No matter how skilled we become, no one can change the world alone. John Lennon said, "There's nothing you can do that can't be done... nothing you can sing that can't be sung." Working with others is how we'll always keep growing, how we'll turn weaknesses into strengths, and how we will change the world, one song at a time.
Hey, I'm Michael Zeta, a natural problem solver and someone who takes great pride in being the kind of person who motivates and inspires others.
I grew up inspired by great artists from the '90s and early aughts, such as The Foo Fighters, Paramore, All Time Low, and Blink-182, to name a few. I consider myself a master of many instruments and subjects, but songwriting will always be my first love and my bread-and-butter. I studied audio engineering & acoustics at MiraCosta in Oceanside, and now I make steady living teaching music, songwriting, and audio production to students of all ages at California's leading music academy, Rockstars Of Tomorrow, where I act as top-dude in charge of running the recording studio as well as the administrator for the company's website.
These days, I tour around the country in a variety of productions, including tribute bands, classical music ensembles, and original projects. Along the way, I've worked alongside some of the most talented musicians, producers, promoters, songwriters, performers, and mentors you could ever hope to meet and spent years building a network. I'm proud to be a professional in my field, and I stay true to my values. I'm always happy to meet like-minded individuals with a passion for what they do and who work well with others. If you think that might be you, then let's chat.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
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Interview with Michael Zeta
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have an eclectic combination of analog and digital gear from years of collecting. At the heart of studio is a beast-of-a-machine hackintosh computer I build myself running Logic Pro X. Elsewhere in the studio, you'll find an array of guitar and bass amps, cabinets, condenser and dynamic microphones as well as high-end instruments including acoustic and electric drums keyboards and guitars. I'm a big fan of Ibanez guitars and basses, so I have a few of those as well as a partnership with Yamaha who provides amps, mixing consoles and other gear.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to think of producing records as somewhat of a spectrum moving from art to science, from creative to technical. First, the most creative part, writing the song. Starting with silence and making music from that is truly an art. Next, you arrange and assign instruments. Still creative, but a tad more technical. Then we move into tracking, which is about expression and emotion but in a very music theory kind of way. This takes us to the mixing and pre-mastering stage where you do have some artistic responsibilities, but primarily you're utilizing technical skill to get the job done. Lastly, mastering. Not much creative work to be done here. Just exporting to different formats, but still satisfying as hell because of how far we come already. Got to love the process.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: An artful sense of tension and release. I have great pride in my ability to write a melody that gets stuck in your head. It's really about chord leading and satisfying cadences.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Writing melodies is perhaps my strongest creative skill. If we're talking about technical skills, probably delivering a powerful vocal performance.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on projects that fall under the broad umbrella of 'rock' music. Though, that's not to say I haven't worked on everything from dance music, funk, country, pop, and even classical.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Sure! There's simply no substitute for a killer performance. Whether you're a seasoned pro, or it's your first time in a studio, you need to be comfortable. That means having everything you need to deliver the best takes you can muster, and you'll need more time than you think. Your tracks will turn out better in a way that no plugin or studio magic could ever emulate.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I really admire Dave Ghrol. I know it's a bit cliché, but you have to give the guy props. He started off making demos in his garage like so many of us, and now he produces platinum records for all kinds of amazing artists.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Brilliantly melodic, vocal-driven modern rock music emphasizing a refreshingly distinct integration of harmonically crisp vocal layers inspired by rock gods like The Eagles and The Beatles, with tastefully executed guitar riffs that utilize crunchy classic rock tones straight out of a Boston record. Combine this writing style with methodically proven production techniques featuring a super-phat rhythm section that rivals modern day hard-rock heroes, all tastefully glazed with a hint of EDM elements from the turn of the century.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Well, nothing that needs electricity I suppose. Probably a piano because of its wide range. No other instrument can do bass lines, chords, and melodies at the same time. Plus you can sing along with it. Beyond that, an acoustic guitar, a ukulele, and some battery powered gear like an iPad and a laptop!
