In a world dominated by the same old sounds, Backing Track emerged as a game-changer in the realm of Royalty-Free music, offering rock and metal choices that were both exciting and innovative. In this interview, we dive into the mind of the mastermind behind Backing Track to explore the journey, challenges, and future of this unique music platform — and to hear more about his big “Shoot your Shot” moment.
Why did you start Backing Track? Were there really no royalty-free stream-safe rock and metal choices?
I had personally grown tired of what was being offered in the Royalty-Free space in general, and with regards to Rock and Metal options, those genres were pretty minimal or a little too basic. I felt we could do better; we could offer something more substantial.
What was the tipping point that made you both want to offer this service?
I won’t call out any one artist or project specifically, but I will say that hearing every single Royalty-Free project or service pivot to making tons of Chillhop really motivated me to start this. There wasn’t a lot of rock, metal, acoustic instrumental, orchestral, etc. If there’s a niche that needs attention, we’re going to try and offer something for it. We want to be a diverse option for folks, so no matter what type of content they’re producing, we have something that fits that vibe.
And is it working? Are you starting to hear your tracks popping up on all the various channels?
I’d say so! I have alerts set up for things like YouTube/Twitter that monitor mentions of BT, and I frequently scroll through Twitch just seeing what people are using. It was a slow burn, but more and more often, I’m seeing folks discovering us for the first time. Be it through EposVox’s content or on services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Pretzel.
I can really see how this makes the most sense for gamers and action-focused channels. Of course Sony picked you up for their Mortal Kombat Series! How did that one come about, and what was the scope of the project?
That was actually a total “shoot your shot” moment. I saw Zaid Tabani asking music creators on Twitter to submit tracks to him for an upcoming EVO related project. I figured the worst that could happen is nothing, so I linked a few of my tracks in a reply. A few weeks later, I got a message on Instagram from Zaid asking if I had time for a call. I will also credit Dillon Hulse as he was the one that spotted my replies. This was a really quick turnaround; I had two weeks to get a demo to them, but being that I was already very used to quick production times, I was able to deliver it in 4 days. The rest of that time we spent dialing in vocals and making little adjustments here and there.
What was the reaction when the crowd and players first heard it?
They loved it!
Who was the artist on that one, and who typically records and performs the majority of your tracks?
So this track featured the most collaboration I had ever done for a single song. The vast majority of the music that we release is produced by me solo. So this was honestly kind of refreshing and intimidating to be working with a team of musicians all for a single track. It was my goal to make this as painless as possible for everyone involved, no ego kinda thing. I’m not the only feature, and I wanted to make sure everyone got their moment. Vocals were handled by Fiyah Liger (@Fiyah_Liger on Twitter), Guitars were performed by Dan Rushik of Order Through Chaos, Lyrics were written by Zaid Tabani (@zaidtmusic on Twitter), and the final mix was handled by Alex Vazco (@AlexVazco on Twitter).
What are your thoughts on Synch and how that world works in comparison to Royalty-Free music? Do you see them overlapping or becoming a hybrid business model?
The difficult thing there is protecting your existing listeners because it’s not just a one-sided relationship. They aren’t just listening to the music; they’re also using it in their content. Above all, it is your responsibility to make sure their content is safe, and that is kind of directly at odds with trying to monetize the music in the most significant ways, such as placement in film/tv/games. I was very fortunate that the people I worked with at EVO understood how important it was to release “Open the Pit” (the MK11 theme we produced) royalty-free, but I also recognize that’s not going to be the case all the time. We’re at a point now where BT is sustainable on its own, and the next steps we take are going to be from the business side. What those steps are and how we do it is what I’ve begun figuring out, and Sync placement is absolutely going to factor into that.
Where do you see the music industry going in the next 5 years and how does content creation with top YouTube video stars fit into that?
This is a tough question to answer, but going back to why we got into this… We got into this to disrupt the royalty-free space a bit. Now I will admit it isn’t the most profitable bet right off the top. (And frankly I never got into this to make money; it has always been a passion project.) But 3 years in, people have noticed us, and we stand out from the pack in a significant way. I think the future as far as Royalty Free goes lies less in bulk production like it was and more in upping the quality of each release. Or working directly with creators to produce high-quality one-off productions. If you need 10 or 20 hours of disposable background noise that’s been available forever, but if you want something that sounds like it came out of your favorite movie or game THAT is what we’re after. The collaboration with EVO is just the beginning of that.