Making Billboard top 10 hits in his Dad’s garage!

Not taking any credit for this article at all  – -but have posted it as I think it can be an inspiration and motivating to all those trying to get started in the production area – at least thought this would be of interest.
So replication of article by Graham Cochrane on his blog and enews Apr 17, 2017 

Proviso from Ian – to self produce specially in a less than ideal environment – –you need to have the ears to hear and know what to do (to correct or mix or whatever)– – – and how to finish it off to be acceptable to the audience and markets you are wanting to attract and relate to (which doesn’t always mean full mastering or pop commercial sound – – but you do need to finish it appropriately.  Other than that  – go for it!


The next generation of music makers will never ask the question “Can I really
make a hit song in a bedroom studio?” Instead they will simply do it and assume it’s normal.

That’s exactly what LA based artist/DJ Gnash hasgnash been doing …….. the last few years as he is churning out cart topping hits (like 2016’s breakout single I Hate U, I Love U) with home studio equipment in a tiny garage studio at his childhood home, where he still lives with his parents.

The emphasis with Gnash has never been on the gear and studio, but rather the songs and the audience – just as it should be.

Getting his start as a DJ, the up and coming pop artist Gnash (Garrett Charles Nash) turned to original songwriting and started making music in his dad’s garage.

Still living at home, Gnash and his dad converted one third of their garage into a small, but doable home studio, where Gnash has recorded every song he’s done. And the best part? According to a recent interview in the Tampa Bay Times he uses budget equipment.

“My dad got me the same mic I use on everything now – this $200 mic from Guitar Center” – Gnash

I love it.  He has a microphone that’s working great and he’s not spending hours on forums or Facebook trying to find out what is “the best mic” for recording vocals. Instead he’s just using what he has and making hit songs.


And ultimately that’s a huge reason why he’s becoming successful.

He’s putting in the time to make lots of music and get it out there, rather than debate what equipment is “professional” enough to make a record.

And speaking of “getting it out there”, let’s talk about his approach to releasing music.

Dropping Singles As Soon As You Write Them

The pattern for as long as I can remember has been for artists to spend about one to two years writing, recording, mixing, and preparing to release an album or collection of songs.
Thus, every two to three years, every major artist would (and in most cases still does) release a brand new album to the world, complete with new singles, music videos, and an announcement of new tour dates.            Music was created on a 2 year cycle.

But the last few years I’ve seen a change and have personally (Cochrane) been advocating for a change in release method for most modern musicians. Moving away from the 2 year album cycle to the yearly or even monthly cycle.

Gnash is a great example of someone who is doing just that – ‘preferring to drop new singles almost as soon as he writes and records them’.

According to Billboard Magazine, even with his 2016 hit I Hate U, I Love U he simply finished it and put it out online for all to hear.

“I mixed it, finished the verse, fixed it, and put it out on the same night — and I went inside to my house ’cause I work in my garage, I make all my stuff out there — and I went into my mom’s bedroom like, ‘Mom, I just put my biggest song ever out,’ kinda joking, and she was like, ‘Go back to bed, honey.’ That’s about the extent of what I thought the song was gonna be. – Gnash

How home studio is that?

Writing, recording, mixing, and releasing music on a song by song basis is not only a reasonable way to approach music making as an artist it’s smart for your brand.

Musicians should view themselves as content creators and your audience prefers a steady stream of content, rather than a big collection every two years.

Simply Staying Focused On Creating Cool Stuff
To get a feel for how Gnash works on music and how he stays focused on the important things, you have to check out a 10 minute mini-documentary. After a few minutes you instantly realize that he’s captivated by music and creativity. See the mini doc video on Gnash here–k

He’s always looking for new sounds, new ideas, and new songs.

Using simple gear like an Apollo Twin and some KRK monitors, Gnash just spends time creating and collaborating, trying to make something that is “cool” that will connect with his fans.

And isn’t that what we are all trying to do?

If you’re reading this, then you likely have a home studio with a simple setup that allows you to record and mix your own music. And if you don’t, then the good news is it doesn’t take much. Even $350 could get you all you need.

Once you have the simple setup, it all comes down to creating cool music. Music that inspires YOU as an artist and that will connect with and inspire others.

That takes time.
Time to write, record, experiment, share, revise, create, share more, and engage with others who love music.

And every time you create and share a piece of music you get better. That’s how you improve. Not by perfecting something, but by producing something.

Gnash is a great example of this “recording revolution” we are living through. He’s taking advantage of it. How about you?

What is one thing you can do this week to kick your music making into high gear? Will you write a song in a day? Release a mix you’ve been pouring over for too long? Plan a live show in your town?


Back to Ian|
Hope you found it of interest – I did

Be inspired  – go for it!

Side note:
– If you need help with gear selection, thoughts, input, space etc  – give us a call
– If you can create what you want but have trouble getting the end sound you are after – you might consider utilising our online mixing service or contact us to see if we can help in other ways

Cheers till next time




How Much do Musicians and songwriters earn? How much can they earn?

