rest of us, is all the blood, sweat and tears that lie behind gaining, maintaining and honing those skills.

Have a look at those figures again, although his first music was composed at an early age (put to paper by his father when Mozart was five), using his opera Mitridate, re di Ponto (composed when he was 14) as an example of his first “significant” output and success as a composer, Mozart’s significant works only really emerge about 10 years later. He composed another two operas in the following two years—Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772)—before his appointment to the Salzburg Court in 1773.

Mozart was a true, tried and tested touring musician before he turned 17. Leading up to this he had been traveling and performing (and composing) for ten years on the road in gruelling and life threatening conditions[4]. In due course he interacted with a slew of accomplished and established musicians and composers and even committed one of the first cases of music piracy when transcribing, from memory, Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere[6], a closely guarded “property” of the Vatican. So this interval of hard work is often overlooked when the genius of Mozart is contemplated. Indeed it wasn’t until 1773 in the Salzburg court that Mozart wrote the music that most of us know him for today.

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Publishing CEO: There Are Over 900,000 Distinct Royalty Payments For Artists And Songwriters

Publishing CEO: There Are Over 900,000 Distinct Royalty Payments For Artists And Songwriters

(Image source:

(Image source:

This was written by Kobalt Music CEO, Willard Ahdritz.

Why should music, which is beloved by people in every culture, across every language and corner of the globe, be anything less than an economic powerhouse?  Today, live ticket sales have hit an all-time high.  Music publishing values and revenues have increased.  Tech companies are investing in music by the billions.  And, perhaps most importantly, more people have legitimate access and choice, in both platforms and music, than ever before.  And for music creators, one global hit can unlock millions of revenue streams from billions of transactions and micro-payments that add up to more demand and music usage than ever before.

We are so close to the golden age of music.  But we’re not there yet.

While technology has improved consumers’ access to music, the music industry has not embraced technology to improve royalty tracking, collections and payment to the songwriters creating the music itself.

Yesterday’s antiquated infrastructure, which much of the industry still employs, was not built to handle the enormous volume and complexity of data that digital music requires today. 

And with the meteoric growth of streaming platforms, devices and emerging markets, the challenge of managing rights and collecting royalties from around the world is only intensifying.

One hit song today can generate up to 900,000 distinct royalty payments, and just one of those could be from Spotify in the U.S., for billions of individual streams, that then have to be accounted for and paid out to each of the song’s different writers.

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The Devaluation of Music: It’s Worse Than You Think

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The Devaluation of Music: It’s Worse Than You Think

order stromectol online In their many (justified) laments about the trajectory of their profession in the digital age, songwriters and musicians regularly assert that music has been “devalued.” Over the years they’ve pointed at two outstanding culprits. First, it was music piracy and the futility of “competing with free.” More recently the focus has been on the seemingly miniscule payments songs generate when they’re streamed on services such as Spotify or Apple Music.

These are serious issues, and many agree that the industry and lawmakers have a lot of work to do. But at least there is dialogue and progress being made toward new models for rights and royalties in the new music economy.

Starving artists have been affected by more than just piracy and streaming royalties

Less obvious are a number of other forces and trends that have devalued music in a more pernicious way than the problems of hyper-supply and inter-industry jockeying. And by music I don’t mean the popular song formats that one sees on awards shows and hears on commercial radio. I mean music the sonic art form — imaginative, conceptual composition and improvisation rooted in harmonic and rhythmic ideas. In other words, music as it was defined and regarded four or five decades ago, when art music (incompletely but generally called “classical” and “jazz”) had a seat at the table.

When I hear songwriters of radio hits decry their tiny checks from Spotify, I think of today’s jazz prodigies who won’t have a shot at even a fraction of the old guard’s popular success. They can’t even imagine working in a music environment that might lead them to household name status of the Miles Davis or John Coltrane variety. They are struggling against forces at the very nexus of commerce, culture and education that have conspired to make music less meaningful to the public at large. Here are some of the most problematic issues musicians are facing in the industry’s current landscape. read more

How to Estimate a Studio Budget for Artists

Time_Is_Money-300x200Artists these days are very concerned with budget. It’s not uncommon for an artist to have to provide all the financing. Labels are pretty defunct. If you happen to land on a cool indie label, they still may not cover recording/production costs. This means there’s an awareness one must have in the current record making environment. Especially when artists are using Kickstarter to raise a defined amount of money.

As a producer, you should have a solid understanding of the costs for every stage of a project. The artist is going to come to you with an idea of what they want. Often, they don’t have an understanding of the budget to realize their dream. Let’s discuss how you should calculate budget estimates for an artist. Studio Time
We all know about studio rates. It’s the most obvious cost for making a record.
When calculating time for a session, make sure to add a little extra. The stress that is created by a cramped session doesn’t help the project.
It takes time to set up and get sounds. Estimate this time and every changeover.
You don’t hit the record button when you walk in the door. So why start counting time like you do?
Add that extra time into the budget. You’re going to need it whether you realize it or not. Better to know upfront. Musicians
It costs money to get great musicians on your record. Here’s something to consider when picking musicians for an album or session: Even though a higher caliber musician may cost more money, they will likely save you money.
How can that be?! Because a seasoned session player can nail parts in a few takes. A less experienced player will need many more takes and also possibly editing.
Here’s the math. Let’s say you hire the best drummer and he’s charging $100 per hour. Let’s say the studio is also $100 an hour. Now, let’s say our lesser experienced drummer is $50 an hour.
The great drummer can nail a take with a couple passes. That’s usually about an hour after sounds are set. No editing needed! The cost? $200 for the musician and the studio.
The less experienced musician will take longer then an hour. They might not be as good locking to a click or remembering the arrangement. Let’s say it takes them 2 hours plus some editing (which we’ll call a half hour of time). That’s 2 1/2 hours total. The cost? $350.
So even though the top cat asks for more money, it saves you money.

Knowing how to stagger the arrival of musicians can save you money.
Having the whole rhythm section there while you’re getting drums sounds is a waste of money.
Have musicians show up based on complexity of setup. This usually means the bassist can be last.

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