PLAY THE MUSIC™ PODCAST

EPISODE 14

The Master of Mastering Music | #14

On this episode of Play the Music, Jeff and Rich interview Chris Gehringer, Senior Mastering Engineer at Sterling Sound, an audio mastering studio based in Edgewater, New Jersey and Nashville, Tennessee. 

A true industry expert, Gehringer joined Sterling Sound in 2000 and became a partner in 2016. His work has been nominated for numerous Grammy Awards, and he has worked with artists including Lizzo, Halsey, Selena Gomez, Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, Drake, Cardi B, and more.

During the interview, Gehringer talks about what the role of a mastering engineer entails, his experience working on some of the biggest hip-hop and rap tracks, the moment when he knows that a song will be a hit, and how artists, producers and mastering engineers work together to craft a song and album.

Next, Jeff, Rich, Mick and Chris make their picks for FanLabel’s “Hot New Music” Best of Five Challenge. This week, we’re featuring new tracks from Overcoats, Whethan featuring Grandson, Jon Langston, Carly Rae Jepsen and Joyner Lucas.

Then, Jeff and Mick review the previous week’s picks, and Mick shares what’s coming soon to the FanLabel app!

For more on Chris Gehringer and his work with Sterling Sound, visit Sterling Sound’s official website, and follow along with the latest releases on Facebook and Instagram.

chris gehringer

Chris Gehringer

 

Congratulations to FanLabel’s players topping the global leaderboard players of the week!

  1. Lisa – Lisa616 Records
  2. Lana – PotatoJams
  3. Crystal – CK Records
  4. Tyler – TSArban
  5. Greg – GregMK

To get in touch with the FanLabel team, reach us at feedback@fanlabel.com.

Transcript:

Jeff Sloan: [00:00:00] All right. Welcome to this episode of Play the Music in association with FanLabel. It’s an app where you create a fantasy sports style experience for yourself by opening up a fantasy record label and signing artists and songs to your label, rising to the top of the leaderboard showing the world you know music. Win great prizes, VIP experiences, virtual royalties, they get paid to your label that you can then spend in the marketplace on really cool stuff like artists, merchandise and concert tickets and other really cool things. We’ve got a great show ahead. Rich Sloan, you’re with me today.

Rich Sloan: [00:00:34] I am with you and I’m psyched to be talking about playing the music in the way that we talk about playing music, which is listening to the music and picking the artists and songs that are going to top the streaming category. So that’s what it’s all about.

Jeff Sloan: [00:00:51] That’s always fun. I love discovering new music, learning about which songs are successful. And of course, I love beating you as I usually do.

Rich Sloan: [00:00:59] You love trying to.

Jeff Sloan: [00:01:00] We’ll get to that in a second.We’ll see how we did. Now we are going to have an amazing show today. We, as consumers, you and I, as lovers of music and others who consume music, we really hear only the tip of the iceberg to use that metaphor. That’s what you see, but there’s so much going on beneath the surface that makes it all go. And today’s show is going to focus on that and that before you hear the final product, there’s got to be a song. There’s gotta be an artist. There’s gotta be a producer. The song gets made in a studio, there’s gotta be a mixer or a couple of mixers who, you know, mix the ingredients to the final song that we hear. And then there’s someone that does something called the final mastering of the song. And then we hear it, and not until that final mastering has done, do we hear it.

And we’re going to hear about the whole process. But in particular, I have an amazing guest on. Highly credentialed has worked with some of the top names in the business you’ll learn about in a second. We’ll have Chris Gehringer on with us today learning about how songs get made, and then of course we’ll do some song picking this week.

Rich, we’ll go back on the record, pick the song that we think is going to be the most successful as defined by streams over the next week. You ready?

Rich Sloan: [00:02:04] I am. Let’s do this.

Jeff Sloan: [00:02:05] Let’s do this. We’re going to do that for sure. And then of course we’ll find out how we did last week. We’ll bring on Mick Brege. He’ll join us for the song picking, and then Mick will bring us up to date on some of the cool new things happening with the FanLabel app and who’s doing what, what players are killing it and so on.

All right, so Rich, it’s got a great interview ahead. With no further ado, let’s get right to it. We’re hearing from Chris Gehringer. He’s the senior mastering engineer at Sterling Sound. Chris, welcome to Play the Music.

Chris Gehringer: [00:02:29] Hey, thanks for having me.

Jeff Sloan: [00:02:30] So first, tell us this so people can understand a little bit about you and your role.

So what does it mean to be a master engineer? What do you do?

Chris Gehringer: [00:02:38] So mastering is the last creative step in the music making process. It’s where we take the final mix and make it sound as best as it can sound on its own. And then in an album situation, balance out the levels and the tone and the color of each song to flow through a whole album.

Rich Sloan: [00:03:02] Jeff, this guy’s clearly got a golden ear.

Jeff Sloan: [00:03:04] Well, you have to, right?

Rich Sloan: [00:03:06] Yeah. Chris, is it something that you have as a native capability of yours or is it something that you groom and perfect over time to know what that sweet sound is?

Chris Gehringer: [00:03:16] I think it’s actually something that you, if you find your way into the audio business and you really have a yearning or a passion for sound mixing is really a great way, but mastering is also a great way of using your skills. And I just think it’s one of those things where like you are meant to be a mastering engineer. I never knew what it was when I was a kid, but I always knew I wanted to do this, and then to find out there was a job where you do this, you know, I consider myself really lucky.

