We had the good fortune of connecting with David Gnozzi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, how do you think about risk?
I left my country to come to US with only my skills, few pieces of gear and enough money to survive few months. Doesn’t get more risky than that, but artistic careers are ALL about risk whether people realize it or not, and many don’t. Any creative career carries a huge risk factor. Unfortunately I think many people trying to undertake artistic careers, whether is being a professional musician, producer, actor, model, writer you name it, doesn’t really see it that way and more often than not, they end up putting years into trying to “make it” and never reach their goal, and if they don’t have a “plan B” or if they didn’t work other angles WHILE trying to reach their goal, they will find themselves in troubles because artistic careers leave you with nothing but your sweat and blood if you don’t end up being successful (whatever that means). The main reason unfortunately is media, all of them, social media lately more than any other: they portray those careers as an easy way to money, success and fame. But the path to become successful, or even just being able to pay your bills with your art, is not just hard, is one of the most difficult paths anyone can choose for themselves. (Social) Media only report the success stories, they don’t tell you that only 2% succeed, for every person who succeed, there are millions that fail.
They also show you the end result, the success, the money, the cars, the charts. They don’t show you the grind, and if they (sometimes) do, 99% is fake, is a story written at a PR table, many things, the most important ones, are kept off record.
They don’t tell you the compromises, the hard times, the many failures to get to that point, they don’t tell anything that could somehow embarrass the artist, or make people think less of them, even tho’ I think working ANY kind of job is nothing but something to be proud of.
Sometimes we see throwback stories of when a successful artist had to either work at McDonalds or sleep on a friend’s couch, but that’s still a PR move, it’s to make that artists more relatable, you plan and assess if the real story will make people like that artist more or less.
Because of the construct around successful artists, many people don’t really understand how risky is to put all your eggs in one basket when trying to make a living off your art and your skills.
Why is so risky? Well, first of all because if you fail you have nothing to write in your resume’, other than “almost famous”, second because in this business, entertainment in general, your skills alone are NOT enough.
You can be the most amazing writer, singer, producer, mix engineer, actor in the world, but that alone won’t make you successful. It’s connections, is who you know and who knows you, and most important is how MUCH you invest in yourself and your creations.
This is another big risk people very rarely understand: they think they don’t have to invest money in their career, they think their music will speak for themselves, their portfolio will make them skyrocket because they’re special, and maybe they are, but talent alone won’t take nobody anywhere (aside from exceptions, but taking exceptions as rule is the second biggest mistake one can do, you have more chances to win the lottery than being that 1 in a billion).
Artistic careers have the highest risk factor among any other type of career, think about it, if that wasn’t the case, any aspiring musician wouldn’t have any trouble finding an investor to sponsor his album right? If that was the case, labels would still invest in new artists, and they don’t.
Actually now we’re living in this dystopian reality in which major labels sing TikTokers, that are famous for making cute faces and stupid dances, how did we end up here? Because it’s not about the art, it’s all about the money, so they pick those who already have a following, and maybe, they did build that following themselves because it’s easier to blow someone up as an influencer than a musician. Become known, we’ll write the single for you later.
Success, and consequently return in investment in the arts is extremely tricky to obtain, as mentioned before, is a puzzle of so many things. Let’s take music, you are an upcoming artist, you need money for your production, for you mixes, your masters, for your video. But to do the video you need to have an image right? You need your costumes, clothes, a stylist to help with all of that, makeup artists, etc. etc..
Now you have this amazing product, you need to release it. With who? Many think “I’m gonna release it to Spotify etc.. and the song is amazing, I’m gonna blow up” And maybe it is, but no you’re not gonna blow up because you CAN’T.
The charts are politic, the playlist are owned, you CAN’T get in just because you’re good.
You release your great product but nobody knows about it, internet? There are 2 million new songs a day, nobody will know.
So you need a release plan. So you need PR, you need a team, you need social media promotion, you need press promotion, you need tour support, you need sponsors. You need people that are IN to know you and work with you.
All of that cost money, a lot of money. And time, a lot of time, because to become that amazing artist, you probably spent a lot of time writing, practicing, and so on.
Let’s assume you have all those money, so that’s a big risk for you or whoever put the money for you, now you fight against all the other upcoming artist who did the same. And there are many.
Then, there’s the audience, the boss level, will they like you? See, it’s a big puzzle, and it’s a huge risk.
With that said, I am proof that can be done, I am doing it myself with my artist Bella Kelly, and so far the project was very successful, and with only one song, we expect more for the next one. I left everything behind to move to another country with very little in my pockets, but made sure to study and know very well what to expect, having realistic expectations and have a plan on how to get where you want to get (not hoping someone will magically discover you) is key, be prepared for the worst, hope for the best. But be damn prepared for the best also because if you’re not, you’re gonna blow your chance.
Closing this, I think nothing worth having comes easy, high risk is worth it if there’s high reward, and in this business, it’s borderline impossible to get ANYTHING without risking a lot.
Just don’t do blindly and don’t think just because you landed in LA all the doors will open for you. Take home message, work hard, the higher the risk the harder the work, and hopefully, the higher the reward.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a music producer, artist development and a platinum mix and mastering engineer. I also happen to have a 100K+ Youtube channel called MixbusTv. So my career, while is all about music and music business has three main branches so to speak.
