Industry Feature Friday: Jeff Johnson (Bailey Way Entertainment, Songwriter, Producer, Performer)
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!
And I am back with another edition of IFF! The gentleman I have featured today is one of the most wonderful persons I have ever met in this industry! I really really hope every artist or industry member who reads this, has the opportunity with work with him one day. (You'll read why!)
I met him back in 2018 with Kadooh when they were doing a radio tour for '24 Reasons.' (That song SLAPS btw!)
Jeff Johnson, it means the absolute world to have you on Industry Feature Friday this week, thank you for joining me. Jeff is the award winning Founder and Owner of Bailey Way Entertainment, he's also a very talented songwriter, producer and performer.
Here's more about Bailey Way Entertainment:
"BAILEY WAY ENTERTAINMENT WAS FOUNDED BY CANADIAN SINGER-SONGWRITER JEFF JOHNSON IN 2007. Our motto, Aim to Inspire, captures the power of inspiring people through music, and reflects the values of hard work, tenacity, and determination." - baileywayent.com
(Also, shout out to Kurt Dahl!)
Here's more about Jeff:
"Jeff Johnson is a Canadian Country Music Association award winning producer of the year, Juno nominated producer and songwriter of the year and multiple British Columbia Country Music Association award winner including 5-time producer of the year and one-time songwriter of the year. Jeff has co-written and produced two number #1 albums, a gold selling album and a gold selling single in country and pop. Jeff has worked with the likes of Dallas Smith, George Canyon, Joey Moi, Faber Drive, Jet Black Stare, Meghan Patrick, Chris Buck Band, Tyler Joe Miller and many others."- baileywayent.com
Every artist I have spoken to who has worked with him in any capacity, literally lights up when they talk about the co-write, the production, the advice, the support...etc. They are all so excited to talk about him and it's no surprise, really. Jeff is one of the most innovative, impactful and important members in the Canadian music scene.
Jeff has created a space with Bailey Way Entertainment that not only allows artists to deliver some incredible songs with their production, songwriting and mixing services, but he also is passionate about showing artists how to explore their creative side of what they do. Jeff is an A list mentor because he is dialed in, linked in and has an incredible ear and sense of the industry that is hard to come by these days.
If you don't know who Jeff is, please allow me to introduce you to him - and if you do know Jeff is, IYKYK! IKYK!
Get to know more about Jeff Johnson here:
Hi Jeff! Thanks so much for being a part of IFF! You are the multi-award winning and nominated (BCCMA, CCMA and Juno), founder of Bailey Way Entertainment and a singer-songwriter and producer. I've only known you since 2018, but you have been a very integral part of Canadian music since for obviously much longer! Since this is your first time on a Studio B Platform, tell us more about your musical journey and how you got to where you are today?
I started at a young age playing my Aunt's electric organ in my basement trying to learn melodies that were popular and playing by ear. I struggled a lot with sight reading music so I improvising opened the door for my creative exploration. Creating songs and melodies by happy accidents and learning what works in a good song was my method growing up.
I eventually picked up a guitar in my later high school years and took lessons and that built the foundation for what I use today. I was in rock bands in the early 2000s and signed my first deal in 2006 with an Indie Vancouver label 604 records. Unfortunately, my live music career took a back seat for a more behind the scenes songwriter/producer approach and I really found my path to success and started to see a bloom in my creative direction.
In 1996, I had my first studio experience that had a profound impact on my future. Digital recording was in its infancy, but I could see the power the computer would play in the future of the record biz. I jumped as soon as I could to get the chance to learn more.
After graduating with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in History and music composition I soon realized that music would be my full time pursuit.
2007 I had a rock band Jet Black Stare signed to Island Def Jam and Universal Music and that afforded me the chance to get a corporation set up and employ me full time in music.
In 2012 I was asked into the country music market and I had the good fortune of having multiple awards for producer and songwriter of the year and a gold single and album etc.. It was a 20 year build to where I am today that really began once I put myself wholeheartedly into the work of listening and creating.
At Bailey Way Entertainment, you offer several services from BG vocals and studio time to artist development and songwriting (and more!). I have spoken with several artists who have worked and collaborated with you, and there is truly a lot of heart, commitment and dedication put into every project. I mean, I could go on, but I'd like you to tell us what makes Bailey Way Entertainment stand out?