Phew  – a big topic for an article eh?  Yes I questioned whether I should do this one at all.

But it has been a little while since my last article, and this topic has been brewing as a blog topic for a while.
I am constantly getting asked by those I mentor in the industry, emerging artists, and others  –  how much can I earn? Is the industry dead? What is possible? I cant see myself doing more than this? and why so many complaining? etc

So I thought I would put some thoughts and comments and links together and focus on those in the industry performing and those writing/composing.
Please note  – this is in no way comprehensive, an industry standard article nor conclusive  – it is purely my view and my investigations – what you do with it is up to you.

SO how much can you earn????? ……
How long is a bit of string is the first answer that comes to mind.
From nothing to huge amounts is the second –  –
because it all “depends” (this is my buzz word for the article by the way)

I know many singer/songwriters, band members independent artists doing local gigs lucky to get $50, $40 $20 or even $10 an hour for a gig (or just a beer and pizza). I know others who are doing corporate work and getting the equivalent of $200 or more an hour – (and then there are the top 1% which I will leave out of this paper anyway)

I know songwriters who have recorded their music and picking up $0.004 a play on Spotify through to $0.99-$1.99 a song download (PS hard copy songs are about the same once divide the price of the CD by number of songs).  But I also know others getting quite a bit in both up front and royalties because their songs are being sync’d into a TV series, or being sung/recorded by a popular artist or they are composing for games, film or TV.


Before I go further let me – as an aside – let me put some of the hourly figures into context -and do a little maths – – – because some of the non musician readers out there will see the hourly figures and say ‘what are you complaining about” because ….
$20 per hour – if working a 38 hour working week as an employee (discounting off holiday loading and super so comparing straight $$) would mean you are on a gross salary of $40,000 per annum.
So $40/hr means $80K per annum full time, etc …. $100/hour equates to $200,000 per annum.
Of course musicians don’t usually work/get booked/gig (ie paid)for 38 hours a week – a lot of their week is made up of the ‘other stuff’ from admin to practice to marketing,etc. They have to amortise what they do get in the hours they perform, record etc for someone else over the working week.
To put that in context for a musician to earn the equivalent of $40,000 a year ($20 per hour employee) and say they are gigging 12 hours a week (say 4 gigs of 3 hours) – they would have to command a fee of $65 per hour for every one of those 12 hours – – and do it 52 weeks a year!
To have say 4 weeks off with the kids and say only 3 gigs of 3 hours a week over the 48 weeks – – that fee charge needed jumps to$93 per hour to get $40,000 gross.
Being self-employed with all the on costs travel, gear maintenance etc – – to achieve a $40,000 taxable income the same as an employee (after costs)- – they are probably looking at a need to earn $60,000 or so gross – — which then requires a fee of $104-138 per hour minimum.
Obviously the multiplication occurs as the expenditure and family budget needs increase but it gives you an indication of why some sectors of the music industry are complaining about income levels dropping through the drop in live venue fees and streaming etc
Just to put that into context
– when I was gigging in the early/mid 80’s the fee I was getting as a live performer hasn’t risen (and often dropped ) today from what we were getting then  – the musicians fees haven’t kept pace with inflation or base wage conditions
– as another context  -sales of music
To make $40,000 purely on Spotify streaming royalty revenue today – there would have to be 10 Million streams of the artist’s songs per year every year.
To make $40,000 to the artist at $0.99 sale on iTunes of which they get about $0.70 – requires 571,428 song sales per year.

Does that mean its all bad for a musician in the industry  – – -of course not
First, most musicians, singers or songwriters/composers are doing ‘music’ because they have to, its part of who they are, in their DNA and so they are living their passion. And so there is that nebulous factor to take into consideration.

Second, they have the option to do it part time and use a base job to pay the money need.

Third, others are working hard and doing enough gigs per week or enough marketing etc to achieve their income requirements and be full time –

But also some sectors of the music industry are getting more employment and making more money  – so it depends. – Let me address this a bit more

OK so as most know –  the music industry is not a homogenous/‘all the same’ industry. There are all the different genres, different venues, different skill sets, different composition need etc – so …………..
to say carte blanche the music industry cannot support those in it  – – – to me is too broad a statement and while it is very true of a few sectors/genres – it is definitely not across the board – even within some genres there is dramatic variance.

So I would like to list some examples and references giving some information that may not have been known till now to some those in the music industry reading this – and I do so for 2 reasons
1. Seeing alternatives may open a door into brainstorming about alternative/adjunct areas to possibly be considered in your future planning.
2. To me we need to be careful we don’t tar the whole industry, or expectations of those entering other areas of the industry, to the experiences being had in our own sector (good or bad)

So here we go- performers

  • If you are a classical musician working in orchestral or band scenarios- you might go to you can see a table as set by the Musicians Union of Australia to give a base indication of various fees a musician might earn – while not great they do give some starting figures.