Rich Sloan: [00:03:45] Not only that, it’s nice to have the double entendre of mastery in any title that you have. So that’s kind of cool.

Chris Gehringer: [00:03:53] Yeah. I mean, if you say you’re a mix engineer, a lot of people get that, or a producer. When I say I’m a mastering engineer, they’re kind of like, “what is that?”

And then I explain it and then they’re like, “Oh, okay.” You know, it’s like, it’s a little different, but I think more people are hip to producer or mix engineer.

Jeff Sloan: [00:04:07] And it’s one thing to do what you do, and it’s another thing to do it well, but then there’s another thing to do it at your level.

You’re not just a guy that does this. You’re a guy that’s doing it at the highest level. I want to make sure we break down the entire process. So someone writes a song, I want to hear all the way through to how, you know, by the time we hear it as consumers of it, but first tell us this. You work with some pretty impressive characters, you know, the A-listers, if you will.

Tell us about that.

Chris Gehringer: [00:04:33] Well I just was nominated for album of the year for Lizzo and record of the year for Lizzo and also album of the year for Lana Del Rey this year a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t win, but you know, they’re my 13th nomination in those categories. It’s kind of nice to just, you know, be appreciated.

I guess. You know, I’m not really, I’m not basing my career on an award or anything. They’re nice, but you know, it’s people telling me they really love what I did on a record is like, that’s nothing can beat that, you know,

Jeff Sloan: [00:05:03] and you’re underselling yourself. Cause I know on the list there’s also Selena Gomez, there’s Rihanna – I mean we go on and on – Drake, Cardi B, etc. I mean, Lady Gaga, how about that one? Incredible.

Chris Gehringer: [00:05:14] Lady Gaga. Yeah. I mean, I’ve, I’ve been really fortunate to work with some big artists, and you know, when I started in the business, I was like doing punk music and heavy metal and there was no money in it and then I started working on this new genre called rap.

You know, I just, I thought it was the new punk rock and I really got into it and I basically, you know, in the nineties I made my career being able to work on rap music.

Rich Sloan: [00:05:40] I got a question for you. If I had said to you, you know, back in the day when you were early on this thing called rap, and I said to you, “Okay, I’m gonna create Chris’s fantasy record label and I’m going to have you put yourself in a position of picking the songs and overarching, picking the artists who are going to become the dominant forces or you know, super successful. I’m just curious, as you look back over time, have you been able to make the calls as it were, and would you have added the right people or right songs to your fantasy label, or has it been really hard to pick the best hit songs over time?

Chris Gehringer: [00:06:19] Yeah, for the most part, like when you hear a hit song, when I put a file up now or a tape back in the day and I hit play.

You know, within 30 seconds you have goosebumps over a hit song. You just, you feel it. You know, by the time they hit the chorus, you’re like, “wow, this is really like, this is, this is cool.” There’s been a bunch of people that I’ve thought were going to be really big and never turned out. And there are people who I never thought was going to be big, and they’re really big.

So it’s kind of, you know, it’s a weird thing, but I think for the most part, you know, for me now, if I hear a song and I know it’s gonna, you know, I just like, I think I have that radar built in by now after like 36 years of doing this.

Jeff Sloan: [00:07:03] That’s incredible. That goosebump moment that you talk about. I just find that, I mean, for you, it’s everything.That’s the moment, right? I mean, that’s the payoff, but that’s what it’s all about. And that’s so exciting. And it, you know, it’s pretty, it’s rare. I mean, look at all the music that’s produced out there. It’s really hard to produce one that is a goosebump-qualifying song. Right?

Chris Gehringer: [00:07:22] Hopefully, I mean, I work five days a week, eight hours, 10 hours a day on records, like I’m just listening to music from all over the world all day, and you know, do I get goosebumps every day? No. I might get them once a month or twice a month you know? And then sometimes it could happen twice in a day. It’s just, you know, one of those, it’s one of those things that it doesn’t happen a lot, just like hit record.

Jeff Sloan: [00:07:46] Right. And the variables that go into it are so vast. I mean, you know, obviously. Starting with the writing, you know, both on the musical side as the, as well as the, the lyrics, you know, there’s, there’s gotta be that happening and then there’s gotta be quality there. And then it’s got gotta, you know, they’ve got to match it with the right artist or, or the artists themselves that may have be a singer songwriter situation, have to be able to deliver it, you know, in a really incredible way.

And then you’ve got to add the right instrumentation and mix and, and, you know, but I mean, it’s just so many variables, but when it does come together.

Chris Gehringer: [00:08:18] Yeah. The funny thing about that too is that I feel like when a hit is a hit, it doesn’t matter who like mixed it or who mastered it or what studio it was done at, or what microphones or amps or guitars or keyboards, like when a hit is really a hit.

None of that stuff is even like – you rarely think about it. You really just think about like the lyrics and the, and the vibration and all that stuff going on.

Rich Sloan: [00:08:45] Now having said that, Chris, and we are sober about this because Chris, you are entering into the fray today being a guest on our podcast today, because every week we make our own best guesses about which song is going to stream the most.

And as we do that, we not only have to assess what it sounds like you, uh, you know, have like the ultimate radar for, which might start with the goosebumps on your forearms there when you hear that hit sound, but then you know to say it like it is, it’s so much more. It’s the moment in culture.

