Paul Hetke helps independent musicians achieve their goals through his YouTube channel, Key WAV. “I loved music and was curious how everything was made,” the Chetek native said. “How did they make the instrumental? How did they record their vocals? What software did they use?”
While attending UWEC in 2011, Hetke made so many tutorials for his musical friends that he decided a YouTube channel on how to make a song from scratch could be helpful. Now, he’s amassed more than 36,000 subscribers. “Music will never go away, and new artists are arising everyday,” he said, “so the work will always be there. I’m grateful to have made an impact and will continue to do so.”
Volume One: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you get into music and music production?
Paul Hetke: I got into music back in 2011. (Crazy to think how it’s been 10+ years since I started all this!) I was in college at UWEC at the time. I loved music and was curious how everything was made. How did they make the instrumental? How did they record their vocals? What software did they use to make that song? I became more obsessed with all the details that came with making a song from scratch. I then put out my first song. Production wise, it sounded awful. But the fact that I created a song all on my own was huge for me. I made more songs as the years went by and slowly progressed in music production. One day, it just all made sense.
I loved music and was curious how everything was made... one day, it just all made sense
Everything – or at least everything I wanted to know – seemed to click. I knew what kind of song I wanted to produce, record, mix, and master. More importantly, I knew how to make it sound professional. When people listened to my song, they would ask what studio I went to. Their jaws dropped when they found out that everything was produced by me. The artists I hung out with wanted to work with me and asked a bunch of questions. It became repetitive teaching different artists everything I knew, so I decided to record a video, put it on YouTube and send them the video instead. Then, every time an artist asked me a question, I would make a video and send them the link. I had no idea that the same questions that we’re being asked, were the same questions a lot of artists around the world had. I saw my subscribers on my YouTube page rise day by day and said, “I can make a career out of this.”
What kinds of videos do you make? What topics do you explore?
It’s expensive being a music artist. Most artists decide to make songs because they have a talent. That can be writing, singing, rapping – you name it. What artists soon find out is that there is so much more that needs to be done, than just an artist’s talent. For example, if I’m an artist and my talent is singing, I first need to purchase a computer to record my vocals. I then need to find a microphone to sing into. I would also need to purchase an audio interface for my microphone to plug into ... and the list goes on. Music equipment, software, plugins, cost a lot. Not to mention trying to figure out how to use everything once it’s purchased. That’s where my videos come in. I make videos helping independent artists achieve their music goals. Anywhere from “How to record vocals,” “How to edit, mix and master a song,” to “Microphone reviews” and more.
Can you touch on your name, Key WAV? What inspired that name?
My friend, Ricky Starbound, used to call me, “Key” all the time since my last name is Hetke. I thought it sounded cool so I just used it for my artist alias name. WAV comes from a high quality audio file that artists use to upload their songs into streaming services. A .wav audio file widely used in the music industry so to make it easy, I just put the two names together and got Key WAV. I figured it would be easy for a user to come to my website and get an idea of why they are there.
Can you touch on your roots in Chetek?
I work from home now. Before, I worked in Ivy Media where I had my own studio space, but ever since the pandemic – as well as my newborn baby arriving – it was for the best that I work from home. I grew up in Chetek and also graduated high school there. I was into music then, but not as much on the technical side of things. I was an avid listener. Every time a new song came out, within minutes I would listen and then talk to my friends about it after.
What are your goals for the future?
My goal is to continue to build Key WAV and roll out new products. Physical, and digital goods. I’m talking about creating my own microphone, and plugins for artists/producers to use in their songs. I have so many new ideas as my subscriber, emailing, and customer list grows. I would like to onboard new employees that are just as invested in music than I am. There is so much potential in this brand and in the world we live in today, anything is possible. My goal is simple, really. Keep going, keep growing.
Check out more about Key WAV at keywav.io
Here's a sneak peek of one of his earlier videos from 2017.