Producer Tommy Brown On The Secrets of Success
Grammy-nominated producer Tommy Brown, aka TBHits, is behind some of music’s biggest hits, including producing for artists Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Normani, Megan Thee Stallion, and many more. From his humble beginnings as a burgeoning producer supporting himself by working at Sears to producing many of Ariana Grande’s chart-toppers over ten years, Brown proves the right recipe for success is a blend of timing, talent, and strong work ethic. We caught up with the prolific producer to discuss his involvement as an ambassador with Spotify’s Frequency program, lessons he’s learned from working with artists in the music industry, and goals for the new year.
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What compelled you to become an ambassador for Spotify’s Frequency program?
What kind of brought me into it is I had a meeting with an artist with Def Jam, and we went to a restaurant. They introduced me to a girl named Sydney, who works at Spotify. She was telling me about a program that they were trying to do, and I was just telling her my ideas and my thoughts on the view of Spotify from the writing and production community. We were deep diving, and I was just like, ‘You need somebody who is really well-versed in speaking all the languages of people like the creatives, also the executives.’ Then, she was like, “Well, what about you doing some stuff with us?” So that’s what sparked the beginning of it.
Nice! So, with some of the artists you're mentoring, who’s on your radar that's on the rise?
There’s a lot of artists on the rise. The thing is, there are so many talented people in the world, right? I think the difference that separates somebody who’s genius from somebody who's not is the genius takes action. So, there’s a lot of very, very talented artists. Now, do they have what it takes to put the work in? That's the question. So, it's a lot of very talented people that I have my eye on, but I just see if they raise their hand with the work ethic because that's really going to determine how far their trajectory is inside the music industry.
That is so true. When it comes to “making it,” how much of it is timing and how much of it is talent and putting in the work?
I think it takes a little bit of everything – like to make the gumbo, right? I think for me, what's worked best for my career may not work for everybody. Everybody steps in eight billion different directions in the world, but I think with myself it has been being available. So, being available for the calls and going to do that even if you don't want to do that. Sometimes those are things that panned out to be some of the greatest things. Even when I started working a long time ago, ten years ago with Ariana [Grande], it was like, they called me for a session. It was pitched to me like, “Hey, there’s this girl Ariana. She's on a show called VICTORiOUS on Nickelodeon. Pretty good voice. Nick Jonas is going to be there writing with her, and it'd be really good for you to get in and get with Nick Jonas.” I was like, ‘Yo, you know what? I'm going to do the Jonas Brothers album.’ Then, you meet this girl who's just electric. It was so much synergy there, and it was just like, ‘Wow, everything we do sounds amazing.’ Then, you have this relationship that was built off something we didn't even know was coming.
Wow. So, it's been ten years you've been working with Ariana?
We had songs since before her first album. I counted not too long ago, and I have just about 50 songs released with her.
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That is amazing! That speaks volumes about you both. You two work well as a team. What do you feel you've learned from some of the artists you've had the privilege of recording with?
I've learned so many different lessons from different artists. Everybody has different strokes for different things that people do. I've been with somebody who starts a verse at the end of the verse and builds it to the beginning and everything else. I think it’s just about being hardworking and focused on what the agenda is and not being so swayed by everything. I think the very successful artists I’ve worked with had a plan and had a focus and understood their sweet spot.
And when you say sweet spot, what do you mean?
Like everybody has their talent. Even with Dennis Rodman, he may have averaged two points a game, but he had so many rebounds that helped him win the game. It’s playing your position and what you’re great at. I think that's your sweet spot. If your sweet spot is making a track, focus on making a track. Find your sweet spot, then that's where you're going to find your success.
That makes sense. So, what are you looking forward to in the new year between the Frequency Ambassador Program and your personal projects?
I'm looking forward to growing. I had my first company Christmas party where I invited all the writers and producers. I got a chance to honor Nisha; she’s a writer, and London on da Track, and different people. Everybody worked so hard, so I wanted to highlight their successes. I got everybody their first plaques, and I remember I always wish somebody did that for me. But, I was so in a rush. I didn't let anybody do that. So, we were able to get the plaques and really bring them up and highlight and let them give a piece of their story. It was really amazing and beautiful.
So, I think it's just growing and helping these young, talented people, giving them direction of how the game is supposed to be versus being like, ‘This is how the game was to me. So, this is just what it is.’ So, actually leading with purpose. So, I think for the future for me, it's just stepping into that and really embracing the new and embracing the young and actually giving them direction and proper mentorship to help them grow to have successful careers.