It’s what’s going on with that artist and personality. It’s what’s happening with the promotional backing from your label or your social network or how big of a following you already have in order to. Because like Jeff said, there are so many new releases that come into the market that are vying for those slots for those top positions.

So it complicates things, doesn’t it? I mean, that is all critical stuff in terms of defining what a hit is.

Chris Gehringer: [00:09:48] What you just said about the different markets – when streaming first came out, I kind of felt like it was like, “Hey, anybody can find anything now, because the algorithms are kind of like, if you like this, we’re just going to take you there.”

And then reality sets in and you realize now people pay for algorithms. You know, the powers that be may only send you what they want to send you or whatever. But I still think like if you find a song that tests well and everybody’s just like, “Oh my God, it’s amazing.” It’s gonna find its way to the top, no matter what.

You know, it could show up as a song and someone – a producer or somebody else could hear it and say, “Hey, I want that for my artist.” You know, and I’ve done that. I’ve done hit records for other people and the artist never comes out. And then months later, another artist does the song. I actually did it with that song, “Don’t Cha?” by the Pussycat Dolls.

There was another artist who did it before, and the label just didn’t feel like she was enough to support that song the way it could be. So they gave it to the Pussycat Dolls.

Jeff Sloan: [00:10:51] That’s interesting. Let’s do this. I, you know, we talked about wanting to understand kind of the entire process, and you only play in aspects of this process, but let’s, I know you know it well, obviously a song comes in, they’ve matched it with an artist and they want to make the song, and so the project comes into the studio, right?

That’s how it starts, right? Sure. And then, you know, obviously there’s a producer assigned to be part of it, and there’s a, you know, the mix engineer and the mastering engineer. All those people come in and play a key role and ultimately making the finished product. But take us through it. You know, what are the steps in the process and who does what along the way to make the song that we ultimately hear?

Chris Gehringer: [00:11:27] from the beginning? I mean,

Jeff Sloan: [00:11:29] It comes in as a project –

Chris Gehringer: [00:11:31] at the high level, I guess today, you know, there are producers who are looking for artists. There are publishing companies looking to put songs out that they are representing writers. That all comes together in, you know, the big music power meetings and everything. But then once they find the artist, the producer, the mixer, or you know, the studio, that just starts it. It just starts happening. You go in, the producer meets the artists, they have an idea for a song, and it could be weeks, days, months. You know, it could be a long time before they actually get the product out because once the idea is created, you now have to, you know, start executing.

Jeff Sloan: [00:12:11] Okay, so let’s just focus on this first major part of the creative process, if you will. It’s in the studio. We’ve got the green light. The producers assigned, and now we’ve got to start making some music. How much latitude, and I know it’s different from artist to artists and the relationship. Your relationship is different in situations, but generally speaking, what’s the producer’s role?

Chris Gehringer: [00:12:30] The producer’s role is to have a vision. This is the way I’ve always seen it. You know, a band would write a song or someone to write a song. There would be musicians to play it. You know, a producer kind of oversees what’s done, or the writer of the song kind of sees it all get recorded and tracked and everything.

Today. It just may be someone with a beat and some alternate sounds to go with it, to pop it up. You recreate that in the studio. You get all the stems, all the sounds, everything loaded up, and then you have your vocalist come in and a producer would kind of, you know, direct the vibe of the vocals, the adlibs, the choruses, the backing vocals, be like layering stuff. You know, the engineer on that would be in charge of collecting the sounds and trying to get different sounds or whatever through whatever instruments mics, you know, recording situations. And then when it’s all recorded, then you know, a producer or maybe today there’s a lot of guys who are like technical musicians who come in and realign everything.

Sometimes there are musicians and producers out there with great ideas, but maybe not the ability to execute them on their own. So there are a lot of technical guys who come in and clean stuff up. And then it goes off to a mixer where he would then strip it all down, clean it all up, and then start a rough mix, send it to a producer and say, Hey, is this where we are?

Jeff Sloan: [00:13:58] So when the producer says, first of all, I can imagine some incredible exchanges. Here, you’ve got, let’s say a singer songwriter in the studio, that song as their baby, they got a vision for this thing, and all of a sudden the producer says, “What do you think about adding some handclaps here?”

You know? I can just imagine, uh, now that obviously the greater the producers credentialing is, I’m sure there’s more leeway for the producer to be able to impact, you know, but boy, an artist is an artist and it’s hard to let go and accept, I’m sure some creative input right?

Chris Gehringer: [00:14:38] Yeah, yeah.

I mean, you know, the producer could be very focused on one aspect of the song, and the writer is completely in the other direction, you know? I mean, there’s definitely a lot of exchanging going on. I mean, most of the time producers and writers are kind of like friends or they hang out a lot, or you know.

Or people, they work in these small camps now, you know, they just get together and, you know, they exchange ideas. So there’s already that rapport and that relationship and inherent respect. There’s openness to each other’s ideas and so on.

Chris Gehringer: [00:15:10] Oh, yeah. I mean, I have a 22 year old son that works in a studio right now and in New York.

And he’s a producer, artist, engineer. You know, he does everything and he’s really living his best life right now. Being in that moment where, you know, one day he’s mixing, one day he’s recording, one day he’s assisting, and every day he’s in a room writing with other guys. You know, they write beats, they make choruses, they write lyrics, they do all this stuff all day.