What makes BWE stand out is our commitment to the craft of songwriting creativity and care for the client's song direction. Because I started off as an artist, my ability to understand their perspective and employ the experience I've had being on the other side of the Glass so to speak helps me connect their performances to their brand or add value where I see a need for it. My strengths are vocal production, songwriting and being able to hear how the song should be assembled from the inception point to the end of the creative process. I share my knowledge and experience with those who hire me because I know I can add value in whatever role they hire me for.
How long did it take you roughly to start excelling with your career? Maintaining a successful music career takes a lot of work and commitment, how much time do you dedicate towards your work?
I am always trying to improve my work whether crafting a lyric melody or producing a song ect. I think I really started to make great productions when I was 28 and this coincides with the start of my company BWE 2007 and the first major label US deal I signed with Universal Music. Before then I was still a hungry student of music but I quickly learned how to record and capture commercial recordings and write songs people wanted to hear.
Today I work with a bigger team of people so things are efficient. I hire many people to help shape the songs but back in the day I was more hands on.
I have family commitments now which changes how and who I work with but usually I work a lot of hours to get the song right.
Music is a time consuming art but how much time depends on the song and where it should go. However, every project is unique and even an amateur listener will know when a song is complete or lacking something. You know when you know if a song is done. I love diving in on things. Time spent matters but it is not the point....I charge more money in the budget so I can afford the song and the artist the time it deserves to be its best. As Matthew McConaughy once said in his bestselling book "Greenlights" ...."DON'T HALF ASS IT"
On your website, it says, "There isn't anything that can compare to writing a hit song. Our experience proves we can write; but it's our creativity that nails it every time." With more and more musicians creating than ever and more and more of these creations being released, what does this mean for you as a songwriter and as a producer in terms of originality? What does this mean for artists themselves too, in your opinion?
Originality is really about vision. My job is to help with the artist's vision and help them with their story. Songwriters and producers provide a sonic vessel for the song they are working on. Sometimes a production performance is a quick one take live off the floor. Sometimes the song is really edited and controlled but it depends on their intention for the tune and what they want it to do with it. Radio or commercial music differs greatly for what will be accepted into other non mainstream playlists but a great song is a great song.
Originality is simply the artist's responsibility and the producer is simply there to capture their brand and make it awesome. We have a difficult balance game of fitting in while standing out at the same time. Both are equally important so experience and a proven track record keeps the phone ringing in this business.
Streaming media, video, Tik Tok , Youtube, satellite radio and some terrestrial radio offer unique playlist options for bands with something to say. Indie artists are always battling with the corporations who control a large part of what bubbles up to become popular or sought after. There is a lot of noise so promotion and strategic marketing is VERY important but will never out perform a hit song.
What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
I am proud of British Columbia and Alberta communities for supporting Western Canadian artists. Creative BC and Alberta Grants are leading the way for extra funding local Indie artists. I enjoy working with artists that walk their own path, represent a unique perspective and allow their talent to shine.
Teigen Gayse comes to mind with her unique perspective being a young Okanagan Metis woman who co-writes and funds her own records and has charted a few top 40 hits on Canadian country radio. I am a big supporter of artists with vision.
Tyler Joe Miller is another indie MDM records artist I have had success with landing "Sometimes I do" in the top 5 Canadian Country chart. His talent on stage and the writing room and his courage to be unique allowed for lyrics like "cookin chicken on a shovel" to be heard on mainstream radio.
Kadooh is by far one of my favorite artists for taking risks creatively and his song "Rattle Snake Bite" is a pure blend of power rock country dance and pushes the envelope of sonic and creative in the country genre. Though it wasn't a huge commercial hit the reaction live in festivals shows how much value there is in being original and having the tenacity to keep with it until the brand or artist reaches that breakthrough point.
Originality comes from the inception of creating.
Telling a unique story that is personal for lyric content is always a great place to start.
Changing up the instruments typically used to accompany an artist or simply having them do an out of genre cover song and make it an original version that hasn't been done before.
collaboration with new writers and creatives.
exploring new places to record write (austin texas, nashville ect)
Hire new talent
try new technology
trying old tech
pushes for new horizons
take time away from creativity when looping happens.
Lastly and most importantly Sarah, I would like to make mention of how much you personally have helped so many of my artists with your supportive work in radio and now with the Studio B podcast. I am honored to be a part of this and wish you much success.
Learn more about Jeff and Bailey Way Entertainment here: