Mark Ronson may have four Grammys, two Brit awards and a handful of other trophies to his name, he may be a killer producer who brought us ‘Uptown Funk’ and ‘Valerie,’ but he is also a mentor and a collaborator who says that when he’s producing music his role is to make the person he’s working with feel like they can do anything – and we could all learn a thing or two from his creative processes (and successes).
Ronson (below) wouldn’t be heralded as the giant in music he is today if he wasn’t so good at getting the best out of the people he works with, and knowing how to get the best out of himself. Not only this, but he has avoided being called a sellout over the years, instead keeping his status as a credible musician despite having worked with brands that wouldn’t immediately be associated with the person who produced ‘Back to Black.’ He’s worked with the likes of Coca-Cola on their Olympics 2012 song, with Hyundai on their Re:Generation project, and more recently with Bose – though the last one he admits is because he uses their headphones anyway.
But Ronson’s rule for working with brands and advertisers is that if the end product fits with his own brand, he’s up for the challenge. If its something he would buy or use, he’s happy for the brand to use his music. And if people want him to make music for an ad, it has to sound like something he would be happy to put on his own album.
Speaking at a Spotify talk in Cannes, Ronson revealed that his method of making great music as a producer is to make sure the people he’s working with feel like superstars who can do anything: “You’re like a part therapist, part school teacher, you’re a cheerleader, you’re there to make that person feel that they have super-human powers and a lot of the time I think that if you’ve got a voice like Adele or Amy Winehouse, there is something that makes them almost supernaturally special,” he said.
He says you need to use whatever tools you have to coax that confidence out of the people you’re working with, but not push them too far – you don’t want to push so hard you shatter their confidence.
“Whatever it takes just to make that person feel like they can do anything, is what you want.”
His is a gentle lesson in the positivity of collaboration, of best practice and how to get the brightest and most brilliant work out of your colleagues and yourself in a creative environment. And he seems like a pretty chilled out guy, so it clearly works – maybe we should keep him in mind when mentoring others or piling on the pressure under a looming deadline when we’re striving to produce the best work we can.