Top 5 Tips for Vocalists, Topliners and Producers from Paul Brandoli

With a close connection to the music industry, Abbey Road Institute gives you access not only to hear but also meet some of Sydney’s top producers and engineers, such as Paul Brandoli. For this blog, we have asked Paul for his top 5 tips for vocalists, topliners and producers. 

A master songwriter and topliner, now based at acclaimed Studios 301 in Sydney, Paul has written for artists such as Nicky Romero, Sam Divine, Josh Butler, Boswell, Set Mo, Woodes and Timmy Trumpet, and boasts an impressive list of charting tracks including 7 ARIA #1 Club hits, over 15 ARIA Club top 10 hits and songs which have amassed over 85 million Spotify spins.

Paul has delivered many masterclasses for Abbey Road Institute, including the most recent Industry Access with publishing veteran Karen Hamilton (120 Publishing / TMRW Music). During this event, they were diving into the world of songwriting, producing and toplining in today’s industry.

Combing through the hours of wisdom, we’ve narrowed down our Top 5 pieces of advice below.

1) Bringing out the Best Performance

Paul’s main tip for aspiring topliners and vocal producers is

“the most important thing a producer has when recording an artist is trust.”

“In my approach, I like to think I can bring something amazing out of vocalists that they may not be aware they can do. The most rewarding thing for me is helping already talented artists execute on-point studio performances that even they didn’t know they had in them.”

Sometimes the best approach is making a vocalist comfortable while other times taking them out of their comfort zone entirely is what brings out their best performance.

“It can be challenging for a vocalist to sing lyrics or melodies they haven’t written and they’re guided somewhere they may not naturally go to… but sometimes this is where the magic happens.”

2) You’re the Centre of Your Universe

Only you are responsible for the drive and determination to propel your career:

“you’re the vision, you’re the point.”

In today’s world, it’s not enough to be just the artist or just the topliner. Having the skills to record your own vocals or being able to run your own PR campaign is invaluable to you and those you collaborate with.

Surrounding yourself with a good team and building a strong network is just as important. Paul says,

“work with people that add value to what you’re doing, or that you’re both mutually adding value [to each other].”

3) Don’t Copy The Radio

“Songs that you hear on the radio now were probably written two years ago.”

Make sure you are always staying ahead of the game by writing songs that will never go out of style. Jumping on musical trends can leave you playing “eternal catch ups” with what’s popular, so keep your songwriting personal and relevant to what’s happening in your life, and keep evolving as a storyteller.

4) Transparency

When you’re collaborating in the studio, especially if you’re toplining, “transparency is of the utmost importance.”

“Ideally, discuss songwriting splits and/or master cuts at the end of the session (if applicable) and put it in writing, even in an email. Everyone doesn’t think their song will blow up until it does, work under the assumption that it will, get into the habit of making sure everything is clear and everyone is on the same page.

[It’s also] a good idea to initially discuss if the topline and vocal are not going to be used, the writer should be free to take their melodic and lyrical contribution and use it elsewhere unencumbered. Include some kind of timeframe the top-line and vocal should be used in… this can be difficult as sometimes the process from creation to release can take years. Nothing moves forward until you receive the official green light from the label, management and artist.”

5) Vocal Development and Encouragement

An imperative part of creating charting singles is vocal production. Here are some great tips for session vocalists and those looking to get into the studio with a vocal producer:

“I love working with people that always want to better themselves, people that are always hungry.”

Paul creates an environment of constant productivity and exploration, setting personal development at the highest level.

Paul gave examples of how to keep encouraging your vocalist’s energy high.

“It is totally fine if you can’t nail the take in two hours! Just make sure you understand that this time leans more to  vocal development than a standard vocal session, I love exploring both kind of sessions equally.”

If you’re interested to know more about the CUA60520 Advanced Diploma of Music, head to our course page for more information and keep an eye out for our upcoming free workshops, open days and masterclasses via our Eventbrite Page or on Instagram.