• 724x

Using Vertical Integration In Your Music

You can do it all...and you should try to.

I remember having a conversation with Wesley Rocco a while back about our favorite movies, and John Carpenter came up. We immediately agreed how amazing he is as a creator, simply due to the fact that he does everything and does it well. Obviously, he’s an amazing director, but on a project like Assault on Precinct 13, he also wrote the script, edited the film, and composed the score. That level of control with every aspect of the process resulted in one of the most influential action movies of all time.

Now, I’m not advocating for everyone in the creative space to suddenly stop collaborating, lock themselves into a bunker, and just crank out product like they’re waiting on Y2K. Collaboration is important and the exchange of ideas is beneficial to all parties involved. But what I am advocating for, at least in music, is for every artist to get involved in as many layers of the process as possible.

When you have an idea that you’re passionate about and want to bring it to fruition, that idea is 100% pure in your head. It’s the source, after all. However, the more parties you have to explain the concept to, the more gets lost in translation at every step.

Let’s say you’re newly inspired to make a song after going on a crazy psychedelic trip, and the sounds and vibes are vivid in your head. You start to generate a list of aspects to consider:

  • I need a beat with this particular vibe

  • I need a verse to express these ideas

  • I need the right performance to match the energy

  • I need the sound design to replicate what I have in my head

  • and so on and so on

If you’re only a vocalist, you’ll need to talk to a producer and pray that they understand what you’re looking for; if you’re only a producer, cross your fingers that your engineer can deliver on what your brain has already shown you. The more you depend on others, the more you find yourself at the mercy of their limitations.

Now, does this anecdote come from a place of privilege? Probably, it’s hard for me to say. In my own journey to music, I started as a producer and only began rapping because no one wanted to rap on my weird ass beats. Sometimes, people still don’t want to rap on my weird ass beats, but I feel that when I’m able to control the production, vocal performance, writing, and sound design/mixing, the tools I use become an extension of myself and I’m only limited by my imagination. I can write and record a verse with the mix and sound design baked into it because I’m confident in my own skills to replicate what I hear in my head. I can introduce additional production elements to a beat to push it over the edge. I can re-record to make my own job as an engineer easier if I don’t like a certain take. I’m not waiting on anyone or just praying that they see the vision like I do because it comes from me.

I don’t write this to brag. I’m far from perfect in any of those fields and still have a ton of learning and growing to do. Some days I find myself focusing way more on one aspect than the others, and that’s okay too.

The point I really want to make is that you, the reader, should try to bring your ideas to reality as directly as possible.

Even if it’s small steps like learning how to apply vocal presets, laying drums, or recording harmonies, there’s no reason why you can’t grow your skill set in some direction. Everyone has their own vision, whether they realize it or not; that’s why you’re a creator. The more technical you can become, the more skills you can amass, the less barriers there are in between you and your dreams. There are plenty of resources to absorb from and a number of people literally begging to help you get started (myself included). Take those first steps and I promise you won’t regret it.


Drop a comment if this trick changed your mindset or creative process and stay up to date with more Editorials from Music Never Ends.

Read about 724x's debut EP Conjuring right here.


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