My mixing and mastering: this is an extremely hard market to be in, like all the others in the music business, but this one in particular because in the past 10 years, it became somewhat popular, as in engineers are universally recognized as artist themselves and responsible for the sound, the style of many artists just as much as the artists themselves.
And because of that and because of the advancement in technology, there are many more “applicants” for this, and unfortunately, many are not prepared, but that doesn’t stop people from putting themselves out and pretend to be one, this made it so that there’s more offer than demand, even tho’ most of the offering is just a website with stolen pictures, it’s easy to trick newcomers and young artists offering low prices, which usually are in par with the services.
As for the real competition, it’s very much like for artists, it’s about connections, who you know, where you hang out, and so on..
What sets me apart in this field? Well, I created a platform (my youtube channel) where I had the chance to put my work out there, my skills while teaching other people how to do this job. In this case, my skills DID speak for me, but not without me putting the work first.
I’m known to be an extremely versatile engineer, I worked on metal, hip hop, dance, reggae, blues, you name it, I’ve done it.
That comes partially from my background as an artist myself, and simply from who you are, your influences in life not just the music you listen, and how you approach work and everything else as a person.
Was it easy? No it was and it still is very hard, to get on top and to stay on top, it’s a daily challenge you can only win if you love what you do and if you DON’T do it for fame and money.
My career in artist development, that’s a totally different thing, and it’s a LOT harder. It’s not you anymore, it’s about your artist, and breaking a new artist in the business is the hardest thing you can possibly try to do as an independent.
I didn’t have any plan of doing anything like this, the only reason because I found myself doing it, is because I found my artist Bella Kelly. She is my why. Her incredible voice, her talent in songwriting, her motivation for doing it, and another 1000 things left me no choice and no doubt: the same day I met her and she said “Hi” to me, just that one word, I was in disbelief that a human being could actually sound like a fairy.
From there we started working for over 2 years, her songwriting went from great to amazing, and we released the very successful 1st single video “Throat”, and now we’re about to release the second.
The challenges in doing something like this are so many there wouldn’t be enough space on this page to list.
It starts with the artist, you need to find one, and not fooling yourself, actually make sure that artist IS special because what comes after won’t work otherwise, no matter how much time and money you throw at it.
Then the songs, taking hard decisions on which are gonna be good and which ones are not, then realizing the vision, then realizing the product, then marketing it. This is an absolutely massive amount of work.
But it’s also very gratifying if you’re happy with what you’re putting out. For me, it was mostly two reasons, one, she reallt is a superstar and I wanted to be the one who made her career happen, she deserves to be heard and the world needs to hear her messages, now more than ever, and go back to have hope in humanity and hope in music, to see that there are artists out there that don’t do this for money and glory and only talk about their cars, the clubs and whatever stupid line sells today, but they do it to try to help people out with their music and they put their soul into it, and this one happens to have the most beautiful soul I’ve ever encountered. Her project is by far the thing I’m most proud of an excited about.
The youtube channel it’s the third one, this was not planned at all. I started the channel knowing absolutely nothing about youtube and very little about media. I never wanted or planned to be a “youtuber” but I guess at 100K+ I am?
I started the channel out of frustration, seeing all the bad information there was online about mixing and mastering and music production, I started it to help people out, that was it.
Then it grew, completely organically, I didn’t know anything about strategies or marketing a channel, I guess my skills and teaching were enough.
The channel kept growing and it gave me the chance to be recognized in the industry, by colleagues and companies, it was hard, it was years of putting out content for free (and even now, people are under the impression youtubers make a lot of money, we don’t, Google pays chump change even with my numbers, you have to have a LOT more) but the feedback I got from people, telling me how much the channel helped them and starting to work with people and companies I admire was all worth it, and now it’s one of the most respected channels in the business and it has a life on its own.
I wouldn’t advise anyone to go this route as a career, especially in this field as the “market” is so saturated many channels are dying and moving to other things.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, I think the first place would be Mullholland Drive at night. There are many places where you can see the city from above but this is my favorite. First because it’s one of my favorite movies, and second because they view is amazing. You need to see how massive this city is an I think it gives you perspective, everything happens for a reason, there are no chances. You realize that when you see how big LA is and think “what were the chances I met that person” or find myself in that place at that time. Second the Acquarium, it’s just fun.
Getty center, Universal Studios, and then a little bit of nightlife, altho’ I’m not big on clubs, I am, always have been in the alternative scene so there are definitely few clubs I’ll take my friends to.
Hollywood right now is a bit of a mess, but hopefully it’ll get better.
I haven’t been here SO long so I am myself discovering places too.
I’d hit the horror conventions (even tho’ everything is still closed and canceled, let’s pretend they’re not)
The zoo, both new and old, Rodeo Drive, and few cool parks there are around here if you know where to look.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My artist, singer songwriter Bella Kelly, has been more than influential in the most crucial, pivoting point in my career since I moved to Los Angeles. She is the reason because I evolved into a lot more than “just” a mix and mastering engineer and a producer. All the subscribers of my 100K+ youtube channel, is also thank to all of them that I had the strength to keep going even during hard times.
Dave Pensado, a colleague, one of the best engineers in the world, he is one of the reasons as to why I moved to LA a lot sooner than I had planned and everything turned out for the best.
I didn’t have “mentors” coming up, but few people who believed in me and simply manage to say the right words to make me believe in myself too.
Various Photographers: Jpeg01, Anabel Dflux, Mark Maryanovich