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Issue #105

Weekly Newsletter

by L. Swift and Jeff McQ

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Student Successes

When Jimi and Brian get you learning on the job, it’s often just the opportunity you need to change your whole life! Read below about a Recording Connection student who left a factory job to learn to produce in the studio, and now works with major industry people like Grammy-nominated producer Key Wane!

STUDENT SUCCESSES

 

From factory worker to full-time producer: Recording Connection grad Ty Butler ups his game

  How does a guy go from working at a factory to becoming a full-time beat maker and hip-hop producer, working alongside Grammy nominated producers like Key Wane, all in a matter of months? Ask Recording Connection graduate and master’s student Ty Butler.   “Basically, my day was I would go to work, go to the factory, come home, hang out with my kids,” says Ty. “I got two kids.”   But apart from working the job to support his family, Ty had a dream simmering in the background. Since age 14, fueled by a love for rap and hip-hop, he’d been learning to make beats, and over time had set up his own home studio. “At night time, when [the kids would] go to sleep, I’d work on music,” he says. “Some nights I’d get a couple hours of sleep. Go back to the factory and do everything all over again.”  
Producer/Engineer Ty Butler

Producer/Engineer Ty Butler

Despite his work schedule, Ty says he didn’t let it get him down. “I always had that mind-state where I’m not gonna be here forever, and everything will work out,” he says. “You just have to have a positive mind state. If you have a dream, if you have a goal, you can’t be negative about it, or nothing positive is going to happen. When I was at the factory, sure, sometimes, some days were bad, but every time I’d get back in the studio or get home with my family, everything’s fine.”   Like most people with a dream, Ty soon found himself at a crossroads. As a self-taught beat maker, he felt he’d hit his limit; if he wanted to make a career in music production, he needed to up his game. “I felt like I needed to take a step further and get into the actual studio work, what goes on behind the scenes in the studio,” he says. “I would make beats at home all the time, but it’s different when you go to the studio and see a live band being recorded or working with live musicians.”   For Ty, the answer was the Recording Connection. “This production…course was best for me, because you can learn hands-on,” he says. “See it happening, versus sitting in the classroom. That’s what stood out for me.”   From his home in Ontario, Canada about 20 minutes from the U.S. border, the best place for Ty to learn the ropes in hip-hop recording proved to be Collective Studios in Detroit, working with industry veteran and Recording Connection mentor Nolan Mersier (Beyoncé, Drake). So Ty made the decision to quit his job at the factory and jump in with both feet, making the commute into Detroit to do his apprenticeship. Working with the producers in the studio was exactly what he needed in order to up his game—not just in hip-hop production, but in other genres, as well.   “Just watching all these other genres being recorded and performed and mixed, it taught me a lot in my production,” he says, “how I’ve got to format everything, how I need to mix certain sounds so they go together…Because I’ve watched my mentors, what they did with their clients, and how they’re producing songs, and how they talk to people…It’s crazy how they work with people. I learned that, and I’m doing the same thing.”  
Ty Butler and Ty Dolla Sign

Ty Butler and Ty Dolla Sign

In fact, in the time Ty has been a student, he’s already starting to see his new career start to take off. After completing his basic program, he stayed on to work on the master’s course, but already he’s making beats for other artists, finding his own clients and bringing them into Collective Studios to record.   “I’m doing everything full time,” he says. “Music is my full-time job, whether I’m selling beats, or I’m mixing for artists, or I’m recording them at my studio at home, or the studio in Detroit. I actually started my own company as well, TNB Beatz Productions.   And it gets better still. Since making the leap into music production, Ty says he’s had at least three TV placements for his music, and even got to assist in the studio recently with Grammy-winning producer Key Wane (Beyoncé, Ariana Grande)!   “He had an artist that he brought in,” says Ty. “I watched him make a…he made a beat from scratch, and then I took the beat and brought it into Pro Tools. Then these artists/singers recorded some vocals to it, and I helped out with that…After that session was done, I played him some of my tracks, and he said he liked them. He wanted to hear some stuff from me.”   One of the most important things Ty says he’s learned in order to make his dream a full-time career is not actually about the music. “You’ve got to have a really business mind-state in this business if you want to be successful,” he says. “You can’t expect people to throw money at you right away. It might take a long time. You’ve got to think like a business.”   So, how does someone go from working in a factory to working with major producers in a recording studio? With help from the Recording Connection, Ty Butler made it happen by having a dream, keeping a positive attitude, and making a commitment to up his game.   
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Mentor News | Student Successes

