Why Indie Artists Should Pay Attention to DRIX and His Music Model
What if I told you there is a new group of emerging music makers whose talent is so amazing they are tearing down existing music platforms and pioneering in the music lane of “no boundaries." They exist, and DRIX is one of them. For lack of a better word, I refer to these emerging song-crafters, as Musical Hybrids. What the television show “Big Bang Theory” has done for nerds and physics revival in 2015 is exactly what DRIX and others like him are doing for the science of music, and it's working in leaps in bounds.
What if I told you about a guy who is going to release two albums in 2016, one Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and one Punk Rock Album? Then I tell you he writes the music, plays guitar and sings on the punk album and that he did custom sound design and wrote all the music for the EDM album. Not hard to believe -- after all, Skrillex has done it. If I mention that after high school this guy went to his local community college and became a certified audio engineer, then the achievement is not so astonishing. Now what if I told you that he wrote three instrumental tracks for MAZDA commercials, a Dubstep song for SABAN Power Rangers, and dozens of music cues in multiple genres for film & TV? It’s all true, in fact he has a couple of hip hop cue tracks right now that are under consideration for EMPIRE, and swamp cues for Duck Dynasty. What if I told you he also has a hit, “All or Nothing,” with famed R&B artist and producer Dcat, featuring Snoop Dogg, and that he is in the music video on the turntables and playing bass? It’s all true, and “All or Nothing” doing extremely well overseas with a 2016 US release date pending. This guy did the “house” remix which is on the “All or Nothing” EP and additional remixes are in the works. It’s also true that he produces other artists, like ukulele songstress Brit Rodriguez, and remixes dance tracks for pop artists like Michelle Saunders. This is all the work of 25 year old Ben “DRIX” Frank.
Songwriting, musicianship and singing all play a big role in defining DRIX. He can sing the blues with amazing conviction, play bass or guitar in just about any cover band, and write lyrics in multiple genres. So is he a Record Producer, Audio Engineer, Musician, Songwriter, Lyricist, Mixer or Composer? Is he all of that and more.
An educator and philanthropist, DRIX is known for teaching children the science of sound by donating his time to teach whenever possible. He integrates mathematics, psychology, physics, performance, composition, cognition, acoustics and statistics into his music production classes. He’s like the Bill Nye of Sound Science. His favorite line in the classroom is “Music Production, did you think it wasn’t science?” Kids love him because he is DRIX, the guy who wrote the Power Rangers Dubstep track. Saban Brands hired DRIX to custom write that Dubstep track for a viral video campaign with the hopes of reaching 1 million views in a year, to their surprise it hit 3 million in just a few short months, and is now at the 12 million mark. (DRIX-Power Rangers Project)
Most of the music that he writes, whether it's Rock, Punk, Pop or Electronic, starts with a guitar. He lays down his melodies and chord structures this way before moving into the electronic components of song-crafting. “You got to be a musician to be good at musicianship.”
In August 2015 DRIX became the “Ambassador to the Fender Music Foundation.” The foundation is a 501c non-profit organization that provides instruments to children’s programs, veterans' programs and medical facilities for therapy.
"We're happy to have Ben 'DRIX' Frank as our Ambassador because he connects us with a younger demographic which is important to the foundation," says FMF Executive Director Lynn Robison. “Music transcends generations and he is instrumental in reaching new generations. Our foundation is in need of continual support and DRIX is creating that awareness for us.”
DRIX proudly wears the FMF “Give Music Life” tee-shirt, performs publicly on behalf of the foundation and is working with Robison to launch an FMF channel and Public Service Announcements to increase awareness.
DRIX says his business model is evolving but he does follow the Trent Reznor platform. This means you can be in a band (NIN), write music scores, produce other acts and own your own publishing while not adhering to predetermined industry boundaries. The common denominator of all of DRIX projects is not working in a specific lane of music; it's working on a specific knowledge of the science of sound and music. He compares his world to custom auto builders. If you can take a car apart and put it back together, then you have the knowledge to build your own.
So is DRIX just a one-off of natural talent wearing multiple hats in multiple genres at a high rate of success? Nope, these hybrids are popping up all over the music business. If you ask DRIX about his music influences he’ll mention Jimi Hendrix, Sublime, and the Ramones. If you ask him who his musical role model is the answer will be Aleksander Vinter, who goes by the producer name Savant. “Like me, he started out as a bedroom producer, but from Norway“ DRIX says. Savant started pumping out music at an alarming rate and in multiple genres, building a dedicated and organic fan base. He maintains control of his creative goals through his partnership with Section Z, which is more of a groundbreaking model for management than a typical record label.” Joshua Hernandez, head of Section Z, works closely in partnership with Savant to execute his creative goals.