    At the other end of that  – are musicians full time employed in a few studios here and overseas working on online game and film scores, or with certain symphony orchestras or the fees of very popular solo, duo etc acts crossing over into mainstream.

  • Acts for corporate events and weddings etc will charge more than those in coffee shops etc as they have different requirements and expectations by the audience at times – while no ‘chart’ exists across the board – some groups do publish their rates – –
    So as an indication Viva group in Sydney have this page on their website
    String quartets etc may price like
    Cover bands in the pub scene etc can be $2000 for a band or even duo  – -or more
    And then the top groups will go up from there
  • While mobile DJ’s at a party will earn one rate for the night  – -a DJ/producer doing the club circulate with a following will earn more (as well as sales of their pieces/remixes) – to of course those the top Dj’s doing gigs around the world – check out  )

While some songwriters are struggling to be heard, or happy to be the singer/performer and sell their music at their gigs, online to followers and some community radio station play– others are
– working the social media with online concerts (ticketed), working youtube subscription channels to their music etc – -(check out and (your going to hate me LOL – )
– making a much higher income selling their songs to other artists for an upfront fee plus royalties.
– getting the songs (all genres can be in this) placed in relevant TV, advertising, some films etc  – all genres can be in this (as I say every time a guy walks down a street in a film and music plays from out of a bar – someone has made money from that 3-10 second grab)

In the songwriter/composer area  – when we start we start to get to those scoring /writing songs for musicals, shows, films TV etc  – a new bit of string starts to unwind.
It can depend on whether a main theme, background, a moment – a large international or local business (or show) – where advert will be seen etc
I know companies who have paid as little as $200 for a jingle piece or a telephone on hold work – through to the music for high profile 30 second ads costing a client company $30,000 (yes just the music). So some examples

  • As an indication of some of the fees for the use of music (recorded works and composed etc) in the ‘production area  – APRA-AMCOS Publishing have a rate card they produce every year –
  • Writing for TV can vary just as much- – one site that gives one point of view/indication of what is possible above those APRA rates above can be seen here
  • Then there are film score composers  – another piece of string unwinding
    David Bell in his book “ Getting The Best Score For Your Film,”… – gave an indicative figure about composers and budgets in films  –
    “The low budget film: A $20,000-$50,000 package deal. The composer delivers a recording — any money he does not spend, he gets to keep.
    A medium budget feature or TV movie package deal:”$50,000-$150,000 – established composer with a ‘high-end’ studio and a few live players.
    A medium budget feature or TV movie with ensemble: “$50,000-$300,000 music budget plus a composer fee of $20,000-$30,000 for TV, or $30,000-$100,000 for feature.
    A high budget feature: “Up to $400,000 music budget, plus $200,000-$400,000 composer fee.”
    (think Hans Zimmer Williams or Horden etc at this plus – check out this from 2014 )
    David Bell
     (born April 17, 1954) is an American composer, known for his music for television shows. From 1984 to 1991 he contributed music to 79 episodes of Murder, She Wrote, 5 episodes of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”, followed by 66 episodes of Star Trek shows from 1994 to 2003. In 2002 he won the ASCAP Award (Top TV Series) for Enterprise, shared with the series’ other regular composers

  • The world of online/video games music is yet another ball of string unwinding  – — you can have independent gaming composers like Chris Lines at one end  – through to TV, film and game composers like Sean Murray  (think Call of Duty, Counter strike and look at his list of credits  &  – no not the actor out of CSI LOL) – sorry no $$ there

And we haven’t even scratched the surface of the other parts of the industry – from production, studios, agents, managers etc etc etc

SO IT DEPENDS, always has and always will DEPEND – – –

Is the music industry a constantly changing beast yes, but it always has been (or it has for the 40 years Ive been in it)
Are some sectors finding it hard to change and make ‘enough’ yes  – some  individuals finding it hard to evolve into what the public wants now, yes
Are there some sectors like jazz, folk etc that have NEVER been big money spinners, not the ‘popular’ public choice, yes– – – –
Is any of that different to the past – no – its just different in different ways….
BUT others are doing very well  – so it depends.
No different to your view on technology and internet service development – while  public listening through streaming and phone data size has reduced income lines from per song sales and studio fees- it has opened up wider possible audiences and industry collaboration (and markets)  – – and a number will remember what it was like (and what it cost) to make a record 10-20 years ago compared to today.

Today’s industry is just different from where it was as things (often external) evolve – and like any industry that changes or has to shift and adapt to external changes –  that will favour some, hurt others, require minimal change in some and massive change in others –  and make no difference to a number.……

Most of all … the music industry is definitely not dead and there are always options, opportunities, (or decisions to stay as is) that exist  — -well that’s my humble opinion.

Cheers till next time