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Everyone wants to know how much services cost. This is understandable seeing as how we musicians aren't exactly known for living extravagant and luxurious lives. I will say that if you've got passion and you're good at what you do, then I'll want to help you. I try to price competitively and deliver with high quality whenever possible. I will do what I can to work within your budget, just come to talk to me.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: As a teenager, I long since dreamed of becoming a rockstar. Then I got older and released how incredibly rare that chance is and what a privilege it would be just to make a decent living doing music of any kind. Now that I can put a roof over my head from playing guitar and making music with great friends, I feel like a rockstar.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I believe that no matter who you are, there is something to learn from everyone you meet, that's why I only work with clients who are passionate, talented, and motivated. I promise to put as much attention and care into your projects as I would my own. That way, when I succeed, you succeed.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Ah, this old question. I'm going to say digital, but that's only because with the progression of digital technologies we're now able to dial in the analog saturation to taste rather than be forced to accept the levels our equipment comes with. We can even mix and match different types of analog emulations for different parts of our mixes. Analog equipment without a doubt adds coloration and complexity that in my opinion is a defining factor of a professional mix, it's crucial. For this reason, we fall in love the sound of our analog gear right from the start, but learning about this why this happens and how to capture that magic in digital recordings is a more thorough way to master this subtle art.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm in the midst of branching off into the YouTube market current. When it comes to delivering new music to listeners, YouTube is king. I know that if I can get to a place where I can regularly post quality videos and music to the platform that I'll be able to reach a plethora of potential new fans and new music industry connections.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm honestly most proud of my YouTube channel for my original band, Action At A Distance. I really love my team and my bandmates. We have a lot of fun doing what we do and I think that's because we don't worry about making money, or trying to appeal to any certain kind of audience. We just make the music and video content we love for ourselves. It might seem selfish, but it's how we learn to get better and it keeps us focused on why we became musicians in the first place.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of my clients come from the rock music scene here in the greater Los Angeles area who are looking for a mixing engineer or recordings and videos produced for their press kits.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Some of my influences as a musician would include Blink-182, Foo Fighters, Paramore, The Beatles, Boston, Queen, and All Time Low, just to name a few.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I knew I wanted be a musician for the rest of my life when I began learning guitar from my dad at age ten. In high school, I thought I wanted to compose scores for major motion pictures, so I joined the marching band and began studying all I could about classical music. Then, in college, as an attempt to actually become a film composer I started taking computer music courses and learning how to make digital recordings to synchronize to visuals. This is where I really fell in love with audio production and decided to focus on building a career as a professional producer. To help supplement my income while I built up my portfolio I taught myself web design and took a job at a small but rapidly growing music school called Rockstars Of Tomorrow where my musical and technological skills combined nicely to help me get where I am now.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Those who will benefit most from my services are the ones who know that there is no one best path to success. If I could turn knobs and push all the right buttons to make you a star, I would. It just doesn't happen without hard work and a lot of patience and planning. I may not have the super notable client base that some others might have. I suppose some people just get lucky, but I can honestly say that I treat all my peers as if they are rockstars because you never know who may become the next big thing. I think if you work hard and always try to learn from the people around you, that's how we'll make a name for ourselves as entertainers.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I always ask about your goals, long-term and short-term so we can plan effectively. Any samples of your work, even if it's not good quality and even if it's not something you're planning on ever working on is helpful. To get started we need to define some sense of your style, professional personality, and skillset so I can work towards providing a product that is as high-quality as it is uniquely your own.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: One of the biggest misconceptions I see a lot these days is that you can't have a lucrative music career without the help of a major label or without big-name connections. It's simply not true. With the power of the internet, we have direct to fan access from just about anywhere in the world. Home studios get better and more affordable every day and the strength of our relationships with fans has no limit. No matter who you are and what kind of music you make, there are enough people in this world who will love it and support you throughout your career, you just have to find those people. You just have to be willing to put yourself out there.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Honestly, I'm new to SoundBetter and I'm still seeing if it's right for me. So no, I haven't had enough time to make any real connections on here just yet, but who knows, maybe you'll be my first recommendation,