I was over the moon when I finished writing and composing my FIRST-EVER song You’re My Love.
There will never be another “first-ever song” and I was really looking forward to bringing You’re My Love to life, and the experience of making it. I was ready to record it in December last year. The first studio and Musicians I hired said it should take a week or less to record the first version of my song. I was excited and prepped to start rehearsing and recording.
I have close to two decades of work experience in various fields, from my first job as a part-time Sodexo waitress while doing my Masters’ at Marquette university, to being a Software QA Manager in the United States, to Theatre Acting and being an Entrepreneur back home in India.
Although I’m new to the Singer-Songwriter-world and that of Music Production, I, as a Voice Actor & Director for the past 6 years, have worked with a number of Studios, Sound Engineers, Actors, and Clients worldwide, and I’m privileged to be friends with some of them to this day.
I believed that Song Production will be just as fun and rewarding as my work as a Voice Actor. So, I was all set to begin work in December.
- Casting calls sent to guitarists and drummers – done!
- Schedules – set and ready to roll!
- A week to record a song at one studio – great!
- Since the first-ever song will always remain special, will the studio, musicians, and I have a fun & creative experience making it? – Hell yeah!
I planned for the song to be done by January 15th at the most.
I WAS SO WRONG!
On every level!
- gave me the runaround
- displayed unprofessional behavior: ranging from being rude and condescending, to, flat-out psychotic meltdowns and fits of rage to extort more money!
- gave me unusable tracks with headphone leaks (even after two-to-three retake sessions); bizarre studio setups and lapses with presets (saying “You gotta manage with that”); bad takes with incorrect levels or severe glitches; and charged me for these hours nonetheless.
- over-committed about extra services like drum and bass programming, without having the required knowledge or experience playing the actual instruments, or programming them properly,
- gave me such a poorly mixed and mastered song, with chaotic drum and bass tracks that had no place in a love ballad, and totally drowned out the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks. The last Studio not only wrecked my love ballad, but took it into a weird realm. They’d give me the run-around again, when I tried to book and PAY to rework and fix all issues.
- and most interestingly (drum-roll please!) — 4 of them called me “an AMATEUR ARTIST”, a “JUNIOR”; and said things like: “YOU ARE NEW TO MUSIC”, “FIRST LEARN MUSIC, AND THEN WRITE A SONG”, “FIRST LEARN MUSIC, THEN BECOME A MUSICIAN”…and used other creative ways, to bully me, discourage me, and unduly stress me out, when I sought professional work and accountability (like any other client would).
This last point particularly struck me.
Do I deserve any less human decency or professional courtesy — because I am a first-time Singer-Songwriter?
Is there a rule-book somewhere that says that I can’t learn to play musical instruments AND create music at the same time?
Doesn’t every Musician and Singer start with Song number 1?
Am I any less of a Singer when recording my first song versus my 100th (here’s hoping! )?
I believe that Music runs through all of us, and is around us. Last time I checked, one does not have to apply for a license to create and share their art with the world, be it by means of a poem, or a painting, a movie or, in my case, a song.
The motives for this total lack of civility and professionalism, and such hostility, and such a passive-aggressive or full-on aggressive treatment of a new Singer, are all beyond my reasoning and comprehension.
I bet they wouldn’t dare to behave the same way with a first-time Singer, say, with a pedigreed music or film industry background.
I later realized that all of this is subtext or code for “you don’t come from influence, so you will shut up, take the sub-par tracks we give you, pay us for it, walk away, and not hold us to account, for the disservice we’ve done to your song”.
This February 8th I was left with a usable Acoustic Guitar track from Studio 1, a usable Vocal Track from Studio 2, ZERO usable Drum and Bass tracks, and found myself (for 3 days), at the receiving end of the last Musician’s behavior straight out of hell, with his stalling, his trying to extort more than quadruple of what was contractually agreed on without providing any tracks, to his insults, endless misunderstandings, tirades, verbal and psychological abuse — despite my renewing the contract and agreeing to pay him more.
I had about enough working with yet another entity trying to capitalize on my situation and disrespect me while at it. So I made a choice to take whatever was paid-for and salvageable. The Musician transfers the Files and deletes his copies. I come home to find out that he deliberately exports glitchy drum and bass tracks, rendering them unusable!
So I was back to square one with an Acoustic Guitar track and a Vocal track.
2. Finish what I started, and Mix and Master the song myself to make the February 14th release deadline.
I have the most basic audio-editing skills, so thanks to Audacity, and the support and motivation of my dear friends to trust my instincts, I chose option 2!
The way I see it now, the struggles I went through these past two months is the Universe’s way of testing my resilience and determination to stay true to my song and do it justice. I am happy and proud to have done my absolute best to complete this version of You’re My Love, to stay on schedule for tomorrow’s release.
I wrote You’re My Love as a gender-neutral song to celebrate love.
I wrote You’re My Love to celebrate the love and memories we create, share, and cherish with a partner (past or present).
I haven’t found my one-true-love yet, so I wanted to sing and dedicate You’re My Love to my future partner (whoever he is, and wherever he is! ).
I am releasing You’re My Love worldwide for free, because LOVE IS A POWERFUL COMMON THREAD THAT CONNECTS US ALL HUMAN BEINGS, and through this first song, I want to celebrate it with as many people out in the world as possible!
FOR THOSE FACING SEEMINGLY-INSURMOUNTABLE ODDS:
I’m writing this for everyone out there who has ever tried to create an honest song or an expression of their art, and has had equally troubling experiences (or more) of others try to tear them down.
I writing to ask you to be unstoppable in your artistic pursuits!
Trust, respect and love yourself. Nurture your creativity against all odds.
Don’t let anyone’s negativity, insecurity, or ignorance, ever stop you, or ruin the beauty of your pursuit.
YOU are in the driver’s seat! Be a force to be reckoned with!
Stay fluid, stay positive, stay grounded, and constantly strive to find solutions, work hard and tirelessly on your dreams. Yes these experiences may make you feel weary for a while, or temporarily slow you down. So rest, clear your mind, and bounce back with a million-times more positivity and determination.
Do it right and do it well — for everything that’s good and right about your life.
CALLING ALL STUDIOS!!
There are countless honourable studios and musicians locally and internationally. It’s plain unfortunate that I didn’t get to work with any of you, on my first song.
I wanted to originally write this post as an SOS to studios and engineers worldwide to see if I would be respected for being a first-time musician, and my song will be done justice for the services hired. But given that I had just 5 days to my February 14th release date, I had to edit this version as best as I could.
I plan on creating a few more versions of You’re My Love. After which I’d like to begin working on my next 3 songs.
So if you are a Studio, Sound Engineer, or a Musician who can understand and relate to what I’ve been through, you care to respect the process and people, choose quality over quantity, give a damn about creating TRUE music, believe in the purity of perfecting a song, and believe in making it about the song, and not about the abuse of power, egos, etc., then I cannot wait to make music with you! CALL ME!
To listen to my music & to view my Social Media Links: PadmaDivakaruni.com