Torrance Esmond, also known professionally as “Street Symphony,” is a producer, songwriter and music executive. A 2003 graduate of the Recording Industry program, Esmond first gained recognition for his production work on the single “Work Hard, Play Hard” by the artist Yo Gotti in 2005. He has been nominated for several GRAMMY awards and won a producer’s GRAMMY for Best Gospel Album in 2013 for his work on hip-hop artist Lecrae’s album “Gravity.” Mass Comments’ former associate editor Aileen Wark Bennett interviewed Esmond.
Congratulations on your GRAMMY win. What a great accomplishment. How did you get started in the music industry?
I got started in the music business right after college when I signed my first production contract to a local independent label out of Nashville.
Describe the production process for those of us who may not understand how it works. How do you get connected with other artists to offer your skills? What are some of the challenges you encounter along the way?
I think the production process varies from producer to producer. Personally, I’m an in-studio type of guy as I think that’s where the magic is made. I like to invite the artist to the studio, listen to where he or she is creatively and then build from there. I normally work closely with my collaborative team known as “Heat Academy.” This is a creative collective that I formed with two other Nashville natives. We all have our specialties and mutually we can take an artist or a writer’s idea and bring it to life.
The music business relies heavily on networking. You have to get out and get yourself known. Although some artists play the “big ego” role, trust me when I say, they are all looking for that next big record. You have to use your resources to get in those circles where you know artists and managers will be. I’d also advise that up-and-coming producers travel. Go to conferences, professional networking events and, if given the opportunity, intern. My first official engineering credit came from an internship. Although I no longer function as an engineer, I did what I had to do to get my foot in the door.
How did your time at MTSU prepare you for your career?
MTSU definitely gave me a head start on understanding the actual business as well as allowed me to build a network with other alumni.
What advice would you give to students who are budding producers, songwriters or music executives?
Branding. It all starts there. With the music business being so saturated, you have to figure out a way to stand out. People want to know what they can expect from you. What is it that separates you from the other thousands of people doing the same thing?
What can we expect to see from you next? Any other projects or plans on the horizon?
Well, as you can imagine, a GRAMMY win definitely changes the playing field. I’ve received quite a few inquiries from major label acts for production/writing. I’m hoping those opportunities will pan out.
You can also expect me to continue operating as vice president of A&R at Reach Records. As an indie label, we are growing rapidly and blessed to be consistently charting. Lecrae is working on two projects, so we are excited and looking forward to another big year. I will be producing as well as doing the A&R for those projects.