Jeff Sloan: [00:15:35] And then as you say, you’ve got these tracks or stems, you know, so I’m the producer and I get you to just try the hand clap thing there. Let’s just try it. It doesn’t hurt to try it. Let’s, let’s lay it down, right? So you record it and you’ve got that as an option. Who makes the final call for what gets in and what doesn’t?

Chris Gehringer: [00:15:53] I’m always wondering where it comes from because there are, I can’t tell you how many times, like someone from the label is adamant about the hand claps and the producer doesn’t want it and it goes back and forth. You know, maybe someone in the band wants handclaps flanged or something.

It just, it’s like I’ve received mixes before, you know. We do it. They change it. We do it. They change it. At one time it was a Flo Rida track. I think we did 24 recalls on the song. 24 recalls. And I don’t think the song, like if you listen to the first one to the last one is not that much difference because it’s just certain things that you wouldn’t think of.

And it’s funny when I get records with all it’s, you know, like sometimes I’m like, Oh, I like the bass-up version better, or I like the acoustic bass version or you know, the whatever version, you know, the vocal up version. It’s just those things where like if you don’t hear it, you’ll never know.

But me being in the studio, hearing all the different versions, it’s kind of cool sometimes.

Jeff Sloan: [00:16:58] And then there are pieces that get in, and then there are pieces that don’t get in, but then you have the mix. So they’re in, but there may be in the background. Uh, and then there’s pieces that are way out in front.

You know, there’s emphasis as you go through the song, right? So that’s the mix engineer that’s responsible for the mix of the various ingredients that do make it into the final production, and they’re mixed accordingly. And as I say, there’s emphasis on some things versus others. Right? That’s the mix.

Chris Gehringer: [00:17:21] Yeah. I mean, and that’s another thing too, being the last person. I’ve received two, three mixes of the same song by different engineers and the label can’t decide which to use till the last minute. I mean, the song is the same thing. Basically the arrangement is the same, you know, all the music is the same. It’s just the way a different engineer positions at all and the effects on the instruments are different. And you know, just sometimes like the whole vibe of the song is different because of the way the mixer did it. I mean that to me is like super interesting to hear because. Nobody’s ever going to hear the other mix, and it is cool to, you know, it’s just like another thing, but the, I don’t think the average person would get it.

Some mixes are considered AC, some mixers are considered, you know, like pop mixes. Some are, you know, club mixes and they do different things, but the average person doesn’t really get to hear that all the time. The difference between engineers and production and things like that.

Jeff Sloan: [00:18:22] It’s so interesting. And then you’re doing this thing called final mastering of it.

And tell us specifically from, you know, now we’ve got the production done, we’ve got the mix done, we’ve got a song. To master it again means you do specifically what?

Chris Gehringer: [00:18:36] Basically mastering is done through limiting, compression, and EQs. Those are basically the three variables, the three pieces of equipment that you use.

On the music, the EQ is to make it sound more pleasing or more bounced as far as frequency. You know, the high hats are bright, the kick drum is punchy. You know, the vocals are crisp or you want something a little duller or something might’ve been too bright in the mix. You make those adjustments.

The limiting and the compression is the glue to squeezing a mix to be at the right streaming level or at the right radio level. You know, back in the day it was vinyl level and CD level and things like that. So that’s what a lot of the limiting and level adjusting is for. Today, there’s this thing called the loudness wars, which, you know, I guess I’m a prisoner of war in. By being the last guy, I’m responsible for the level to come out.

A lot of people feel that the louder the record, the better it is. Just because on a playlist, people have the apparent notion that if something’s lower, it’s not as good. I mean, I think that’s the way people are anyway. Do you want a barrel of apples or one apple? That’s the way they think.

Do you want a double cheeseburger or a cheeseburger? You’re going to, if it’s the same price or whatever, you’re taking more, you know. So people always want this louder record to be pumping over everybody’s music. And that originally started back in the vinyl 12 inch days. Where a house system could only go so loud.

So if you had the loudest vinyl, it would play louder on the system. The guys in club playing music at full volume all the time, so to have the loudest record, you would have the best bass sound, you’d have the best top end, and that transcended into music after CDs came to an end in streaming music started.

If your song wasn’t louder than the song before, people like frowned on it. I mean, it’s basically people in the music business because they’re the only ones that care. The average consumer doesn’t care about any of that stuff, but they’re not the ones making the decisions. You know? It’s producers, people at labels. They want to have some safety net if something doesn’t go right. So they can say it wasn’t loud enough where it wasn’t this or it wasn’t that.

Jeff Sloan: [00:20:54] Oh, sure. Right. And then there’s that moment that you hear artists sometimes talk about, that you also share in, where the song goes out into the ether.

It’s released. And all of a sudden it does everything you thought it would and should, and that’s gotta be an incredible rush to have your artistry go out there and get public by hand like that. There’s another goosebump moment, right?

Chris Gehringer: [00:21:18] Yeah. I mean, I’m old and jaded now, but you know, back in the day when I first would hear my stuff that I worked on on the radio.

You know, and it sounded good. It was, you know, it was totally like, Oh man, that’s good. Now with the amount of pop music that I do, you know, if I’m in the car with one of my kids and now we’re listening to the radio, you know, if we’re listening to a pop station, I’ve heard up to five songs in a row that I’ve done.

So, I mean, that’s still something that, like, if it happened today, I’d still be like, wow, you know.

Jeff Sloan: [00:21:52] Pretty cool. Hey, I guess we got the right guy to talk to, that’s for sure. Good job team. That’s amazing, Chris. It’s really incredible. I love what you do actually. You know, I get so drawn in as I listen to the process of how a song has made, man, I’d love to be more involved in that process.

I know Rich with your creative energy, I know you feel the same way. It’s such a, it’s just incredible to make music, you know? It’s cool.

Rich Sloan: [00:22:15] That’s what I love about the music business is. There are so many creative geniuses like our guest Chris today who are part of a business, the creativity and the business fundamentals that come together to create this industry as much of a cluster as it sometimes seems to be, just makes it so compelling, so cool.

I just absolutely love it. Much as I respect the film business as well. This two creative and business worlds coming together in a dance that puts that series of five songs on the radio in front of Chris when he’s driving with his kid. That’s really cool.

Jeff Sloan: [00:22:53] It is indeed. You know, I think what it is, there are a lot of things that we put in front of consumers in business that they buy consumer packaged goods.

You know, the soap that you wash your dishes with and all the rest. That’s also really cool when you make a product like that. And it meets with consumer success. That’s very cool. That’s good business.

Chris Gehringer: [00:23:09] You know, as far as like creativity and all the good stuff that happens here, there is a business side.

I have three partners here for the studio. You know, we are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve as far as technology, security, studio design, the ability to deliver files globally and deal with clients globally. We really put a lot of time and effort into technology and you know, I was at Nam a couple of weeks ago with one of my partners.

You know, we’re just constantly meeting people and talking to people about technology and where it’s going. We spend a lot of time. Developing our, our inter office, the way our work is done, or workflow or managers are heavily involved in our software design as far as office work. Like today, a lot of people have a studio in a bedroom and that’s cool, you can make cool records, but here it’s like, you know, we’re a global business and we really pride ourselves on still existing in 2020.

Jeff Sloan: [00:24:12] And it’s such a competitive world out there in general, but I just want to close on this one point I wanted to make. It’s cool to make dish soap, for example, and improve someone’s life as a result of making a better product and having it get into the public consciousness and all that.

And I had a hand in doing that, you know, that’s really validating and exciting and everything else that’s difference about music. Is that you’re not just in some, in a lot of cases, improving someone’s life, you’re changing someone’s life. You know, there’s something about music that gets us so deeply personally, whether it’s, “you’re saying exactly what I was trying to say in that song, and you said it for me and now, you know, expressing what I feel and I’m relating to it.” and even down to identity and individualism and “that song is me.” You know? I love that music that’s a part of who I am as a consumer. And you know, we identify with it, we adopt it, we consume it deeply, you know? And so Chris, that is the difference about, you know, it’s one thing to be in business and reach consumers and get their buy in and so on.

But that’s the thing about the music business and doing the work that you do and the manufacturing of a song, the power of it, and ultimately having it get out there. So thrilling because it’s so personal. All right, now listen guys. Chris, can you stick with us? We’d love to have you help us pick some songs in a second.

Now, of course, you’ve got some pressure, Chris, you just said within 30 seconds, you know a hit. Before we do that just to help you out a little bit, Chris, we’re going to, now we’re going to bring in Mick Brege here, chief designer and lead product guy on the FanLabel product.

He’s the guy that designs the app and creates the experience that our users have with the app. Mick, welcome.

Mick Brege: [00:25:48] What’s up, Chris? Uh, I just wanted to say it’s so great to have you on. Thank you so much for being on a Play the Music. Everything you talked about – I was in the room just listening and it was so interesting.

Jeff Sloan: [00:25:58] All right, now. So Chris, thanks for being willing to stay on and help pick some music this week with us. Now we’re going to ask you to pick last cause we don’t want to – all Rich will do is just follow whatever you pick. So please, and we don’t want to give him a leg up.

Rich Sloan: [00:26:12] Chris just texted me during the podcast, man, I got the phone under the table.

Jeff Sloan: He’s got all kinds of stuff going on, but all right, now let’s get right into it guys. So what we do here, Chris, who got five songs. Each of us are going to go on record and pick the one we think is going in the most. Our first option song, number one out of the five that we have this week is a song called “”Fire and Fury”” by the Overcoats.

Okay. Now listen though, Chris, don’t say too much, but don’t say too much cause Rich will pick up on every nuance there and run with it, but this is a cool sound guys. What do you think? I mean, just in general, let’s talk about the song. First of all, though, the Overcoats are Brooklyn-based female band.

They kind of fall in the genre of alternative pop and they’ve got a new album coming out on March 5th called “The Fight.” I thought it was really cool sound. I like the sound a lot. Chris, what do you think for that?

Chris Gehringer: [00:27:14] I mastered it. It’s one of my songs.

Jeff Sloan: [00:27:15] This guy’s everywhere. Okay. Well, of course he loves it and, and you know what?

It’s a good thing. We loved it too. All right, let’s go to number two. We’ve got “All in My Head” by Whethan featuring grandson.

What do you think Mick, how does that grab you?

Mick Brege: [00:27:42] Hold on. I’m wondering if Chris was involved with this one.

Jeff Sloan: [00:27:44] Yeah, exactly. Of course

Chris Gehringer: [00:27:46] I’ve worked with grandson.

Jeff Sloan: [00:27:48] Of course you have. Alright. Whethan is a 20-year-old DJ and a producer from Chicago. Uh, he’s, uh, he’s got a new album coming out as well, actually a debut album, I believe.

So grandson’s a Canadian-American singer, songwriter, musician. It’s a powerful sound too.

