On my recent trip to Nashville, I learned a bit about the music industry that I may have not otherwise learned had it not been for my friend Caroline's husband, pictured below. We got to sit in his recording studio Mainframe Recording Studio for about 20+ minutes and I wasted no time asking for answers to many questions. I hope you'll enjoy my take on it, and more importantly, I hope you'll think about what it is you do every day that makes your soul smile.
PART I: THE CONSOLE pictured here is connected to many wires and microphones that feed into the computer. There are so many knobs & slides along with multi-colored lights up on the screen that it is intimidating to the naked eye. Remember back in the day when they recorded music in tracks? From what I could gather it is still done that way except it is all computerized. It wasn't until he took me into the actual recording room that I finally connected all the dots. The thing that helped the light bulb go on for me was when he showed me where the drummer sits in a completely different room with microphones positioned to pick up all the beats from the various sized drums and symbols. It makes sense to me now that if the drummer were in the same room with the other musicians and singer, those microphones would pick up the drum sounds. No bueno!
While I didn't get to see any recording going on, I could picture it in my mind. From beginning to end, if I have this right, a musician gets onto the recording schedule, the players show up, they make the music and then Nathan masters all the sounds so that what you hear is what the musician imagined it to be. It is the collective effort between artists that is fascinating to me. I asked questions as quickly as I could think of them, sensing that he was itching to get back to his work. I asked Nathan if he is perfectionist and he unequivocally, without pause, said "no". I was not surprised by this. He is an artist who has polished his craft. He has been doing this work on this side of 30 years.
PART II: THE MUSICIAN dropped by while we were there the next day. You see, Nathan's studio is also his home. He lives and breaths this business. He works every single day. When he is not recording and mixing, he is drumming at various gigs and always with the band at church twice on Sundays. Tom Shed, musician, promoter, (see his interview with Veteran's News Now) and an obvious dear friend to Nathan and Caroline, stopped in to say Hey while he was in town from his home in Florida. Tom has two CD's out and was recently featured in a local Nashville entertainment magazine. He had appointments with some people in Nashville but took the time to drop in to the studio to catch up with Nathan. I took the opportunity to ask as many questions as I could fit into the limited time we had.
The first thing I noticed about Tom is he is left-handed. I have a theory that the most beautifully gifted people are lefties. Sue me if I'm wrong. Tom came to tell Nathan that he is on his way to Europe for a few engagements there. Why go all the way to Europe, I asked. Well, it turns out that the music industry is completely different there and his music is being played and he's going with that. If I heard him correctly, DJ's in Europe have creative license to play more than just top 40. Here in the United States, not so much. Tom is a singer/songwriter who wants to get the story right. He writes about true life. At the end of my grilling, he brought out his guitar and sang Davey's Cornet from his CD with the same name. As we parted ways, Caroline said, "hope to see you at church" and you know what? He was there!
MY TAKEAWAY Being in Nashville for a couple of days was enlightening. There are bars all up and down a street or two where one can walk in at any time of day and find someone singing, relying only on tips to survive in a city that is growing by 100 people a day. The fact that a recording artist and a singer/songwriter are still doing the deal and smiling about it tells me that it is more than 'work' to them. It is a way of life.
When we visited The Ryman and The Grand Ole Opry for shows, there were many artists who are in their late 70's still suiting up and showing up. Why do they do it? I suspect music is in their blood.
What is in your blood?