On August 31, graduate and veteran Josh Gudwin joined Full Sail students in a Google Hangout moderated by Entertainment and Music Business Department Chair Israel Vasquetelle. Speaking from The Record Plant Studio in Los Angeles, Josh talked about the importance of a strong work ethic and fostering interpersonal relationships within the recording industry. He also took questions from the crowd on everything from his work with Justin Bieber to the importance of seeking out a mentor.
The latter is something Josh knows a lot about—he spent two years working with famed vocal producer Kuk Harrell on projects for artists like Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Lionel Richie, and more. It was through his work with Kuk that Josh met Justin Bieber in 2012. Now, Josh handles overall music management for Justin, including engineering, mixing, vocal production, and A&R on the artist’s upcoming release.
Josh served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and credits his time in the service for helping him build skills that he still uses in the studio
‘Every Marine is taught to be a manager,” said Josh. “And in some capacity, how to manage yourself and others. So that helps out a lot. The discipline helps out a lot, and just having the intuition to go out and get [a task] done without someone having to ask you to do it.”
After the Marines, Josh enrolled in Full Sail’s Recording Arts program. Shortly after graduation, he set out for Los Angeles. Recalling that time in his life, Josh pointed out that interning is about more than just starting from the bottom—it can also serve as a valuable practice arena.
“I started off at Track Records as an intern. It was a smaller studio, so I could make a lot of mistakes and learn from them before I started working with bigger clients. I slept on a couch for a year while I was interning, but I did my time. I lived in the studio, pretty much.
Later, a member of the audience asked Josh how he stayed motivated during that first year.
“We create for a living,” he said. “That’s a motivator in itself.”
Another student asked about the best way for an intern to get a producer or an engineer to listen to their mix tape.
“Take time to really focus on building relationships with the people around you. Before you can slide anybody anything, you’ve got to be able to talk to them, and have relatable conversations with them. If you’ve been working here 3 months, and on the last day you come in and say, ‘I’ve been working real hard on this, and I’d love it if you gave it a listen,’ I’ll be more inclined to have a listen than if you just leave it sitting on the console with a note.”
Acknowledging the fact that most artists are their own toughest critics, Josh addressed the importance of being able to relate to the person in the vocal booth—whether they’re a star-on-the-rise or an established hitmaker.
“Everyone, myself included, feels some anxiety [when they get into the studio]. In many scenarios, my job is to make people feel as comfortable as possible. I make sure to take care of everybody involved; I make sure they’re hearing themselves right. Once an artist is comfortable, they deliver the best music.”
Josh’s hard work has paid off. Shortly after his talk, he nabbed a coveted Pensado Award for “Best Tracking Engineer.”
For more insight from Josh, check out the full interview below.