Production 212: My FAQ Sheet

Production-212-Logo-1By Dave Foxx

I really need to publish a FAQ. I get about 100 pieces of email every month from subscribers like you, asking pretty much the same questions. They’re all pretty good questions, but I’d like to see some new ones. To that end, here is a list of my most Frequently Asked Questions with the answers. I don’t want to discourage anyone from writing to me, unless they’re selling software, mortgage discounts, debt management, Viagra or any other sex industry products. (I’m really afraid to even look at some of these things!) Please DO write. I love getting email from broadcast professionals.

Question 1: Would you consider listening to some of my work and giving me some pointers?

Usually, I welcome the chance to hear what my producer brothers and sisters are doing. This is why I subscribe to this magazine. I always hear ideas that I know I can adapt and use to my benefit. I probably would have been committed to the local loony bin a long time ago if I had to come up with new stuff every day without some kind of input from others. Okay. Sometimes the stuff I hear as email attachments is pretty dreadful, but honestly – those get the longest responses. (They need the most help.) Even these have ideas in them so don’t bother asking me. Just send it with your email.

Question 2: Can you help me find a major market gig?

Sure. Why not? I have a short list of people who do work that I think is major market quality, and I keep my ear to the ground for openings all over the world. In the last few years I have managed to steer three different people to big stations. Of course, they really did all the work. All I did was get them together with their prospective employers. Naturally, two of the three were Clear Channel stations, because that’s the company I work for and I hear about those gigs first, but I always say, “Anything’s possible.” A word of warning though: bring your “A” game to the table, or you’ll never make the short list.

Question 3: When I come to New York (insert time/date here), is there any chance I could meet you and see your studios?

I’ll tell you what; I’m seriously considering charging for tours at Z100. Until then, the tours are free, and worth it at twice the price. I do have to say that I am always amazed that anyone would want to see these studios. They’re nice, but they’re just studios. They’re pretty much like the one you’re probably sitting in as you read this. Well, okay… the view across the Hudson River is pretty spectacular. (For those who don’t know, our studios are actually in Jersey City, New Jersey – directly across the river from ground zero. And yes, I was standing right there on September 11th, 2001. We even have a “before” picture right there, so you can see the difference.) As for meeting me… people, I feel like meeting you is as important, if not more, as anything else I do. I know that sounds really self-serving, but it’s the absolute truth. I firmly believe that knowing people in my community of peers helps me be a better producer. I’m not even sure how that works, but it does.

Question 4: Could I get you to read a couple of lines for my (internet/college/carrier current) radio station?

Well, as much as I would love to do it, my agent takes a rather dim view of me giving away my work. (After all, this is how I make most of my living and subsequently, how he makes his.) If you’re a college student I might consider doing a few name drops for you, but please – you wouldn’t consider asking your doctor to give you a free exam, would you?

Question 5: Which library/service should I use?

Jeez, that’s a loaded question. You really have to get the sounds that fit what you’re trying to accomplish. For those who want to know though, I use John Frost’s service, Frostbytesonline.com; Eric Chase’ service, chasecuts.com; ReelWorld’s quarterly service called Cracked Radio; and TM Century’s service, Shortbusradio.com. I have a couple of libraries too — an excellent new one called Trynity/HD from a friend of mine, Robert Dudzic, that won’t be out for another couple of months; Killer Hertz I through IV from the world-renowned Jeff Thomas; several libraries from AVDeli (they recently stopped all new production but are still one of the best); and finally I also have access to a custom music library from FirstCom. If I’m really in a crunch and can’t find anything that really suits what I’m doing, I make my own. (Every studio needs a touch-sensitive MIDI keyboard/synthesizer.) Okay. I have a lot of resources, but there’s a lot more out there; some of it is really good too.

Question 6: How do I get my (EQ/compression/voice track/beat mix) to sound better?

If it’s a fairly simple tech-type question, I’ll be more than happy to answer. The problem is, these questions rarely yield simple answers. There is a yin and yang to production, a balance that you need to feel as you assault the world with your noise. Once you adjust the EQ to make a voice stand out, you have to take into consideration what your other tracks are doing at the time. Very often, when I get a question like this, I end up writing what amounts to a full-blown column on the issue in question and everyone ends up reading it here. This is not a bad thing. Fact is, that’s where most of these columns come from. Okay. That’s a good question. Please keep asking.

Those are my most Frequently Asked Questions, complete with answers. It doesn’t really suggest a cut for this month’s CD, but I’m sending something just for fun. As it happens, it includes material from Frost, Chase, Shortbus, Killer Hertz IV and Pop Tools II, by AVDeli. (See question 5.) Unfortunately, it doesn’t help you with your 4th of July promotion (well… maybe next year’s), but it has ideas, LOTS of ideas. Steal ‘em, use ‘em, I don’t mind. Honest.

And keep those emails coming, boys and girls. Just don’t put anything about young virgin college girls or fun on the farm in the subject line. My email filter gets enough of a workout.