Mick Brege: [00:28:04] I like that. I like how intense it feels. Uh, and you can definitely get the, the grandson tone with that feature. Um, but I really, really dig it. I’m curious how this plays out with the rest of them, so let’s keep that.

Jeff Sloan: [00:28:17] We’re going to do that, but Rich, any reaction to that?

Rich Sloan: [00:28:19] Yeah, I would say it’s a good hard drive in a song moves you along, but um, you know, just this is a, this is an opportunity for us to figure out what’s going to stream the most, let me run on, let’s consider it in the context of the others.

Jeff Sloan: [00:28:33] You got it. Song number three, “Drinks” by John Langston – falls in the country category.

I was going to say… the lyrics…

Chris Gehringer: [00:28:57] I can relate to that.

Jeff Sloan: [00:28:57] Right. That’s what I mean – people can relate. That’s exactly right. Now, John played football. He was at Gardner-Webb before he became really focused on his career as an artist, obviously in the country category.

He’s from Georgia, signed on Luke Bryan’s 32 bridge entertainment label, and that’s a powerful country sound. All right, so there’s our country song. Let’s move on. Number four. “”Let’s be Friends”” by Carly Rae Jepsen – pop category.

Rich Sloan: [00:29:34] Did somebody say pop? I think we did.

Jeff Sloan: [00:29:37] Didn’t we? That’s pop music right there. Chris, do you have any insight on anything you want to share without leading us? Don’t give us any kind of big indication about how you think it’s going to perform relative to the others, but any commentary on that song?

Chris Gehringer: [00:29:51] No, I really, I think Carly Rae Jepsen is really good. I really like her new stuff. Um, I’m a little surprised, you know, she hasn’t been around in awhile and this album is like the music that I’ve heard so far. It’s really good.

Jeff Sloan: [00:30:02] It is. I agree. I agree. I’m actually surprised you, I think you said surprised.

I’m surprised too. I mean, at first, you know, so many artists get known by the, uh, by the – it’s almost like a blessing and a curse, but when you’ve got that one hot single. It’s the one hit wonder phenomenon, and boy, did she have a big hit? “Call Me Maybe.”

Mick Brege: [00:30:21] That’s been able to carry it since, I mean, all of her releases have been, have been super, super hot. And, and Carly Rae is our, a FanLabel poster child for our mockups too. That’s just from me being a fan.

Jeff Sloan: [00:30:35] Okay. And with no further ado, song number five, these are just going to be our final option in this week’s opportunity to pick the one out of five. “”Revenge”” by Joyner Lucas.

Chris, do you have goosebumps?

Chris Gehringer: [00:30:45] That’s the sound today.

Jeff Sloan: [00:30:46] That’s the sound of the moment, isn’t it? Is that rap or hip hop?

Chris Gehringer: [00:30:52] I think it’s more like trap. Well, that’s my son’s expertise.

Jeff Sloan: [00:30:56] Okay. Now guys, we got to go on the record here. Let’s start with mic.

Mick Brege: [00:31:03] All right. Yeah, so I’m torn between four and five here. “Let’s be Friends” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “Revenge” by Joyner Lucas. I know both are going to be hitting pretty heavy this week. I do feel like they’re totally, I mean, they’re totally different sounds first of all, right? I mean, complete opposite ends of the spectrum between “Let’s be Friends” and, uh, what Joyner’s putting out for “Revenge”. But I really, really dig Carly Rae’s sound on this track, and I do think that this has the potential to capture the most streams within this period.

Jeff Sloan: [00:31:33] In opening up a fantasy record label, you have to have the same kind of discipline that you do when you open up a real record label. And it’s not about the song you liked the most. It’s about the song or the artist that you think will be most commercially successful.

That’s a tough discipline, right? So I’m going to give you my answer next just to help out my brother so he knows what I’m picking. But, uh, I, I’m going to go next, but I want to tell you there’s a difference between the song that I would want to listen to and the one that stuck with me. Was there one that stuck with you?

Mick Brege: [00:32:00] Yeah, it was, “Let’s be Friends”. So I’m in the lucky category of digging what I’m listening to you and picking what I think is going to be most  successful. I cannot stop myself when Carly Rae Jepsen plays.

Jeff Sloan: [00:32:13] Let me go on the record. I’m the, actually, by the way, interestingly enough, the song I want to hear again, the one that stuck with me and I want to hear again is “Fire and Fury”.

I don’t know why that song really, uh. That’s the first song. That was the first time. I really like it. I mean, that’s a song I would listen to. Now that doesn’t really mean that much, but it’s interesting.

Mick Brege: [00:32:30] So are you buttering Chris’s bread?

Jeff Sloan: [00:32:32] No, no, no. I’m going to tell you the song that I think will stream the most.

And I’m going to go with, “Let’s be Friends”, Carly Rae Jepsen. So that’s my pick . So Mick and I ended up again, uh, on the same spots. We’re on that same song now. Rich, you’re up.

Rich Sloan: [00:32:55] All right. So I will tell you this, this is a complicated one for me. I’ll place a vote, if you will, and take one. But I’m going to tell you that I actually believe in the other song in terms of, uh, the legs that it will have.

So I’m gonna, I’m gonna pick song number four, just like Mick and Jeff appear to have picked. But I will tell you that I think that first song is a, is a more significant song. I don’t know. I don’t know exactly what I’m saying.

