Reader Spotlight: Todd Roache Hits Payday With A TV Spot

| Audio Example, Interview, Reader Spotlight

What if I told you that one TRR reader landed an original song in a major TV commercial (along with a big fat paycheck), all from a recording he did in his bedroom and his car? That’s right people. Check out TRR fan Todd Roache’s work in this Mobil 1 advertisement. Can you tell that he tracked the vocals in his car on an SM58 and his laptop?


The Studio Setup

Todd’s studio is centered around Logic Pro 9 on a MacBook Pro and the original Apoggee Duet USB interface. Electric guitars were recorded direct through Logic’s own Guitar Amp Pro plugin. Acoustic guitar was recorded with a Shure SM57 an old Rode NT1. Drums were created with the Abbey Road 60′s Kit plugin and bass was recorded direct through the Softube amp plugin. And like I mentioned above, vocals were recorded in Todd’s car through an old Shure SM58.

I grabbed the SM58 I’d been overlooking for ages and did the vocals in the car (MacBook battery etc) cause it was evening by then and the neighbors have a baby I didn’t want to wake. - Todd Roache

From Procrastination To TV Airplay

Todd is very candid and honest about his procrastination in his studio the past two years. In fact, it wasn’t until he got the opportunity from the ad agency to submit a song for a potential commercial that he finally got motivated to write and record an original piece in one evening. Check out his thought process in his own words, it’s humbling.

I’ve finished almost nothing these last two years, because I’ve been telling myself these exact things: ‘I’m gonna wait till I get the perfect mic before I record my vocals’, ‘I’m gonna wait till I’m a better singer’, ‘I liked the pencil mic that guy used on my acoustic that time in the studio, I’m gonna wait till I have one of those before I record’, ‘I have no private luxurious space to record at home, boo hoo, that’s why I’m not recording’.

And here’s the killer bit – someone asked me (having heard my old records) – to write music for an advert – and BLAM!! All these ‘reasons’ that had stopped me recording for years – went out the window INSTANTANEOUSLY - Todd Roache

Can you identify with any of those statements? I sure can. I can basically talk myself out of creating great art because I don’t have everything that I “need” to get it done. But Todd took it a step further. Not only did he just use the equipment he had on hand, he got it done in one evening!

I leapt into action and wrote and recorded the song in the same night, blasting through my previous ‘barriers’. ‘But I haven’t got the definitive mic for my vocals…’ – screw it, my old sm58 will be fine … ‘but there’s nowhere to record vocals?’ – I’ll do them in the car, it won’t disturb the neighbors, it’ll sound fine through a dynamic – ‘but I haven’t got that nice small diaphragm condenser I wanted for acoustic’, I’ve got an old NT1, that’ll do fine, ‘But on real records they’d mic a guitar amp for their guitars’ – plug ins will be fine, they’re ad guys not bats, they wont notice… and so on.

And you know what? I finished that advert pitch fast. I used the vocals I recorded in the car that night. It felt SOOOO GOOOD to listen back to something FINISHED, just to have been creative and seen it through start to end. And … I got the advert, and a big fat pay cheque. – Todd Roache

Todd’s Big Takeaways

In this incredible story, Todd got much more than just his song featured in a major TV commercial and a paycheck, he also learned some valuable lessons. Lessons I try to teach on this blog each and every week. Check it out…

A lot of lessons finally went in from that experience – the “it’s better to have 1 plug in you can really use than 5 you can’t ” got hammered in more – as I had to move very fast and get results, and instinctively went with things I was already adept(ish!) at.

Also – everything I used – the mics, the guitar amp plugins – were things I’d been rejecting using on my own ‘serious stuff’, cause I was holding out for better, the real deal, who knows?!

It’s a good example of the truth that everything you already have is just fine – I thought it wasnt – but … clearly it was! That’s the most I’ve ever got paid from music, it was a real thrill to get that ad. And all the same stuff is sitting there right now just waiting for me to do more. - Todd Roache

What’s holding YOU back from doing what Todd did. Is it gear? Is it confidence in your skill? Is it lack of discipline with your time? Why not take some motivation and encouragement from Todd’s story and identify what barriers you’ve put up in your life and remove them today. Get back to making music and see what’s possible when you actually are working instead of talking about working. Way to go Todd!

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28 Responses to “Reader Spotlight: Todd Roache Hits Payday With A TV Spot”

  1. Rusty King

    Graham, this one put me over the edge. I really have no excuses for procrastination. My family and I just moved to a tiny house out in the country. I’ve been frustrated by the fact that my workstation is in the living room. But it’s time for me to write my own story, just like this one. Where there’s a will, there truly is a way. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Joseph Piccione

    Great one! Very nice sounding recording as well, great inspiration and a testimony to the fact that it doesn’t really take tons of gear to make a great sounding recording. I guest that’s Graham has been saying for a long time now, huh?

    Congratulations to Todd!

