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
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
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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