DRIX mentions there are others like him who are breaking the mold like, Eddie Grey, Tanner Richie and Jason Chang who create music from knowledge of sound, theory and musicianship rather than genre, single purpose, or sticking to a specific lane. There are some who say if you don’t stick to a genre or specific talent then you are a sell-out. DRIX counters that by saying “I’m buying in, and if every piece of music I make comes from me then I’m 100% organic”. For more info visit www.DRIXMusic.com For Bookings or Interviews Contact: Musicbizgal@yahoo.com
5 Things You Didn't Know About NAMM
5 things you should know about NAMM but probably didn’t NAMM (National Association of Music merchants) is hosting its annual winter trade show in January. What started out as an association for merchants to meet and deal with music manufacturers has become much more in the last decade. They offer the traditional things you would expect from a trade show like new products announcements, global interaction, creative spaces, maps, directories and media access that quite frankly make for a stellar annual event. Most of us in the consumer music market know what to expect, celebrities supporting their endorsements, new product demos, and great pricing on music products for retailers. No reason to give kudos’s to NAMM for doing what’s expected of any trade show experience. That being said, there are great reasons to tip the hat to NAMM for excelling beyond an average association duties. They are as follows:
1. Legislation - NAMM is extremely active in advocating legislation for music and students. They stay on top of laws, acts and legislation that are important to sustaining music curriculum and more. They offer simple ways to reach out to your politicians to show support for laws including the “Every Child Achieves Act”. You can learn all about music legislation on any given day simply by visiting their link https://www.namm.org/public-affairs/news
2. TEC Awards - The TEC (Technical Excellence and Creativity) awards really validate the products and people who are otherwise overlooked in terms of solid recognition in the industry. The TEC awards shine a light on innovators, engineers, sound designers who are the backbone to the industry. They keep the math, physics, and science on the forefront. https://www.tecawards.org
3. NAMM Foundation – The foundation provides services in three very big ways: Scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. The foundation host events like “Day of Service” and “Music Education Days”. They offer “Music Making Grants” and participate in volumes of Music Research. Their programs begin with toddlers and cover the gamut of humanity. In short, the foundation does a lot of important things in much needed areas. https://www.nammfoundation.org
4. NAMM Museum - The museum provides a place for public learning, special events and instruments that the tell stories of past and present. Much of what the museum offers includes the science of sound. Their recent event titled “LOW – The power of beauty and bass” included a visual look at seeing sound and seeing your own voice through sound. It’s structured education like this that makes the Museum priceless. https://www.museumofmakingmusic.org
5. NAMM U - NAMM University provides information and services for growth of music business. Providing sessions to merchants to keep their doors open. They offer lectures, videos and instructions on trends, incorporating web sales, and more. All this kind of support gives merchants the information and knowledge to be successful in a competitive world ensuring that music instruments remain a vital part the marketplace. https://www.namm.org/nammu
The NAMM show is spectacular, and to be celebrated as one of the best conventions in the world for its members, but let’s continue to celebrate all year long and recognize that an enormous amount of what they do goes beyond four days a year. www.NAMM.org
The Home Studio - A Valid Partner in the Industry
In the past, a commercial studio was the ultimate location to put out broadcast quality commercial work. The technological advancements and reduction in cost for gear has made it apparent that the independent music engineers can achieve the same goals from a home studio and with less overhead. More and more independent studios are popping up with quality sound that is equal to commercial studio work. Just because large boards have been replaced by a mouse click doesn’t mean we don’t need grand commercial studios. The industry still relies on large commercial studios, after all life would be senseless without John Williams grand productions of Star Wars compositions so let’s make sure they never disappear. That being said there has been some resistance or bias when it comes to home studio engineers. I think it’s understandable somewhat given the amount of unskilled lap top owners with DAW’s (digital audio workstations) they can make sense of yet consider themselves studio engineers, however the times they are a changing.
The resistance does not come from commercial studios, they are not threatened and great work always sustains itself. The lack of recognition stems from a variety of misconceptions and fears. Parents who can’t grasp the concept of home studio work as a career for child’s occupation. Production companies tend to think only commercial studios with big name clientele can handle the contracts, files types and requests from a demanding soundtrack.
There are several recording and engineering schools that only allow interns in commercial settings. It’s true that some of that has to do with liabilities and accountability, but it’s time for that red tape to change with the current industry trends. Case in point: If I were an upcoming engineer, composer, or producer I’d want to work with guys like Ben “Drix” Frank. His recent credits include production music for duck dynasty, empire, his artist producer credits include Brit Rodriguez, and his commercials include MAZDA and Power Rangers. Then there’s the video game music and two of his own albums to be released 2016 (one Electronic and one Punk Rock). Those credits are coming from a home studio and a degree in recording and engineering.
Commercial recording studios are very much needed and walking through the halls of Capitol Records and seeing the likes of Sinatra really solidifies that need, however they didn’t have to climb any kind of recognition ladder for the respect. I would just like to point out that the independent engineers and producers working from home studios have reached the point of welcomed credibility in the industry.
Becoming a home studio owner operator can be just as commercially viable as working at a commercial studio. Of course there are differences like the old “analog vs. digital” argument, or “we track together at once as a band”. Those scenarios pair well with gear and space at commercial studios. On the flipside, making your own studio hours, and getting the choice on which acts you choose to work with fancy the home studio engineer. There are many cases where both home engineers and commercial studio engineers work together quite well. In fact I wonder, just how many of Billboard top 100 songs were all engineered and crafted in a single studio regardless of size or location.