Cover/ Thumbnail Photo Credit : Drew Ressler /Rukes www.rukes.com
[ Personal Note: This post is for the people that live and breath music production. If music is simply a hobby, this post most likely isn't for you. It's will come across a bit intense]
After a few years of producing, the day will come when you wake up and question yourself.
"Why the fuck am I still doing this, when no one gives a shit"
Shortly after this thought usually comes..."fuck it, I'm done with this overrated bullshit"....
Let's flash back though, how does one get to this point of wanting to give up? ...
When I started producing music, for whatever dumb reason I thought this would be simple.
I figured, make some music, play some shows, make some money. Easy, no big deal.
The key was just making good music right?
Looking back, it was this lack of reality that allowed me to start in the first place.
If I would have known how massive the music industry is, how many hundreds of thousands of music producers there are, I'm not sure I would have had the courage to start.
Actually, at that age, I promise you I wouldn't have even tired.
10,000 + Songs are uploaded to SoundCloud every hour...( My math may be wrong, so take with a grain of salt)
But regardless, Almost a quarter of a million tracks uploaded daily( Again if my math is right, assuming a average song is 4 minutes long) I do hope I'm wrong, as that's truly mind blowing.
If you would have told me those stats on day one, I would have laughed in your face and went back to day dreaming.
It's funny, in any other endeavor,like starting a business, getting an advance degree etc etc, I saw how long the road was.
I could easily see that to get from point A to point B would take a long fucking time.
With music, the first few years I was 100% blind to this. I figured, if I just make some good music, everyone will love it !
It wasn't until after a few years in this industry did I realize,
Holy shit, there is a TON of music producers that all have the same dream as me.
In fact, there are not only a TON of them, there are a bunch that have amazing music.
I assume, since the majority of music I was exposed to was the big artists, that I didn't look deeper and realize that lesser known artists can have the same or even better "quality" and still be off the radar.
There are thousands, ten's of thousands of these people that I didn't even know about. ( Legit, I get sent 2-3 tracks a week that could be released on Spinnin, Musical Freedom,Revealed, Fly Eye, Size, Armada etc etc) Their quality is that good ( sadly, their marketing isn't so the labels won't touch them, but that's another story)
This is when reality hit...
"ohh shit, this isn't going to be easy"
It was more like some punched me in the face and the journey that I thought would be no big deal, few years of work then YAY, wasn't that at all.
Over the course of many years, I learned about marketing, production,mixing/mastering and sound design. I learned all of this by trail and error and the aid of a few people ( which I am utterly grateful for).
However, no one ever seemed to talk about the emotional battle that a music producer will face.
In fact, anyone that has any dream will have to deal with this battle.
You could be a painter, a engineer or a guitar player, the battle is still the same.
If your currently following your dreams on any level, you know this battle all to well.
The fear of failure that hits you daily
The fear that you will spend the next 5-10 years getting to an elite level within your craft, but never breaking through the clutter.
The fear that all the haters, all the doubters , everyone that told you " you can't do this, be realistic " will be right.
The fear that one day you will wake up and decide enough is enough. You will give up, you will pursue a "safe" path in life and not follow your dreams.
This isn't meant to be a "ohh poor me post, my life is so hard blah blah blah" in fact that's 100% the last thing I want you to think.
(Also, not trying to sound negative, so please stay with me on this for a minute)
You may be saying to yourself, ohh I don't care if I "make it" I don't care what happens with my music, its just a hobby.
If that's you, awesome, I have many hobbies as well that the end outcome isn't important.
If you sit in class and dream about music.
If you have no doubt in your mind that you want music to be your life than this post is for you.
I'm guessing there is someone out there reading this that has "that dream". The dream to make it...
So, where am I going with all of this?
LET FEAR MOTIVATE YOU.
Listen, in order to "make it" in music your going to have to put in a shit ton of time. In fact, your most likely going to have to drop anything that isn't directly helping you.
2 or 3 hours a week while great for a hobby will not allow you to learn this craft on a realistic time scale.
I'm not trying to sound like a parent, or one of those silly life coaches but the simple fact remains that it takes a long time to learn...and an even longer time to market yourself in this realm.
This fear for me, didn't kick in for a few years. I thought everything would just kinda work out.
However, If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing it would be this...
"Let fear guide you, let it be your biggest motivator"
Here is what I would have told my 18 year old self.
[Luke, your going to fail buddy. Like seriously, look in the mirror. If this is the life you want fine. But if you aspire to a higher place, stop the bull shit and put in the time. Learn the skills you need to NOW, not tomorrow, now]
A lot of musicians I've met ( I did this as well, no judgement here) have this image that one day they will be "put on"
What I mean is, one day Spinnin fucking records is going to knock on the door and be like hey buddy ! Love your tracks, let's sign you and start your world wide tour.
While of course, this has happened to people,( We're the fucking animals !) its rare. Uber uber rare.
You need to forget about being "put on". Picture a cake, being put on is the icing, but you need to build the rest of the cake first.
So, now your thinking " Great, this is impossible,WHY is he telling me this?
Simple my friends,
When the day comes( and it will) that you want to give up.
You may be failing at learning XYZ.
You may have no fans.
You may have bad mixes, but EVERYONE DID at one point.
Zedd, Knife Party, Deadmau5, Kaskade at one point had horrible mixes and no fans.
There was a fan number 1 at some point on all their pages.
That one person was themselves....
When you know what your up against, there aren't any surprises.
When your song isn't blasting off, when your not landing gigs, realize this is normal for most people.
Knowing this will allow you to keep pushing when most people give up.
Let the fear of knowing how intense the industry is guide you.
That fear will make you work an extra hour tonight perfecting that preset.
That fear will make you send your track to the 51st label after the other 50 have rejected you.
That fear will make you put in 1,000's of extra hours over the course of many years.
In the end, that extra time will be what "made you". Not some random stroke of luck.
Make your own luck my friends and remember failure is the default.
Your going to fail over and over in this industry, but when you know this...failure becomes a non issue.
You just keep going.