Fishman turns pandemic boredom into music production
Jacob Fishman ('21) takes being stuck at home as an opportunity to cultivate his interest in music
January 4, 2021
When COVID-19 canceled Jacob Fishman’s (’21) summer plans, he found himself passing the time with an interest growing since his freshman year: music. Over the summer, he got a music recording setup and messed around whenever he had free time. Inspired by his friends’ reactions to an altered senior year, he later wrote and released his first song, “Counting Time,” on Aug. 9.
Prior to writing and producing his own music, he collaborated with Jordan Schmidt, a friend from the same region of the North American Federation for Temple Youth (NFTY). The two wrote and performed what Fishman refers to as “Jewish music.” When he began to spend more time at home due to the pandemic, Fishman decided to take on the challenge of writing and producing solo music.
“I’ve always been good with writing lyrics, I don’t know why that has always come easily to me,” Fishman said. “So I just started writing and started to watch YouTube tutorials and I figured out how to use digital audio workspace [which refers to software and programs designed for music production].”
Schmidt, who is a senior at Gulliver Preparatory in Miami, has known Fishman since the spring of 2018. As they got to know each other better, their friendship quickly allowed for creative collaboration.
“It’s always super interesting working with Jacob because of how different we are as artists and people. [He] creates this creative space that is filled with different ideas that we can pull from to create things that neither of us would be able to do alone,” Schmidt said. “As an artist, Jacob is someone who has a drive like I’ve never seen before, allowing him to accomplish so much, often in a relatively short amount of time. It’s shown in how he learned to produce his music and release two songs in the span of months, and it’s most certainly shown in all his musical endeavors.”
Fishman is inspired by his peers, and “scenarios or general situations that I see or I can feel from other people.” His first song, “Counting Time” was inspired by the theme of not wasting the time you have. Fishman describes lots of his friends feeling like they were missing out on their senior year, and running out of time. His second single, “Raining or Pouring” reflects his reaction to hearing how difficult it was for people in the pandemic to stay emotionally connected, an insightful look into the mental challenges of 2020.
“With ‘Raining or Pouring,’ it was able being physically distant, but still finding a way to be with friends and with people you love,” Fishman said.
When the school year rolled around, Fishman decided to continue with his newfound pastime. He is currently eLearning, something that he credits to giving him more time to focus on music. With more free time at home, he works on homework until about 5:30, then spends the rest of the night playing the guitar or piano and messing around with his audio workspace. Since some teachers let eLearners out a bit earlier than in-person students, Fishman makes the most out of that extra time by editing songs that he would record over the weekend.
“If I was not eLearning, I definitely wouldn’t be in this situation,” Fishman expressed. “If there was no pandemic, I most certainly wouldn’t be here because I only had the idea and the means to do so [pursue music] because I was stuck at home.”
As for the songwriting process itself, Fishman relies on feedback from his friends, which he incorporates as he works towards a final product. After finalizing a song, he pays a fee to distribute music to his choice of streaming services and the song is released from there. Currently, Fishman’s music is available on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.
Fishman utilizes the internet to his advantage by creating a website and Instagram to promote his work. Despite spending a lot of time at home, he connects with other independent artists through apps like TikTok. He likes to see how they go about producing their music and considers himself inspired by similar artists.
Since he is an independent artist, Fishman knew that he didn’t want to place too much money into his hobby. Instead, he relies on what he calls “natural growth.” This hobby led to 22.5k streams on his Spotify wrapped, a growth that he enjoys watching. While Fishman makes the process sounds simple, he explains that a lot more goes into it than expected. The editing process for “Raining or Pouring” took about one week, while its predecessor “Counting Time” took about three.
“Patience is very important, and being able to critique yourself, like listening to something and being able to be like ‘yeah, that’s not good, I have to redo that’ or ‘this can definitely be improved’ [is a lesson I’ve learned],” Fishman said.
Fishman is an entirely self-taught producer, something that has taken focus but he considers to be a great learning experience. While he does not plan to pursue music full-time in the future, he does aim to continue it as a hobby.
“I think that not necessarily knowing everything makes it fun, because it’s constantly discovering new stuff,” Fishman said. “You get to learn more about yourself as you’re doing it and identify some of your weaknesses and some of your strengths.”