MENTOR NEWS

 

Passing it On: Film Connection Mentor Jason Winn
fosters Creative Can-Do

  Spend a few minutes talking to Atlanta-based Film Connection mentor Jason Winn, and it’s obvious that he’s not only passionate about the craft of filmmaking itself, but also about helping his apprentices find their own place in the industry. A largely self-taught film professional known for such films as The Fat Boy Chronicles and The Assault, Jason’s success has been hard-earned, a combination of drive, work ethic and seeking out opportunities.   Jason says the decision to pursue film as a career came in a cathartic moment at the tender age of nineteen.   “I went to college and I was studying to be a psychotherapist, ironically enough, he says. “[I decided] this definitely is not going to work for a career, and I kind of went to bed one night not knowing what I wanted to do, and woke up the next morning…and had the clearest vision I’ve ever had in my life about anything. It was that I was put on this planet to make movies…I had no idea how I was gonna make that a reality, but I just knew that that was what I had to do.”   Not having the first idea how to go about shifting gears, Jason began looking for opportunities there at college. “They had a mass media program where they did some local programming. I just wanted to be around cameras, so I just volunteered and started doing anything I could do to get my hand on a camera to shoot something and tell a story; that’s what I started doing.”  
Actor Baby Norman and Director Jason Winn on set of Paula Peril: The Serpent Cult

Actor Baby Norman and Director Jason Winn on set of Paula Peril: The Serpent Cult

For the next several years, Jason did everything he could find to do, from working as a PA to producing independent shorts to writing and pitching scripts. Even so, it wasn’t until age 30 that he had his first real break—an important lesson in making connections and being ready with a pitch.   “When I lived in Florida, we used to cater at Universal Studios in Orlando,” he says, “and big production companies would come by there. We’d ingratiate ourselves to the producers while we were serving them food, because everybody comes through the line, right? So we were listing all of these ideas, and one of the producers overheard us and started talking to us, and then offered us a meeting. We went in and walked out with 30 grand to make a teaser for a feature. I was like, ‘Holy Cow.’…That was the first break. And then once that door opened, some bigger commercials came in…”   From that key moment, eventually came projects like The Fat Boy Chronicles, The Assault, a set of adaptations from the comic book series Paula Peril—most recently, the short film Paula Peril: The Serpent Cult—and an upcoming film called Shifting Gears, currently in post-production. Jason doesn’t focus too much on the successes themselves, though—for him, it’s all about the work. “I have 10 things in different stages of development,” he says. “You’re never sure which ones are going to kind of pop up, so you’re constantly working, even if you’re not generating that income at the moment…You have to say, ‘I’ve got to get up, and I’ve got to write today. I’ve got to do this today because tomorrow, it will come.’”   Jason’s passion for the work also translated into a desire to give back, which is why he actually sought out the Film Connection to become a mentor. “It’s been a great experience,” he says. “Having found people that were mentors that just kind of helped me get to the next level, wherever I was in my life at the time, it’s been very important. I’m just a short stop on a long journey, and hopefully at the end of the day, these guys, I can arm them with some tools that, in the craft of filmmaking, they can use and find their own voice and their own path and figure out what that journey looks like for them.”     For Jason’s teaching style, part of helping students find their niche includes giving them opportunities in their areas of interest. “We just shot basically a mini-feature… called ‘Paula Peril: The Serpent Cult’  
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