Lately I’ve been getting a number of inquires from singers who want my help as a songwriter / producer, and also a handful of paid projects composing video game and anime pop songs with vocals. So I decided to write a piece about what goes through my head when I get a singer demo:

1. Can this person sing?
Everyone has their own opinions on what good singing is. Most people would probably say that Frank Sinatra is a great singer. Most people would probably say that William Hung is a bad singer. I know Autotune is a controversial topic, and my feeling is that it is a production tool to edit and sometimes “enhance” vocals. But the person still has to be able to do a good raw performance first or it won’t help make anybody like it.
2. Does this person have long-term interest in music?
I view a singer as an investment. In the short term, I am going to be spending long hours collaborating with them on the project, so I want to work with someone who demonstrates a desire to give the best performance they’re capable of. In the long term, I want the song to not only sound its best, but also to sell as much as possible. I want to work with someone who shares the goal of making a career at music.
3. Is this person credible as the face of the project?
If I performed songs where I tried to be like a gangster from Compton, nobody would take me seriously. As a recording artist, you need to be able to convince people that you’re at least something like who you say you are. Whether you’re channeling a J-pop princess, a goddess from Middle Earth, a crazy anime fanboy or a gangster from Compton (or any other persona,) you need people to trust you and relate to you emotionally.

When I’m doing a project for a client, then my attitude is that the client’s needs come first. My goal is to match the aesthetic of the project rather than to promote the career of the singer. If I think someone could be a good choice based on their demo then I can recommend them, but I can’t play favorites and I don’t have final say.

If I am going to consider producing another artist, then I need to be extremely picky because it comes at a high opportunity cost. To be a recording artist you basically need to have the attitude that your fans come first. You need to be willing to promote your music 24/7 because if people aren’t buying your music then you don’t have a job. There are times when it can be overwhelming as a lifestyle, and it may not be for everyone. That being said, having a hit song was something that I wanted for a long time and I’ve found that it’s changed my life in an amazingly positive way.

Want to know my opinion on something? Drop me a line: matt@leetstreetboys.com