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Commentary: Lizzo producer Ricky Reed on rising and grinding (at home) in this new reality

Ricky reed
Producer Ricky Reed
(Chantal Anderson)

To all musicians, songwriters, producers, artists, those working in the music business, my friends, my family ... On behalf of myself, my coauthors Ross Golan and Justin Tranter and a list of co-signees including artists Lizzo, Shawn Mendes, Finneas O’Connell, as well as the heads of every major publishing company and numerous label executives (full list here), please listen when we say:

It’s time to stop.

It’s the hardest thing for us to do. Most of us had to fight (and are still fighting) tooth and nail for every inch of our careers. When I moved to L.A., I had to bike and bus to all my sessions. This is the only business that rewards us for staying out late, partying, throwing caution to the wind. We have grown accustomed to endangering our bodies running down a dream.

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But it’s time to stop. We might be in good health, young, unbothered. But this virus is not sparing our parents and grandparents. It is not sparing our immuno-compromised brothers and sisters. It is not sparing kids with asthma. And an overwhelmed health-care system won’t have space for anyone sick for any reason (that includes you) if we don’t act now. The sooner we take bold action (extreme social distancing) the sooner we can get back to our lives.

If you are a label head, publisher or artist reading this article while conducting a songwriting camp for your artist or yourself, please join us in pressing pause. Our collective talent and hunger will be here waiting for the opportunity when we are past this.

Yes, I hope you’re washing your hands for 20 seconds while singing that hook you’re working on. Yes, I hope you’re wiping your greasy phone down at the end of every day. But I am also begging you, just for a few weeks, to stop doing the things you really don’t want to stop doing: No sessions. No meetings. No shows.

You might argue that you don’t have the luxury of missing a week or two. I’m including some resources at the bottom that might be able to help ease the strain you might feel from taking some downtime.

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From live-streamed living-room concerts to virtual reality-enabled superstar shows, you can still experience live music (online, anyway) during coronavirus pandemic.

But I’m guessing that, for most of you, whether you’re an artist, songwriter, producer, engineer, executive, intern, A&R, assistant, agent, manager or runner:

You’re afraid slowing down means falling off.

It is scary to slow down, I know it. I feel it too — if I don’t go 100 mph, 24 hours a day, [I feel] someone is going to tear down everything I’ve built. A dear friend reminded me when I was about to become a father for the second (and third) time that everything would be there waiting when I got back.

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I ended up discovering that stepping out of my regular work life led to creativity I couldn’t have otherwise imagined. Songwriters, when was the last time you wrote a song alone? Producers, [have you] been meaning to learn a new instrument or software? Artists, some of the greatest albums have been made in isolation (Bon Iver’s debut, for one). Use this time.

That said, being isolated in our homes doesn’t mean we should be isolated from our people! I’m going to try my first writing sessions over FaceTime and Skype this week. I’m going to plan an Instagram Live session and take feedback on a new track in real time. Twitch not only provides a great platform for livestreaming your work for collaboration but can generate income while you’re at it. Korg and Moog have even made their synth apps free for the rest of the month. While tucked away in our spaces we need to use all this technology at our fingertips to lean into our creativity and lean into our social circles.

All these years you’ve been working, you’ve been building your world. Your community, your catalog, your friendships. These people are all going through the same thing right now. You need them and they need you. Nobody is using this time to get ahead of you. (If they are, they’re endangering those around them for personal gain and will be remembered for it.)

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Please, let’s band together by staying apart. Our family over on the live music side has already been forced to shut down. Let this serve as a show of solidarity with them. We only have one chance to slow this thing down before it gets truly scary and the time is right now. Like, right now.

Resources:

COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resource

Change.org Covid-19 Federal Aid Package for Events Industry

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MusiCares Emergency Financial Assistance

Ricky Reed is a Los Angeles-based, five-time Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter known for his work with Lizzo, Maggie Rogers, Twenty One Pilots, Halsey, Leon Bridges and many others. He is the founder of Nice Life Recording Company.


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