Jeff Sloan: And Chris, I don’t, I don’t want to butter your bread, but I want to tell you something.

It’s interesting to me. The sound on the first song is amazing. Really. The guys are laughing at me cause they think I’m really, you know, but I think the sound on the first song, and I guess you call that, I don’t know if that’s the mix. Whatever the sound as a consumer, that’s what I know it by. It sounds amazing to me.

Chris Gehringer: [00:33:40] A lot of time and effort went into that record actually.

Mick Brege: [00:33:43] Chris how would you compare the sound between either the nuance of both are a little bit poppier for “Fire and Fury” to “Let’s be Friends”. What are the differences we’re listening to in both of those mixes?

Chris Gehringer: [00:33:53] The Carly Rae Jepsen song was mastered here by somebody else and I know the mixer of that and I know obviously the mixer of the overcoat.

Two completely different styles of mixing, but both top guys and it’s, you know, they’re both really good. I mean, they both, they both actually match what the product is, what the vibe is. I think the Overcoats one was a little more risky by the label, but I really think the Overcoats one came out really good.

The Carly Rae Jepsen. Well, it’s a, it’s a home run no matter what. You know, like it’s just that really big pop song and she’s gonna do well with it.

Mick Brege: [00:34:35] And to give you some context too, we listened to both of those tracks back to back on Richard’s suggestion. Even though Rich usually picks the worst on everything.

Jeff Sloan: [00:34:45] He was on a roll for a while. But now, listen, Chris, you’re up. You’re up now, and you’re the one everybody wants to hear from of course. I mean, you already set yourself up with your 30 second – Well, first of all, you’re a track record, but let’s hear it. What do you, what do you think?

Chris Gehringer: [00:34:58] Me personally, I’ve really become a fan of the Overcoats. My manager went to see them Wednesday night and said that she was blown away.

They actually opened up for a band that she went to see and she was blown away by them over the band she went to see.

Jeff Sloan: [00:35:14] I believe that.

Chris Gehringer: [00:35:15] Yeah. She said for two girls, they completely like rock the stage. And like really were interesting to watch and put on a really good live show.

Jeff Sloan: [00:35:26] I’m a new fan and that’s the cool thing about this is the discovery, right?

I mean, I’m a new fan now of the Overcoats but okay, so you’re going with the Overcoats. That’s it.

Chris Gehringer: [00:35:34] So I’m taking number one is my song, but I honestly think number five is going to be your best streaming song.

Mick Brege: [00:35:41] Wow. This is bad news. Bad news here. That’s tricky. I have, I have a feeling too.

Jeff Sloan: [00:35:47] Well, just for the record, Chris, we don’t allow you to be able to say, “I told you so now.” Now you set yourself up nicely, because if you’re right on number one, you’re right a number one, but if you’re wrong and it’s number two, you can say, “See, I told you it was good.” He made two picks. Wouldn’t allow that.

Chris Gehringer: [00:36:04] I have three kids. My oldest son and my middle son, listen to hip hop. That’s all they listen to and my daughter listens to country now, and she’s born and raised in New Jersey and she just loves country. So it’s so hard, like you really covered the field in those five songs. And like, I’m thinking like, what would my kids like? What would the, you know, like, I’m trying to think like the average consumer, you know?

For me, I like the Overcoats.

Jeff Sloan: [00:36:35] Yeah.

Chris Gehringer: [00:36:35] I actually liked the Carly Rae Jepsen song too.

Jeff Sloan: [00:36:38] Oh, no, no. He’s got three that he’s got. Right. Okay.

Chris Gehringer: [00:36:40] Right. The other song with grandson was good too.

Jeff Sloan: [00:36:46] He’s got to kind of just covering the field here. He’s really covering the field. Listen. First of all, all kidding aside, what an amazing opportunity for have a few lovers of music like we are, have a guy like you come on and talk to us about your experiences and your experience and what you do and how it gets done. Really, really incredible and we thank you. All right. This was fun. All right guys. Great. Thanks Chris. Good luck to you, Rich.

Good luck to you, man. We’ve gone on the record now. We’ve made our picks. Chris also joined us for the picks and what a great group of songs.

Rich Sloan: [00:37:17] I think, Jeff, what you’re saying to me is, you know, with that very gracious, “Good luck to you, Rich” was really less “Good luck to you, Rich” than “Good luck to me.” Right?

Jeff Sloan: [00:37:27] Well, here’s the thing. They’re both the same because I think we picked the same song this week, and we know that’s true. If I win, you win. If you win, I win. So that’s why you’re being so right. I hope you pick the right one, Rich.

Rich Sloan: I have to say, don’t you want to beat Chris?

Jeff Sloan: Of course we want to beat Chris. Yeah, let’s beat the expert. I was so happy to hear him pick a different song, so at least we have a shot to beat him. So, uh, that was, that was really cool. All right, now moving right along, Mick, we’ve got to review last week’s results.

Mick Brege: [00:37:57] I’m feeling pretty good about myself

Jeff Sloan: [00:38:00] I bet you are. All right. Now listen, let me just, for the record here-

Mick Brege: [00:38:03] Before we jump in, what I’m not feeling good about is being on the same song pick this week as you.

Jeff Sloan: [00:38:08] It’s not as fun. Well, and here’s the thing. Let me just, uh, just to review. Well, here’s where we are in terms of the record. For the three of us.

