As many of you know, I’ve worked with producer Gary Gray a lot over the last few years. When we collaborate, we have one singular mission in mind for the music we’re working on together, which is to optimize each track for licensing opportunities. We’ve racked up quite a few syncs the last few years and recently had our biggest ascap payday yet, for several dozen tv placements in 2019.
We recently completed and signed a publishing deal for a track that I feel is one of the strongest overall tracks we’ve done together. I thought I’d share what the collaboration process was like to give you an idea of how songs can evolve and go through a few different stages, until they are ultimately completed and ready to shop to licensing opportunities.
Our latest track, Lost And Found, took several months to complete, from its inception to the final mix. We recently signed this one to my primary publisher in LA and I’m confident, as confident as one can be in this industry, that this track will get syncs going forward. We sent this one to our publisher and she responded right away, enthusiastically, that she would love to sign it. That’s always a good sign. As opposed to when you submit tracks and weeks or months go by and you ultimately never hear anything. Submitting music is sort of like going out on dates with prospective partners, if someone is really interested, they’ll let you know sooner or later. On the other hand, sometimes people just aren’t that into your tracks.
I started writing this song last year and made a basic guitar/vocal demo that I sent to my friend and frequent collaborator, MJ. A few weeks later MJ and I got together in person and we spent about a week creating a full band demo and fleshing out all the parts. MJ came up with a great 2nd hook, the line “gonna turn this thing around”. (See below)
After MJ and I finished our version of the track we sent our mix and the stems to Gary to start his process. Like I said, when Gary and I collaborate, our main goal is to create tracks that have the best chance of getting placements. Sometimes this could mean making changes to the track’s arrangement. Sometimes it could mean changing certain lyrics or re-writing tracks to make them more “universal” in terms of subject matter. Other times, like in the case of Lost And Found, it could mean doing a completely different version of the track with a different vocalist and even different instrumentation. I give Gary carte blanche to make whatever changes he feels necessary to optimize each track for licensing.
At the time Gary and I finished this particular track, Gary and I received a playlist of the types of songs my publisher is most in need of for a variety of shows she pitches to. Gary used these tracks as reference material when it came to arranging and mixing my track, “Lost And Found”. Based on this playlist and the style of production these songs had, Gary ended up completely re-doing Lost and Found using a different vocalist and also re-doing the guitar parts in a different style.
When I got the track back from Gary, I was a little surprised at first, because I didn’t realize he was making such drastic changes to the song. But, when I put my ego in check and just objectively listened to the song, I was blown away. Of all the tracks we’ve done together, this might be the one I’m most proud of and excited about. Gary’s mix and production sound so solid on this one that I would be really surprised if this one doesn’t get some great syncs.
You can check out my demo version below I did with MJ, as well as Gary’s final version below. I’ll probably do another fully produced version with MJ at some point as there are elements of our version I really like, but I can’t deny how undeniably great Gary’s version is. Listen for yourself below!
Lost And Found Demo Version
Lost And Found Final Mix By Gary Gray, featuring Joseph De Natale
The blog of musician and thinker of deep thoughts, Aaron Davison.