    Reply
  3. Greg Savage

    That’s crazy, I do music licensing for a living and to hear how he put that song together is inspiring. A lot of times the agency, supervisor or whoever needs the track contacts you with the shortest deadlines (2-4 hours) and you just gotta knock it out the best way you can

    Good job Todd

    Reply
  4. Greg Savage

    That’s crazy, I do music licensing for a living and to hear how he put that song together is inspiring. A lot of times the agency, supervisor or whoever needs the track contacts you with the shortest deadlines (2-4 hours) and you just gotta knock it out the best way you can
    Good job Todd

    Reply
  5. Charlie

    Needed this. This morning I woke up with a bad news: I have to send back one of my monitors for assistance and I’m gonna have only one monitor for more than one month. I was thinking: “I’ll have to stop making music for one month!”, but after reading the lesson from this post (make music with what you have, innit?) I was like: “Wait, isn’t this what I always do (i.e. mixing in mono)?”. So let’s do this, I’ll be more going back and forth to my car to check mixes but it’s just one month. Thank you Graham, and congrats to Todd!!!

    Reply
  6. Mike

    A car is by far not the worst place to record vocals. (Seats are perfect absorbers, angled windows are perfect reflectors and there are nearly no parallel walls) And the SM 57 is still one of the best mics to record in a less than ideal space.

    The funniest guy ever on youtube was an “expert” that was presenting an Avalon 737 preamp with a Neumann mic in a horrible acoustic environment. The computer was contributing solid background noise and the best advice for this expert would have been to grab an SM 57 plug it in any cheap interface and the result would have been far better.

    Conclusion:

    If the acoustic in a studio is far from being perfect, an SM 57 will outperform any large diaphragm mic whatsoever. Try it out.

    Regards
    Mike

    Reply
  7. Dinosaur David B

    The other take-away from this is that the only real money in music these days is in product licensing — TV, movies, video games.

    Reply
  8. Mitch

    I’m inspired and introspective. Congrats Todd, this is a great sounding track and the placement must be very rewarding.

    Something that I see in this article is the idea of working with purpose and intention. Those are very powerful things. Someone approached Todd to ask him to write a song for an ad…that’s a very good reason to get in the studio, get focused and finish something!

    So, Recording Revolutionaries, how do we define our purpose when there’s not necessarily a concrete opportunity on the horizon?

    I guess that’s my barrier. <– Hey, now I have something work on!

    Reply
  9. RAYMEOUS

    First off major conga rats to Todd! Way to go!

    For the rest of us, this has been a much needed wake up call. Basically, quit talking about it, and get DOING it. That’s what I’ve recently been trying to do, thanks in no small part to Graham and TRR and it’s readers.

    Case in point, I recently reconnected with an old childhood friend that turns out to have grown up to be a bluesy/jazz singer type. Since I’m just getting my studio up and running I needed something to focus on, so we talked about it a bit and I’m now working on putting her EP together. I called in some musician friends and hopefully soon we’ll have something to share. I’ve done more in my studio in this last week, just in terms of preparation if nothing else, than I’ve done over the last few months.

    Having that goal of putting an EP or album together, along with being accountable to the other people involved, makes you get off your butt big time.

    Thanks again Graham for eliminating my excuses. =D

    Reply
  10. Jordan

    This is a great post, but the fact remains that this is a PHENOMENAL song, and THAT is at the heart of all this recording stuff we do.

    Reply
  11. JMaglo

    Very inspiring and exciting!!! I pray all of us recording revolutionaries break down all the barriers and chains that keep us from producing the great product we have inside with the humble means we physically have. This truly is a revolution that we have embarked upon and I love to see our gifts make the way for us. (NOT OUR GEAR!!!)

    Congrats Todd!!!! The real question is how do you feel about your gear now?!?! Will you go out and buy all that cool stuff or truly continue to master what you currently have and then buy gear based on what you have created?!? It’s a fun place to be.

    Graham you are truly an inspiration. I can only imagine that stories like this make all your hard work worth it. Rally the troops!!! The revolution has started!!!

    Cheers From Baltimore,
    Stay Blessed

    Reply
  12. Frank

    what a treat !
    Chapeau, Todd ! Indeed, utterly inspiring …
    As of recent I can relate how finishing something has some kind of power. Finalizing mixes of recordings I’ve done with a singer/songwriter/guitarist friend under a self-imposed deadline called for almost an allnighter – but boy, to be able to hand him those five songs. And the cheerful comment from him on my work.
    Btw, hooking up with above singer/songwriter wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the simply recording podcast and the episode “3 steps to get your first recording gig” ! Thanks, Graham, thanks, Joe. Still at least one step away to get properly paid – now I have my several high class recordings and mixes to show for myself ! Acoustic calling card ;-)
    here’s to making better music !

    Reply
  13. kab

    Inspiring for homerecorders _and_ songwriters. Todd, the song is GREAT! Any chances to get ‘the single’?

    Reply
  14. Eduardo

    What a inspiring article.
    Graham, man, I just want to sincerely thank you for your work, you’ve influenced me so much.I’m an amateur songwriter/beat-maker and your method has really improved my workflow.

    I used to use too many plugins (mostly softsynths) and the reality was I only knew how to properly tweak a couple of them to get what I wanted and the rest of them were there just in the way, just consuming my time so I narrowed down the tools I work with recently, thanks to your blog.

    Actually you could write an post about this, about how this rule also applies for software synths or samplers.. cause you know they are really musical instruments just like a guitar/bass and the fact of having so many of them can be really damaging to your creative flow, at least I had that problem and it took me long to realize.

    Anyway, sorry for such a long post, I’m just grateful and excited.

    Thanks .

    Reply

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