Rich’s picked four right picks. Mick, you’re coming in at number two with six right pics, and I’m coming in with nine first place picks so far. All right. Is that amazing or what? That’s kind of amazing to me.

Mick Brege: [00:38:33] You have to put some context. So I’ve been on just a few less episodes and I think I’m, I’m on a streak. I’m going to go to the studio. Have I lost a pick yet? Anyone that’s interested? Mark, what do you think? The answer is no.

Rich Sloan: [00:38:53] Uh, that’s, that’s, that’s powerful. That’s hard to, hard to argue with. I will just say too, in defense of my record, I have definitely, I’ve definitely lost some, I’ve definitely lost them, but. I also haven’t, uh, you know, you gotta buy a lottery ticket in order to win the lottery. And I and I have not been on as many podcasts as you guys would mix that as well.

Jeff Sloan: [00:39:16] Alright, so I’m going to accept that from the two of you. Rich, I will say one thing about, first of all, Mick’s track record is amazing. Now about you Rich, well, the one thing I like about the way you go at it, you do take some flyers now and then. You take some risks. You know, I tend to pick the obvious. As a head of a record label, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Go with the song you think is going to stream the best, but I have to give you credit. You do a, you do make some interesting picks and I like your –

Rich Sloan: [00:39:39] You use the word “interesting.” That’s concerning to me.

Mick Brege: [00:39:49] And to tie it back to the product, it’s all about music discovery. So if Rich’s discovering new music, that he likes, that’s all it’s about.

Jeff Sloan: [00:39:54] All right, so let’s see how we did in the last episode. Here we go. We’ve got the song that streamed the most was “Boss Bitch” by Doja Cat. With 2 million streams. Here it is.

Oh, wait a second. Are you sure I didn’t pick that number one? That’s a great song.

Mick Brege: [00:40:18] I know. I was shocked.

Jeff Sloan: [00:40:18] Mick, this is your moment. You called it.

Mick Brege: [00:40:26] You know, you can’t go wrong with Doja Cat, man.

Jeff Sloan: [00:40:28] That’s amazing. Song number two, “Simmer,” had 563,000 streams. A fourth of what “Boss Bitch” had, that song’s by Hayley Williams. Number two, it comes in a category that’s typically doesn’t stream as much as typically generally as say a hip hop category or pop category. That falls in the alternative category 563,000 streams. Song number three “la” by Kelsea Ballerini, 417,000 streams. Of course, country category.

That’s the song I picked.

Mick Brege: [00:41:08] That’s a good song. And that was the song Rebecca also picked the last time as well. And you know, just to jump off your last point too, alternative and pop country in the hundreds of thousands of streams in a week, and these are interesting genres to be seeing, competing neck and neck with good hip hop.

Jeff Sloan: [00:41:26] It’s great to see. Yeah, absolutely. Then of course, song number four, “Some Kind of Disaster” by All Time Low 311,000 streams. And closing it out was “Chapter” at 139,000 streams by Christian Paul.

Good song too. That’s one of the things, and I think Rich made this point earlier. There’s a lot of great music out there, and it’s not always a, certainly for us as individual consumers, it’s not necessarily about what’s the most popular. It’s about what we like.

Mick Brege: [00:42:07] And as we keep bending new genres, we’re getting closer to caring more about the songwriting and also who the artist is more so than just the track.

Jeff Sloan: [00:42:15] I loved all the music in that. So again, make you won. I was in it number two along with Celeste and Rebecca. Yep. Alright, that was fun. Let’s talk about features coming, new features coming in FanLabel. You guys are always hard at work and we’re always pushing the envelope, burning the midnight oil.

Mick Brege: [00:42:31] So the first announcement for what’s coming in new to FanLabel this next month is updated fantasy contests. So we have a new way to play that. Instead of doing the draft like we currently have, it’s going to be an entirely new way to sign artists to your label. That’s going to make you feel like you have a little bit more control over what’s happening and give you a little bit more satisfaction like you are this record label owner and you are signing these artists to your fantasy label.

Jeff Sloan: [00:42:57] You’re going to be playing the thing we’ve been driving, which is the idea of you owning a label, in this case virtual. You’re playing vicariously, you know, as the big executive, you’re going to make the decision, I’m going to sign so-and-so, and as they perform, you either win or lose,

Mick Brege: [00:43:11] It’s going to feel a lot more like that experience. So this simulation, like you are in that hot seat and you know what? It’s going to be a lot different than it is currently, and we’re excited to show our users, especially our longterm users who are the top of the leaderboards this new feature. As always. Here’s who’s at the top of the global leader board this week. Number one, Lisa, 616 records, number two, Potato Jams, that’s Lana. Number three, CK records. I just want to make a point, the top three. Lisa, Lana, and Crystal, all neck and neck by just a few thousand royalties. Number four, TSArban, number five, Greg MK.

Jeff Sloan: [00:43:50] Great show. Hey, thanks Mick for being on. Thanks to Rich. Thanks again to Chris. Great show. Thanks guys. Before we sign off, we want to thank our production team: Cara O’Blenness, Kristen Kujawa, Andrea Garcia, Daman Nallamothu, Ryan O’Blenness, and our engineer, Mark Pastoria. Download the FanLabel app from the Apple store or the Google play store and play FanLabel today!

FanLabel Staff

FanLabel Staff

Enjoy great music and fun contests as you operate your own fantasy record label in the FanLabel app! Pick the songs you think will rise on the contest charts. Compete for the top spot and become a music mogul!